For eight rather long days I ran marathons across the Unlucky Steppe in some very specific, and altogether quite luxurious, underwear. Sounds a betpak Dala09bit bonkers right? But HOM were not only kind enough to supply me with numerous pairs of boxers from their new Adaptive and Snow lines, but even went as far as to help fund the expedition itself.

Of course that may sound like a bit of a strange fit with the rather straight-laced world of traditional exploration, but I’m pretty sure we’re no longer living in a traditional, straight-laced world any more. Progression, restructuring and evolution is afoot in the once rigid bastions of outdoor activity. The adventure culture is booming and never before have so many people had so many plans and challenges in the pipeline to seek out their own personal limits, regardless of means or method, to experience a life beyond what in yesteryear was dictated as the norms of work, and family and life more generally.

And it’s brilliant. The stories that are being submitted to Sidetracked with ever more increasingly regularity are just a small sample of the inspiration and reinvigoration overcoming the outdoor space; one minute we’re walking across Mongolia, the next we’re navigating an undescended river in Borneo, the next climbing a lofty and untouched peak in Antarctica. Adventure – in its broadest sense – has proliferated; expanded into a realm of instant connectivity and the real time interests of the social media generation. We now inhabit a world where anyone who’s consuming this very text can also be publishing their own too, successfully and with meaningful impact beyond the virtual world our copy is found in.

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Adventurers who keep a blog, take good pictures and go on good trips will sooner or later pick up followers; readers who share and admire the expeditions that adventurer has set out to undertake. If you represent accessible adventuring, leaving you’re home and going out for a two-day jolly in the woods, then your words are going to resonate with like minded microadventurers. If you’re planning a round the world cycle, then you can bet your dinner that your readers will also have a passion for cycle touring too. If you carry on and get good at the game – many adventurers have already – then sooner of later you’ll assume the grandiose mantle of a ‘social influencer’, a person with the real and tangible ability to affect the attitudes and beliefs of the people who follow you.

This is where brands come into the picture. Companies are quickly realising that they can get strong and, most importantly, genuine engagement with their core audiences through association with individuals in the social media world. People now have the keys to create their own content representing what they truly believe, forging their own audiences through a platform that is ubiquitously accessible to all. Brands have finally come to terms with this and are getting on board with outdoorsmen and women who mirror their beliefs, as well as others across all spheres of culture and business.

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So as for HOM? Personally, I like fashion. I wish I was more fashionable – I still remember the first Year 7 nonuniform day where I got called carrot boy for wearing entirely bright orange apparel (double denim too!) with green shoes – but regardless, I do like fashion. I guess I like style, even if I’m not that stylish. And I like well designed products, which these boxers most certainly are (being some of the most comfortable ones I’ve got, especially for sport). But most of all, being British, I like the underdog. I like the fact that a fashion company can jump into the tired and sometimes rather stuffy realms of the traditional outdoor space and shake things up a bit. And do it well. Change is important and they’re changing things about.

So, I believe in HOM, and that’s important. If I believe, then hopefully I can convince you guys to believe in the same values too, or at least appeal to those of you who’ve already invested in the same ideology as me. My entire journey may have come across as a bit odd; one mad capped Englishman running through an uncrossed Kazakh steppe, accompanied by two grizzled white Russians following behind in a jeep, all brought together by French underwear company. A eccentric adventure it may have been, but it represents perfectly the brave new sponsorship world we now live in.

A place where brands and stories meet.