Enter Leo Jenkins.
He’s a veteran of 3rd Ranger Battalion who has deployed multiple times as a special operations medic, and even been awarded for valor. He went on to leave the service and eventually be attached to a DEA FAST team, where he again deployed to Afghanistan as their team medic.
Not enough to impress you yet?
He went on to start and sell five different gyms, compete professionally as both a triathlete and in CrossFit, and then sell or donate all of his earthly possessions so that he could travel the world and publish his fourth book. Yeah, that’s right, FOURTH book.
First Train Out Of Denver, his latest attempt at the art of prose after authoring Lest We Forget and On Assimilation, and co-authoring Violence of Action, is equal parts travel-adventure and philosophy. It chronicles a journey that saw him hitchhiking, hopping coal trains, and driving a van he bought virtually sight unseen off Craigslist. Oh, and he did it all while traversing five different continents.
Why did I choose to interview him for ReadyMan though?
He is a model of the self-sustaining lifestyle. He is always prepared. He is always ready. He relies on no one but himself; yet is still empathetic enough to buy the homeless guy on the corner a pizza and share his life’s adventure with his beautiful fiancé Lauren.
1.) You are a well-traveled guy, can you tell us the best place you have been to ‘get away from it all’?
That depends on whether you are a cold weather guy or a warm weather guy. My two favorite places have been the Yukon province in Northern Canada and Baja, Mexico.
Both possess an almost unparalleled, ‘live and let live,’ mentality. Yukon is the most majestic, pristine, beautiful place I have ever been. The people are genuine and kind, but if you still don’t want to deal with them, no worries. You can drive for a day without even seeing another human. Get off the main road a couple of miles and it is your world.
It’s a similar vibe in Baja, Mexico. There’s a thousand miles of undeveloped white sand beaches. Land that in San Diego or L.A. would go for millions, you can park and camp on for as long as you want without paying a dime...
2.) When it comes to crossing international borders, what’s the number one thing you need to keep in mind?
Patience. (Read the full story of why this is important here)
3.) It’s oftentimes difficult to travel with a firearm, are there any unconventional tips you have for self-defense?
I carry two guns with me everywhere I go (commences inappropriate bicep flexing). My father gave me a tool set for the van before I crossed into Mexico. I though it was a kind gesture. He was showing me the different tools in a fatherly way, then proceeded to pull a ball peen hammer out of the bag and told me, “If anyone fucks with you down there, burry this in their skull.” When I laughed he just maintained a straight face, commenced a swinging motion and continued, “Right in the fucking skull.”
So I had that and some mace.
4. Are you ever worried about contracting local illnesses when you are in a foreign country?
Yeah, that happens. My girlfriend contracted some Central American disease while we were in Nicaragua. Bumps everywhere. We went to the Centro de Salud (health center) and they gave her IV antibiotics and a bunch of stuff to take home. We were in and out in under half an hour, and…. it was completely free. How is that for a health care system?!
5. What is the one piece of equipment that has been invaluable everywhere you have gone?
If we aren’t counting my Man Card bottle opener, I carry an extensive amount of medical equipment including a couple of RATs tourniquets, but that was more for piece of mind. I have yet to receive a good squirter on the road.
I’m not sure if this is considered “equipment” exactly, but I live in flip-flops. Rain, snow, sleet, sun, I’m in them year round. I was going through a new pair every few weeks. That changed when I found out about Combat Flip Flops. They are made by a couple of Army Rangers and are pretty much indestructible. I hike in them, they are my approach shoe for climbing and I never worry about them “blowing out.”