One of our Alpkiteers, Sara, got in touch recently to tell us all about the community she's found in Every Body Outdoors and in being an Alpkiteer.
The outdoors is for every body – and living in south Wales I have privileged access to all of it. Coast, hills, woodland, rivers, barely half an hour from my door – a gift.
So why haven’t I been out there til now? I’d always thought the outdoors just weren’t for me. Hiking, for example, consisted of trudging around breathlessly with my constant companion, chub rub, asking myself how people could enjoy this sort of thing?
I never saw people like me taking part in epic outdoor activities, like climbing and surfing – and one trip to the local outdoor superstore confirmed it. People like me weren’t supposed to be part of the picture. There, I could find one waterproof coat, two sizes too small but one that nevertheless zipped up where it mattered (as long as I stood blot upright and adopted a penguin-like waddle).
I’ve since come to learn that the source of my discomfort came from two places – bad kit and poor confidence. I didn’t ‘fit in’ the outdoors because well, my kit didn’t fit. And as a result, I thought I wasn’t ‘cut out’ for the outdoors. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of a growing movement that addresses these two things – giving plus-size people a platform to share their amazing skills, experiences and push for better-fitting kit in more inclusive sizes (including that holy grail: the well-fitting waterproof coat).
Joining the team at Every Body Outdoors and becoming an Alpkiteer has been completely transformative. The advice of my new-found friends at EBO, and the support of Alpkit in finding well-fitting kit has meant that this year I have scaled new heights, swum further, and gained an amazing sense of community in the outdoors – I finally feel like I belong.
Because it’s not just about the waterproof coat, it’s about what good kit can enable. At EBO, some of our members often talk about being restricted in what they can do with their children, for example, because they lack the kit to stay dry and warm outdoors with them. Others talk about the sting of turning up to try a new activity with friends, only to be turned away due to lack of suitable kit in their size. Now, as a result of our campaign, we’re hearing every week from someone who has tried something new, taken the plunge, and got involved in the outdoors – things are changing.
I am still very much a newbie when it comes to the outdoors, but I’ve definitely come a long way – I’m no longer hiking in tailored shorts and high tops, for example – and with a year of great adventures behind me, I can’t wait to discover where I go next.