I’m Gilad, lifelong outdoor enthusiast and professional, and the creator of Outdoors Father. A little background on me and the development of my outdoor knowledge base:
I grew up in the fields of Emek Yizreal, in northern Israel – avoiding any kind of footwear when I could, let alone professional gear. I joined a youth movement when I was in my early teens, mostly for the outdoor adventures, and eventually became outdoor instructor (and no, I still had no gear). I got to know the trails, streams, mountains, desert and forests of Israel so well I can still navigate them with no map.
When I was 18, I volunteered to be an outdoor instructor with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, which is where I got my first gear. I then joined the army for my mandatory service, where I learned another kind of outdoor survivalism. I knew the outdoors, but I was woefully lacking in gear knowledge and mostly making do with whatever I had.
After the army I went to Australia and New Zealand for bigger outdoor adventures. I finally started with real professional gear, though it was still crap and I suffered terribly. I still had no real understanding of what I needed, but started to get the idea that the right gear could make a huge difference. On that trip I hiked, camped, biked, climbed, and threw myself into outdoor situations at every opportunity.
When I came back to Israel, I started working in an outdoor goods store, soaking up as much knowledge as possible. I did local hikes, climbs and camping weekends, starting to put my gear knowledge to use. As I became more and more of a gear geek, I also started to focus on building training programs for store staff.
After a while, and much preparation, I took myself off to South America. I got myself fully equipped, taking about 6 months to put my gear list together. I had a great time, and did a bit of everything. Mountain cycling, solo trekking, salt lake expeditions, building a raft and floating down the river, climbing…. If it was an adventure to be had, I was there – in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. There were supposed to be more countries, but I was having too much fun everywhere I went!
That trip truly infected me with the outdoor bug. I came back to Israel, and re-joined the outdoor store as store manager while completing a degree in economics. I was lured away from the store to manage the North Face store, where I continued to develop my gear knowledge and advise customers on trips. I continued with my training ideas and realised that many customers were getting mixed messages when buying gear – often they were recommended the “best,” when actually they needed the most appropriate.
I had met Mika when I got back from my South America trip, and we hiked, camped, climbed and adventured all over Israel whenever we had the chance. This required a different kind of knowledge, since adventuring as a couple meant different needs and restrictions – especially when introducing the outdoors to a complete novice. When I finished my degree we moved to London, where I joined another outdoor store and became assistant manager – while doing weekend camping and hiking adventures, and making my way over to the local climbing wall whenever I could. I also became an ice wall climbing instructor and got myself up on the wall as often as possible.
We have covered most of south-eastern England, parts of Wales, the Peak District and are always planning our next adventure. I have gone for solo trips, we have gone as a couple, and now we go as a family. We spent our honeymoon trekking the Italian Alps, which was incredible.
I became a buyer and then merchandiser at a different outdoor retailer, where it is my job to know most things about most of the gear that is out there today. By now, I have personally worked with and/or used almost every outdoor brand out there, from value to performance. Even in my free time, I read about what is going on in the industry – from materials to gear to company news and more. And I am always thinking of ways to optimise gear, from family outings to solo adventures.
In January 2014 Mika gave birth to our daughter, which has changed our outdoor options significantly! We have done day hikes, weekend camping while sleeping in B&Bs as well as sleeping outside (there is a blog post about it – there wasn’t much sleep, probably taking a 7 month old who was teething and with a cold wasn’t the best idea).
Ever since I became a father, going outdoors has been a challenge, but I’m determined to not let go of it. I love going outdoors and sometimes I think it is actually what keeps me sane. Join me to learn how we can do so – go outdoors for our sanity and take our family out for theirs….