In recent years, after decades of being a bit of an ‘inside guy’, I’ve well and truly fallen in love with Mother Nature and the outdoors. And it’s fundamentally changed many aspects of my life. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine an area of my life it hasn’t affected in some way. From the food I eat, to the car I drive to the clothes I wear.
I suppose some might call these changes a ‘mid life crisis’, only without the sports car. In fact, for me, it’s been the other way around as I’ve parked my convertible and traded it for a much more sensible and durable wagon. But then, I’ve always thought the term ‘mid life crisis’ was unnecessarily negative anyway, and preferred the term ‘mid life re-evaluation’. Which is a good thing, right? Who wants to go through life without ever re-looking at whether their choices are still relevant and leading to an authentic, fulfilling life? Not me, that’s for sure.
So here I am, reformed ‘inside guy’, slowly but surely unleashing my inner adventurer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still as soft as that fancy three ply toilet paper I prefer. I only recently bought my first tent, and it never quite made it out of the packaging on my last trip. I opted to sleep in the back of my rented SUV instead. OK, and some motels along the way as well. Oops.
It all started when I took up running in 2010, which quickly morphed into disocvering, and falling in love with trail running. And a few years later when I had a long term injury, I was forced to get my fix of the outdoors in other ways and went on to do a bit of abseiling, kayaking, hiking, sky diving, mountain biking, and anything else I could to get away from it all and enjoy the outdoors.
The result of my particular brand of ‘mid life re-evaluation’ has been a virtual domino effect of up re-evaluations. These days, for example, rather than spot me out and about well past Fat Cat’s bed time, you're much more likely to see me up before dawn, driving to somewhere in the middle of nowhere, getting ready to hit the trails. Rather than driving to work, you might even spot me riding my mountain bike there and back. (You know, providing it’s not raining. Or too hot.)
All sorts of things I once may have been tempted to label ‘crazy’ are now a regular part of my life. Including my friends. It turns out crazy attracts crazy, and I’m now fortunate enough to also have some awesome friends in my life who are just my kind of crazy, so I’m not out there on the trails before sunrise on my own.
And with this re-evaluation comes all sorts of other realisations about the choices I make. My day to day watch, is now no longer a day to day watch, but instead a Garmin Fenix 3 that rarely leaves my wrist. My kitchen pantry is now stuffed with all sorts of trail nutrition, from Clif bars and Gu gels, to Nuun hydration tabs and Salt Stick capsules. Even my washing machine has been marginalised in the place it once ruled - the laundry. Instead, this has become my gear room, filled with multiple trails shoes, hydration packs, waterproof bags and various other outdoor paraphernalia including a compass I have no idea how to use but was once a required piece of mandatory equipment. So yes, now I have a compass.
Of course, my wardrobe is also now bursting at the seams with Merino clothing - something I hadn’t even heard of just a few short years ago. Just before I left for a stage race in Nepal back in 2012, a local Merino company gave me a T-shirt to try out. At the time, little did I know it was a dirty drug-pusher technique to get me hooked. And get me hooked they did.
To the uninitiated, (ie me), at first glance it looked a lot like a regular Tshirt. With a more expensive price tag. How was I to know this one T-shirt would lead to a fairly serious addiction and that one T-shirt would soon become two, and before long I’d wearing Merino for pretty much everything I did outdoors. And as sometimes happens, I started to look at my old life, and my old wardrobe, differently. Wearing my regular gear, which was mostly synthetics, in the outdoors when I could be wearing an awesome, natural fabric like Merino just seemed, well, un-authentic. Why wear ‘plastic’ when you’re out in the natural world unless you absolutely have to? Why wear something that’s likely going to become landfill for the next few thousand years, destroying the places you love so much, when you can wear a natural fibre, that not only out-performs most man made fabrics, but is biodegradable and goes back to mother Earth when you’re done with it? It just made sense.
Now I should confess, these days I do quite a bit of work with the team at ioMerino, an Australian company who make amazing Merino clothing, so of course I’m probably a little bias toward the category in general, and them in particular. What I can tell you without a hint of self-interest is I now feel much more comfortable, not only physically, but also philosophically, with my choice of clothing. When I’m out in nature, surrounding myself with natural things, it makes way more sense to me to be wearing something equally natural. Sure, I still wear other fabrics as well - particularly if I need something like a waterproof jacket. But day to day, and whenever I can, you’ll usually find me wearing my ioMerino. Even if i’m sleeping in the back of my SUV instead of in my tent at the time.