Words : Alex Guimond, Co-CEO Altitude-Sports
A New Found Respect for Family Values
My father introduced me to the outdoors really early on. We spent most of our summers driving a camper around and discovering Eastern Canada. He taught me how to enjoy nature while trying to preserve it as much as possible. He was a "leave no trace" guy before leave no trace was a thing.
I think keys for my dad are durability or sustainability as a way of living. He is an example (in my eyes) when it comes to recycling and leaving no trace, but his vision has always been about durability more than anything else. Having durable habits, goods, processes, and relationships and interacting with them in a sustainable way. Buy better, not more, for sure - but also take care of the things you do buy, repair them, treat them well, while resisting the urge of changing for the sake of changing. And if you need to dispose of them, do it the right way (sell, give, recycle, compost, etc.).
Leaving no trace and recycling are subsections of approaching a sustainable way of life. I say this because I don't think my dad would consider himself being the best at either recycling or advocating about leave-no-trace. He’s more of a generalist, doing a lot of good things in all aspects of his life, rather than a specialist for one specific facet.
My father was always very careful about the equipment and clothes he bought, always buying quality products that would last the longest. He might say it’s, “going until the end of your gear.” He’d wear things I didn't want anymore and even now he still wears stuff I wore in my twenties!
Even today he rarely buys stuff, repairing as much as he can. He used to be a milkman and would drive around all day door to door - so he’d often come back with things people had thrown out as garbage or broken. He’d repair furniture and electronics, some of which he’s still using today!
In the above photo l’m wearing Salomon hiking boots, my first pair of ‘real’ boots. My father and I bought the same model at Altitude Sports on St-Denis Street in Montreal, before I was working there. Of course, we chose a past-season model and got a better price, and we wore them for many years on many great adventures together...
Alex & His Dad’s ‘Never Leave Home Without’ Gear
Water (stay hydrated at all times). Pristine is great - it doesn't get rid of physical debris but you can always pass the water through a cloth or coffee filter if it’s really dirty. Fire (stay warm & dry, see & be seen, psychological comfort & physical protection). Either bring a fire starter and matches, or get a multi-tool that has a fire-starter built in. Medical kit. VSSL is a great option for having a littlge of everything wrapped in a nice little bundle: medical kit, compass, firestarter, headlamp. Light. A good, reliable headlamp. Orientation. A good basic mirror compass can get you out of bad situations. Good socks. Can’t stress this enough. A dry bag (to keep key stuff dry at all times). Great for crossing water or sudden rain, but can also be used as a water container once you set up camp. Good trekking poles. Save your knees, give stability, rhythm and good form when hiking with a heavier backpack. Test unstable ground or shallow water, providing protection. Can even help create shelter or stretcher in a pinch. A good, reliable hat (sun, rain, wind protection). It can be a basket to collect fruit (that you know you can eat), a head cooler if you wet it, or a very basic water filter. A good pair of boots. Renegade Mid - good all-around boots, not too heavy, good support, durable leather, comfortable, good fit. Oh and of course my father, like all good fathers, introduced me to the virtues of duct tape. Always bring duct tape!
Three years ago I bought a cottage in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, along with a piece of land. One of our family dreams was to have ‘family land’ and a cottage where we could reunite and enjoy the outdoors.
The day we moved in, once the truck had been emptied, I went outside to look at the sunset with my family. My father told me to look up in the tree in front of the house.
My father is certainly one of the main reasons why I joined Altitude Sports, and why I evolved in the outdoors sports industry. Enjoying what you do every day, building your professional life around your family and spending time outdoors - I built a life in a very similar way that he built his.