How To Launch a Micro-Adventure

It’s time to rethink where, and when, you should plan your next rewarding experience outdoors.

We all dream of spending several days exploring the backcountry of Yosemite, or a month or two knocking out a choice section of the Pacific Crest Trail, but time is scarce. We can’t all take multiple weeks off of work. But adventure doesn’t have to be far-flung. It doesn’t even have to be relegated to your weekends. There’s plenty of time and opportunity for a micro-adventure—a small, midweek adventure between work hours—if you know where to look. British explorer Alastair Humphreys coined the term “micro-adventures” and defines it as any adventure that is “short, simple, local, cheap—yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.” 

Humphreys recommends focusing on those hours between work in the middle of the week, reclaiming the hours between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Imagine car camping on a Tuesday and making it to work on time on Wednesday morning. Imagine leaving work and walking home, following only backroads and bringing a “pocket burrito” to eat for dinner on the way. Imagine running to the top of the tallest hill in your town on your lunch break. Take the spirit of a thru-hike, or an epic traverse, and distill it into something you can do in your metaphorical backyard. Do it once and it might become a healthy addiction. Here’s your guide for reclaiming your midweek and completing your first micro-adventure. 

Tips for Getting Started 

Make plans

Put the adventure on the calendar and try to rope a friend into the activity. Having a partner will keep you accountable and prevent you from backing out at the last minute. 

Pack early

Pack a go-bag that has everything you’ll need for the adventure and stash it in your trunk. Pack another go-bag that has everything you need for work the next day. 

Clean up

If you’re on an overnight adventure midweek, most state parks have shower facilities. If not, bring deodorant and plenty of body wipes to clean up before you clock in at the office. Or go the extra mile and bring a portable shower

Keep it simple

Don’t get too aggressive with your plan, but don’t forget this is an adventure. Some element of challenge or novelty will make it more interesting and keep you coming back for more. 

Stay close to home

Time is the key factor in a micro-adventure, so reducing the commute will increase your chances of success. What adventures can you do straight out your home or office door? 

Maps are your friend

Google Earth, paper maps, an atlas…pore over maps of your hometown and the surrounding area and find parks and public spaces within striking distance. What backroads or greenways can you explore? What’s the tallest hill? The biggest meadow? 

Ideas for Inspiration

Send it

Climb every route in your grade level at the local climbing gym at lunch. 

Dawn start

Charge the headlamps and set your alarm for 5 a.m. Drive to your local state or city park and hike or run in the dark to a summit or hill with a great sunrise view. Make sure you have a hot cup of coffee back in the car. 

Stay up late

Wait until the sun goes down and hike to an open field with an unobstructed view of the night sky. Spread out a blanket, bring some snacks, and watch the stars above. The American Meteor Society keeps a calendar of upcoming meteor showers so you can plan on a natural light show. 

Maximize your commute

Catch an Uber or get a ride to work and then run or walk home. Map it out and plan for a slow pace to give yourself enough time. Avoid the major roads and plot a backroads journey in your hometown. 

Happy hour

A beer with friends is better outside. That’s science. Organize a group ride, run, or hike that finishes with a beverage back at the trailhead. 

Camp local

We typically search for exotic places to pitch a tent, but your local park can feel downright exotic on a weeknight when you have the whole place to yourself. What’s the closest established campsite to your home or office? What’s the most scenic site to camp near your home or office? 

Fake camp

Find a hillside with a good sunset view. Bring a couple of comfy chairs and everything you need to make a backcountry dinner and cook it in the wild as the sun sets. 

Plan a thru-hike

How many miles of greenway does your city have? Can you run or bike them all after work? 

Summit fever

Check out Google Earth and find the five tallest hills in your town. Bike them all on your lunch break, planning the most stunning (and safest) route between the mini peaks. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.