Kinlay Francis – Buffalo Systems Brand Ambassador
Over the last few months we have had the pleasure of introducing several new members to our Ambassador team. The newest member to our team we would like to welcome Kinlay Francis. Kinlay and his family run a guiding and adventure business based in Orkney (Orkney Uncovered) and so is well versed in tough weather conditions and the best types of kit and tricks to stay warm and dry.
We caught up with him to ask a few questions on his life, business, his love of Labradors and of Buffalo Systems.
Hi Kinlay, welcome to Buffalo Systems as the newest member of our brand ambassador family. You’ve been using Buffalo garments for a long time which works perfectly in conjunction with the Orkney weather that you live and work in with your guiding business. Can you offer some insight into what it is about our brand and technologies that inspires you?
Thank you for asking me to be part of your brand ambassador family, I am honoured. Buffalo provides the best of the best gear for me in all the weather Orkney can deliver. The gear is designed and handmade in Sheffield for people like myself who spend their life outside exploring and seeking adventure.
Thanks Kinlay, we are very proud of our Sheffield manufacturing heritage, all the way back from 1979. Do you have any particular favorite garment from the range?
My favorite piece of Buffalo Systems gear is the Special 6 Shirt. This is hands down the best bit of outdoor kit I have owned. You can wear it in all weather here in Orkney and the mainland Scotland Munro’s and always feel warm. It is great at wicking away the moisture and keeping me warm.
You live in one of the most inspiring landscapes the UK has to offer. What is it about the Orkney Isles that you love the most?
I simply love the geology of ancient rugged hills and rocky coastlines of the North Sea and North Atlantic Ocean. It’s an epic backdrop for climbing, hill walking and sea swimming. I like to think that my ancestors the Vikings thought the same 1000 years ago.
That brilliant, it’s great when people unlock their family routes and history. It allows us to look at life and family in a different, more empowering way. Can you tell us was the inspiration for setting up Orkney Uncovered?
My DNA is from the Vikings, so I wanted to show the world our rich Viking ancestry combined with our military history during the World Wars. Warfare from Viking Ages to the World Wars focusing on Scapa Flow, our massive natural anchorage.
Very impressive, That is a tremendous depth and breath of knowledge. Have you always been based on Orkney?
I have been based on and off in Orkney for much of my life, but have been lucky to visit many countries to explore and enjoy different cultures. Orkney has 70 islands so still a lot to explore in all elements.
I can imagine not many people know there were 70 Islands that make up the Orkney Isles. That is pretty impressive. You’re the owner of a family business (Orkney Uncovered) running guided tours in and around the Isles, you and your family have a tremendous volume of knowledge and can focus on everything from the Isles environmental movements to the historical elements. Is there any particular part of Orkney’s history that you love and why and what do you feel are the biggest challenges faces the Orkney Isles moving into the future?
I specialise in ancient and wartime history and love exploring bunkers, batteries and booms from the wars. My late Grandfather was a Lt. Commander in the Royal Navy and based at Scapa Flow. My late Great Uncle was a Spitfire pilot here in Orkney.
I am proud to be an honorary member of the Royal Navy Fleet Diving Squadron brotherhood who nickname me Viking and Big Red because of my 6’6 stature and red beard. So remembering our past and present Veterans and current serving military is important to me and part of the ethos to my business.
Orkney is a very popular place for people from across the globe to visit. However lockdowns caused from the Coronavirus global pandemic impacted tourism and visitors in general to the islands. So I do my best to showcase Orkney virtually for the time being and to keep my energy levels up with plenty of sea air.
So not much time for rest then! When it does come, what’s your favourite activity in your down time?
My favourite activity is hiking the vast coastline of the Orkney Islands. I particularly like exploring sea caves and having a swim in the cool North Sea.
Perfect Buffalo Systems conditions, nice – If you were to test your Buffalo in some more extreme environments what would be your top 3?
- Winter mountaineering in the Scottish Cairngorms, Torridon and Skye.
- Galeforce coastal walks in Orkney.
- Being at sea on a zodiac, island hopping.
Fantastic, good choices! What’s the next Buffalo product on your wish list and why?
I would really like to test a Buffalo Teclite Shirt, as it would be great to wear on coastal walks during the milder months here in Orkney. I also like the fact it has a built in hood, perfect to shelter from the prevailing North Atlantic westerly.
What is the strangest place you have found your missing in action Buffalo when trying to locate it?
Haha – my 7 year old son Benjamin is a keen fitness fanatic and builder of all things dens in our house and outside. Recently I came across my beloved Special 6 in the garden being used as a tarp held between two trees for my son to shelter under. The little legend took off the DP Hood and was wearing it to keep warm under his Special 6 tarp styled canopy. Suffice to say I had to let my Special 6 stay in situ until he went to bed.
Brilliant! We have not heard of a Special 6 Shirt being used like that before! Thanks Kinlay – we are really looking forward to working with you. Stay tuned for more Buffalo Systems brand Ambassador news……