Unracked: Fly Fishing The Pacific Northwest


Matt Swainbank: Events And Training Manager / Fly Fisherman

Winter steelhead, summer trout – Matt is an avid fly fisherman. And – let’s get this out of the way right now – he is not going to share his super-secret spot.



But he will share what he does at Yakima. “My role varies quite a bit. I run point and handle logistics for all of our major national trade shows, plus organize all of our retail training and consumer events. There’s a lot of awesome. A fun aspect is my role is always changing. Spring is about training. I spend a lot of time traveling – I was a Yakima Road Warrior for two years, so I know the fun and the pain. Winter I get to settle back in – a little bit – and start planning for the next season.”



Fishing the Northwest



The Right Gear

Matt’s Yakima system starts with his cargo box – one that’s just the right size. “Man, I would have to say the SkyBox 12 Carbonite is the Yakima thing that I love most. With the Outback and 70-inch bars, I can put the 12 on the side and create room to carry whatever watercraft – canoe, SUP, or a kayak in a JayLow – I need. The narrower box means I can bring fishing and camping gear, a boat, and still have room for the dog.”

Other equipment Matt relies on/loves includes – of course – “All the fly fishing gear.” But he also likes to indulge his inner biologist. “The stuff I tend to pack most often would be field guides – mushroom guide, plant guide – I like being able to be scientific and learn about the ecosystems. We even track cloud cover, water temperature, things like that, and keep a log so we know what the right conditions were. When they line up again, even years later, we know it’s time to get out there.”


SkyBox 12 Carbonite & KeelOver on RoundBars

Matt’s Tips

  1. Always get bigger crossbars than the minimum size recommended….you never know when you want to bring two boats or a bike along
  2. Practice catch and release for our future generations [and safe fish handling]
  3. Catching a fish is only a part of the fun….enjoy the scenery, sights, water, and the companions you are with
  4. The fish don’t just bite when the weather is good…dress appropriately on the bad days and get out there. Plus it means fewer people – that sometimes gives you a better chance
  5. Always take your waders, boots, and lifejacket out of your cargo box when you get home to dry out. Otherwise, fish will smell you from miles away the next time you go out!


On the Road

fishn--600x600When Matt sneaks out of work early, he doesn’t usually go fishing – he would rather commit at least full day to that – he keeps it simple.

“There’s minimal midweek fishing, but there are lots of hikes around Portland. I think the awesome thing about being here is that any direction takes you to something new and exciting, like the desert or the ocean. For a midweek afternoon escape, I grab my best buddy and our dogs and bomb out. Weekends are about fishing, setting up a nice basecamp, and having some Rainiers.”

When pushed to disclose his favorite fishing-focused basecamp, Matt stays cagey. “I think I’ll plead the fifth on that one. Look, the variety is what makes it, any direction you go. Head towards the coast for steelhead in fall and winter, up to the mountains in summer for trout. Even right here on the Columbia and the Willamette, we can go out and fly fish for smallmouth bass.”


Memorable Moments

When asked to share an especially memorable moment, Matt mulls. “I don’t know…just fishing is awesome…”

But he knows. There is definitely The One.

“It was last winter, catching the 34-inch, wild, fresh-from-the-ocean steelhead on the fly. The one in the picture. This was the dream fish. Something that wild, that healthy – it was one of those oh-$%#! moments – whether you’re going to get that thing or it breaks you off. They call them unicorns for a reason. Or a gray ghost – you know they’re there, but they’re a ghost. The stars aligned on that one. We took a quick pic, then sent her off to do her things.”


More Unracked

YakimaUNRACKED_signOff-02Matt isn’t our only awesome employee. Checkout our entire Unracked series to see who else here at Yakima is getting outdoors, how they have their car racked out, tips and tricks, and their favorite Pacific Northwest adventure spots.

Stop in to your local Yakima dealer to get outfitted so you can get out there and find your unicorn!


Yakima Interbike 2017

The following is from MTBR.com’s coverage of Interbike 2017

Multiple rack updates, a new tailgate pad, camo rooftop tent, and more

Portland-based Yakima has updated some of its most popular racks, improved its tailgate pad, and launched a cool camo version of its SkyRise rooftop tent. Here are all the critical details, launch dates, and prices straight from the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas.

Video: Yakima BackSwing, GateKeeper, HoldUp Evo, SkyRise tent, and more

Hauling bikes behind your car or truck shouldn’t mean not being able to get to your tailgate or trunk. With Yakima’s new BackSwing mechanism, it’s never been easier. Simply pop up the security pin and your rack swings out of the way. This $299 add-on device works with any Yakima (or most other brand’s) rack and holds up to 250 pounds, meaning you can haul four bikes. Availability is set for spring 2018.

Also new from Yakima is the GateKeeper tailgate pad, which includes several key updates from the previous version, including padded individual bike cradles and a window cutout so you can still use your vehicle’s back-up camera. The GateKeeper comes in 5- and 6-bike versions and sells for $139 and $149 respectively. Availability is set for February 2018.

Yakima has also added fat bike-carrying capability to its HoldUp tray rack. The new HoldUp Evo can carry the fattest of fat tire bikes, is lock secured, and has both a pull lever and kick plate so it’s easy to raise or lower the rack out of the way. Price is $499 and it too will be available starting in February 2018. You can also get a single bike version of this rack for $259.

Finally, Yakima is launching a co-branded (with fellow Portlanders Poler) camouflage-version of its popular SkyRise rooftop tent. It will only be available in a 2-person version and comes with a ladder, rain fly, and mattress. New camping accessories include a shoe bag, gear net, fitted sheets, and even an LED lighting system. These are all sold separately.

Gallery: Yakima BackSwing, GateKeeper, HoldUp Evo, SkyRise tent, and more


Interbike 2017: Goodies from Day 1 – Yakima

The following is from DirtRagMag.com

Bike transport solutions from Yakima

We’re in Vegas for the last Interbike in Sin City and here are a few interesting and/or new things we found on our first day wandering the show floor.

Yakima BackSwing

The BackSwing adapter from Yakima converts almost any hitch rack with a two-inch receiver into a swing-away rack (even those that aren’t Yakima). It will hold up to a four-bike rack with bikes (or about 250 pounds), will retail for $299 and will be available in April.

Yakima SingleSpeed

The SingleSpeed one-bike rack is designed for folks who tend to travel solo (or don’t have any friends) and want a minimalist hitch rack. It is compatible with a variety of sizes of bikes from 20-inch BMX to fat. It will also be available in the spring and will retail for $259.

Yakima GateKeeper


The GateKeeper truck tailgate pad will be available in two different sizes (fitting five or six bikes depending on the size of your truck) and features individual straps to hold each bike in places as well as a cutout to allow use of a backup camera with the pad in place. The larger of the two (62 inches wide and holds 6 bikes) will retail for $149 while the smaller (54 inches wide and holds 5 bikes) will cost you $139. They’ll be available in February.


Yakima UnRacked: Kayaking with Tex Alexander


Tex makes sure your rack is gonna fit. “My job is to go out to auto dealers, or customers who are willing to let us use their brand new cars, and assess the auto/rack interface. We have a network of car dealers in Portland, so we have access to new vehicles once they come to the market. We look them over, take measurements, check structural integrity, gather all the data. Say a new Ford Fusion comes out, we’ll go out and test it in the field, relate that to our internal testing, measure everything, then post the info up for consumers.”

Tex loves racks. But his true love is paddling. He’s so dialed into the scene up here that he actually doesn’t own a boat right now. “I Moved to Colorado a while back and sold my boat. But I used to guide and teach roll and rescue for a kayaking outfit here, and now that I’m back they still give me access to stuff for free.”



Borrowing expensive boats means Tex better have a good way to carry them. “I’m a huge fan of the DeckHand saddles – they offer the best boat protection on the market. They’re super easy to use, adjust to almost any hull, and help protect your $4000 Kevlar kayak,” he says.

“It’s just one of the best boat products we’ve ever made.”

