The idea of “microadventures” has risen in popularity drastically over the last few years. One person to thank for that is author and adventurer Alastair Humphreys, who in 2012 was the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Humphreys calls microadventures “something different, something exciting—but cheap, simple, short, and on your doorstep.”
What’s not to love about that?
The idea took hold of me in college at Virginia Commonwealth University, and with new friends I met through the school’s Ski & Snowboard Club and the Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP), I discovered a world of adventure I would have otherwise missed.
For those who haven’t been to Richmond, VA (or RVA, as it has been dubbed in recent years) it is the only city in the US with Class IV whitewater within city limits. It has a stunning riverside trail network that caters to hikers, trail-runners, and mountain bikers. And it has a pretty phenomenal brewery and restaurant scene to satisfy any post-adventure craving.
Needless to say, Richmond was the perfect place to start getting toying with the idea of microadventures. Along the way I came up with some advice for planning micro-adventures:
- Adequately prepare. Just because you’re only going 45 minutes from your front door doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring the 10 essentials you would on any other overnight trip. Once you’re out there it pretty much ruins the mini trip if you have to put in an extra hour and a half round trip just because you forgot something.
- Explore new areas. A surprising number of urban areas in the US have remarkable trail systems either in the city themselves or a very short drive away. Use the weekend microadventure to go somewhere new in your own backyard.
- Check ordinances. While urban areas are increasing the amount of parks and green-spaces, they often still have specific rules about overnight camping. Be sure to visit the office or website of the park to check on regulations and ordinances before heading out.
- Use it as a tester. Whether it’s a new sport for you–or taking a friend or loved one out camping for the first time–microadventures offer the perfect testing ground. They are short, close to home, and cheap. (As they are only 1-2 days rent the gear you need rather than buy it). This makes them an optimal way to test how much you enjoy an activity before investing in any larger expeditions or gear purchases.
- Go the extra mile. The difference between a micro-adventure and a day hike may seem subtle but it’s found in the second word – adventure. Plan microadventures at a reasonable level for your skills; however, be sure to include a little zest as well. You may be amazed at how far, high, or deep you can go in a weekend.
During a recent microadventure in Wyoming Caleb went solo camping followed by an ideal morning of fly fishing
As with all trips: leave your itinerary including a “hear from me” time with someone before heading out, bring a med-kit and know how to use it, practice LNT, and remember have some fun out there.
Microadventures offer a phenomenal opportunity to get out and escape from the ties of our ever increasingly connected world. Whether it’s just a night camping outside of cell phone service or a fast & light attempt to ski a line or summit a peak microadventures excel at getting us far enough to whet our appetites for bigger trips and keep us coming back for more.
Whenever ambassador Caleb Walker isn't at the office, he's usually somewhere in the backcountry with his dog - trying to decide what to cook for dinner.