The Great Outdoors (UK)

Ask an Adventurer

- by Alastair Humphreys ‘ADVENTURE’ Published by Eye Books, £9.99 (paperback)

is a loaded term. Does it mean the actual outdoor activities that make our heart beat faster, or is it all the other stuff so often surroundin­g it: the corporate speaking events, the book deals, the Instagram posts, the brand sponsorshi­ps? Ask an Adventurer by Alastair Humphreys is an unusually (perhaps even uniquely) candid look into what the life of a working adventurer is really like.

The author earns his living by giving talks, working with brands and writing books. He’s known for both big, grand adventures and closer-tohome microadven­tures. The book, he writes, began from an awareness that the ‘Instagram glossiness’ of his online life was only the tip of the iceberg. It’s structured around a series of questions posed by readers (questions such as ‘how do you get companies to support your adventures?’ and ‘what is your backup plan if adventurin­g doesn’t work out?’). In answering these questions, Humphreys reveals a surprising amount about how his business works and how he’s decided to live his life: how he makes money, how much he makes, what he chooses to focus on and why, his worries and fears, pitfalls he’s fallen into or avoided, and reconcilin­g adventure with family life.

This is a peek behind the curtain. It isn’t often that this stuff is written about so openly. People making a living (or a portion of it) in this world are often highly guarded about the money side of things, and maybe there’s still a lingering sense amongst some that making money from outdoor activities at all is somehow cheating. Perhaps that’s why this book feels so fresh. Humphreys writes with vulnerabil­ity about the path he’s taken – about his bad habits and blind spots as well as his lucky breaks. And, yes, he is refreshing­ly open about privilege too. He acknowledg­es that his position as a well-educated white man has given him a massive leg up – and that the safety net of a partner’s income has made taking risks much easier at times. There’s also a strong undertone of self-deprecatin­g humour. At times it’s possible to sense that this can be a lonely path.

I admire what the author has done here, shining a bright light into the shadowed corners of the profession­al adventurer’s career. If you think that a career as a working adventurer might be for you, or if you’re just curious about how it all works, then this is a must-read. As Humphreys writes: ‘I have ended up earning a comfortabl­e living mostly from what an insider might perceive to be drinking coffee in a shed or riding a bike and telling an audience about it.’

Alex Roddie

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom