Outdoor adventure activities seems like a mouthful, so I was wondering if there was a more appropriate term for such activities in the language?

Wikipedia suggests 'Outdoor Recreation' but that implies these to be leisure based activities and doesn't account for people like me for whom it is a serious passion or pursuit.

What would be some alternative terms that encompass these activities? One that comes to mind is 'wilderness adventures'.

  • This (ELU) is the place to ask that question, but you may also be interested in The Great Outdoors SE outdoors.stackexchange.com Throw in back-country skiing, geocaching, climbing.....my mind is a blank for an umbrella term. Often these activities are done in wilderness or at least backcountry, but not always. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Sep 29 '16 at 2:44


noun, plural outdoorsmen.

  1. a person devoted to outdoor sports and recreational activities, as hiking, hunting, fishing, or camping.

  2. a person who spends much time in the outdoors



Outdoor recreation or mountain recreation is the normal phrase. People who are passionate about hiking, backpacking, etc. will use this phrase, although it is, as you observe, a little passionless.

More passionate alternatives include mountaineering, mountain sport, alpine sport, and alpinism.

These terms are sometimes used with special, restrictive definitions, but they can be used more generally to encompass the types of activities you describe, so long as those activities occur in the mountains.

Another alternative is adventure sports, which has the advantage of not being limited in application to mountain activities. I am not sure how robust the convention of using this phrase to cover your types of activities is, but it could be used fairly obviously to cover them. That said, extreme sports like skydiving are sometimes called adventurous sports, which might cause some confusion.

Another alternative is outdoor sports, which can pretty obviously be used to cover your types of activities given that outdoor now carries strong connotations of camping, woods, etc. (think of an outdoorsman). That said, the term could also be used to mean any sport played out of doors (for example, football). This might cause some confusion. A similar problem arises for outdoor activities.

  • Thank you for the detailed answer! What is the connotation of the word 'sports' in there? Does it imply competition or competitive-ness? – geoboy Sep 29 '16 at 6:22
  • 1
    "sports" usually connotes competitive sports like football or tennis, but it can also be used more generally to connote any ability requiring prowess. Dictionary.com defines it as: "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature". Notice the hedge "and often of a..." – GoldenGremlin Sep 29 '16 at 13:06

Despite the rejection of it in the question, I think Outdoor recreation fits the described activities perfectly well. It's clearly all outdoor, and the word recreation means:


[mass noun] Activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.


something people do to relax or have fun : activities done for enjoyment


Any activity, such as play, that amuses, diverts or stimulates.

The overwhelming majority of people walking in the woods do so because they enjoy it. Exceptions would be:

  • For-profit berry-picking.
  • Camping while on a scientific expedition, while collecting reindeer poo or other fun. While people might still have fun at this, it wouldn't be called recreation.
  • Park rangers patrolling trails.
  • People walking as some sort of penance, such as some religious pilgrims.

However, those exceptions are mostly few and far between. Using the phrase outdoor recreation is unlikely to cause misunderstandings.

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