Getting into a new outdoors sport can be a daunting prospect. There’s the dizzying amount of new gear to find (walk into a bike or ski shop in a mountain town and be amazed, or maybe a little discouraged). Don’t forget the new lingo to learn – there’s a fine line between being cool and being a total bro. It’s no wonder people are intimidated to drop the cash for an enduro bike or a fly rod as an adult and get into something new. For a long time hiring a guide, or finding a friend who could mentor your skills – and commiserate when you drop a paycheck on a season pass – was the most reliable way to pick up a new sport or skill in the mountains.
We recently attended The Outbound’s new Pursuit Series event at Snowbasin Ski Resort in Utah. Their summer camp formula takes the guesswork out of finding a new way to get stoked on the trail or in the water. The Outbound team brought together local guides, partner outdoor brands, and a great location for a unique weekend of camping, outdoors workshops, and great entertainment. If you’re looking to explore a new sport, learn a skill, or find a new favorite brand, this adult summer camp will be the highlight of your summer.
When we showed up the resort, the basecamp village was set up in canvas tents with a dozen propane firepits and hammock stands scattered around. Other campers played cornhole while one of the headlining brands, Stanley, fried donuts over a camp stove with homemade fruit preserves on the side. Yep, this is our kind of summer camp.
When you sign up for the weekend, you’ll gain access to all the classes available for each day (alternatively, single day passes are also an option if you can’t swing a three- or four-day weekend). Day one consisted of some breakfast sampling – new backpacking breakfast options from Mountain House, and another camp stove recipe from Stanley – a trail run with ambassadors and athletes from Hoka One One, and an evening paddle on a reservoir down the valley from Snowbasin. We spent the day with a group of journalists from around the country, but these classes and activities are standard fare for anyone who attends Pursuit.
The best part of the day? Getting back to camp knowing dinner was cooked for us, and the shower trailer in little pop-up tent city were options before the open bar happy hour. When you’ve got dirt from a trail run at ten-thousand feet between your toes, and been sitting in a swim suit with just enough dry sand to make the drive back to camp interesting, that hot shower and change into clean socks and underwear made us feel positively civilized again.
Speaking of happy hour, each night basecamp had firepits burning, cornhole tournaments going, and drinks flowing from great partners. One night we got to sample new canned wines from West + Wilder (their sparkling wine should be a mandatory addition for every après ski or bike tailgate). The second was cocktails mixed with Tito’s Vodka, Gu electrolyte tabs, and Medterra CBD extracts. Combine those with the jam band that played on a small stage, and comfy camp chairs and hammock stands and we almost didn’t make it back to our tents before sleep took over.
Info to Know
The Outbound puts three different Pursuit Series events on a year. We attended the June event in Utah, but there are also Pursuits in Bear Valley, California in August, and on the Green River Preserve in North Carolina in September.
Tickets to the event cover all the classes and workshops, any gear required (the mountain bike classes included full suspension demo bikes and helmets), meals, live music and open bars every night. One- to three-day passes range from $225 to $399, with an additional $75 camping pass to bring your own gear (what we’d recommend, as it guarantees you a tent spot close to showers and the village), or luxury glamping options up to $1599 for the weekend.
Plan for a couple of activities in the morning and afternoon each, with a decent break for lunch. We liked to split things up between physical and more skills or social classes – A mountain bike ride followed by an intro to fly tying was a fun balance between having to be on-the-go constantly. Don’t discount classes like introductory level ones either. I’ve been backpacking since I was a cub scout, and I learned more efficient ways to pack just by sitting in on a class with a friend who was new to it.
Finally, don’t worry too much about jam packing your entire day – every class, guided activity, and expert session gets taught multiple times between Friday and Sunday, so you’ll have ample to time to get out for a paddle and catch that night photography hike.
Stand Out Classes and Brands
The rock climbing, kayaking, and mountain biking classes are the best introduction you’ll find to sports that tend to have high entry costs to start to explore. The Outbound has partnered with great local guides and brands in all three Pursuit locations. These guided classes made for great “adventure test drives” to give campers a taste of something more action sports related in a safe environment.
On the gear front, we were most impressed by the Stanley Ceramivac ($35) water bottles every attendee received. Vacuum insulated, with a ceramic coating on the inside to fight the stainless steel taste that a lot of people don’t like, these bottles have beat out a few others as my go-to bike commuting this summer (more on our favorite insulated bottles soon). We also were impressed with the new Hoka One One Speed Goat 3s they had on hand for test runs. The Vibram soles and deep cushioning were both appreciated on steep trails in the Wasatch Mountains around Snowbain.
Don’t neglect that happy hours and cooking/cocktails sessions. We learned more than a few new cocktails to impress friends around the campfire, and the wine pairing class we took from the West + Wilder founders definitely provided a boost to my basecamp bartending and cooking skills.
The Pursuit Series is definitely our new favorite way to find new sports and skills in the outdoors. With everything from meditation to photography, and guided climbing to cocktails, we’d like to see more events like this. We attended with friends from the area, and a fun group of journalists, but quickly made friends with people from around the country who flew in for the weekend from everywhere from Boston to San Diego. By the end of the weekend Pursuit felt more like a gathering of the outdoors tribe than a weekend of classes and workshops. For the budding weekend warrior, to seasoned backpackers and campers, Pursuit is absolutely worth exploring.