How To Be More Outdoorsy When You’ve Spent Your Whole Life Inside

It’s hard not to feel a little awestruck when you see a video of a rock climber scaling the side of a cliff on a tropical island, or a snowboarder defying the laws of physics on a far flung peak of a snowy mountain range. But not everyone was brought up to be one with nature, and it can be difficult to get from indoor dweller to outdoor adventurer on your own. Here are a few ways to start:

  1. Start small. You don’t have to go from city boy to Alpine paragliding superhero in a day. Ease yourself into it with little things first. Try a day trip to the closest state park or start taking scuba diving lessons. Don’t let your pride and ambition get the better of you. It’ll pay off to start small and work your way up.
  2. Learn from the greats. There are a lot of really amazing outdoorsmen out there, and luckily for you, a lot of them have documented their experiences. Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air is a great place to start, although it may scare you away from the rugged outdoors before you’ve even tried them. If you’re looking for something a little more contemplative and less terrifying, look no further than the OG of the outdoors himself, Henry David Thoreau.
  3. Get inspired. The Internet is teeming with inspiring content on the outdoors. You can easily go to Youtube and get sucked into a vacuum of climbing videos or discover your next outdoor adventure hero on Instagram. Consume as much inspiring content as you can get your hands on. Not only will it fill you with excitement for your next adventure, but it will also teach you a lot of things you need to know.
  4. Make a list of places you want to go. There’s nothing that builds motivation and anticipation more than a bucket list. You may find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed when looking at all the amazing places there are to visit and all the amazing activities you can there. But by narrowing your favorites to a handful, you’ll be one step closer to turning your tentative ideas into reality.
  5. Learn about equipment. One of the first things you’ll learn about the outdoors community is that everyone is obsessed with their gear. And while it may seem like a foreign language at first, you can catch up pretty quickly if you do your research. Resources like Outside Magazine, REI Expert Advice, and more will get you up to speed and speaking the lingo in no time.
  6. Make it a hobby. There are plenty of outdoor-centered hobbies that don’t require you to be a rock climbing champion or mountain bike pro. Scope out some wilderness swimming holes, read up on astronomy, find a scenic hiking trail and pitch a tent in a campground nearby. Don’t let your lack of expertise in outdoor adventure stop you from becoming a man of nature. The other stuff can be picked up later.
  7. Learn to embrace a little discomfort. If you’ve spent your whole life in the relative comfort of buildings and urban life, chances are camping and spending time in nature might feel a little uncomfortable at first. Learning to embrace the variable weather (hot, cold, wet, windy, etc.) will get you far when it comes to being an outdoorsman. If you can learn to enjoy a little discomfort, you’re well on your way.
  8. Do your research.  If the outdoors aren’t really your thing yet, you can get yourself into some seriously nasty situations even in the most harmless-seeming places if you don’t familiarize yourself with the territory. Be prepared with maps, food, water, the proper gear, and a solid knowledge of the area before you venture out into the woods or mountains or canyons of whatever trip you’ve planned. You don’t want to be caught off guard.
  9. Find some friends who are more experienced than you. If your friends aren’t very outdoorsy either, it’ll be a lot harder for you to motivate yourself and start having outdoor adventures. Look for people who are experienced in the activities you want to pursue. Go climbing at a rock gym and get to know your fellow climbers. Join a local cycling team and start to learn from your teammates. The great thing about outdoor hobbies is that they’re usually pretty social. You’ll find a community in no time if you go looking.
  10. Take time to document the experience. As mentioned above, being outside isn’t always a comfortable experience. There are bugs. There is dirt. There aren’t always bathrooms available. But even if you have a difficult experience the first few times you go hiking or camping or exploring, chances are you’ll remember them a lot more fondly than you expect to, especially if you take pictures, write about it, or capture it in whatever way you prefer. This documentation will not only help you remember your adventures, but it will inspire you to keep seeking new ones.