Since releasing our ‘Designed by Demand’ menswear range in 2018, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing men benefiting from FINDRA designs and innovations. So for May’s Customer of the Month, we caught up with FINDRA customer, Ross Brannigan!
The outdoors has been such a significant part of my life for so long. Since I was just three or four, my parents would go with me up the Ochil Hills, introducing me to skylarks, bog cotton, the wonderful patchwork of grasses and hidden recesses of them.
It was the most phenomenal playground a child could ask for, and since then those modest hills that stand above the Forth Valley have become a home for me.
For those early experiences, I have so much to thank my parents for. As I grew up and my friends went to the Caribbean, Spain or Greece, we were clutching a flask of tea on a windswept hill in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, jumping with excitement at the sight of a hare, dotterel or ptarmigan.
As I grew up, I got flitted between different sports – weightlifting, rowing, judo, cycling – but the hills remained my true home. After studying in the USA, that really hit home – I longed to have my feet in boots again, wandering into the hills.
For the past 2 years, hill running has become an integral part of life. The wild and unshackled feeling of running through the mud, grass, rain, wind, sun and snow with minimal kit anchors you in a child-like time that many would leave behind them. To move thus is to run with the pulse of the mountains; they may be gargantuan entities which form over millions of years, but in those snapshot moments they are racing and beating with energy.
I don’t have to think – I just move. It doesn’t matter how fast I move, but there is a certain rhythm that instils a feeling of companionship with the mountains. I no longer go up the hills or on them, but into them. Running allows for a bit more exploration. As Nan Shepherd wrote: “Yet often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination, when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend, with no intention but to be with him.”
I think this has a real positive effect on my mental health. I had some issues with anorexia between school and university, and at the time running became a very negative part of my life. I was clock-watching constantly, never satisfied when I did not get a PB. Now, that is different: I am not running to break records, but to be free.
I think FINDRA understands this concept. I saw FINDRA in the early days of its establishment, appreciating its promotion of women’s outdoor gear as I have a lot of female mountain biking friends. When they launched the men’s line, I could not resist for too long.
If I am packing for an adventure or heading out to the hills, one of the first bits of kit I reach for is my FINDRA Merino-Lite Enduro Long Sleeve. It has to be one of the most versatile bits of kit I own. From –10C to +10C, for those unpredictable typically Scottish days, the Arran Enduro L/S is second to none.
I went for a run of the Ben Lawers Munros with some friends in November. It was around -5C with a wind chill down to –10C. For the whole run, I only wore the Arran Enduro L/S. It acted like a shell to the wind but didn’t make me sweat profusely. I was so impressed by it!
We have all become big FINDRA fans in my family, because we all appreciate the value of natural, high-quality materials that can last a lifetime of adventures in the hills and trails.