A Professor of Biology and Mathematics and Adventurer, Roman Dial lives in Anchorage, Alaska, with his wife, Peggy. Read “The History of Bikerafting” for more on Dial. Photos by Brett Davis.
Sometimes when Roman Dial sees a new tool for traveling—mountain bike or packraft, for example—it triggers his imagination for new adventures. Other times, he dreams up trips while doing something else, such as collecting data for his PhD in the rainforest canopy of a Caribbean Island. While there, he envisioned moving from tree to tree for days on end. Before long, he was headed to Borneo and Australia on a National Geographic grant to spend five days “canopy trekking.”
Roman finds freedom in “wilderness without permits, tents without floors, travel without trails, and boats without hard parts.” His objectives are simple: “include the right people and the right gear. Choose the right route, while remaining aware that flexibility is key.”
Since he started adventuring as a teen in the mid 1970s, Roman’s great journeys have transformed from basic Alaska hitchhiking and backpacking, to traversing the Brooks Range by ski, foot, and packraft, to mountain biking the Alaska Range. Unfortunately, in 2016, his focus shifted to finding his missing son (Read Men’s Journal’s article on the search for Cody Dial). “Life itself is a great journey, during which our goals transform along with our bodies and relationships.”
- Preferred Packraft: “The Gnarwhal has everything I like about a good packraft: dry spray skirt, zipper, thigh straps, big burly seat, and a high forgiveness to weight ratio.”
- Beginner Tips: Always look where you want to go. Learn to eddy out regularly, meaning keep an eye out for eddies at all times and know how to use them. Wear a dry-suit anywhere in Alaska that you’d wear a PFD.