Because Tex is a truck owner, the new LongArm truck bed extender has been exciting for him to work on and test fit.  “It’s one of those products we’ve needed for awhile, and I’m happy it’s finally here, both for the company and for me to use on paddling trips.”

Like most of Yakima, Tex is a four-season multi-sporter. In the winter, he loves to snowboard – and this means switching up his Yakima system. When the temperature drops and the DeckHands come off his JetStream bars, the cargo box goes on. “The SkyBox is essential for snowboarding. Hands down the best box ever made, super strong, holds what I need, and looks great on my Tacoma.”

And what’s his don’t-leave-home-without-it essential that’s not 100% Yakima?

“Bottle opener. Luckily we put those on just about all of our products.”



  1. Always dress for the water temp, not the air temp
  2. If your bow and stern lines “hum” in the wind, give them a few twists to eliminate the harmonic vibration
  3. When tying down a sit-on-top to your crossbars, rout the straps through the scupper holes for a more secure carry
  4. Drip rings are worthless, remove them from your paddle
  5. Get out there, learn to roll, have fun


When Tex grabs an afternoon paddle, he heads west. “I do like to get out to the coast – I don’t want to disclose where, cuz, you know…it’s my spot. We’re in a wonderful place, one hour and you’re in the mountains or at the ocean. And just to the north are the San Juans – Anderson Island in three hours, Anacortes in about five. Actual time may vary – depends on how many people I have to motivate.”


The day Tex first learned to roll his boat was a big one for him. “It was at Trillium Lake near Mount Hood. It gave me the confidence to right my boat in any situation, and this opened more options – surf, whitewater – and it allows you to play while touring. Also, on a hot day, it is nice to roll and cool off.”

He also shared a snowboarding memory. “It was the first time I hiked to the Bald Spot in Beaver Creek,” he says. “Just the area itself is beautiful – tons of riding, great way to finish the day. We brought a grill along for hot dogs, then would ski and board to the car. It was great to find a place so remote, so close to home.”


Tex isn’t our only awesome employee. Checkout our entire UnRacked series to see who else here at Yakima is getting outdoors, how they have their car racked out, tips and tricks, and their favorite Pacific Northwest adventure spots.

Stop in to your local Yakima dealer to find out more about the Deckhand as well as all our boat racks and pickup whatever you may need to make the most out of your next adventure.

Yakima UnRacked: Road Biking with Kenny Graham




“I ride as much as I can,” says Kenny.  “I ride to work  – an hour and a half commute – then I’ll commute home, and after work I try and ride for a couple more hours if I can. Plus long weekend rides.”

What about lunch? “Sometimes. But lunchtime rides are over too quick.”

Kenny is a Product Integrity Specialist, but that’s just a title. “I like to share the Yakima culture – I consider myself to be a brand ambassador. I want to make sure the cycling community knows what Yakima is about, what our presence is in the cycling world – and in the outdoor community, too – so I work hard to insert our involvement so people can understand what we are and what we do.”

Kenny is on a cycling team Revenge Cycling & Racingand owns a cycling promotion company that puts on events. Yakima sponsors both. He’s also heavily involved with OBRA – the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association – and is a race official. “Official, rider, promoter – I get to see cycling from all vantage points.”



In the dark ages, Kenny used to haul his bike in the backseat. But one Yakima rack changed all that. His first true Yakima love?“Initially it was the HoldUp. It gave me the  ability to carry more than just one bike – and get it out of the backseat. The HoldUp let me stack bikes on the rack, giving my backseat some space for my friends and other stuff.” Recently, he upgraded his HoldUp to a Dr.Tray, continuing to iterate his ride to make getting out on his bike even easier.

And what’s some go-to gear that isn’t a bike or a rack? “My GQ6 hydration drinks are my go-to now. They are a sponsor and I believe in their product – keeps me hydrated, no cramps, I don’t leave home without it.”




