Stance x Ranger Lab
There are no easy days in the wildlife ranger profession. No choice is simple; no decision without consequence.
We’ve teamed up with RangerLab, an organisation that’s mission is to equip and empower Wildlife Rangers worldwide to protect nature at scale. From Anti-poaching, anti-trafficking, wildlife conservation and responding to illegal wildlife activity, the job of a Wildlife Ranger is a complex and always evolving role that is as physically and mentally demanding as it gets.
We worked with the RangeLab team to kit out 175 Wildlife Rangers with several pairs of our hike collection equipped with INFIKNIT and FEEL360 technology. Every pair provides each ranger with the quality and resistance that matches their mission. When you match some of our planet’s toughest people with the world’s toughest socks, there lies a simple but meaningful synergy. We ran this as a wear test to really see what each pair was capable of in the world's most demanding environment.
We caught up with the RangerLab team on their recent trip to Zambia to hear about their experience with the local Wildlife Rangers on the field, here’s what Maddy WrighT had to say:
RangerLab works and funds a variety of wildlife ranger organisations on the ground. On this trip, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to embed with the Game Rangers International Kafue Anti-Poaching Units, some of Zambia’s finest wildlife rangers.
These wildlife rangers are up at the crack of dawn, immediately navigating the net of pressures entangled with natural degradation, poverty, and population growth. They could be sent onto rapid response duties in a split second, but for now, they exude a fraternal calm, a fortifying competence. Rangers, peacemakers, conservationists, role models, stewards; the men and women protecting Earth from the frontline are truly awe-inspiring.
Whilst governments debate endlessly whether our global warming pathway will be 1.5, 2 or 5 degrees, there is an inherent immediacy to the rate of biodiversity loss which rangers and their communities live amidst the effects of daily. Slowly but surely, increasing rates of poaching, wildlife crime rates and community pressures are unfolding right in front of their eyes.
At RangerLab we’re striving to do everything in our power to support Wildlife Rangers do what they do best, and in the process, to catalyse sustainable change for nature.
RangerLab knows the importance of looking eye to eye with those on the front line - of listening to and learning of challenges from the rangers themselves. This year, to take a snapshot of life on the frontline of conservation, we worked with Stance to immerse ourselves into their world. The trip reinforced just how multifaceted the challenges are. They're constant and complex, and they require individuals to think fast on their feet.
Wildlife rangers understand planet Earth and the flora and fauna within it; from the needs of forestlands, to the politics of community development. They hold crucial indegenous knowledge of the Earth that has been passed down through generations. The last COP set out to prioritise space for 'Indigenous peoples and their communities and nature-based solutions'. We are gradually hearing more, but are we all really listening?
Days in the field can be long and brutal.
A quick morning run in the wrong pair of socks can hinder the rest of the week. Imagine hours in the field, day after day, under the hot African sun…
Any adventurist, sportsperson, lover of the outdoors, will understand the importance of equipment: for performance, for physical protection and wellbeing, for spirit.
Picture yourself doing your passion or activity without the right socks, footwear or wider equipment - a recipe for huge discomfort. This is the reality for many wildlife rangers across Africa, and further afield. RangerLab was first ignited when 23 year old Founder; Lew Bedford discovered the simple and yet fixable challenges that wildlife rangers rarely have the right pairs of socks and boots to do their jobs in comfort. Since 2018, we’ve discovered the extent to which socks and boots are really just the tip of the iceberg.
The WWF 2019 Life on the Frontline Survey reported that rangers in Africa work an average of 90 hours a week, with over half of those being at night. At the same time, over 50% have to purchase their own basic personal equipment, including socks and boots. With salaries for wildlife rangers being a mere $250USD per month, refreshing equipment sometimes comes at the expense of supporting a family. No choice is simple; no decision without consequence.
When it comes to protecting nature, for today and every tomorrow to come, how can we possibly be on the right track if we aren’t willing to provide those already at the frontline of biodiversity protection with the tools to do their jobs?
During our trip to Kafue, we joined the wildlife rangers on their morning runs for just a taste of the physical and mental strength they possess. Lew tagged along with a cohort of wildlife rangers at the 5:30am sunrise, and as they took on the dusty Zambian tracks, felt the hum of camaraderie, the summoning of inner strength.
"It was all pretty powerful; the sun rose, as their voices did, and it felt ceremonial, annunciated, raw. Villagers woke up as these songs rolled into the air for all to hear. That was an experience I will never, ever forget. Reflecting on that moment made a lot of things fall into place as to why we do this, why we work so hard for these men and women, why it matters..."
Lew Bedford - Founder - RangerLab
Wildlife Rangers deserve access to quality products, goods and services to protect nature. The Stance sock technology finally provides the rangers with the quality and resistance that matches their mission. When you match some of our planet’s toughest people with the world’s toughest socks, therein lies a simple but meaningful synergy.
Between Stance and RangerLab, we're kitting out 175 wildlife rangers with several pairs of socks per ranger. It's our commitment to a better tomorrow for nature. This looks to be only the beginning.
Our work doesn’t stop here. The experiences and learnings from Kafue only fuelled the fire in our bellies at RangerLab.
Equipping rangers is both about the direct impact, and the ripple effect of respectfulness and reconfiguration, where wildlife rangers are empowered to ask for what they need to do their jobs effectively. We’re about paving our way to more and more impactful, long lasting change. It is the simple matter of feet that brought RangerLab into being, and it is growing into so much more. The story is only just beginning. It’s the voice of the wildlife ranger that will be centre stage.
As part of the philosophy of RangerLab, partnering with organisations like Stance who are pioneering the future of the equipment market through R&D is a simple yet effective way of ensuring every wildlife ranger we support receives only the very best support.
We’re excited to work alongside Stance on their Hike product range through wear testing and performance feedback from the wildlife ranger community, out there, doing the day-to-day conservation work that allows us all to benefit from ecosystems around the world.
View the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA-dQsU9nGU
Shop the Hike collection here: https://stance.eu.com/collections/outdoor-socks
Stance x RangerLab
Written by Madeleine Wright and Lew Bedford on behalf of Stance and RangerLab
Images copyright of Cat Vinton / CATV
With thanks to Game Rangers International.