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Getting Friends Outdoors: Best Activities

We know how awesome getting outside is for our own health and well-being. How do you go about getting your friends excited about going outside with you? What are your favorite 'introductory' activities for beginners? How do you help make getting outside more inclusive for people who may not be as experienced as you?

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
6 Replies

@REI-JohnJ I think a fun way to get you and your friends outside is backyard camping! Have a bonfire, cook dinner, make smores, and play some games. Maybe even a local easy hike in your area before hand! 

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

I love introducing new people to camping and the outdoors. I think it helps to start with something easy (campsite, quick hike with waterfalls, etc.), but try going early in the day or during the week when it's not going to be crowded with people. For camping, we always do s'mores and have a game that we can play in the tent if they're ready to call it early.  We also like to give them easy tasks that also make a noticeable difference (help setup the tent, grab some sticks for marshmallows, etc.).


The first thing I do is approach it from the perspective of "here's the awesome stuff I/we did recently" and show some recent adventure you had with great views. It can help to tell them how much you yourself benefit from a relationship with the outdoors.

Then it really depends on your friends. If they're into fitness, approach it from that angle, if they're into photography, that works too; If they like the idea of travelling, tell them about the wealth of experiences they're missing out that are nearby, etc.

Then when you've found some common ground and agreed to take them on your favorite hike/bike ride/etc., you need to focus on putting extra effort, taking the brunt of preparing the logistics, etc. so that for their first few experiences, they get a bit of luxury treatment, not having to worry too much while relying on your expertise.

And on that first experience, make sure it's one of your favorites. For me it's mountain lakes and vistas, in your area it might be something else.

I don't necessarily agree with the "start easy" thing, I think it really depends on the person, but mostly you want to give them an experience they won't forget, get them "hooked", in a way. On the first hike/trip whatever, take lots of pictures. It helps people associate with something if they photos of themselves doing it. Keep your friends engaged and be attentive to their comfort level/etc.

Sometimes, the challenge is in and of itself a way to get them hooked, depending on the personality.


I really like hiking and have some close friends that are not hikers. To introduce these city slickers, I mix hiking in with more familiar fun. Like a hike followed by going out to dinner. I also had success with a night of camping followed by a night at an airbnb. So the outdoor thing is integrated into their existing activities of interest. 

To introduce people to kayaking, I just go for an hour or so, and start in Seattle so it is not a huge commitment, again followed by meal. Even walking around a local park in the city is good to get those positive outdoor feelings going. 


Two rules: Keep it easy and pair it with treats

My gauge of an activity's difficulty is always off of my friends' scale. So if it we followed my inclinations, they'd be exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, over their heads, and never accept my invitations ever again. As a my adventure buddy's girlfriend put it, "Don't break your friends". By keeping activities relatively easy and short, you're guaranteed to get most of what you like. And your friends will be more likely to enjoy themselves 

The other half of this is the 'commitment device' strategy. If your friends aren't inherently motivated to do that activity, pairing something positive you KNOW they like will sweeten the deal.

Examples: a hike that ends at a brewery, a snowshoe hike with a warm thermos and rocking picnic items for the scenic lookout, a bike ride to that pizza place that never has parking anyways. Also giving them some of your best gear can be a big help 🙂


Just keep in mind that what you find fun may not be the same for everyone. I like being super active outside, when a lot of people may just want to snack around a campfire the whole time. As long as everyone has a good time it's a success!

- I'm the best at being me when I'm outside
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