©istockphoto/PoparticWhether you spent a sum­mer bag­ging every four­teen­er in the Rocky Moun­tains or you walked across the coun­try com­plet­ing a Nation­al Scenic Trail, these expe­ri­ences that define the way you think can also define the way poten­tial employ­ers see you as a poten­tial employee.

Though the job-seek­ing process is a far cry from what your adven­ture stood for, if you ever do want to step up to that dream orga­ni­za­tion and pri­mo posi­tion you’ve been striv­ing for, a big adven­ture can help you stand out in the play­ing field. While it always helps to apply towards an orga­ni­za­tion with sim­i­lar out­door val­ues, if you do need a lit­tle help sell­ing your case, check out these ways any big adven­ture can help you on your next job application.

Plan­ning, Orga­ni­za­tion, and Atten­tion to Detail 
Any­one who has loaded climb­ing gear into the back of a vehi­cle knows the val­ue of orga­ni­za­tion, plan­ning and the impor­tance of being detailed. That’s because in many ways in the out­doors, your life depends on it. Beyond the sticky notes and col­or-cod­ed manil­la envelopes, when you put your­self out in the back­coun­try, on top of the rock or any­where where mod­ern con­ve­niences don’t apply, it’s your plan­ning, orga­niz­ing and atten­tion to detail that helps keep you safe.

Pas­sion­ate and Value-Driven 
Per­haps you plunged into the wilder­ness to pho­to­graph the nat­ur­al world, or you scaled the high­est moun­tain to know if you could do it, what­ev­er the rea­son, there is an iden­ti­fi­able spark of life that push­es you for­ward. It takes more than nails to build a house, it requires a relent­less swing of the ham­mer that comes from these pas­sions and val­ues. With that kind of enthu­si­asm and the right posi­tion you are apply­ing for, many things are possible.

Works Well with Others
Send­ing mes­sages back to base­camp, ensur­ing cor­dial con­tact with your climb­ing part­ners, even know­ing how to ask for that last scoop of peanut-but­ter, a key to any suc­cess­ful expe­di­tion is the abil­i­ty to work well with oth­ers. Even the most self-dri­ven, high­ly-capa­ble adven­tur­er relies on oth­ers, or more appro­pri­ate­ly on his/her rela­tion­ship with oth­ers. Whether you lead with a joke or cut straight to the point, com­mu­ni­cat­ing and sur­viv­ing togeth­er in the out­doors is a bal­anc­ing act between hear­ing and speak­ing, and can be a huge addi­tion to any com­pa­ny or position.

Self-Moti­va­tion, Deter­mi­na­tion, Tenacity
Your dri­ve for life is set on high, after all, what else could have pushed you to that final mile and beyond the fin­ish line? For some it’s cof­fee, oth­ers it’s tea, but it is the rush of a brand new day that gets you out of bed and one step clos­er to your goals. Giv­en the right direc­tion to fol­low, and the sup­port at your side, with your demon­strat­ed self-moti­va­tion, deter­mi­na­tion and tenac­i­ty behind you, you can take any busi­ness that extra distance.

Crit­i­cal Think­ing Abilities 
Remem­ber that time the bridge was out? Or when your tent poles broke under the weight of the overnight snow? Or how about that time mice got into your food bag and killed a few day’s sup­plies? While every­one has been in a sit­u­a­tion that wasn’t includ­ed in the plans, for many instances it didn’t mean game over. Instead, by eval­u­at­ing the ele­ments, assess­ing the assets and mak­ing a most-informed deci­sion, plans have changed and obsta­cles hur­dled. This kind of think­ing-on-your-toes abil­i­ty is valu­able in all aspects of life and career.

Phys­i­cal and Men­tal Capabilities
If you are apply­ing for a job that would require some phys­i­cal move­ment, then rid­ing your bike across the coun­try or swim­ming across Lake Michi­gan is a clear exam­ple of your abil­i­ties. The oth­er side of things, the part that doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have such tan­gi­ble def­i­n­i­tions as miles ran or ver­ti­cal climbed, is the men­tal capa­bil­i­ties that pushed you for­ward. You might describe it as fool-hearty or as a lack of com­mon sen­si­bil­i­ty when it’s day 13 of pour­ing-down rain and your thigh mus­cles feel like bal­loons about to pop, but in the end, your are stronger from these expe­ri­ences, both phys­i­cal­ly and mentally.

Char­ac­ter Building
It all seems to boil down to this, such easy words to use but a hard con­cept to tru­ly under­stand. Big adven­tures have a way of rear­rang­ing some of the hard-wiring in our brains, infus­ing new capa­bil­i­ties and per­spec­tives with every step and turn of the wheel. It can be sub­tle, like a beard try­ing to grow, but the per­son you become after a big trip is dif­fer­ent from the per­son who start­ed one. Whether it was the plen­ti­ful exer­cise or the insight­ful moments, per­haps even just the ego-boost from an accom­plish­ment, that per­son you are now because of your big adven­ture is the per­fect can­di­date for your dream job or position.


With­in a few blocks of my house, I can bor­row a white­wa­ter canoe, a high-per­for­mance tan­dem sea kayak, a sprint kayak and a light­weight trip­ping canoe. And that’s in addi­tion to the five kayaks in my garage. I often joke that my neigh­bor­hood dou­bles as a kayak rental shop, the cur­ren­cy of exchange being beer.

