Innovative waterproof backpacks power the new sport of seatrekking
By C.C. Weiss
December 13, 2012
ÁETEM is a German company that was created by a group of people passionate about experiencing the world in a new way – that new way is called seatrekking. Seatrekking, not to be confused with the Sea Trek system developed by Sub Sea Systems, is essentially a cross between swimming, snorkeling, free diving and backpacking. ÁETEM's upcoming line of rugged waterproof packs is designed to meet its demands.
Seatrekking is similar to coasteering, another fringe outdoor sport that involves swimming, walking, climbing, cliff jumping and otherwise maneuvering along the coastline. But seatrekking brings overnight camping and farther distances into the mix. ÁETEM explains that seatrekkers snorkel, walk and freedive along a predetermined route over the course of several days. They explore the sea and coastline, camp on the shore and then continue their journey the following day.
The sport blurs the boundaries between related activities like hiking and scuba diving. In some cases, a "sea trail" serves as an extension of a hiking trail or land route, providing a fusion of land and sea exploration. By packing enough gear for multiple days, the seatrekker is able to travel farther than the typical scuba diver.
In the same way that backpacking requires a different set of gear than hiking, seatrekking requires a different set of gear than scuba diving. A small group of seatrekking innovators began exploring coastlines in 2005, and in developing a new twist on outdoor exploration, they quickly realized that the new sport required new gear. So they began designing and testing it. Eventually, they founded ÁETEM to sell their gear to other aspiring seatrekkers.
ÁETEM offers several different packs designed to be used on land and water. The packs can be worn like backpacks or tethered to the waist and dragged behind in the water. The waterproof bags include a pressure system that inflates them, providing a smooth float on the water. They also include a deployable anchor so that the trekker can leave the bag floating on the water while he dives down to explore the depths or takes a break on land. An integrated flag warns nearby boats that someone is swimming by the shoreline.
The Seashell is a hard-shelled carbon pack that doubles as a body board, while the Big Pack and Day Pack are soft-shelled packs. The Seashell includes wheels and stabilization fins.
Like much of backpacking, seatrekking has a minimalistic ethos that encourages participants to keep things light and flexible. The seatrekker wears a wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel and carries provisions like a sleeping bag, food and water in their pack. They'd presumably want to have some emergency supplies, such as fire-starting equipment, as well, but the idea is to carry only necessities and leave the rest behind. Like backpacking, sea trekkers are expected to leave no trace.
The appeal of seatrekking should be obvious to many, but if you're having trouble finding it, imagine sleeping under the stars on empty beaches and exploring remote parts of the coast that are difficult, if not impossible, to access by land or boat. The seaside resorts and crowds are far behind and you're left to explore land and sea in its most natural form. If that doesn't do it, check out the three-minute video below for a closer look at the sport and gear.
Related sports like diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking and backpacking all have passionate followings, so it's not hard to imagine seatrekking blossoming into a larger, more popular sport.
ÁETEM was awarded an ISPO BRANDNEW Award this month and plans to get its designs to production in the near future. For those looking to start seatrekking, the company publishes information about seatrek tours on its website.