Adventure Friends: How to Make Them and Keep Them
Advice and Resources for Seeking Community in the Outdoors.
By Hailey Hirst
Even though solo time in the outdoors is gratifying and valuable, spending time together can make a hike or backpack that much better. Unfortunately, it can feel hard to find friends or create a community in adulthood. There are so many distractions, obligations, excuses, and fears that prevent us from putting ourselves out there.
Seeking new adventure friends is a topic that’s popped up before in our She Explores Podcast Facebook group. It’s also one that Gale tackled in the She Explores book on a page called “Building Bonds in the Outdoors.” But it’s a topic worth revisiting.
Whether we are new in town, trying something new, simply seeking a community or our partner isn’t interested in the same outdoor activities we are—there are many ways to find outdoor adventure friends:
Join an Online Community
This is probably the least intimidating place to begin. Truly, there are so many groups that offer digital community (and in-person activities) that it’s hard to make a list that feels comprehensive—especially because some groups are small or niche, and vary by region and activity.
Many of these groups have chapters throughout the United States:
- Women Who Hike (Listen: Episode 52: Commitment and Community)
- Outdoor Women’s Alliance
- Trail Sisters
- Flash Foxy (Listen: Episode 28: Climber, Activist, Entrepreneur, and Feminist)
- Unlikely Hikers (Listen: Episode 76: Fat and Outdoorsy)
- Brown Girls Climb
- Alpine Women Collective (Read: Backpacking in the Cascades with AWC)
- Latino Outdoors
- Bold Betties
- Hike it Baby (Listen: Episode 11: Adventuring With Kids Part 2)
- Outdoor Afro
- Adventure Grapes Online Book Club (Listen: Episode 56: An (Adventure) Book Club for the 21st Century)
- Fat Girls Hiking
- Native Women’s Wilderness (Listen: Episode 53: Native Connection to the Land)
- 52 Hike Challenge
Join a group and get involved in their affiliated Facebook Groups, planned group activities, or other resources.
Tap Into Your Local Scene
Closer to home, check out local outdoor stores, guide shops, or community centers to find out what’s going on where you live (or in the place you’re visiting). What local clubs, teams, or groups exist that you might be interested in? Do they host meet-ups or events?
Take a Course, Class, or Workshop
- National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) offers many types of outdoor education and certification courses, ranging from a couple of days to a few months long.
- Read: Katie Cooney on NOLS Wilderness Medicine training
- Read: Cait Ward spent 30 days in the Wind River Range and did an Adirondack Semester with NOLS after a traumatic brain injury
- Outward Bound provides experiential and outdoor education programs for youth and adults.
- Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps – Women in Wilderness hosts an immersive backpacking trip with hands-on teaching about trail work and conservation.
- REI hosts many types of courses and classes across the US, including women-specific events.
- SheJumps hosts courses and programs designed to increase female (both youth and adult) participation in outdoor activities through adventure, education, and community building.
- Read: SheJumps staff tells us about their Junior Ski Patrol program
Attend an Event
This could be something local, or it could be something you travel to. Many of the groups and organizations listed above host events too.
- Mappy Hour (Listen: Episode 29: Finding Balance in the Hustle)
- And She’s Dope Too
- Women’s Climbing Festival (Listen: Episode 65: Playing To Her Strengths)
- Trail Mavens (Read: Interview with founder, Sasha Cox)
- 5 Point Film Festival (Listen: Episode 26: Women of 5Point Adventure Film Festival)
- Lodged Out Retreat (Listen: Episode 90: What We Have to Give)
- National Parks Conservation Association — events and service projects! (Listen: Episode 71: Advocating for Parks Near and Far)
Plan Something Yourself
All of these groups, organizations, and events exist because individuals made plans and created a community where there was none before. If you’ve got an idea, the willingness to make plans, and the guts to ask others to share in the experience with you, you might be surprised how excited people are to join forces.
Look to Social Media
Even if it’s not an organized group, social media can be a great tool to connect with people who share your interests.
Instagram makes it easy to engage with people you find either through hashtags or from actively commenting with similar accounts. As with social groups offline, circles of common interest form online too. Reach out and engage with people.
Go Anyway, with a Friendly and Open-Minded Attitude
So maybe your plans fell through or you haven’t made any yet. Go anyway. Talk to people on the trail. Bring a snack to share. You never know who you’ll meet. Plus, if you’re hiking the same place, you already have something in common.
And as for Keeping New Adventure Friends?
It takes time to really get to know people. Attending one event or meet-up might not build a strong enough bond, but consistently showing up (in person or online) can get you somewhere.
Try inviting a new connection on a hike or lunchtime walk around a park. Send a link to an outdoor documentary you’ve been wanting to watch and see if they’re interested too. Love to read? Start an adventure book club and meet regularly to discuss outdoor books.
Be patient and open, and remember that in friendships, like all relationship, you get what you give. So, be generous, curious, and open-hearted.
Banner image by Gale Straub