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Friluftsliv roughly translates to free air life, but there are lot more cultural values to it than any direct translation can capture. Friluftsliv can mean so many different things, depending on who you ask. For some it can be climbing peaks, for others a leisurely picnic with the family in the local park. The common denominator is that the outdoors is a fixed, and valued, part of everyday life in some way or another. Perhaps the best way to put it is that while here in the UK a lot of times nature is only seen as something for the strong to conquer, Friluftsliv is more about spending time in harmony with nature.
In Scandinavia, this view of the outdoors is engrained in children from an early age. You are likely to see nurseries letting the kids explore the local creek, ice skating on the frozen ponds in winter, or just playing outside on rainy spring days. All throughout the school years, a lot of the learning incorporates the outdoor – whether that is through sports or more traditional outdoor activities.
Another reason that people are so willing to spend time outside in Scandinavia is that the health benefits from being in nature are considered common knowledge. Rarely do claims that it reduced stress, boosts creativity, and increases happiness need to be backed up by statistics. For those that still like statistics, this study showing that playing outside appears to reduce ADHD symptoms in children is a good example of how time in nature boosts brain performance.
Of course, this outlook goes hand in hand with a need for gear that allows people to spend more time outdoors. If you think about it - if you’re not comfortable then you simply won’t enjoy it, and if you don’t enjoy it then you won’t be spending as much time in nature - no matter how good it is for you. But perhaps one of the biggest differences between Scandinavian outdoor clothing and garments designed in other parts of the world is that in addition to the need for functionality, an element of style is also important if the clothing is to be worn regularly. The idea is that you’re more likely to wear that functional jacket if it also looks good.
Some might argue that an important factor playing into this cultural appreciation of the outdoors is that the very generous land access rights make it a lot easier to get into nature than in many other regions of the world.
However, while this is surely true to a certain extent and Friluftsliv is of course more deeply rooted in Scandinavia, there is nothing saying that you can’t incorporate it into your life here in the UK as well. After all, Friluftsliv is an attitude and as such it is not locked down to a particular location. In fact, microadventures – a term coined by Alastair Humphrey, which is quickly growing in popularity – has a lot of similarities with Friluftsliv. To use Humphreys own words “microadventures offer a realistic escape to wilderness, simplicity and the great outdoors”, with a key emphasis placed on them being short, simple, local, and cheap.
It is also worth remembering that, here in Scotland the access rights are even pretty similar to those in Scandinavian countries.
No matter your experience level, the outdoors is all around and there is ample opportunity for adventures, be they big or small. All it takes it that first small step. Get out there, Friluftsliv is calling you!
If you want to know more about Friluftsliv and the gear needed to enjoy it, stop by our event in our new shop in Glasgow on March 29th where Ross Bainbridge, Scandinavian outdoor brand Fjällrävens UK representative, will discuss how the idea of ‘friluftsliv’ influences their products. As a Scot with years of experience of working for a Scandinavian brand, Ross is ideally placed to discuss why quality clothing should be a must, not just for the elite outdoorsmen, but for everyone spending time outside in the British climate.
Also speaking at the event will be Hilleberg ambassador Will Copestake, voted ‘Young Adventurer of the Year’ in 2015, who will be sharing his experiences in Scandinavia and here at home in the UK.
Find out more here.