The Summer Ethical Series on hold until next summer

Sorry I didn’t finish the Summer series on Ethical Consumerism in Outdoor Adventure.

If you’ve had a look at the last 7 posts you’ll read some good ideas that help make adventure more sustainable.

Let me know if you use any of these or have more ideas of your own. I’m always keen to learn.

It was my plan to write about the ethics of adventure travel but i ran out of time while making my first short film for the 20/21 Women’s Adventure Film Tour. I won a film grant sponsored by Salomon and Suunto and managed to finish filming enough when covid lockdown began. Phew!

Right now i am with my expedition team in Wee Jasper. Tomorrow we begin an 800km alpine winter snowshoe traverse across the Australian Alps for climate action.

We have wonderful sponsors and supporters who i will introduce to you over the next 2 months.

I’ll write more about the ethics of adventure travel in Summer but until then, if you want to know more, please check out an amazing ethical adventure app called Adventure Junky. If you explore their website you’ll discover a lot of good information about travelling sustainably.

7/10 Ethical Consumerism in Outdoor Adventure – Giving back

“At the heart of Wild Earth is a strong commitment to the environment and preservation of our wilderness. By sourcing quality gear and apparel from brands that have a commitment to the use of recyclable materials, we can provide a range of goods for our customers that last longer and need to be replaced less often and make less landfill, and by doing so, with the support of our customers, together we can minimise our impact on the environment.”    Wild Earth Australia

When you spend money with a business you are supporting more than just that business. You are supporting their ethos, environmental ethics and their contributions to the greater community. If you want to take your consumer ethics to the next level then invest where your dollar has the greatest impact.

I am an ambassador for Wild Earth, an Australian outdoor and adventure store based on the Gold Coast and online. I had a few offers of ambassadorship at the same time and had to weight up not only the personal benefits but also the ethics and positive impacts of the business i would be associated with.

There are many businesses who put profits back into educational, community, cultural and conservation projects, support adventurers, activists, scientists, as well as helping make adventure more accessible for youth. They volunteer with local organisations and international projects and hold their own events to fundraise and connect people with the great outdoors. They might not shout about it but if you take the time to dive into their websites and creator stories you will find it in their ethos and action.

It is a good incentive to buy from someone who is using their business to help create a better world.

Wild Earth is joining the growing movement of B Corps. Do you know what B Corps is? I didn’t until researching for this blog.

“Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.”

Chatting with Wild Earth last month I learnt of a few new projects they are backing;

“Binna Burra Lodge – we have donated time and had meetings to help them plan their next steps from a marketing and biz perspective, as well as being on hand to promote.

First Hike Project – we provide gear for their refugee hikes as well as helping them with strategy and fundraising.

Bush Coast Expeditions – the team regularly do beach clean-ups and we help provide the gear and promo of their events.

Solar Power – our roof is covered in solar panels and we sell our energy back to the grid.”

Wild Earth are also helping me with personal equipment for Expedition Climb8 including a new Garmin inReach mini 2 way satellite communications device. In fact, next month i am blogging for Wild Earth about Leave No Trace!

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6/10 Ethical Consumerism in Outdoor Adventure – Quality

My Grandpa taught me that spending a little more on good quality will save me a lot of money in the long run. He was right.

In the last 30 odd years of adventures I have tested out a very wide variety of products, brands and designs, from top end to dirt cheap. The funny thing is that some of the top end stuff isn’t durable and some of the cheapest stuff might be heavy and bulky but will last years. Quality isn’t the latest expensive brand everyone is talking about because it might not be the right materials, size, season rating or durability you need.

This is my check list when looking at replacing equipment.

Firstly, I ask myself what will I be using it for, how long does it need to last, what compromises am I willing to make in my budget for comfort and safety?

Next, I check the specs on the product information sheet, read reviews, look for discussions about the product in groups and forums, chat with someone who has used it already.

Before I commit to buying it I compare it with several other similar products on the market in different price ranges and try to hire one for a few days to test it. Some small stores will take the hire price off the purchase price if you ask when you buy it from them.

