My experiences have shown me women are mostly on the receiving end of the whole “baby can I take you (backpacking, kayaking, canyoneering, mountain biking)?”
In my many years of canyoneering, climbing and biking I have only heard of three times when a woman introduced a man to an adventure sport. Yet I see men do this all the time. They are passionate about their sport and their partner, so what could be better than combining the two?
When this goes well, it goes really well. Achieving adventurous goals fuses a couple together with a bond that is much stronger than say, going to a dinner and movie together. When your romantic partner is also your activity partner, you have created an ‘adventureship’.
A couple who defines adventure as one of their strongest connection points. People in an adventureship pursue adventures together and in the process they learn to overcome challenges and work together to reach goals.
Study this list carefully, then go off and create the adventureship of your dreams!
1. How Interested is She?
So you want to invite a lady on an adventure with you. You want it to be the first of many wonderful outings together. First she must be interested in the activity. You may have some idea about her interest level from your past conversations.
It’s best if she suggests trying it herself. Then you know she will be an enthusiastic participant. If she hasn’t brought it up you could follow up a vivid description of your latest adventure with a simple comment like “it would be great if you joined me sometime”.
See how she responds. If this doesn’t get a positive response say no more. You will get nowhere by pressuring her. Your attempts to talk her into an adventure will almost always end badly.
Simply talk positively about your activities and be patient. Describe beautiful scenery and encounters with animals. Talk about how your adventures have enhanced your life or how beautiful the stars are when you get away from the city. Give her an enticing, yet accurate view of your favored activity. Focus on the positive aspects and do not brag about how tough anything is.
2. Are You a Good Leader?
When you invite someone on an adventure in which you are experienced and they are not, you unwittingly become the leader. It’s important to recognize the role you’ve fallen into and consider how much experience you have leading others.
A good leader is organized. Create a gear list and double check you’ve packed everything. Photocopy the guidebook beforehand. Bring a map. Fill your car with gas and clean it before the adventure. Rather than tossing your gear in a pile in the backseat, take the time to place items in duffel bags or bins. Show you took the time to plan and organize before the adventure. This is the first step to building trust.
She will be trusting you to shepherd her through something about which she knows nothing. If you plan something and it doesn’t go well she will trust you less.
Never give orders or say out loud that you are the leader of any expedition. Conduct yourself with a quiet confidence and make her comfort and safety your top priority when making decisions. Show confidence in your role as leader and she will be more relaxed.
A good leader keeps a cool head no matter what happens. Blowing up or displaying your anxiety can really scare her when she’s depending on you.
Your goal for the adventure should be to share great experiences and create memories with someone you care about. Throw out any expectations about distance or speed. Instead, focus on her. Is she enjoying herself? That means you’re a good leader.
3. Pack Treats for Her
Think of a couple items you can secretly stow in your pack that will add to her enjoyment of the adventure. Extra water and food are always good. You can offer her a granola bar if she begins running out of steam or encourage her to drink some of your water if you notice she is running low. Consider packing an extra coat or some heat-producing hand warmer packs if weather is cold.
You can really make her feel special by bringing a favorite drink or a small pillow for her on a backpacking trip. If she loves a good steak, you can freeze one and pack it for the first night’s meal. She will swoon. Find out what her favorite foods are and then bring along the best version possible of these items. Fine chocolates, gourmet beef jerky, a fine bottle of wine or a carefully packaged slice of cake can be memorable treats in the wilderness.
You could even pack a small cooler with dry ice and ice cream, then have root beer floats in a beautiful location. The more effort you make the more impressed she will be, as long as you bring something personalized to her unique preferences.
4. Check the Weather
Weather will make or break your trip. Backpacking in the rain or kayaking in the wind will quickly kill her stoke for the activity. A sunny day with comfortable temperatures contributes greatly to the success of nearly any outdoor adventure. It’s essential to have good conditions for a first experience.
It is better to reschedule than to go out in questionable weather and have a less than wonderful experience. Her first impression of an activity, and how she feels while doing it, is powerful.
Always have a backup plan. What if you get to the trailhead and it starts raining? Make sure you know of a nearby restaurant or something else that will be fun for both of you. It’s easier to reschedule an adventure when you know you have a good plan B.
Be careful about just going for it anyway if the forecast is poor and she still wants to go. It’s best to express hesitation about the weather and then allow her to talk you into doing it anyway. Under no circumstances should you suggest continuing the activity in inclement weather if she is unsure.
As she takes her first “steps” in this new activity, find things she does well and praise her for them. Do not overdo it or it may seem condescending. Make one encouraging comment soon after beginning the activity and at regular intervals after that. For example, when she pulls herself up on her first climbing hold, say “very nice” or “good job”!
6. Learn Her Pace
Everyone has a natural pace and it’s rare to find two that match. Pay special attention to how your pace compares to hers.
When one person struggles to keep up with the other they will tire more quickly and have less fun. A slower person chasing a faster person is not a sustainable way to hike together. Once you determine who has a slower pace it’s best for that person to lead most of the time.
