10 things... you can only do with outdoor gear

1 Be wilfully intimate

“Four man tent? Seriously? It doesn’t look like it could hold four men. Four men in there, lying side by side… you can imagine that would be pretty, um, close. I know, we’re all blokes together in the wild and all, but… what’s that? It’s starting to rain? Well come on then – crush up lads! Weeyyyy… who’s got the whiskey?”

2 Ignore fashion

In no other activity, in no other sport, for no other reason and in no other societal enclave would anyone even consider paying £300 for something so very, very yellow. Somehow, the more blinding the garment, the prouder the wearer. Which is a bit strange. But – ooh! – look! Zippy bits!

3 Bewilder sheep

All a sheep sees day in, day out is green on grey, green on grey, green on grey. Imagine what goes on in its poor little mind the second it sees a clanking, rainbow-coloured apparition with a bright flashing thing on its head and two sticks in its hands walking into its field? No wonder they scream and leg it.

4 Carry off the ‘hermit’ look

We live in cosmopolitan times, we do. These days, the attire of – say – Hare Krishna acolytes isn’t considered unusual, as before the eyes can say ‘hang on a sec…’ the brain says ‘nope – they’re okay.’ Likewise, the sight of a whipped-looking walker sloping around Ambleside with clothes hanging in off-duty strips around their waist, a base layer unzipped to the navel and Don King hair invariably passes unreprimanded. ‘Outdoor folk’, see… 

5 Make ski goggles look cool

On a mountain in a savage blizzard, goggles complete your wild-weather persona by turning you into an aspirationally expeditionary, almost
astronautical figure. They are the glazed, technological topping to layers of protective shielding, leaving no centimetre of skin exposed to a ripping wind. They seal you inside a world of amber-tinted calm, give that epic sparkle to a summit shot, and save your eyes from the claws of the weather. Just as well really, as anywhere else they make you look like a TV with a mouth.

6 Justify dressing up at home

Yes, you were just trying on the jacket. We understand that you need a mirror to check it doesn’t ride up at the back. And of course, it’s always a good idea to break your boots in before you go out. And check the sunglasses and the hat don’t ‘interfere’ with each other when you bend over. But sir, this is your last warning – put the ice axe down.

7 Be wantonly abusive

Shiny boots don’t say anything about you. If anything, they say pathetic, preening, pretend mountain person. Walk into a walker’s pub with these glowing specimens and a dozen pints will stifle sniggers from a dozen weather-beaten peers. So best make this walk scuff-shuffle city. And just in case you meet anyone en route, best take them off and give them a whack on a rock beforehand…

8 Appal parents

“It was how much? Wh…for this? This anorak? Three hundred pounds?! But it’s so thin! And it’s not even warm…”

9 Go commando

There you are, free and unencumbered in the mountains, liberated from the usual constraints demanded of you in the name of polite society and etiquette, hurling and bouncing around the wild bush, cut back to the barest simplicity and ready to go anywhere, no matter how wild, at the drop of a hat. Just like a commando. Well, what did you think we meant?

10 Take on the world

Face it – if it wasn’t for this stuff, you wouldn’t be able to get to those marvellous places you get to. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s garishly
coloured, crinkly, unfashionable and has very strange names. But you love it. That’s okay – we do too.

More: 10 things...

...that are horribly awkward
...that camping brings
...that demand respect
...that are extremely distressing
...that define a walker's winter
...that defy explanation
...every adventurer needs
...to always remember