Research released today by global outdoor brand, Helly Hansen, has revealed that almost 3 in 10 (29%) of the population have not participated in any outdoor activities in the past year, and one-fifth admit to not participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, trail running, kayaking/canoeing, wild swimming, paddle boarding, scrambling or rock climbing at all.
As a nation, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to nature and open spaces. When questioned on the factors preventing the British public from venturing into the outdoors, the main reasons were lack of knowledge, confidence and safety concerns (38%), bad weather (27%) and being unable to afford it (21%). Almost half (47%) admitted to not knowing the right equipment to use, whilst 45% revealed they don’t know where to go and a third (33%) don’t know the basic safety precautions – such as preparing for a trip or calling for help.
More than half of Brits (54%) said they would like to participate in outdoor activities more often and see the physical (46%) and mental health (37%) benefits, however, 4 in 10 acknowledge a lack of transportation is a barrier and 53% stated there are financial barriers to participation.
Mike Park, Chief Executive Officer for Mountain Rescue England and Wales and a partner of Helly Hansen, says, “We are saddened by some of these results which reveal why the public isn’t embracing the outdoors. We live in a beautiful part of the world with lots of wonderful outdoor spaces, which everyone should feel empowered to enjoy. As an organisation, we want to ensure that everyone is kept safe and properly prepared for the activity they are encountering. Safety advice is often simple, such as checking the weather, telling someone where you are going and when you are expected home, and ensuring you have appropriate clothing and footwear on. If you do find yourself in trouble, we are always here to help – just dial 999, ask for the police and then mountain rescue.”
Emma Russell, Marketing Manager for Helly Hansen in the UK and Ireland, comments on the findings, “The research reveals something we have suspected for a while – that a large number of the population don’t feel they have the confidence and skillset to participate in outdoor pursuits. As an industry, there are many things we can do to overcome this. Each January and June, we actively encourage everyone into the outdoors for Helly Hansen’s Open Mountain Month, with the help of our professionals who will be providing expert advice on safety and what to pack, as well as tips and tricks to Stay Alive and Feel Alive.”
A quarter of those surveyed agreed to feeling unwelcome or uncomfortable while participating in outdoor activities – with 8 in 10 of those falling between the ages of 16-34. The main reasons were:
- Feeling like an outsider or not fitting in with the group (35%)
- Feeling intimidated by more experienced participants (33%)
- Perception of being judged by others (32%)
- Negative encounters with other participants (20%)
- Lack of diversity or representation (20%)
Helly Hansen’s Open Mountain Month falls in January and June each year with the aim to encourage everyone into the outdoors such as age, location, race, or experience. This season, Helly Hansen has partnered with AKA – a not-for-profit organisation that brings inner-city communities into the outdoors – to help break down some of these barriers.
Kevin Spriggs, Co-Founder of AKA, comments, “We want to make the outdoors an accessible place for all communities. Empowering others to gain skills, confidence and a sense of belonging in the outdoors, from moors to mountains. The results from this research show there is a lot more work to be done, and we hope our work and involvement on this project with Helly Hansen can help to bridge the gap.”
Helly Hansen and Mountain Rescue England and Wales have been partners since 2021 and are committed to making the outdoors inclusive for all. For more information on how to remain safe, please visit the Mountain Rescue England and Wales website, www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/safety.
To learn more about the work AKA are doing, please visit: www.akahwo.com.
To learn more about Helly Hansen’s Open Mountain Month in January and June, please visit www.hellyhansen.com/open-mountain.
All images © Ed Smith