Reaching the top of my first Alpine peak was a tough one. It was unbearably hot, I was exhausted and at times questioned my resolve. Without the support of my climbing partners and the quality of the gear in my pack, I am not sure I would have had the strength to struggle my way to the summit.
This Alpine epic took place back in 1982 when I was just 6 years old and on a walking holiday with my family in Switzerland. Hardly the stuff of extreme suffering and climbing legends but I’m telling you, without the combined efforts of my parents, my favourite Snoopy and hefty doses of Kendal Mint Cake, there’s no way I would have made the top!
The thing is that it doesn’t matter how old you are, how proficient or how potentially hardcore your chosen adventure may be, your enjoyment of the whole experience and ability to perform in the outdoors are directly linked to who you’re with and whether you have the right tools for the job.
We all know that ski touring is that much easier when you’re travelling fast and light, that running off road on technical terrain demands a particular type of shoe and that climbing is more enjoyable when you’ve got a harness that actually fits your body shape. Sports bras for big boobs, running shorts that retain an element of modesty, lightweight waterproofs that function without breaking the bank….we all have individual goals and specifc needs so extensive product research is absolutely essential before investing in adventure kit.
The problem for us ladies is that there is very little information out there when it comes to female-specific mountain sports products. As an adventure sports travel writer with a passion for the outdoors, I’ve been so fortunate to travel all over the world ski touring, off road running, climbing, hiking, fishing and biking. What’s really interesting is that almost every girl I’ve met along the way has agreed that when it comes to coverage of women’s outdoor gear, there’s pretty much nothing out there that does the job. Magazine and online review sites rarely focus on female products and those reviews that do exist often lack depth and miss the point.
The current rather dismal level of coverage may lead you to believe that there’s not really that many brands out there making kit for girls but it’s absolutely not true! All the kit you need does actually exist and whether you’re a crag rat, dirtbag runner or slick skimo lover, the level of choice is currently wider than ever before. And if you think it’s just a case of the brands going through the same old ‘shrink and pink’ approach, then think again. These days outdoor brands are committed to producing extremely well designed gear for girls, optimised to deliver in terms of both fit, style and technical performance.
As an outdoor writer, I am fortunate in that I get to see a lot of this gear and have multiple opportunities to review and put product to the test it in the field. I am constantly being asked where I got my ultra-packable windproof running jacket with the purple zips, which shoes I think would work best on muddy trails, what type of touring bindings will work the best on a fat powder ski etc etc.
I knew that there was a void to be filled in terms of a womens-specific gear resource but it wasn’t until I met Sarah out running on the sunny alpine trails of Chamonix a couple of summers ago that the idea became a reality. Good kit may be necessary for successful and enjoyable mountain adventures, but equally important is the quality of the team you are travelling with. Straight away I knew that Sarah and I had a lot in common – we were both writers, we both loved being outside, and we both enjoyed a glass of rosé. Most importantly for Pretty Gritty however, we shared a similar vision. It soon became clear that we the best way forward would be to join forces, combine our skills and experience, and turn our individual concepts into a shared Pretty Gritty reality.
Our aim with Pretty Gritty is to provide the missing link – to connect women to the outdoors by creating a service that informs, motivates and unites the growing community of active females interested in outdoor sports. We will do this by providing solid, authoritative, personalized, detailed, and entertaining advice and reviews on all available gear.
When it comes to gear, we think its pretty important to speak a language that people actually understand and we are committed to making Pretty Gritty a jargon-free zone. No BS, no rewritten press releases; just real, fun, useful info. Welcome to Pretty Gritty.