Advice is easy to come by when it comes to outdoors clothing and gear. But is it the ‘right’ advice?
All you need to do is post a simple question on any of the social platforms and you’ll get endless replies, some of which may be from experienced professionals and others could be enthusiastic hobbyists, who are well meaning but limited in their product awareness.
Just like asking Dr Google about your medical ailments, you need to read any replies with a certain amount of question. Who is giving you this advice, what experience do they have, do they understand the technicalities of the fabrics and product manufacture of the item concerned and do they have any particular bias towards a brand for any reason.
But what about those new to the industry interested in product design, those who maybe want to start a new brand, or are working in a brand already and need more unbiased advice of fabric specifications and technical awareness. What about bloggers and influencers, or those new to working in outdoor education centres, where do they get advice. Walking, cycling, hiking groups needing deeper understanding. There are many potential reasons you might need impartial experienced advice, so just who do you ask?
Until consumers and product designers actually start looking, many don’t realise the sheer volume of offerings now available from material manufacturers around the world. Added to which the numerous ways in which materials can be sewn, the strength of different stitches, the wealth of thread types, the environmental impact of the manufacturing process of the source materials as well as the whole item production.
Outdoor Gear Coach is a UK based, not-for-profit CIC (Community Interest Company). Their objectives are to serve the outdoor activity community with publications and training courses about products and garments. This community includes anyone participating in any of the following activities. Walking, hill walking, backpacking, scrambling, rock climbing, mountaineering, orienteering, cycling and mountain biking, ski touring.
This includes all activities where product and human physiology information linked to skills is needed for competency, safety and enjoyment in all outdoor and mountain environments, over 7 continents.
The community of outdoor activists they aim to serve comprises 6 sectors.
1.Individual participants purchasing and using the equipment and clothing for personal use.
2.The professionals who are making, sourcing, designing, selling, and buying for resale.
3.Journalists and individuals who write and blog in printed and digital media about outdoor products and garments.
4.Outdoor education courses in colleges and universities.
5.Outdoor skills training. This group comprises highly skilled, trained and professionally accredited outdoor professionals known variously as mountain leaders, climbing instructors and Guides.
- Outdoor centres for training people of all ages in outdoor skills.
Outdoor Gear Coach is founded by Mary Rose and Mike Parsons, with key contributors Chris Townsend, Alan Hinkes, Chuck Kukla and Marian Parsons.
More details can be found on their website and a complete breakdown of the knowledge and skills they can offer.
While you are there check out their first book, Keeping Dry and Staying Warm in the Outdoors, now available in paper back and Kindle.