This check list ultimately saves me money, ensures i get a product which will keep me safe and last many adventures.

I have become cynical of big brand names. They release a good quality product to market it well, get everyone raving about it and then slowly reduce the quality over the next few years. I have noticed many of them do this now. It is very disappointing. I won’t buy their brand anymore or recommend them. Don’t get sucked in to the marketing, look at their track record.

Instead of buying on the mainstream market and running the risk of not getting what I paid for I mostly shop with cottage industry, hand made, purpose built small businesses and start-ups.

There are now a good number of designers and creators who make all orders with their own hands. Some of them can custom design to your specific needs. 4 of my favourite Australian start ups and small businesses are Terra Rosa Gear, Tier Gear, Campers Pantry and Wilderness Threadworks.

I’ll finish with the words of Dan from Wilderness Threadworks, a Sunshine Coast business making ultralight and lightweight frameless packs, pouches and bikepacking gear.

“At times I become incredibly overwhelmed with the big picture of responsible manufacturing, product life cycle analysis and trying to concoct technical fabrics for closed-loop systems just to name a few. As the big picture slowly gains momentum and forever continues to evolve, I decided to focus on the little ways I could help promote more ethical buying by offering people an Australian manufacturer that would explain fabrics, which may be best for them or why I have designed a component a certain way to increase the service life of the product.

Besides offering support long after the customer receiving the product I’ve decided to plant a tree for each pack built, to absorb a little of the carbon emissions within the manufacturing chain. In the end anyone who designs and produces a product has to be responsible for that work and leave the world better than you found it.

When someone buys a pack from me I’m happy knowing that more people are considering where their gear comes from, who built it and where it may end up.”

 

 

5/10 Ethical Consumerism in Outdoor Adventure – Shop Local

This is a topic close to my heart. During my record setting solo unaccompanied walk around Australia i was supported by some amazing Australian businesses and gear designers, Terra Rosa Gear, Tier Gear, Wilderness Threadworks, Wilderness Sports, Campers Pantry, Power Super Foods, Blue Dinosaur, Mont to name a few. When i set out on that 17,200km expedition i wanted to use it to showcase local and Australian outdoor and adventure equipment, clothing and camp food. I did this for over 4 years all around the continent and have not stopped passionately promoting the same businesses who supported me.

I’ll take you back a little further to 2004 when i went back to school in my 30s to study ecotourism and conservation ecology. I wanted to know how i could be a more effective advocate for positive change. This was a little side interest of mine while i was supposed to be studying liability or legislation.

Industrial and agricultural environmental impacts and carbon emissions have been discussed in literature and scientific reports for a few centuries but not so much in recreation until the last few decades.

I took an interest in the carbon footprint of all the gear we import from overseas, how cheap it is and how it has swallowed up many small local outdoor stores who can’t compete and even some of the larger Australian franchises.

Here are a few good reasons to think of shopping closer to home before buying imported brands;

1 Gear Miles is a similar concept to “food miles”. How far has your backpack travelled before you even begin using it? More importantly (no pun intended), what is the carbon footprint of that journey from production to packing it for an adventure? Was it imported by plane, shipped or did you walk into the market and pick it up from the person who made it? When you buy products designed by Australian adventurers and innovators, produced by an Australian company or cottage industry, made in Australia or even made in your town or state you are reducing your carbon footprint and making your adventure more sustainable.

2 Local businesses like Wilderness Sports have local knowledge and stock the best products for the local weather conditions, terrain and activities.

3 When you buy from local and Australian businesses you are supporting the local communities and helping that business invest in local projects, sports and conservation.

In Australia we have some incredible creators who design and make their own products. In the next blog I will share more about a few of them and the ethics of making the best quality on the market.

We also have a few bigger stores who seek out Australian brands and give back to community and conservation projects. I will discuss the ethics of choosing to spend your money where it has the furthest ripple effect in part 7.

For further reading and reasons to shop locally check out the 1 Million Women’s blog about the Sustainable Workplace https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/sustainable-workplace-why-buy-local/

4/10 Ethical Consumerism in Outdoor Adventure – Repair, Restore, Repurpose, Rescue

Reducing waste is the key to making adventure equipment more sustainable and repair, restore, repurpose and rescue are 4 ways we can do this.

