Guys! You’re Doing It Wrong

Scrolling through my Facebook Newsfeed, I stumble upon cute cats, happy babies, and am stopped in my tracks by:

“Doughy is a lifestyle choice. Make a different one.

Make miles, not excuses this year.”

Boy did that take me on a little anger trip.

I believe, and Cycked!org believes, that everyone can benefit from spending time outdoors. (Yes, probably even you fabulous urbanites.) There is magic in the wild that we’re on a mission to make sure everyone has a chance to experience firsthand. And I believe most people who truly love getting outside will agree with that simple mission.

But, unfortunately, outdoor brand are continually effing it up. When Backpacker Magazine assaulted my eyeballs with their nonsense (can “doughy” really be a logical lifestyle, guys?), they brought down their self-stated noble cause:

At BACKPACKER, we inspire and enable people to enjoy the outdoors by providing the most trusted and engaging information about backcountry adventure in North America.

Mhmmmm… well there was nothing inspiring about that post.

But there is hope! I’ve put together my thoughts on how to talk about the outdoors in a way that stokes the fire — instead of dividing people into the categories of “true wilderness person” and “lazy bum.” Gag.

How To Do It Right:

  1. Support the journey, not the destination. The thing that got me about Backpacker Magazine’s annoying post was that they suggested the result was what was important. It said, “look sexy, then crush miles.” Nah. I’d prefer to focus on the steps. Success (in terms of summits, time records, or even fitness level) in the wild is never guaranteed — the journey is all we have.
  2. Remember that everyone can get outside. No matter what shape, size, ability, everyone is welcome in the wilderness. That’s the cool thing about it. There are no fees, mandatory classes, or minimum height requirements. Passion is all that is needed.
  3. Realize that not everyone wants to. And that is okay too! People who don’t want to get out there aren’t weird or broken, they just want to explore urban jungles — or just relax (sounds nice).
  4. You do you. There is a tried-and-true adage in the hiking community: HYOH (Hike Your Own Hike). Get with that. Some like peak bagging, some run ultramarathons, some (like me) just like to wander around slowly. If we stop judging each other, we can start having more fun.
  5. Evangelize. The more people that get outside and enjoy it, the more people will be standing up for the environment. That’s a good thing. But people will only enjoy it if they feel welcomed. Be nice!

Let me know in the comments below what I’ve forgotten. How can we make the wilderness inclusive?