Myself during a trip to Norway last year

Standing on top of a mountain and taking the dog for a walk in the park. Setting up camp in a gale above the arctic circle and pitching your tent in the backgarden. Scarfing down the last bit of freeze dried food to get the calories needed on an expdition and enjoying and a leisurley family picnic in a wooded area close to home. All of these activities are completely different, but they are all outdoor activties. So what does it mean when someone says they’re outdoorsy?

Growing up, my mother was a wildlife and conservation journalist working for Swedish radio. This meant that I spent my childhood in the outdoors, tagging along on whatever job she was doing. If she was doing an interview about the current frog population in a local creek, I was there (with my head in the the recently mentioned creek). If she was doing a piece about a not even remotely local beaver dam, I was there (probably complaining about not seeing the beavers I had been promised). On her days off, dog walks and minor excursions into the woods behind the house were routine.

Since then I have lived four years in Alaska, where it is pretty much impossible not to partake in outdoor activities even if you don’t like them, and a virtual playground if you do like them. I even managed to live a year in an Alp village in France before ending up in Scotland. During this time I have logged hours beyond counting being outside. The point I am trying to make is that I consider myself outdoorsy. Very outdoorsy even.

Yet the highest elevation I have ever been at is just over 2,500 meters. A height which required very mild scrambling, at most, to get to in all honesty. Rarely do I spend multiple nights out wild camping. It happens, but not that often. As far as expeditions go, a recent four day trip in the Jämtland region of Sweden is the most advanced I have been a part of, and that was certainly nothing extreme (even if the weather made it miserable at times). If you have to be “hardcore”, and dangling on the edges of cliffs on a regular basis, to call yourself an outdoorsman, I hardly qualify.

What I do is walk my dog a couple of hours a day. Whenever I get a chance I take the family out hiking. Overall, the hours I spend outdoors add up. While some certainly would wrinkle their nose at that, I have found that I have just as much need for good gear as someone who face extreme conditions. In fact, a lot of the time the gear I need is the same as the gear the hard users need.

The Hilleberg Keron tent is a good example of this. It is spacious, it is quick and easy to put up, and extremely reliable. Exactly what I need for a family camping trip. All of those qualities are also integral during a polar expedition. 

 

Parts of the family getting a well earned rest during a hike at Isle of Skye.

In some cases it is even more important for me to have quality gear than for someone who sees being outdoors as a sport. If your only aim is to get as high up as possible as fast as possible, you are prepared for it to be miserable anyway. If so, maybe using a membrane jacket that feels like a plastic bag when you have it on is just as well, in case the weather does change at the top. But why would I, with my sole purpose of spending time outdoors being to actually enjoy it, sacrifice on comfort. Over the course of the year I put in more miles wearing my dog walking trousers than many trekkers do, so why shouldn’t they be durable and comfortable?

The last couple of times I have been back to Sweden I have noticed a trend. More and more people are out, maybe not seeking thrills, but enjoying the outdoors at their own pace. Some are out for the next picture to post on their instagram account, others are content just taking in the sights, and of course some are still traditional outdoorsmen. I have a hard time seeing anything wrong with any of it. Among young and old alike the outdoors have become more open to everyone, without needing a label on it.

After all, I think that being outdoorsy is more about placing a high value on time spent outdoors than it is about what you do when you are actually out there.