The 3 Types of Fun You Have in the Outdoors

A guide for how to describe your fun outdoor experiences without having to say much.

What follows will be a guide to correctly categorize types of outdoor fun (according to me, which is not a reliable source) and examples for you to differentiate your experience to your other outdoorsy, and otherwise, friends.

Type 1 Fun

Fun while doing it, fun in retrospect, would definitely do it again. All around, good fun times.

Examples of Type 1 Fun:

– Let’s go to the river and take a dip after a long hike! Wow, buddy, this cold water sure feels nice on my tender, sweaty skin. What a great idea!

Cooling off in the Saco River (Type 1 Fun)

– Hike 20-ish miles with good friends during a blue bird day – stop to take in a 100 foot waterfall near the end of the trail. Drink cold beer out of a growler from a local brewery upon arrival back to the car.

– Warm up your legs with a short trail run to see a beautiful waterfall (can you tell I like waterfalls?). Oh, the trail is a bed of bouncy pine needles, you say? Even better.

Type 2 Fun

Go in with a positive attitude, is very difficult or frustrating while doing it (not having fun while doing it), still fun to reflect on later. Although its not fun while doing it, you find it a sufferfest of sorts you can smile and laugh about in recollection.

Examples of Type 2 Fun:

– Hike a high elevation mountain (Mount Elbert, Colorado, if we want to be specific) when you haven’t fully acclimatized. Every step feels like you’re walking in quick sand. Take the more challenging trail up the mountain, have to go down very steep, sketchy switchbacks for a mile or so.

The struggle of Type 2 Fun

– Get caught in a rain storm in some wind caves in Logan, UT. Start sprinting downhill to get out of the rain, to find that you’ve gone much further than you recall. Get to the car and start giggling to yourself for being so silly.

Type 3 Fun

A different kind of sufferfest. The kind you don’t smile about. Not fun during, not fun to talk about after, all around no fun. Why did I ever agree to do this? (Question from the crowd: why would this still be listed as fun? Answer: anytime you go outdoors, it’s still considered fun)

Example of Type 3 Fun:

Trying to accomplish the Presidential Traverse (NH) when the forecast calls for pouring rain, thunderstorms and maybe even some small hail. True to the forecast, it pours on you, while you’re wearing full backpacking packs and you start to worry about hypothermia. One of the people in your group’s trekking pole breaks 2.5 miles in. Everything is going wrong. You turn around, head back to the trailhead with your tail between your legs, and strip off all the gross clothes and wet gear.

When we got turned around on the Presidential Traverse, we decided to instead, watch the sunset and drink some local beers.

Why do we do it?

Sometimes, during Type 2 or Type 3 fun I ask myself “why do I do this? Its not even fun.” I trudge along, getting grumpy and frustrated at all the different challenging aspects coming towards me but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

At times like these, memories of when I was growing up come to me and the mantra my parents ingrained in my head pops up like a word bubble in a cartoon – ‘you have to work hard to get what you want, things won’t be given to you.’ And whether you learned that from your family while you were growing up or you learned it yourself along the way, it always holds true.

The best part about going outside and having all the different types of fun is that you are working hard at a goal and are always better for it afterwards. Whether you get to the summit of a mountain, the end of a race, the top of a climb, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you went outside, you decided to breathe in some beautiful fresh air and push yourself, at least slightly, outside of your comfort zone. That is when the magic happens, and all the other parts fade away.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t truly matter what happened out on the trail/glacier/summit/pitch/river as long as you come back alive, come back safe and come back as friends and partners.

Let me know about what types of fun you’re having or follow some of mine on my Instagram!


Emily Holland
Emily Holland

Co-Host, The Stokecast

Lover of all things outside. My life is mountains, rocks, running, dogs, fitness, & music. NY born, Boulder-based.


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