Do you carry a repair kit when you head out trekking or on tour? I always carry a tiny sewing kit for clothing repairs when travelling but my gear list for long hikes includes a repair kit for the tent or hammock, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, pack, snowshoes, poles and cooker. Care and maintenance increases the life of your gear and clothing and repairs extend the life further. You can do this yourself if you have the time and know how. For bigger holes and large worn out areas i use sew on patches. A patch on the butt is a bit quirky but it gives you another year or more of wear.

Some of the big name brands have heard the call for sustainability in outdoor adventure and responded with repair services and opening up a niche market for restored retro gear and clothing. It is more widespread in countries outside Australia but here we have a business called Remote Equipment Repairs.

Remote Equipment Repairs specialise in “As New” restorations and warranty repairs for all outdoor and adventure equipment.

“Our philosophy is that if we can keep your product going for just 1 more day not only does it reduce landfill but it enables you to continue using your much loved gear for a lot more time to come.

We believe that having the right gear means that you can be confident in the outdoors. Why risk going into the outdoors in a cold dirty sleeping bag and a ripped leaky tent? With some simple maintenance and TLC to your gear your next trip will be much more enjoyable.”

Do you have an appreciative eye for the fun ways people have repurposed their old equipment? What are some of the ways you have reused the things that can’t be repaired or recycled? Some of the creative things i have seen are walking boot pot plants, ski chairs, surfboard fences, bags and ponchos from old tents, neck buffs from old shirts, soft drink cans into fuel stoves and mat weaving and coiling old climbing rope. *feature boot image is from Andrew Bowden at ramblingman.org.uk

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Go Visit Hawaii

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Out There Colorado

While researching this i discovered a company called P365 who use abandoned tents from festivals.

“P+365 is a collection of garments made of discarded tents from music festivals. These items will be sold back in the music festival to create a circular business so people are more conscious of this issue.”

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P+365

Rescue is the most interesting and can be interpreted in any way you like but fort he purpose of this post I’m thinking of rescuing perfectly good abandoned materials and making something out of them. Tyvek is a popular fabric used on building sites. It is tough and very light. The off cuts and roll ends are usually thrown into the bin. These can be rescued and used to make bags, tarps, ponchos, groundsheets and footprints for your tent. Another common building castoff is insulating silver foil bubble sheeting. This can be rescued and used to make very light padded bags for you laptop and phone or an excellent insulating liner in your hammock.

Bonus Re

Reinvent your equipment to better serve its purpose or redesign it for multipurpose. If you can see a more efficient way to carry or use something you own, tweak it, don’t replace it.

All this is part of the circular economy. As the problems of waste, landfill, ocean pollution and animals dying from ingesting plastics increase we need to be adapting by creating new habits and better informed choices.

So, what choices can we make? In the first 4 parts of this series about ethical consumerism in outdoor adventure we have covered giving gifts that are needed or making a donation to a cause, recycling, hiring, repairing, restoring, repurposing, rescuing and reinventing. Can you think of anything else?

Before you buy anything new consider whether you really need it, can you hire it, can you save money and buy it from a 2nd hand shop, is the old item repairable, can you make a new one yourself and what will you do with the old item when you replace it.

Do some research into the companies who sell what you need. Are you investing in a brand who gives back to the environment or helps out communities? Is it a durable quality which will last a long time? How much thought and care has gone into the design? Can they custom make their products for your specific needs? Do they do repairs or take back their old products for recycling?

In the next few posts of this series I will be looking more closely at ethical outdoor and adventure businesses and some of the things to consider when buying new clothing and equipment.

The end:

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put a patch on it

3/10 Ethical Consumerism in Outdoor Adventure – Hire

Hire is one of the best options for trying out good quality adventure equipment. It is an huge investment buying new equipment so it is important to know you are getting the right gear for the adventure.

