As we roll into the new year of 2019, here at Outdoor Project we can't help but marvel at all the creative and fun ways people have devised to get outside. Over time we've seen greater access to outdoor destinations, innovation and wider availability of gear, new ways to play, and an all-around increase in appreciation for the outdoors. We have more ways to experience the world now than we've ever had before.
To inspire your next four seasons of adventure, let's take a look at this year's most rapidly growing outdoor activities. All these have been around for a while, but recent surges in popularity have brought brand new equipment designs, ever-improving technology, and more affordable prices. Get into them while they're hot—the top 5 trending adventures of 2019.
Little boats, big adventures—that's the idea behind packrafts, which are lightweight but durable inflatables designed to go deep into the backcountry, where roads and boat ramps don't reach. The concept comes from the wilds of Alaska and the canyons of the desert Southwest, but packrafting is not just for the hardcore expedition. These versatile little rafts are great for casual paddling as well. Almost anywhere you'd like to kayak but don't want to carry one, a packraft can go instead.
These are some packraft-perfect adventures you can try, or use them as inspiration to plan your own:
Once a fringe offshoot of surfing confined to the shores of Hawaii, stand-up paddleboarding came to California in the early 2000s and has since exploded. In just a couple decades, SUP went from total obscurity to one of the most popular paddle sports the U.S.
The reason is its far-ranging appeal to different people and places. Surfers use them to ride ocean waves, but anyone can use them for an easy paddle on the lake. They are even perfect for floating yoga. SUPing builds excellent balance, core, and upper body strength, and it's fun just about anywhere with water and nice weather. Board technology is changing and improving all the time, with an array of rigid or inflatable boards for specific purposes like surfing, whitewater, or touring, but general-purpose flatwater boards are most common and make the best introduction to the sport.
Here are a few of our favorite SUP destinations, most of which have rentals available nearby:
Fat-tire bikes are booming in popularity in certain parts of the world, so you may or may not have seen them before. If you've seen them, you know it. These are mountain bikes, but ones that stand out with huge tires. Tires of 4 to 5 inches in diameter, and thus an all-around longer and bulkier bike, are what makes a fat bike. They are most useful on very loose surfaces—sand, gravel, or snow—where normal bike tires would sink.
This makes them great for certain locations and seasons, but they are even more useful than that. Fat biking is more work for your legs than traditional mountain biking, but the bikes are more stable and forgiving, so they are great for training and trying out unfamiliar trails. Many people love them for backcountry bike touring because of their terrain versatility and large frame that's easy to load with gear.
Here are some good places to try winter fat biking, including Nordic ski centers that offer rentals:
Bouldering is rock climbing on short routes, where pads on the ground protect a fall rather than ropes. Instead of tall cliffs and summits, bouldering focuses on smaller features and individual moves, requiring a great amount of power and focus. Boulderers work on strength and technique to try progressively harder moves. Working out a tough boulder problem is like solving a puzzle, learning each hard move and how to link them together in a sequence. Climbing any distance over the ground can be dangerous, of course, so mental concentration and safety are a big deal in bouldering as well.
Evolving from a casual training activity for alpine climbers, bouldering has blossomed into its own global sport, and it is the most popular type of rock climbing today. Bouldering in a climbing gym is the most common introduction to rock climbing, and while some do it simply as training for climbing with ropes, more and more people are finding the mind-body focus of bouldering to be their preferred sport.
Check out these top bouldering destinations:
This is a sport of very careful balance and focus, but also athleticism. Slacklining is holding your balance on a thin piece of webbing stretched above the ground. The line is pulled taught, but its elasticity gives it quite a bit of bounce. This lets a slackliner not only walk back and forth on the line, but they may also perform jumps and other tricks.
When starting out, just standing on the line will be a steep learning curve, and taking your first few steps is a huge accomplishment. Dedication and practice will lead to more advanced moves over time.
Slacklining is a great activity for relaxed days in a grassy park or at the beach. You can do it just about anywhere that has trees or other sturdy, upright anchors. To learn more, see this article about getting into slacklining.
So there you have it, five of the hottest outdoor adventures to get you stoked for 2019! Try one or all of them, and you could find your new favorite ways to get outside. Below we've compiled some articles with more tips on getting into these trending activities. Check them out along with the wealth of other adventures on Outdoor Project to inspire your new year.