In partnership with KEEN

James Forrest knows nature. The record-breaking adventurer has mastered the Lake District peaks, hiked Australasia, and climbed 446 mountains in only six months. In a new Huck film, made in partnership with KEEN, he shares some of the lessons he’s learned along the way.

“Being out in wild places helps to put life’s little problems into perspective,” says UK adventurer James Forrest. “It’s good for the soul, it’s good for your mental health. You just grab your tent and your hiking boots and head out into the hills.”

Forrest has become an expert on nature over the last few years. After growing tired of his demanding office job in the city, he decided to make a conscious effort to bring more of the outdoors into his life. Now, he’s a record-breaking adventurer: mastering the peaks of the Lake District, hiking Australasia, and climbing all 446 mountains in England and Wales in just six months (the fastest ever time).

While Forrest’s feats might sound impossible, they’re actually far more achievable than you think. He is quick to point out that he began adventuring by fitting it in around his day job; sneaking in quick weekend trips, and 24 hour getaways whenever time would allow. For him, making a conscious effort to regularly immerse himself in nature – even if it’s in his local park – can be as rewarding as climbing the country’s tallest peaks.

Huck joins Forrest on one of these more accessible adventures in a new film, made in partnership with KEEN. In it, the explorer takes us to one of his favourite spots in the UK, the Lake District National Park – offering viewers a chance to see how easy it is to take some time out in the natural world. It also gives a glimpse into Forrest’s wild camping process; a must-have skill for anyone who wants to bring some outdoor adventures into their everyday life. Here, just in time for spring, he shares his tips on how to do it.

Build your confidence

Firstly, it’s important to learn exactly how to camp – and that means staying in a lot of official campsites. “Learn to set up your tent quickly and correctly, get used to your sleeping mat and sleeping bag system, and practise cooking hearty meals on your stove,” says Forrest. “Once you feel happy and proficient, then you’re ready.”

Be prepared

Wild camping rules vary throughout the UK, and are generally quite convoluted. In Scotland, wild camping is legal, but there are byelaws that prohibit it in some parts of the country. In England and Wales, it is also illegal without the landowner's permission, although that is not the case in some national parks (including the Lake District and Dartmoor). Get familiar with the local rules before you pitch.

Don't expect too much

It’s easy to romanticise wild camping: sleeping under the stars, overlooking a beautiful vista. But really, it’s a lot of hard work, with temperamental weather (expect random spurts of torrential downpour in the UK) and no access to hot showers. Prepare for the worst, to experience the best. “It can often be a perverse kind of pleasure,” says Forrest. The sort of activity you enjoy after rather than during.”

Set up late, leave early

It’s important not to overstay your welcome – especially as the land you’re staying on belongs to someone else. Find a spot and get set up just before sunset, then get packed up in time for sunrise. Think like a respectful house guest.

Leave no trace

Being a good house guest also means cleaning up after yourself, so make sure you minimise your impact on the local environment. Avoid lighting fires, remove all your litter, and perform toilet duties away from water sources (and make sure anything you do is buried). The true test? Making sure it looks like you were never there once you’ve packed up. “Do your research, pack your bags, and enjoy the life-affirming experience of sleeping wild under the stars,” adds Forrest.

James Forrest’s book, Mountain Man, is released on May 2 on Bloomsbury.

An editorial partnership between Huck and the Keen Footwear Venture Collection.  

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