We now live in a time where we manage our daily lives through our mobile devices, and it’s all made possible by the power of technology and of course, the Internet. But being connected doesn’t always mean communication. Digitalisation may be the norm, but sometimes too much screen time can be distracting and overwhelming. So every once in a while, people are encouraged to slow down, log out and shut down. This need to switch off and recharge is what inspired Dubai-based author, photographer, ultramarathon runner and The North Face ambassador, Wouter Kingma to launch Project Pause, a week-long solo outdoor adventure in the absence of Wi-Fi, mobile phone or laptop.
By modern standards, a day without Internet or some form of human interaction (whether on screen or off) may seem unbearable, but Wouter sees it differently. He calls Project Pause his call to the wild and a time to find purpose and meaning in life. “It’s quality time with nature and done solo, because I think there’s real value in spending quality time in the wilderness, away from this rat race we live in,” he says in the video. “We get overloaded with content and there’s always a to-do list, there’s always pressure, there’s always clients, family, friends and everything, so it’s nice to have one week a year just for your quality me time in nature.”
After braving the sand storm in The Empty Quarter, the largest sand desert in the world, for his first Project Pause in 2015, the Dutch national scaled Al Hajar Mountains in Oman last year. Preparing the right gear is essential to outdoor adventures, says Wouter. His self-sufficient kit includes the basics: camping equipment, clothing, food and water supply – all packed away in his tough The North Face bags.
He adds: “I also imagine what the worst conditions may be. I’m always aware of where I’m going in nature; that’s important because the moment you’re there and you’ve got the right equipment and quality camping gear, then you can just focus on letting Project Pause happen.”
On his Project Pause adventure, Wouter spent hours trekking and exploring the rocky Omani mountains, putting himself and The North Face hiking shoes to the test. Even the arid conditions and unexpected rain didn’t dampen his spirits, as he came prepared with the right layering of The North Face tops, shorts and jacket.
For entertainment, he brought books to read and a hammock. The downtime allowed him to write a few pages for his upcoming book project. He also brought a satellite phone in case of emergency and solar charger to power up his cameras and light.
Wouter Kingma says that by documenting these outdoor adventures and turning them into a series of films, he hopes to encourage others to disconnect with the hustle and bustle, and reconnect with nature. “As much as we like to believe otherwise, the world does not collapse in our absence,” he writes on his website. “I hope that by seeing me pause, you might seek to pause yourself. Just do it. It really is as simple as that and I guarantee you’ll come back stronger, wiser, more focused and more relaxed.”
So go ahead, unplug yourself for a little while and find your own inspiring Project Pause. Don’t forget to pack the essentials including the latest from The North Face collection from Sun & Sand Sports. For the latest in outdoor gear and sports lifestyle apparel, subscribe to our newsletter and hear the latest updates before anyone else on sssports.com.