You need a high fitness level to do your job. How do you stay in shape?
I train hard five or six days a week and consider it a key part of my work to maintain the strength, endurance, and flexibility to be able to survive in difficult places. I need a lot of core strength and explosive power whilst in awkward positions. I work out for about 40 minutes; it’s a mix of functional core body weight exercises where I do 30 seconds of hard work, then 15 seconds of rest. I’m also outside a lot, in the rain or mud. When I’m dirty, I train harder.
How do you stay cool in a crisis?
Calm in the storm is a key principle instilled in new soldiers in the British SAS. I have always remembered that, and it is true for survival. When things go wrong, people panic into doing stuff that makes the situation worse. The key is taking a few critical seconds or minutes to think calmly and clearly. As you get better at this, you can think and act clearly in seconds.
You have a dream job. But if you had to change careers, what would you do?
I’d maybe be a lifeboat guy in the small Welsh community on the mainland, near our island in the U.K. I often find it quite tempting to leave all the madness and go do this. Instead, I help out with a team called Global Rescue (globalrescue.com). In an international disaster, they go in first, ahead of the aid agencies, to set up communications and airstrips, etc. Cool guys and it keeps the edge.
You’re married and have three sons. What do you get out of backpacking personally and with your family?
It gives you that all-precious sense of freedom and self-determination, and that rare chance to escape the noise of the city and reconnect with who you really are. Time alone, unhurried, is rare nowadays—don’t underestimate what it can do for you on so many levels. I often go out alone when I need some space and time. It is also magic to take my kids out and show them the ways of nature. People form real relationships in the wild. It is hard to hide the real you, and that is a good thing.