Meet Our In-Store Experts

Conor Stephens

Conor is passionate about having adventures and pushing himself to try new things outdoors. A keen hiker and wild swimmer, he also loves wild camping and carrying all the kit he needs,  so he can move on and find somewhere new to explore at a moment’s notice. We caught up with him to find out more about his relationship with the outdoors, how his adventures change through autumn and winter, and why helping customers make the right choice is so important to him. 

How would you describe your relationship with the outdoors?

My relationship with the outdoors is definitely something that’s evolved. When I was younger, I was much more involved in the outdoors. I recall spending years of my life kicking around outdoors, scraping my knees, trying to climb a tree or just being out having fun in the sunshine or the rain. But then it fell off when I thought I had to be cool and interesting as a teenager. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned more about myself, and my relationship with the outdoors is better. I’ve realised it’s what I really enjoy, and I guess I’ve become more passionate as I continue to explore the outdoors. 


Every time I get out, I discover something new, not only about the environments I’m exploring, but something new about myself, and it’s a really great feeling to learn through exploration. Now getting outdoors and going on adventures is just one of the best feelings in the world for me.

What is it about the outdoors that you love so much?

I enjoy spending time outdoors because it’s genuinely therapeutic; just taking some time for yourself and sitting in the quiet and the peace. It might be a bit cheesy, but it’s time away from everything else in your life. When you’re maybe a bit frazzled or working hard, you need a break from your day-to-day and for me, being outdoors is the best feeling. 


I like being active too. My go-to activities are hiking, camping and wild swimming. I enjoy going out for a couple of days wild camping in the middle of nowhere. Ideally, I’ll get as close to the water as possible so that if the weather’s right, I can take an early morning swim instead of having my usual shower. I love the freedom of camping, just being able to pack it all up and move on to the next place.

So, would you say the outdoors benefits your wellbeing?

Being outdoors definitely affects my wellbeing positively. No matter what , if I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, I know I can always get out into the countryside and bring myself to a place of calm. 

Just a couple of days outside – it doesn’t even have to be nice weather – getting fresh air makes me feel much better. I know that no matter how I feel day-to-day, the outdoors is always there and will always centre me again.


But being outdoors and doing something interesting and fun, pushing myself to do a new activity that’s a bit daunting, also gives me a feeling of satisfaction. Knowing I’ve overcome something I was nervous or anxious about, I feel proud of myself, and that’s great.

Are there any landscapes you prefer to explore?

Honestly, if I can go to any different location, I’ll take the chance … one week it’s down to the beach, the next it’s into the forest, and after that, up into the hills. I’ll happily tackle any, but I do love a forest walk. I don’t think there’s anything better than walking through a forest path and hearing the creaking sound of all the trees moaning in the wind and feeling the brush underneath. I particularly love an autumn forest walk because you get the crunch of the twigs and the leaves, and it’s very satisfying underfoot. 

Do you find it easy to keep exploring in autumn and winter?

I think negative weather can affect the drive to get outdoors, but once you’ve had a couple of experiences outdoors, you know that the weather can change at the drop of a hat. You get used to it, and you get into the right frame of mind to say, ‘you know what? I want to do this today. The weather isn’t on my side, but that doesn’t matter. I’m going to do it anyway.’ 


You have to take precautions for bad weather and be respectful of the outdoors because during the colder months, the weather can get out of hand quickly. That’s why I think having the right kit in autumn and winter is more important than any other season. You need kit that will protect you and keep you safe, but once you’ve got it, the weather can do whatever it likes - it’s not going to stop you from having a good time.  

Tell us a little about your experience working at Cotswold Outdoor?

I’ve been working at Cotswold Outdoor for about a year now. I was drawn to working here by how much care and attention their experts put into everything they do for the customer. 


My favourite thing about working here is helping people make the right choice so they can get outdoors. Drawing on my own experiences and talking to customers and helping them by passing on friendly advice, it’s the easiest way for me to connect with someone and share a human experience. For me, a customer doesn’t need to walk away with an item there and then, as long as they walk away informed and happy with the services we’ve provided, that’s one of the best days I can have at work.

You talked about helping customers make the right choice. Why is this so important to you?

When someone makes the right choice, they get the kit they need and it’s precious to them. When something’s precious, you take care of it and make sure it lasts. And when a piece of kit lasts, that’s sustainability because the longer you have kit, the less you’re spending on frivolous pieces that might not last as long. 


I also think there’s no better choice for sustainability than picking a quality item. A quality piece of kit is going to last you and it’s going to be something you have for years.

How do you ensure your kit lasts?

What it comes down to is treating your kit with respect, treating it kindly and taking the time to maintain it. It takes very little time and effort, but further down the line, your kit is going to thank you and will have your back. That’s because not only is looking after your kit more sustainable but keeping it in tip-top shape means that you’re as safe as you can be, and you’ll be prepared for whatever is thrown at you.


I know it may sound a bit boring but looking after your kit is one of the most important things you can do.

You’ve mentioned sustainability a few times, why do you think that’s important?

I think there have been many changes to the environment over the years, and we’re reaching a point at which the impact we can have is reducing, so we need to act now.


I think one thing we can all benefit from is exploring closer to home. There’s not always a need to go somewhere far away. You can have just an impactful experience from your back garden. 

But we can make a difference at home too. I try to make a dent in recycling and put things to better use.

Finally, are you hopeful for the future of the outdoors?

I’m very hopeful for the future of the outdoors because every day I see people at work who love the outdoors making small decisions and taking time to deliberate on what’s more sustainable.

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