“Try before you buy” is an option a few small adventure retail businesses offer. They genuinely want you to get the best for the purpose, to improve your experience and safety and get many more adventures out of a good quality product.

If you are shopping around for a new tent or backpack, skis or snowshoes, cooker, sleeping bag or mat, even wet weather gear and gaiters, hiring is the perfect way to compare performance between brands and styles. The first step is to research what you need, look at technical details like materials, weight, size and ratings. When you have narrowed it down to a few possibilities ask people who have used them for feedback, comparisons and recommendations. Then try them out before you make a final decision. For a good summer tent it is the difference of paying $30 hire testing something for a night or spending $900 on a tent that you discover isn’t up to spec. Wilderness Sports in Jindabyne hire everything you need for four season adventures and a variety of each product to test different systems in different conditions.

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If you are likely to get only one or two trips in each year or it is a once off you might want to save a lot of money and hire everything you need for that trip only. This is a great idea for school students preparing for expeditions and adventure challenges. Some businesses, like 50 Days, specialise in hire for students trekking and travelling abroad.

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 Another great thing about hire is being able to use new gear. Businesses who hire are upgrading and replacing old irreparable equipment each season with newer and better products. Some businesses, like Lighter Faster Hire, specialise in the best on the market.

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When I was in Venturers (Scouts for 15-18 year olds) we often went on camping and bike touring trips. It helped us a great deal to borrow gear from the Scout Unit. It wasn’t necessarily in good condition or light but it did the job. When you’re young the adventure is far more important than whether your equipment is the best on the market. Besides I have a few good stories to tell from stormy nights in A Frames with missing flies or no floor inside the old army green canvas marquee tent which became an indoor swimming pool and squeezing 3 people who all ate beans for dinner into a 2 person tent. I’m not selling it am I 😀 Scouts Australia has improved a lot in the last 30 years and have solid support and good sponsors for safe, reliable gear. The kids will still have plenty of exciting stories to tell and the parents haven’t sold a kidney to outfit them.

I also just discovered in a quick google search that you can support scouts through equipment hire.

https://www.vicscoutsqstore.com.au/camping-gear-for-hire/

https://www.soc.com.au/services/

https://scoutsqld.com.au/for-hire/

Have you ever hired gear? What was your motivation to hire? Would you consider this as an option for a future adventure?

This is another way to make outdoor adventure more accessible and affordable to everyone while reducing unnecessary consumerism, creating less waste and promoting more sustainable choices.

 

Pt2/10 Ethical Consumerism in Outdoor Adventure – Secondhand

Donating or buying second hand or recycled outdoor adventure equipment, clothing or books is an important part of the circular economy and reducing waste.

What happens to your unwanted equipment and clothing when you replace it with something newer, lighter, trendier? Do you put it into storage for “just in case”, an “emergency spare” or because it was so freakin expensive to buy the first time it feels like tearing off a limb getting rid of it, especially after years of use and memories? Or do you donate or sell it? Gods forbid you throw it out!!!

I used to store everything. My reason was the possibility of loss or damage, having spares was security. I never ever had to fall back on the spares in storage, they just collected dust and took up space in my parent’s guest room cupboard. About 15 years ago I started doing a big annual clearance. I went through all my stuff and made a pile of things I had not used for 12 months, then i invited family to pick out what they could use and took the rest to an Op shop or back to the army disposals where i bought it for a little cash back.

Sometimes i need to replace equipment while trekking so i give the spares to the homeless. I simply walk down the street, see the homeless people and ask if they need anything. You should see the absolute look of joy and disbelief when they receive something so vital to their livelihood as a good sleeping bag when winter begins or a gortex jacket or boots. Even warm clean socks can make a poor person cry.

Another thing i enjoy doing is donating some gear to non profit outdoor adventure programmes. They are often in need of donations and sponsors so i call and offer what i have and if it is in good condition and something they need then i post it away.

This is my way of “giving back” or “paying it forward” for everything i get from Nature and the support i get from others. And, now i am more aware of the waste we create through consumerism, it is a small way for me, as an individual, to help look after our Earth.

