Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Silje Elisabeth Skuland
In Norway, there is a broad consensus that experiencing nature and performing physical activities outdoors is healthy, important and typical Norwegian. The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen’s expression ‘simple outdoor life’ is a great national symbol. In recent years we have seen a rapid technological development of outdoor recreational outfits and a massive increase of the quantity of different clothing and equipment for these activities on the market. This is due to both a specialisation of clothing for different activities and a fast turn over of these kinds of products.
In this paper we will discuss what the drivers for objectification of outdoor leisure are, as seen from the consumers’ point of view. In addressing this question, focus was on how the ‘standard-package,’ that is what is considered as ordinary and necessary, has changed and what consumers tell us about their motivations for buying new equipment and how they explain the necessity and need for new equipment. Technological innovations within clothing and fabric for optimal performance in skiing, running and biking are welcomed by many people, especially high income families. However, this development consists of a dilemma because the consumption growth takes place within activities regarded as simple and in a contrast to modern excess consumption and environmental strains.
Our study shows that outfits for outdoors activities are integrated as part of the skills and knowledge to perform and participate in the activities, and that few reactions to the consumption growth arise because the consumption contributes to activities seen as healthy and valuable. Functional clothes and equipment makes the activities safer and funnier, and therefore motivates increased participation. To be outdoors in the nature and do physical activities is something many Norwegians desire to do more often.