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What does the great outdoors mean to you?

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Merrell footwear embeds its stance in JEDI – justice, equity, diversity and inclusion – and we believe that nature and the great outdoors represent these four qualities perfectly.

American magazine Footwear News interviewed Merrell president Chris Hufnagel to unpack these concepts in commemoration of our 40th birthday.

And we’ve interviewed some of Merrell’s long-standing ambassadors to find out what keeps them going back to nature and attracting them to the great outdoors, too.

Donovan Sims

Donovan Sims

Q. What does the great outdoors mean to you?

The great outdoors, for me, has many different scenarios – because of the lifestyle I've been blessed with. 

It's running a trail along a mountain ridge, clambering through dense ravine and bush, running a coastline, paddling a river or an ocean, riding my bicycle wherever the trails take me or lying on a reef at the bottom of the ocean with only your lungs full of air.

I love nature, I live adventure, I love feeling wild, feeling feral...The Great Outdoors allows me to do that.

Q. Merrell exists to share the simple power of being outside. What is your favourite way to share the simple power of being outside with others?

Adventure racing is a lifestyle that I am VERY passionate about. I've been fortunate enough to have been able to race at the front end of the field for almost a decade, but in 2017 I started doing expedition-style racing as a mentor. I would take 3 novices into an expedition race (500km) and guide them through the course by sharing the knowledge I have gained over the years. This way of racing and sharing the outdoors has truly given me some of my most fulfilling experiences I have ever had.

Q. Why do you need the right shoes for being in the great outdoors?

The right equipment for any task is always a necessity. Having a shoe that is comfortable, rugged, and stable, and one that doesn't leave me limping to the finish line due to blisters or rolled ankles is an ABSOLUTE necessity. 

Just as a plumber wouldn't arrive at work with a dentist's tools...I wouldn't venture out onto unknown trails without my Merrell’s on my feet.

Follow Donovan Sims’ adventures:  Facebook 


Tracey Campbell

Tracey Campbell 2

Q. What does the great outdoors mean to you?

The great outdoors is something special: the woods, the wilderness, the wild…. I am so fortunate to not only spend my weekends outdoors but my weekdays as well. I just love nature and being outside even if it's a walk around the block with my dogs or an adventure over a mountain range. 

It all fills my soul and reminds me of how lucky we are to have such a beautiful world around us. I recently contracted COVID-19 and had to isolate myself for 10 days. It's amazing how quickly we forget when we were all locked indoors and all we wanted to do was be outside. This was a great reminder of how fortunate I am to get to experience the beauty of our little town every day, and make the most of being outdoors whenever I can.

Q. Merrell exists to share the simple power of being outside. What is your favourite way to share the simple power of being outside with others?

Most people meet up for coffee, a drink or a braai to say hello to friends and catch up on the week's activities. My way of doing this is getting outside, having a social run, or riding, being active and spending time with my friends and loved ones. We can always have a cup of coffee after our ride :)

Q. Why do you need the right shoes for being in the great outdoors?

If you are going for a walk around the block or a 24 hour mission through the mountains, your feet deserve all the comfort you can give them. Spending time in shoes that do not provide support and stability for your body will only cause injuries further down the line. 

It is worth investing in your body because it is the only one you have. It deserves the best you can give it. So be kind to your feet, be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.

Find out more about Tracey in our blog.

Follow Tracey’s adventures: Facebook | Instagram


Peter van Kets

Peter Van Kets

Q. What does the great outdoors mean to you?

I’ve lived my whole life trying at every opportunity to get outside to explore, play, run and have fun. It’s who I am! 

We are still privileged enough to have such incredible wilderness areas at our back doors. Understanding the value of breathing clean air, exercising and sweating in the most beautiful places on the planet is priceless. There is no more relevant time than right now to get outside and into the great outdoors – best immune booster of all.

Q. Merrell exists to share the simple power of being outside. What is your favourite way to share the simple power of being outside with others?

There have been so many times in my life where I have stood at the edge of a mountain cliff, or on a rowing boat in the middle of the ocean at night or at the South Pole or up close to rare and wild animals and thought, “I wish I could just share this moment with people I know.” And social media has made this all possible. 

I now share these wild places by organising races that take people feral into the great outdoors. This is the best way I can use my outdoor expertise to introduce people to places they would not normally get to see.

Q. Why do you need the right shoes for being in the great outdoors?

Being comfortable on your feet in the great outdoors is absolutely essential. Most importantly, it gives you the confidence to tackle different types of terrain. Whether it’s for a two-hour hike or a six-day extreme adventure race, you need to protect your feet. And having both comfort and protection in a shoe makes people want to get out more.

Find out more about Peter in his review of the Moab Speed!

Follow Peter van Kets’ adventures: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website 


Graham Bird

Graham Bird

Q. What does the great outdoors mean to you?

The Great outdoors is a place to for me to go and escape from the pressures and stresses of everyday, modern life. Our work lives are so focussed now on what is happening on the World Wide Web, it is hard to work out what is real and what is fake.

Going into the great outdoors allows me to disconnect and make sense of what is real and important in life. 

Q. Merrell exists to share the simple power of being outside. What is your favourite way to share the simple power of being outside with others?

Being able to take people on a simple trail run, hike, mountain bike or paddle is very rewarding. I've grown up with the great outdoors and it plays a huge part in my life. So to be able to get other people outside and watching them connect with nature gives me great joy and fulfilment – watching people discover that anything is possible.

Q. Why do you need the right shoes for being in the great outdoors?

It is important to be comfortable and safe when outdoors. Finding the right product to achieve this is hugely important and plays a significant role in the enjoyment of being outdoors. My current shoe of choice is the MTL Long Sky from Merrell.

Follow Graham Bird’s adventures: Facebook | Instagram


You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the simple power of being outside. 

Whether you’re sitting, walking, hiking, running, riding, or anything else, don’t let anything hold you back – Grab your Merrells and get out there!