We also have the option of selling. There are the usual methods of ebay and gumtree but you can sell your adventure books, manuals and guides, equipment, clothes and shoes to specialist outdoor adventure secondhand stores.

Recycled Recreation is a specialist outdoor adventure second hand business in Hobart, Tasmania, and Canberra, ACT. They buy and repair secondhand books, equipment, shoes and clothes. The business has a great ethos and you can read more about it on their Facebook page in “Our Story”:

 https://www.facebook.com/recycledrectasmania/

“As a result of increased interest in de-cluttering, recycling and purchasing second hand, the shop is going from strength to strength!

…We stock mostly lightweight hiking gear rather than car-camping stuff, but even if you are not a hiker, it is always worth a look for good quality camping clothing, waterproof jackets, ski clothing, boots, wetsuits, climbing gear, books and maps etc.

…We take a considerable time to prepare (and possibly repair) equipment so that it is presented in a clean and functional condition, some items might be quite old others will be As New with tags (because the previous owner didn’t use it)! We are not a charity shop, we buy equipment…you can sell to us too!

…We WON’T flog you just one brand, or the most expensive product! We WILL direct you to the most appropriate equipment and to another retailer if we don’t have what you need or want.” Recycled Recreation

Their Canberra store https://www.facebook.com/RecycledRecCanberra/ has only just opened this month and has had a fantastic reception from the local community and outdoor groups. I love this idea so much I have put both stores down on my list for expedition preparation.

Secondhand equipment and clothing makes getting out there in the great outdoors more affordable and accessible to everyone. The cost of new outdoor and adventure equipment and clothing is an inhibiting factor. It is not only difficult for me but for many others, especially new adventurers and families putting their first kit together. Recycled Recreation not only selects gear in good condition but also high quality brands. This is something important to think about when shopping for used equipment.

As a teenager in the 80s I spent a lot of time bushwalking, camping and bike touring with Venturers and Duke of Ed and began solo multi-day walks in Kosciuszko National Park. I needed to put together a good kit with all the right equipment to stay safe, warm and dry. There was a lot available, very good brands and quality from Australian companies and designers, back when they made everything in Australia. I only had a bit of pocket money earned from doing jobs around the property so i had to be inventive. Some of my first kit included lost property from our camping ground, offloaded ration packs from SAS training units who camped with us and old army disposals stores. The modern revamp is called Aussie Disposals. Did you know that some of the army surplus hasn’t even been used yet but the cheapest was the used stuff of course. I continued to use a lot of that first kit for nearly 20 years. It makes me shudder thinking of what i would have tried, what risks i would have taken to get out there no matter what, if secondhand wasn’t an option.

The main two thoughts i would like to finish with are:

1. When we replace our clothing and equipment anything old and in reasonable condition can help give someone else a chance to enjoy the great outdoors, head out on their first overnighter or give a non-profit programme a leg up. There are many ways you can do this.

2. We don’t need to buy new. If you can find it secondhand you are helping reduce waste and unnecessary consumerism. It is one of many small habits we can practice which contribute to a sustainable future.

 

Ethical Consumerism in Outdoor Adventure Pt1/10 Gifts

Have you ever wondered if your adventure gear or your adventure has positive or negative human and environmental impacts?

Do you research fair trade, production methods, product quality and durability, local designers and manufacturers, materials used, packaging and whether it can be repurposed, reused, repaired, recycled or if you really need it?

Does your adventure give back to community or contribute to the protection and conservation of the environment?

The concept of ethical adventure consumerism covers environment, human rights, health and social values.

In the last 5 years I have become increasingly aware of the impacts of where I go, what I do there and the equipment and clothing I use. This has meant a change in habits, loyalties and alliances towards quality, sustainability, First Nation sovereignty, environmental conservation and safety.

Over summer i will be sharing my ideas about ethical consumerism in outdoor adventure and some of my favourite brands and businesses who value integrity. I literally live this life, when I’m not holed up writing a book or blog I am living in a tent or hammock, carrying my belongings in a pack on my back and seeking better choices for replacement gear and clothing. I’m not an expert but i have a lot of experience and knowledge to pass on. This is the intro of a 10 part series. I have invited businesses, brands and experts to contribute to each post.