The “shar­ing econ­o­my” has already rev­o­lu­tion­ized the taxi, bed-and-break­fast, and free­lance indus­tries. Many think its next stop will be the out­door indus­try. Is It? And what will it mean?

At its heart, the shar­ing econ­o­my does two things. First, it allows peo­ple who have assets that sit idle—cars, spare bed­rooms, and their time—to turn them into income. For cus­tomers, it’s a run around tra­di­tion­al ways of doing things: catch a ride from Uber or Lyft instead of hail­ing a cab, stay in a spare bed­room instead of a hotel, rent a car via GetAround instead of Hertz. It offers choice: stay­ing in an Airbnb gives trav­el­ers a choice of neigh­bor­hoods where hotels may not be plen­ti­ful. It also offers a chance to sup­port a real per­son rather than a large com­pa­ny like Hol­i­day Inn.

If the shar­ing econ­o­my thrives on big items that are expen­sive, hard to store, and that spend a lot of time not being used, can the outdoors—with lots of gear that spends weeks or months in base­ments idle—be far behind?

The answer is prob­a­bly no. In fact, it already may be start­ing. Sportzy.com is estab­lish­ing a web­site where indi­vid­u­als can rent out their sports and out­door gear, rang­ing from a pair of trekking poles for $3 a day to a 32-foot cab­in cruis­er on Lake Union at $100 a day. It’s just launch­ing, so most cities have lit­tle avail­able. But busi­ness­es are like it are just around the cor­ner, many just start­ing out.

©istockphoto/Jag_czHow Will It Work?
How the shar­ing econ­o­my will work with out­door gear in prac­tice is also a mys­tery. Obvi­ous­ly, causal renters of skis, canoes, or oth­er gear will have a wider set of options for poten­tial­ly low­er prices. It may also offer more spe­cial­ized options like rac­ing canoes or car­bon-fiber road bikes that may not be avail­able to rent in many places, and that out­fit­ters cater­ing to a broad­er audi­ence may not stock. Addi­tion­al­ly, it could appeal to trav­el­ers who sim­ply don’t want to haul their own gear when they fly, which is one of the more com­mon rea­sons peo­ple look to rent gear.

The logis­tics may be anoth­er sto­ry. One pit­fall is the run­ning around that may be involved in pick­ing up gear from dif­fer­ent places, espe­cial­ly for out-of-town­ers. Rental shops that offer full out­fit­ting will have an advan­tage here. Com­mon and inex­pen­sive gear that isn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult to store, like back­packs, may have lit­tle appeal, except for items like camp stoves that are dif­fi­cult to bring on air­planes. The mar­ket will like­ly focus on expen­sive, spe­cial­ized, and dif­fi­cult-to-store items: rafts, canoes and kayaks, spe­cial­ty bikes and so on.

A lot will hinge on the user-lender rela­tion­ship. Seri­ous ath­letes and hob­by­ists will always want their own gear, which they’ll cus­tomize to fit their own uses. They may also be reluc­tant to loan a care­ful­ly fit­ted bike to some­one who may mess with the body posi­tion. So the over­lap between “expen­sive, rare and big” may not over­lap that much with the high­ly per­son­al­ized way we approach high-end gear.

©istockphoto/Saro17The Down Side?
The shar­ing econ­o­my has been con­tro­ver­sial. Legal wran­gling over whether Uber and Lyft dri­vers are inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors or employ­ees is wind­ing its way through the courts, with impli­ca­tions on pay, ben­e­fits, insur­ance, and lia­bil­i­ty. Hotels that face com­pe­ti­tion from Airbnb and Vacasa com­plain that they under­go safe­ty inspec­tions and pay local hotel tax­es that pri­vate res­i­dences don’t. These con­cerns might not apply to peo­ple rent­ing out some out­door gear that’s been sit­ting in the base­ment, but the kind of impli­ca­tions that might arise is a big unknown. One big con­cern is the val­ue of instruction.

Many out­fit­ters use entry-lev­el ser­vices like ski and kayak rentals as a way to intro­duce peo­ple into a sport, pro­vide and incen­tivize instruc­tion, and bring peo­ple into the cul­ture around ski­ing, climb­ing, sail­ing, or pad­dling. While the rental may be the first thing that gets cus­tomers in the door, it often comes with an empha­sis on safe­ty, learn­ing, and con­nect­ing to com­mu­ni­ty. Some­one rent­ing a kayak out of a ran­dom garage isn’t like­ly to get that. They may already be a pas­sion­ate pad­dler, liv­ing in an apart­ment, and don’t have room to store an 18-foot sea kayak; in that case the con­cern may be moot. But for the begin­ner just look­ing to get intro­duced, the casu­al out­door shar­ing econ­o­my will miss this part. Rentals are often the most prof­itable part of a shop’s oper­a­tion, and they usu­al­ly sub­si­dize the less prof­itable instruc­tion­al pro­grams that are the core of build­ing future pad­dlers, skiers, and so on. If we’re not care­ful, we might weak­en the scaf­fold­ing of the sports we love.

In the com­ing years America’s pop­u­la­tion will con­tin­ue to urban­ize. The shar­ing econ­o­my will grow. Busi­ness will start and the indus­try will change. The trick will be to fig­ure out how to build the out­door cul­ture and skill devel­op­ment in this brave new world.