  1. Take your time when installing bikes on your rack system. When rushed, you will forget steps. This is not a good thing for your bike! 
  2. Always take your keys to lock your bike to your rack – and never leave your bike out of your sight. If they want it bad enough – they will steal your car with your bike on it!
  3. Always carry enough water while you’re riding or plan so you can get a refill on your route.
  4. Never let a certain friend of mine – we’ll call her Brenda M. – create the route. NEVER EVER – NEVER EVER!!! (See tip 3)
  5. Always have fun! #cyclingiseverything!




Where does he unrack? “I love to go over Neskowin. It’s on the Oregon Coast, ten miles north of Lincoln City on highway 101. There’s the old highway that carves it way through the forest. Low traffic, nice climbing. I can spend a couple of hours getting things out of my system. Riding the old highway is my escape.”





“My brother and I took a day trip to Paulina Lake in Central Oregon, and he decided he wanted to climb to the top of Paulina Peak,” recalls Kenny. Kenny wasn’t psyched on pedaling up a long, steep road – it was 99 degrees out – but his brother sold him on it and told him to bring a coat. Good advice. “Paulina was a crazy ride – it was brutal, but my brother and I were determined! At the top it was 20 degrees colder, and conditions weren’t great,” says Kenny. “But, I could literally see all of Oregon. Every mountain and weather systems rolling in – the view from all angles was amazing. I could have stayed there all day… all day long.”



Kenny’s not our only awesome employee. Checkout our entire Unracked series to see who else here at Yakima is getting outdoors, how they have their car racked out, tips and tricks, and their favorite Pacific Northwest adventure spots.




At Yakima, we believe the outdoors is more fun when shared. Shared with friends. And with family. Shared with goofballs, wingmen, dreamers, crushes and jokers. The more the merrier. Because the outdoors is not just about the adventure, it’s about the stories told, the inside jokes and the shared memories.

Stop in to your local Yakima dealer to find out more about the Dr Tray or pickup whatever you may need to make the most out of your adventures and make memories. Memories that remain, long after the trip is over.

Yakima UnRacked: Paddleboarding with Jenna Fallon

Jenna loves to stand-up paddle. “Every moment in the sunshine makes me do a happy dance.” And she makes it a point – even living in the rainy Pacific Northwest – to do her SUP and sun inspired happy dancing as often as possible.  

But she does have a day job. Jenna is our Digital Director. “I manage the yakima.com user experience. My job is to help consumers find what they need on our website to create their first-ever roof rack system by setting up the online process that helps you figure out how to find the right one for your car as simply and easily as possible.”

But when she gets the time, she loads up her husband, their kids – and maybe some friends’ kids, too – packs the sunblock and trail mix, and hits the Willamette River or Lake Oswego for some stand up paddling.  

Paddling in the Pacific Northwest

The Right Gear

The right gear makes life easier. Jenna is not tall, so getting SUPs to the top of her Honda Pilot used to be a chore. Not anymore.

“I love the ShowDown. The load assist – it makes it easy for my 5’1” self to load my board so I can easily get from home to the lake or river. My husband likes it, too. The ShowDown is making life easier for him because I don’t have to ask him to come help every time I want to load the boards. I am the tiniest of all my friends…and it’s a little challenging.”

Another piece of go-to gear?  “It’s my paddle. I own two of them – Slingshots – and won’t use any other kind. It’s adjustable so it works for my husband, kids and myself, and it’s super lightweight. I do love that thing.”

Jenna’s Wheels


  1. Sun protection! Bring sunblock, a trucker hat, sunglasses and a UV protective long sleeve shirt
  2. Bring snacks like trail mix…
  3. …and make you own. Just combine dried mango, homemade baked almonds, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips
  4. If you are not especially tall, get a load-assist SUP rack, like the ShowDown. You, your friends and family will appreciate it (more below)
  5. Some things bare repeating: SUNBLOCK!


Where does Jenna UnRack? “I like to go to the Willamette River – George Rogers Park – or right by the office at Lake Oswego to SUP with my daughter. She is six and knows how to use her paddle and board. If it’s not her, it’s with my friends.”
And she loves to share her sport. “I love teaching people how to SUP – my friends and kids. It’s really fun to see them get it. It’s easy to learn – once you get it you’re on the water and you’re free to go.”


