Microadventures with Alastiar Humphreys

It was back in September 2011 that we last interviewed Alastair Humphreys about his adventures large and micro. At the time Alastair was part way through his year of Microadventures. The concept of a microadventure being that it is an adventure close to home that is cheap, easy to organise and most of all, fun!

Alastair Humphreys enjoying a coffee at Grisedale tarn
Alastair Humphreys enjoying a coffee at Grisedale tarn
during a Lake District Microadventure

In all my corporate talks I was aware that nobody in the room would ever set off to spend 4 years on an expedition. Yet I felt that the spirit and the benefits of adventures in wild places were important for everyone, perhaps even more so for people who have not done much in the great outdoors before. Alastair Humphreys.

What started out as a 12 month project has blossomed into an on-going phenomena. So with the microadventure continuing to grow in popularity, Alastair is hoping to get even more people involved. He is currently looking for volunteers to go on a microadventure.

If you are not the sort of person who normally heads for a night on a hill with random people they have never met, then this is the trip for you. Give it a go! Alastair Humphreys.

Sleeping in bivvy bags on a clifftop during a Microadventure to the coast
Microadventure fun – sleeping in bivvy bags by the sea!

Whether you know nothing about microadventures or have been following Alastair’s adventures for some time, read on to discover more about the Man and his Microadventure…

CheapTents: Your Microadventure Project began in 2011 and was initially set to last for one year. What expectations did you have about how successful the project would be?

Alastair Humphreys: Very low indeed. It felt to me like an exciting idea, but I had no idea if others would think the same.

CheapTents: You won National Geographic Adventurer of the year for your Microadventure Project. Were you surprised by this?

Alastair Humphreys: Massively! I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to do the biggest adventures possible. I never thought of any acknowledgement such as the Nat Geo award because so many people are doing bigger, better, harder adventures than me. So to be acknowledged for the microaventures was surprising but really pleasing too.

CheapTents: Which of your microadventures has been the most rewarding?

Alastair Humphreys: Swimming down the Thames – I never imagined that a river as parochial and familiar as the Thames could feel so wild and adventurous down close. Seeking the unfamiliar in the familiar is becoming a real theme of microadventures.

CheapTents: Have you any interesting stories or anecdotes from any of your microadventures that you can share with us?

Alastair Humphreys: Walking a lap of the M25 really surprised me. In Britain I tend to assume British people to be reserved, insular and a bit boring. But when I walked the M25 (and therefore stepped out of the normal) it was amazing how people responded to that. We were invited to stay in strangers’ homes. And one morning a random guy who followed me on Twitter cycled out to find us and invite us to his home for breakfast!

CheapTents: Following your promotion of the microadventure concept, people have been sharing their own microadventures online. Which is your favourite that you have read about and why?

Alastair Humphreys: A guy emailed me recently. He has a normal job and a normal 1 hr commute. Every day his train passes some nice woods. Obviously he has never been to them nor knows nothing about them. Now he is going to get off the train early, walk to the woods, sleep in them for the night, and then get the same train as usual into work in the morning. I like that a lot!

CheapTents: What are the most important aspects to consider when planning a microadventure?

Alastair Humphreys: Pushing your comfort limits even with something as mundane as a single night away. Try to go somewhere you have never been. Don’t let the practical limitations of your real life stop you doing things. Work round those limitations and still make something happen, no matter how small!

CheapTents: What outdoor clothing and equipment is needed for a microadventure?

Alastair Humphreys: See my recent infographic blog post.

Everything you need to know for a microadventure
Alastair Humphreys’ Microadventure Infographic

[sleeping bag, mat & bivvy; woolly hat & warm clothes; food, drink, map & light.]

CheapTents: You are currently looking for people with little or no wild camping experience to take on microadventure. Have you had many volunteers and can you tell us more about this?

Alastair Humphreys: I’ve had almost 300 volunteers which is great. But I’ve no idea what to do now I have so many!
My thinking was that for me microadverntures are no big deal. I’ve spent so much time sleeping outdoors etc.

But for many people the idea of one night on a hill top is a big deal and I wanted to find out more from those people about their hopes / concerns / aspirations etc

CheapTents: What is the most bizarre or amusing excuse someone has made to you for not going on a mircoadventure and what was your response?

Alastair Humphreys: I get quite a lot of girls telling me they need their hairdryers and high heels. I guess my response is that to go without something for a short while makes you appreciate and enjoy it all the more.

CheapTents: We recently interviewed Dave Cornthwaite, who said that David Cameron and Barrack Obama should go on an expedition. What microadventure would you recommend for them?

Alastair Humphreys: Something that gives a fresh perspective, a time to think, and a brief sense of wildness. Those guys are so busy, so pressured, so constrained by what they can do / where they can go. I think they would both love a night on the hill with a big fire, a couple of beers, and a bit of peace for a while.

CheapTents: You are currently putting together a microadventure “How To” guide. Can you give us any hints about what format this will take and what it will include?

Alastair Humphreys: Nothing very secret – just trying to answer all the problems / excuses / difficulties that stop people trying a microadventure for themselves. I have a feeling that if people do only one then they are likely to be converted to more…

CheapTents:Thank you Alastair for answering our microadventure questions!

To find out all you need to know, Alastair’s blog has a comprehensive section on microadventures.

You do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to undertake an expedition. You do not need to be an elite athlete, expertly trained or rich to have an adventure.

Adventure is only a state of mind.

I believe that adventure is about stretching yourself: mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

If that is true then adventure is all around us, at all times. Adventure is accessible to normal people, in normal places, in short segments of time and without having to spend much money.

Adventure is only a state of mind.
Alastair Humphreys.

More Exciting Adventure Interviews

If you enjoyed this interview, why not read some of our interviews with other adventurers?

Photocredits: © Alastiar Humphreys @Al_Humphreys


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