For me, September has always indicated the end of summer; back to school, back to work, the first signs of Autumn leaves and a slight chill in the air. To celebrate the end of summer and Harvey’s birthday, the two of us headed off for one final coastal trip to Cornwall for climbing, surfing and van-living. It somehow felt like summer had come back for that week… But now I’m back in Manchester, Autumn and Winter definitely feel like they’re around the corner - and I can’t bloody wait! I really want to work hard on my blog over the next few months and bring you guys some posts on whatever you might be interested in. Please let me know if there’s anything you’ve seen me do, or anywhere I’ve been, that you want me to write more about.
Anyway, back to this month’s Wild Things… This month I’m telling you about a surprising piece of gear I love, a bicycle journey through the Sierra Nevada, an environmental website and a sustainable brand I love.
Harvey and I met Meg, who created PACMAT, over hot chocolate in Chamonix. She told us about a side project she runs that she said had got a little ‘out of hand’ and become much more than just a side project. It started with an idea, to create a lightweight picnic blanket that would also keep your bum dry on soggy ground. And so PACMAT was born, with a waterproof under-layer and a quick-dry, lightweight top (resembling the fabric of a travel town); what you get is a super-packable, waterproof picnic blanket to take on adventures. The idea appealed to me instantly… Something to use when outdoor climbing, camping and bivi-ing. Most of the time, I’m trying to keep my belongings to a minimum when packing a day bag and heading into the hills. I was keen to try out a PACMAT, and after having used it for the last couple of month, I can assuredly say that I love it!
Harvey and I have used the PACMAT in many scenarios. When travelling in the van, we had to keep everything to a minimum and having the PACMAT tucked away was no issue whatsoever. We used it quite simply as a picnic blanket, sitting out and eating lunch with ocean views, but also when climbing as a rope-mat, and when bouldering as a gear dump since the ground was fairly soggy. I can definitely see myself using the PACMAT much more over the coming months.
I met Mat and Clare around a year and a half ago at a Pannier CC ride and campout. That was Clare’s first ever bike-packing trip; 12 months later and her and her boyfriend Mat (who’s done a lot of bike-touring in the past!) set out to cycle around the world. Mat and Clare and currently in Nepal, but her latest blogpost covers a stretch in Spain from Granada to Madrid, crossing the Sierra Nevada with entertaining tales of dirt tracks, wild dogs and afternoon beers. Clare’s giving me major itchy feet, and I’m loving following her and Mat’s journey around the world by bicycle. Her writing absorbs you into the scene, while her photography brings it to life. Can’t wait to see what adventures they find in Nepal!
I came across this website through social media recently and was instantly intrigued. A space for the ‘New Environmentalist’, The Good Nature’s homepage reads, “We are a community of creatives, entrepreneurs, and adventurers looking out for this place we call home. Together, we are starting conversations about sustainable living, environmental advocacy and what it means to live with the earth in mind.” The website features interviews, podcasts and other resources on how each and every one of us can do something to look after the planet. It’s got me psyched for ways I can use my own voice, along with my photography and writing to, spread awareness of more environmentalist topics. Do check out the site for inspiration!
I’m not sure how many people who read my blog are climbers (if any!), but even if you’re not, this podcast can be relatable to many sports or aspects of life. I’ve recently gotten really into podcasts, and the Training Beta Podcast is one that I love. The podcast is focused on training tips for climbing, and this particular episode focuses on overcoming fear in climbing, as host Neely Quinn speaks to writer and researcher, Dr. Roanne van Woorst about her new book. In it, she interviews some extreme athletes including climbers like Alex Honnold, Hazel Findlay and Lynn Hill about how they cope with fear, and how they overcome it in their sport. As fear in climbing is something I’ve struggled with (and talked about here!), I found the podcast incredibly fascinating and it made me psyched to get back outside and work on some ways to overcome my fear. I’d recommend the podcast if fear is something you struggled with, in any aspect of life, or if you’re interested in understanding the mentality of professional athletes.
I’m always on the lookout for sustainable brands that do good things for the environment. Prana puts ethical and environmental issues at the forefront of their business, creating “clothing for positive change” with a multitude of good things on the label; sustainable, Fairtrade certified, Bluesign certified, organic cotton, recycled wool, and responsibly sourced down being just some of those. I’m trying to seriously reduce the amount of clothing I buy. Because I spend so much time outside and being active, most of what I buy these days is a cross between casual day-to-day gear and outdoor/active clothing. Patagonia is one brand that I find perfect for both of those things, and Prana seems to be much the same; designed for climbing, yoga and adventure. I recently bought a Prana t-shirt which I’ve been wearing to the climbing gym, outside hiking, and day-to-day at home or around town. Buying clothes that do all these things mean I get the most use out of them, and so the environmental impact feels more worth it. Check out Prana for great quality and sustainable clothing.
I’m really keen to put a bit more of a focus on environmental topics in Wild Things, and in general throughout my blog. Of course I’ll intersperse that with other things I’ve enjoyed from the web, but let me know if there are any resources you think I’d find useful relating to environmental topics from around the web - podcasts, websites, people, books.