Jenna SUPs a lot, and that makes for a bunch of epic days. Is there a most epic? “It’s hard to pick one. Doing Yoga on a stand-up paddleboard on the San Diego bay with a group of friends. Or being on a paddleboard on one July Fourth evening in Portland and watching fireworks. Or my after-work adventures hanging with my daughter and son on paddleboards together.”

All awesome, but then she hits on it: “Getting my family on our boards is the best way to spend quality time together. Watching the Oregon sun go down and watching the colors of the sunset is moving for all of us.”


Jenna’s not our only awesome employee. Checkout our entire UnRacked series to see who else here at Yakima is getting outdoors, how they have their car racked out, tips and tricks, and their favorite Pacific Northwest adventure spots.




At Yakima, we believe the outdoors is more fun when shared. Shared with friends. And with family. Shared with goofballs, wingmen, dreamers, crushes and jokers. The more the merrier. Because the outdoors is not just about the adventure, it’s about the stories told, the inside jokes and the shared memories.

Stop in to your local Yakima dealer to find out more about the ShowDown or pickup whatever you may need to make the most out of your adventures and make memories. Memories that remain, long after the trip is over.

How to Carry All the Gear You Need While Living on the Road

Or, in other words, an exercise in decluttering and organization necessitated by a 200-square-foot living space


A decade ago, I’d have scoffed at the suggestion that fitting everything we needed for road life into a 23-foot travel trailer would be tricky. Back then, my wife Jen and I embarked on all manner of western adventures in a 1998 Volkswagen Golf, stuffed to the gills. How hard could it be to fit all our stuff into a setup that, along with a pickup, measures nearly 40 feet long?

Turns out, it’s harder than you think, even if you’re committed to simplicity.

The day-to-day infrastructure in an Airstream is mostly self-contained, but there are some bulky exceptions: camp chairs, a table, solar panel and battery, a generator, outdoor grill, etc. We also need work essentials, including laptops, backup drives, and photo and video gear.

Beyond that, our interests are wide ranging. We both ride on the mountain and road, which means four bikes and appropriate sundries. We hike and camp, so we always roll with a couple of packs, a tent, and a trail cooking setup, plus bikepacking gear for overnights on the bikes. Fly fishing means we need rods, tackle, and waders. Hunting necessitates bows, a rifle, and camo. Climbing demands shoes, harness, a rope, and a small rack. And that doesn’t even get into skiing, surfing, kayaking, or any of the really unwieldy stuff that’s currently relegated to storage back home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

But we’re somehow able to fit it all, thanks to some deliberate pruning—and a few carefully chosen accessories.


Yakima Showcase 15

For extra storage and organization, we added crossbars on the roof and a Yakima Showcase 15 cargo box. I’ve used a lot of roof boxes through the years, and this one is the best yet. It solves my main complaint from past models—poor opening and closing—with a clearly marked key-lock system and a large button that works every time. As is standard, it opens from either side. Installation was simple, courtesy of locking levers that hold the feet in place and ratcheting knobs that clamp the feet onto any shape bars: round, square, or aero. Yakima makes a box with 30 percent more space, the Showcase 20, but this one is ample for our needs, providing storage for bulky items like sleeping bags, backpacks, bikepacking gear, and a tent that we don’t use every day. Best of all, we haven’t seen any real decrease in gas mileage with it installed.

Friends tease that we need less stuff, a bigger truck, or both. The less stuff is probably true, but honestly, we could fit everything into just the truck and trailer—no box or racks. The add-ons, however, let us spread out and keep organized. So instead of constantly packing, unpacking, and digging for gear, we spend more time out using it.

Read More

Stop by your Local Yakima Dealer to learn more about the Showcase series and other great Yakima products.

Aaron and Jen also use a tray style hitch mount bike rack and fork mount roof top bike racks. Check out the Dr Tray and HighSpeed to complete your optimal #AdventureMobile.