Meet Our In-Store Experts

Andrew Loose


With over 20 years of hill walking and mountaineering experience, the outdoors is integral to Andrew's life. He knows the importance of suitable kit to match adventures in the wild weather conditions of West Scotland. So, we approached him to gain valuable advice about what goes into choosing the right kit for camping and hiking. Plus, he shared his passion for introducing people to nature.  

How long have you been working for Cotswold Outdoor and what brought you here?

I've been working for Cotswold Outdoor for just over 10 years now. I came here because it felt like the perfect job for a passionate person who enjoys talking about exploring new outdoor places. My experience means I can speak about hill walking, weather conditions and specialised kit for hours – I just love it. So, transferring this knowledge to our customers feels natural because I want people to be safe and have the right kit for their chosen activity. Then, when a customer returns to the store and recounts their grand adventure, it feels incredible to have been part of that experience.   

What does the outdoors mean to you?

Going outdoors makes me feel alive. I especially like getting up early in the morning and being one of the first on the mountain – alone or with friends. You see things from a whole new perspective – the light twists and changes. Being in the Scottish highlands, I get the precious opportunity to see the wild natural world around me. And, when I'm up there exploring, nature gives me a break from day-to-day life. So I take time to check in with myself and take stock

What are your favourite outdoor activities in spring and summer?

My go-to activities in Spring and Summer are mainly spending time by the coast and hill walking. This could be low-level, or it could be technical scrambling over peaks. I love breaking up multi-day walks by spending time in Bothies with friends; you can meet the most brilliant characters out there. There's something special about having a laugh with a mountain-peak stranger – it doesn't get much better!.  

Why do you think the outdoors is important for everybody?

I believe that recent pandemic lockdowns have encouraged people who wouldn't usually explore the outdoors to get out and step outside of their comfort zone. During the pandemic, our access to the outdoors was limited. Those who didn't venture out take time to explore our green spaces and realise nature's positive benefits on mental and physical well-being.


People from all walks of life visit our stores and share their adventure goals. And it's our job to fully equip them for that challenge. But, to be honest, that's one of the best parts of the role – hearing the enjoyment nature gives to people no matter what level of experience.

Do you prefer to experience the outdoors alone or with other people?

I enjoy a solitary experience sometimes, but there are many perks to exploring with others. For example, I recommend getting out into the wild with experienced outdoorsy people or with friends – this way, you can learn and make new relationships. In fact, I met my partner of 17 years in the middle of Ben Loman.


While soaking up the sun and enjoying a coffee rest, my partner (to-be) and her friend passed by unprepared. It was a hot day in May; she'd run out of water and didn't have the right kit. So, I provided warmer clothing for the summit, chocolate bars and a coffee! 


So, the lesson is: always ask for advice and unless you have solid experience, try to find a pal to explore and learn with.  

How can you play a part in helping everyone get outside?

I often convince people that getting outside is about finding places local to you. Try to locate a secret gem within walking distance of your home. Recently, I discovered an overgrown path that went seven miles into the country. Even after 14 years in our house, we had no clue about it! So, it's surprising what you discover when you don't let the weather deter you. Once you're outdoors, no matter the conditions, I believe it will always make you feel better.

What do you consider when buying your outdoor kit?

When investing in outdoor kit, I first consider the size. It's essential to think about finding the best fit for you. As outdoor experts, we're here to make sure a product is fit for purpose. And it’s not necessarily about the cost; advice is crucial to finding better or right products for you. For example, you'll need to invest more money into waterproof mountaineering jackets than those primarily used for dog walking.  

Why is it better to invest in quality kit that lasts?

When I first came to Scotland, I had outdoor kit but found I was soaked through to the skin almost instantly. It was not as good as it could be. My boots leaked, and I had the wrong socks causing blistered, painful feet. I was miserable! Determination led to finding kit to keep me warm, dry and blister-free. Even though I spent a bit more money, I enjoyed being outside for longer, confident I could rely on my kit to keep me safe. 

What do you do to help your kit last longer?

Now, after all these years, I still own that kit. I used waterproofing on my jackets and trousers, reproofing them regularly. I also treat my walking boot irrespective of the weather. If wet, I take the insoles out to dry correctly, opening the lacing so air can circulate. Plus, our footwear protection service is a fantastic way to extend the life of your favourite outdoor footwear. 

Any final words of wisdom?

Look after your feet. It's essential to ensure your feet are as comfy as possible. My first advice to anyone wanting to explore the outdoors is to book an in-store free boot fitting appointment. That way, you'll find a pair with the appropriate protection right for you and your chosen activity. Also, we help customers pick out the right socks to keep their feet warm and dry.


Lastly, please look after your environment. We are so lucky to have these green spaces available to us. So, it's key to take rubbish home, avoid starting fires and watch out for your local wildlife.


Because if everyone respects the outdoors, the outdoors will be there forever.  

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