34, VOLUNTEER MOUNTAIN RESCUER, SCOTLAND.
When you’re over 1,000m up a mountain in a brisk -20 degrees Celsius, the latest ‘it’ look won’t cut it. In these conditions, the right clothes mean the difference between life and… well, you get the idea. Based in Scotland, Martyn Stottlaw deals with these conditions every day in his various roles, which include expedition leader, army adventurous training adviser and husky runner.
“Most of my work is focused on challenging people in some way or another, pushing them beyond their, and often my own, comfort zone.” With no two days the same, Martyn’s clothing choices are firmly rooted in the functional.
“In the Scottish environment you have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. My work can vary from paddle sports to biking and climbing. Each activity has different requirements. I’ll normally be wearing warm base layers, rugged soft-shell mountain pants, a waterproof jacket, salopettes and sturdy, waterproof boots. The rest depends on what I am doing. If I’m active, then it needs to be lightweight, but if I’m going to be more static it needs to be warm. As standard, it needs to be waterproof and durable.”
It’s within his role as a volunteer for the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team that Martyn has seen what the effects of facing the unpredictable Scottish weather in the wrong clothing can cause.
“There are some popular ‘honeypot’ areas people flock to. I’ve seen a guy hiking in a suit, and other people casually carrying shopping bags. It doesn’t take long before they realise it’s a bad idea, and a quick change in the weather can get them into real trouble.”
Martyn’s also experienced his own fair share of danger in the line of duty. “I was on a study trip in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago near the North Pole. We were asleep in our tents when we woke to a loud bang.” That bang turned out to be a polar bear curiously investigating the team’s tent.
“In these situations it’s about being as loud and big as possible. Coming in around 5-6ft on all fours, the polar bear continued to charge at the group, before escaping with a black bag. Other team members had rifles and weapons, I got stuck waving a shovel. I think it’s obvious what scared him off.”
CHRIS BARNES + PAUL WEBB
41 & 39, BEE FARMERS, LONDON.
When you think of London, bees aren’t the first things that come to mind, but that’s exactly what Chris Barnes and Paul Webb see every day on their farms. Located across London, in gardens and on roofs, the pair look after 10 apiaries, or bee yards. This form of urban beekeeping has become increasing popular, largely in thanks to city-dwellers and their avid penchant for all things locally and ethically produced.
Chris’ story starts back in 2011 when he was bee farming in New Zealand. Sharing his love of beekeeping with Paul, they founded Barnes & Webb in 2013. A beehive rental company, they build apiaries and place hives across the city, not only offering people local produce, and pollinated gardens, but a truly unique way to reconnect with nature in the big smoke.
“The job involves a lot of heavy lifting and sweating in the spring/summer and quite a bit of travelling between apiaries,” says Chris. “A single colony can contain 50-60,000 stinging bees so it’s quite a responsibility.” If you’re wondering if they’ve been stung, the answer’s yes. “I was stung 40 times while dealing with some very angry bees.” Paul hasn’t had it any easier either, “Inspecting bees during a thunderstorm while they were trying to sting me in the eyes was probably the worst day of beekeeping I’ve ever had.”
But bees aren’t naturally aggressive, “They usually only sting as a last resort because they die in the process.” With bee stings constantly at the back of their mind, the guys have to carefully consider the clothes they wear. “Our workwear has to be durable. We wear specialist protective gear, but our own clothes need to do the job too, protecting us from stings while also being cool in the heat of the midday sun and allowing freedom of movement.”
On location in Shoreditch, we introduced the guys to Arc’teryx Veilance – a collaboration between activewear brand Arc’teryx and Japanese label Veilance, blending style with function, or “nerdy with cool” as Chris puts it. “I love this jacket, it’s perfectly tailored for city living. You don’t have to be climbing up a mountain to wear it, it’s great for anytime.”
42, KING SCALLOP DIVER, SCOTLAND.
As a king scallop diver, Guy Grieve is the fishing equipment. Solo diving as deep as 45m for an hour at a time, three to four times a day, and having been doing it for seven years, Guy has spent more time underwater than most of us do in a lifetime.
“Whether I’m under the water or on the boat, my workwear needs to protect me. I’m exposed to extreme cold, snow, wind, rain and salt water; basically anything the North Atlantic can throw at me. I can’t wait to get cold before deciding to warm up as by then it’s too late.”
Underwater, Guy wears Merino wool long-johns under his thick, old dry suit, “it makes me look like a bit of a fool!” On the boat it’s the epitome of fisherman style; jeans, yellow Dunlop boots and a workshirt under yellow oilskins. “I have a hideous jersey that dates back to the early 90s, it looks truly out of place pretty much everywhere except on a fishing boat!”
Guy starts his day early, rising at 6am and fuelling up on porridge, tea and water. “I can’t eat much because I’d sink too fast otherwise. I work slow and steady. The cold water and swimming burn calories big time so I eat slow-burn energy foods and the scallops when out at sea as they’re light.” Then it’s off to the sea loch, where his beloved boat Helanda is moored, to meet his fellow divers. They hunt for remote reefs and sea beds in search of scallops before heading back to shore at the end of the day with a catch weighing as much as half a tonne.
But it’s not all plain sailing. The harsh environment means Guy has to remain vigilant to stay safe. “It’s a humbling experience. I have to remember that I’m in the shadow of this big beast, this wilderness that can do what it likes with me at any moment. I’m diving alone with an oxygen tank and no real safety net. Once, I got caught up in old creole line on the sea bed, it was shallow at 10m, but above the water my team didn’t know what was going on. I’d left my knife on the boat and I couldn’t get to the signal line to alert the team. It’s odd, but all I could do was laugh. Laughter helps you shrink the panic. It helped me think, I took off my equipment underwater to free myself, then put it back on before heading to the surface.”
29, VOLUNTEER CAVE RESCUER, DEVON.
Listening to the stories cave rescuer Joe Cartwright’s team have been involved with sounds like the plot to some dark, twisted horror film. As you listen to tales about claustrophobic tight spaces, the pitch-black caves, the wet and mud, you’re just waiting to hear the line “…and then the monster ripped off their limbs.”
Luckily there were no monsters in the depths of the Devonshire caves where we met Joe for our shoot. As he gears up to lead us into the caves, he tells us about the time he and his team had to rescue an injured female caver from a deep cavern commonly known as the ‘bottomless pit’. “She was straddling the opening as she helped someone to cross along the edge when they fell back and landed on her. Her leg snapped and she fell down the pit about 10ft into the dark.” Yes, we pulled the same expression of horror, too.
Unlike some rescue situations, pulling someone out of a cave isn’t a straightforward task. “It can take up to six hours to get someone out, it all depends on how far down into the caves they are or the extent of their injury.” There are also limited supplies the team can take in with them. Basic trauma supplies, painkillers and a stretcher are the only comfort they can offer until the patient is surfaced and can receive medical attention. “There’s no such thing as a textbook rescue, no two rescues are the same. Not only do we have to assess the level of injury and then figure out how we get them back out attached to a stretcher, we also often have to take first responders into the caves with us, who have no caving experience, so we have to make sure they are safe as well.”
Joe’s caving uniform is a multi-purpose ensemble, vital not only for protection when maneuvering through the caves, but also bright in colour to help the teams see each other in the reduced light. “Rescues in the more remote caves of Devon can take a long time where you’re forced into cold and wet situations. It means the clothes we wear need to not only be water-resistant while offering superior warmth, but also have moisture-wicking properties. All the while not reducing mobility so we can get through the tighter spots!”
You can read this interview and more in our new menswear magazine, available instore now.