Today I am starting with xmas gifts. I’m not going to wage any war against xmas. Don’t get your undies in a knot, rather go buy some good quality, odour resistant, comfortable, quick dry, lightweight underwear for the adventurers on your xmas shopping list.

We buy a lot of rubbish at this time of year. Many of the gifts we give will either be stored away after a couple of uses, donated to charity or regifted next xmas. Why do we keep doing this? Let’s break the cycle and bring back socks and undies. I’m not jocking 😀

Keep it simple.

The best thing to buy someone is something they need and will use.

Ask them what they really need for their next trip or buy a gift card so they can choose.

Adventurers have very specific needs as our gear wears out and requires replacing.

We need only what we can carry or what we swap out from summer to winter or outback to alpine.

We don’t need more of what we already have. How many times have I stayed with fellow adventurers who have 3 cookers, 4 tents and every backpack they have ever owned in storage for 15 years to be used occasionally. Unless you’re taking a big family or groups out regularly you don’t need more than you use.

We absolutely do not need anything cheap which will fail while out or deteriorate between adventures. We need lightweight, reliable, durable products suitable for season, terrain and the type of adventure.

Alternatives to buying stuff as gifts are making a donation on their behalf to a cause close to their heart like conservation, give them an experience like a bushwalk and picnic to your favourite swimming hole, help out with logistical support on their next trip like food prep, gear drops, transport or offer the use of your equipment if you’re not using it.

Here are some useful gift ideas under $20 for the hiker or bike tourer in your family or workplace:

Jar of peanut butter, waterproofing treatment for boots or wet weather gear, tube of sealant, maps, cooker fuel, cooker wind shield, water bottle sticker, homemade energy snacks or granola bars, compostable poop bags, sunscreen, deet-free insect repellent, chocolate bars, reusable rubbish bags, headlamp batteries, electrolytes, ultralight tent pegs/stakes, homemade trail mix, compostable drip coffee sachets, spare tubes, chain lube, handlebar tape, craft beer…

Lastly, avoid rushing off to buy last minute xmas gifts. Impulsive gift buying leads to bad decisions. A thoughtful gift can be given any time.

Outward Bound Australia

I am excited to introduce to you the first sponsor of Expedition Climb8!

 

Outward Bound Australia

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We believe there is more in you than you know.

Through adventure learning, Outward Bound Australia empowers students, communities and young professionals to discover, develop and achieve their full potential.

 

Outward Bound Australia is a Tier 2 sponsor. Their support is vital to the preparation and success of the expedition. With Outward Bound’s sponsorship we will be subscribing to a tracker so our progress can be followed across the mountains and hire avalanche beacons for the steeper snow covered sections. Our safety equipment is the most valuable part of our kit. Thank you Outward Bound for being an important part of Climb8.

Outward Bound Australia has been running outdoor education, adventure and leadership camps for 63 years! One of our team members, Marita Hills, is an Outward Bound lead group instructor with extensive experience including backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and climbing.

For more information about Outward Bound Australia, who they are and what courses they offer, please visit https://www.outwardbound.org.au/

If you would like to sponsor Expedition Climb8, as an individual, group or business, please look at our sponsorship tiers at https://climb8.earth/sponsors and choose one most suitable to your means. Sponsorship can be either funding or food and equipment to the same value.

I look forward to working with you on Expedition Climb8!

Women’s Adventure Film Grant

I am super excited about winning the Women’s Adventure Film Grant sponsored by Salomon and Suunto!!!

This grant means a lot to me and will help share inspiring stories about women and our connection with Nature.

Over the last 3 weeks I have been travelling up the east coast from Melbourne, collecting stories of connection and filming women in their natural surroundings. It is a privileged position to be in and I will honour all women and Nature.

It is not only a film, it is also a podcast which will be launched when the film goes on tour with Women’s Adventure Film Tour 20/21.

Thank you Salomon and Suunto for making this possible. Thank you Women’s Adventure Film Tour for giving me this opportunity.