If you begin in the lead make a conscious effort to go more slowly at first and only increase your pace when she is right behind you. Encourage her gently to take the lead if you notice her pace is consistently slower than yours.
How adventurous are her current activities? Does she enjoy challenging herself?
If she’s already adventurous you can simply show her how awesome your activities are. Once she’s had a good experience she is likely to include them in her adventure schedule.
Or, maybe she is only somewhat adventurous. She hasn’t done anything similar to the activity you have in mind. Maybe she enjoys hiking but hasn’t been on a rope. She may not be super fit or confident. She may be “adventure curious”.
: having a limited amount of experience with outdoor activities and thirsting for more. The adventure curious partner’s enthusiasm can be endearing, but this person does not realize how tough glamorous adventures can be.
There is a good possibility an adventure curious lady will learn to love adventures with you. You can show her a good time in small doses. As she grows to love something and does it more frequently she will get into better condition. Soon she will be the one suggesting bigger adventures.
Begin slowly and cautiously with an adventure curious partner. The goal of the first adventure together is to leave her wanting more. The most important thing is to make sure she doesn’t feel overwhelmed. You do not want her to wonder “how many more hours until this is over?”
For the adventure curious, your first adventure together must be rated easy or the equivalent. It must be no more than two miles (or a half day).
To the experienced backpacker, an easy two mile hike to spend one night in the backcountry sounds boring. To the inexperienced, unconditioned hiker it can present plenty of challenge and excitement. It also allows an option to retreat if conditions become uncomfortable, like all your gear gets wet in an unexpected rainstorm or a foraging rodent tears your tent apart. Sometimes things just happen.
Mountain biking is hard, even if the trail is rated easy. She will probably be challenged if it is her first ride no matter which trail you choose. Do not subject her to big climbs or descents. There will be plenty of time for that later. Remember, you want to leave her wanting more. This means taking her on a short, scenic, two mile ride. This will build her confidence. You do not want her to think “how many more miles until this is over?”
Choose a trail system with loops. If she is left wanting more at the end of the first short ride you can do another short ride, also on an easy trail. Her confidence will soar when she easily completes an adventure you have planned for her, and she will trust you more when you plan future adventures.
Technical adventures like canyoneering can be intense, and the first one should be limited to a half day or less. Make sure she’s comfortable rappelling. If you’re not sure about her experience visit an indoor climbing gym together before the outdoor adventure.
Definitely don’t teach her to rappel while doing a technical canyon. What if she hates it? There she is, stuck in a slot canyon with you. Is she going to be able to ascend the rope and get out of this mess you’ve gotten her into? It’s not going to be a good day for either of you if the first rappel doesn’t go well.
Canyoneering adventures are committing, meaning you are stuck in the canyon until certain steps are taken to complete the adventure safely. Nothing is worse than being trapped in an adventure you’re not enjoying, especially while wearing a cold wetsuit.
The sport of canyoneering can have so many variables there is no way to predict all the things which could create discomfort. It’s best to keep it short and see if she how she responds. She may get cold, dislike exposure or have gear that isn’t comfortable in confining spaces. You will definitely learn a lot by doing canyoneering adventures together. Personally, I think any canyoneering date equals at least five conventional dates!
Also, planning for a half day adventure means you free up time for breaks in the sun, picnics, stolen kisses and other pleasurable moments. You can stretch out the adventure to a full day if it’s going well, or move more quickly if she prefers.
Kayaking together to a beautiful, secluded beach for a picnic lunch would be fun for a lot of ladies and a great way to introduce her to the sport. Follow the half day rule and make sure the water you choose to paddle is rated easy. The best way to introduce her to kayaking is by renting a large, stable, double sea kayak. Paddle it on a beautiful lake together on a calm day.
Paddling separate boats or paddling on a river instead of a lake could work, but consider the added risk. She could become separated from you. She could fall out of her boat and lose her paddle. Is there a road next to the river to allow retreat if things do not go well? Keep these risks in mind as you plan your trip. Try to plan the safest trip possible and avoid any unnecessary risks.
8. What if she’s much more than adventure curious? She’s a superhero!
Does she already enjoy her own adventures without you? Great! She sounds like a good candidate for an adventureship. You still need to be cautious and learn her pace and levels of risk tolerance when you plan your first adventures together.
Her expectations will be higher than an adventure curious lady. She has already planned and led her own trips and she will expect you to be prepared, organized and thoughtful about all aspects of the adventure.
She may be hard to please. Pay attention to safety and details when planning an adventure with her and you will gain her respect. A smart approach is to join an activity with her friends and be an observant participant. You will gain valuable insights into her comfort levels and pace.
For your first outing together, encourage her to take an active role in planning. In this case you are not taking a lady on an outdoor adventure. You and she are creating an experience together. A lot of the same points apply, but the length and difficulty of the adventure are more flexible. She may continue to expect you to act as the leader if you are more experienced, and she will still appreciate treats.
Please share this post so more successful adventureships begin and flourish in 2016!
Want more adventure and romance? Read about my first date with my husband, which began with rappelling waterfalls and ended with a busted van and supersoakers.