One of the main reasons we started the media outlet side of moi outside is to give a platform to (and document) the community and wide range of people who simply love spending time outside.
Whether that’s hiking, biking, swimming, running, camping, climbing or anything in between on or the edges. To try and break down the barriers of ‘expertise’ and the holding knowledge as some sort of exclusive (and closed) right of passage, and instead just to celebrate what we all have in common, we feel better when we’re outdoors.
The moi interviews series is here to give a voice and some insight into what specifically individuals in our community love about their definition of ‘outside’ , and shine a light on some interesting people and what drives them.
It feels apt that we start this series with someone whos taste, outlook, and way of thinking about outside time we’ve always admired, Gavin Campbell.
Hopefully by the end of this interview you’ll see why.
1. What’s your name, and where are you from?
The name’s Gavin and I’m hailing from sunny Birmingham.
2. Everyone has their own unique story about why they first started spending time outdoors and/or got into a specific activity or community. How did this go for you?
Ever since being a kid I’ve always had somewhat of an obsession with bikes, I raced downhill as a teenager and spent most of my evenings and weekends either riding MTB trails with my mates or building & riding BMX dirt jumps near where I lived. It was no Sheep Hills but it was close. Later on, having met my now wife, a Welsh native, we’d often be blasting up the M54 to Wales to visit family so it was only really a matter of time before we started to venture into the surrounding hills. We’d go to places like Lake Vyrnwy and Pistyll Rhaeadr and it was these initial mini adventures that gave me a taste of something I’d come to want more of.
3. Where do you spend most of your time outdoors, and why?
If I have a few hours to myself I’ll be on my mountain bike in woodland a short drive from my home. Due to my location it’s pretty convenient for me to dart to Cannock Chase, the Forest of Dean or one of the many spots dotted around Shropshire for a few laps.
Otherwise I’ll hiking or biking with my family pretty much every weekend and a bunch of camping throughout the summer holidays too. These activities are really important to us, we all get something out of it, and I think being in the hills with your kids, with a packed lunch and hot chocolate in a flask, simple as it is, is pretty rad.
4. What is the best thing that a closer relationship to the outdoors has given you?
I’ve found myself in some pretty tricky situations, both when hiking and cycling and the one thing I’ve learned is that your body is capable is of so much more than you think it is, where you think the limit is, isn’t where the limit is.
I also totally prescribe to the idea that being outdoors can lead to a better sense of wellbeing and that it has a positive effect on one’s mental health, however for me it much purer than that. I just really enjoy being outside. From a visual and auditory point of view it’s just an all-round nicer place to be.
5. Any downsides?
It is a challenge being able to find balance between my day-to-day work life and leisure-time outdoors. It has an allure that’s sometimes hard to escape and given the opportunity I would ride my bike or hike someplace different every day. But bills need paid.
6. Do you look for a sense of community? Or is outdoors time alone time?
Both. Generally speaking, bike-time is personal time, just me on my own riding trails. This isn’t out of choice however, it just boils down to time. Being a father and a husband, I have to take the opportunities as they come, which isn’t always the ideal scenario for making plans with groups of people. With all that being said for larger and longer trips to the mountains I always plan those ahead with a group of friends who are in similar family situations, I find we all value the same things about being outdoors so it’s good for us all to have that time together a few times a year.
7. How could outdoors spaces and activities be more welcoming and inclusive? Is cost an issue in your opinion?
The biggest challenge facing people who want to access the outdoors and more specifically mountain settings is physically getting there.
The latest government facts and figures shows that: Black people were more than twice as likely as White people to live in a household with no access to a car or van.
That’s a huge deal. There are rarely any trains or coaches going to these places so if you have no transport, it’s a massive restriction. It’s a real difficult one to remedy, no doubt about it, but thankfully there are more and more groups popping up and organising to get people out there – shout out @wegooutsidetoo – The more we normalise this behaviour for Black and Brown people and more specifically Black and Brown young people, the better the future will be for everyone.
8. Are there any activities/places you really want to try/go?
For sure, I’m desperate to do some multi-day hikes, I also want try bike-packing, combining two of my loves. Finally on this year’s hit list is to take my boys (9,6 and 5) on a hike up Snowdon, I’ve been up there many times myself but the next time I go I want them to be with me.
9. What’s your favourite outdoors related product?
This one’s too deep, there are so many incredible things out there, each with their own merit and use-case but if I think about the one single thing that’s enabled me to do so much it would have to be my 14-year-old Volkswagen Transporter ‘Mfanwy’. It’s taken us on countless adventures across the UK and Europe and it’s so integral that we regard it as a member of the family. We’re very grateful to have it.
10. And your favourite social account/website/print mag?
I always look out for Japanese cycling retailers like Blue Lug and Circles JP, Nakamoto.ke is great and is quite possibly the most wholesome content on the internet, I also really like Fosterhunting for cars, wooden huts and generally rad stuff and finally I’m a sucker for a Capybara page, but who isn’t?
11. What snack are you gutted if you leave behind?
Those CLIF BLOKS energy chews. Game changer. I can eat them like sweets but I really shouldn’t.
12. What’s the most interesting development or trend happening in the outdoors space at the minute, and why?
I guess for me it’s just the sheer amount of people discovering the outdoors, getting equipped and doing cool stuff every weekend. A lot of people have formed strong communities around outdoor adventures, what used to be club or pub culture – for some people – has transitioned to outdoors culture. There is a lot of creativity too; film photography, videography, sound design, graphic design, you name it and the common thread through it all is the outdoors.
13. Finally what’s the one piece of advice you wish you knew when starting out, or would like to share with those starting their outdoors adventure journey?
Make purchasing decisions based on function.
You don’t need an Alpha SV.