Essays

Brian Irwin
You can do this stellar tour, a highlists reel that takes you past Jirishanca, known as the Matterhorn of the Andes, and Siula Grande, made famous in one of mountaineering's great survival stories, in two weeks door to door.
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People develop sensitivities to just about everything these days, but can you really be allergic to frigid temperatures? Our writer takes us on a wild—and potentially life threatening—journey to find out.

From the Wave to the Wonderland Trail, more famous outdoor destinations are enacting lottery systems. For one writer, it’s not worth the hassle.

There’s a reason crowds flock to places like Havasu Falls and Horseshoe Bend—they’re absolutely gorgeous

After setting out on her longtime fantasy to travel the world on a sailboat with her family, one writer learns just how beautiful—and devastating—it can be to finally get what you want

The stunning destination of Sedona, Arizona is feeling the squeeze, along with many other iconic destinations worldwide. A new film called ‘The Last Tourist’ offers up ways we can fix the travel glut.

When Maggie Shipstead set out to report on women-only expedition travel, she was driven by a desire to learn new skills in a low-bro-factor environment. But six days exploring Alaska with the state’s first woman-owned adventure outfitter turned out to be regenerative in ways she didn’t expect.

With far-flung travel off the table, I learned how to enjoy the meandering flexibility of a road trip

Sometimes the grass really is greener in a new place

Our writer and her partner were about to embark on a longtime plan when their relationship abruptly ended. Despite her fears of doing it alone, she’s hitting the road—it was always her fantasy to be realized, anyway.

Getting lost teaches me mindfulness, even when I’m terrified

When President Biden needs a break from Putin and Mitch McConnell, he vacations on the Delmarva Peninsula, a blend of mid-Atlantic beauty, quirky accents, and tasty treasures from soil and sea. I grew up in the heart of it. Hear my song to this glorious land.

Our country’s open spaces are a sanity-saving antidote for this writer

The weather is perfect. You get to do everything on your list. No one gets food poisoning or giardia or blisters.

Nothing matters once you’re out the door! Whatever you forget is simply not joining you on the adventure.

Oranges for dental work, milk for English lessons—when COVID-19’s initial lockdown dried up tourism dollars and supply chains, the islands bartered their way through

After my mom suffered a massive stroke that left half of her body paralyzed, my family and I decided to create adventures where none seemed possible

In 1967, Marlon Brando bought a tiny atoll near Tahiti with the aim of preserving it as a tropical paradise. That effort continues, supported by a resort where Beyoncé, Obama, and other big shots chill next to a stunning private lagoon. Hampton Sides went there to meet with scientists and splash around an eco-fantasy island.

High school didn't serve up much adventure, so Devin Murphy signed up to do grunt work on expedition ships that sailed to Alaska, Iceland, Antarctica, and other far-flung places. Turned out to be a pretty great idea.

For more than three decades, Paul Knapp Jr. has taken travelers out into the Caribbean Sea to hear humpback whales. Now seismic blasts threaten to silence their songs.

As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, travel for many is still a faraway dream. But Ian Frazier reminds us that there’s no more promising feeling than hitting the road, windows down, hair blowing, full speed ahead.

Are social media and selfie culture killing the outdoors? Nah... but as a visit to some overshared spots reveals, they’re challenging our notions about whether there’s a right way to appreciate nature—and who gets to do it.

Polar explorer Eric Larsen found inspiration in Robert Service's poem "The Call of the Wild" when he first read it

Electric vehicles are becoming popular among the environmentally conscious, but are they realistic for road trips to more remote destinations? I took my Tesla to Utah to find out.

While a sailing trip is undoubtedly less stressful than the current times, crossing the Atlantic with three other people taught me some important lessons for lockdown

An armchair psychological study of outdoor Instagram poses—and what you can do to stand out from the crowd. As illustrated by Outside staffers.

Renowned architect Bjarke Ingels has crafted an epic synthetic slope on top of a massive waste-to-energy plant

Anxiety, hypochondria, OCD, and travel might sound like a recipe for disaster. But I've seen the world despite my mental health. Here's how I manage my mind on the road.

The author, a proud son of Nebraska, and his wife were in a funk after a move from the soothing heartland to the noisy canyons of Chicago. What better cure than a trip down a short, muddy stream that's often interrupted by dead trees and barbwire fences?

There have been countless reports denouncing travel in the fight against climate change. This environmentalist thinks you should consider the bigger picture.

After tragedy followed Hugo Sanchez from El Salvador to Canada, he started photographing the northern lights, finding a new sense of purpose in the wintertime sky

Author and political consultant Stuart Stevens loves a good sufferfest, so he couldn't resist Border to Border: 420 kilometers of nordic sliding through a country that defines what winter is all about

Grammy nominee Mike Posner left behind his life in L.A. to go on a 2,851-mile journey in search of... something. Here's what he learned about grief, motivation, struggle, and authenticity.

Our New York City–based bike columnist visited America's most up-and-coming cycling destination and found it well deserving of the hype

With every post, Kiona, creator of the popular blog and Instagram account How Not to Travel Like a Basic Bitch, is teaching herself and her followers how to be, well, less basic

On a plane ride over the Mountain West, a grieving father retraces his adventurous youth and searches for solace in the rugged landscapes that molded him

When Baltimore Jack died near Franklin, North Carolina, the news shook the Appalachian Trail community. Jack had left behind the real world to live on the AT, thru-hiking it seven times and helping countless others to reach their goals. To some, his choice to live off the grid was irresponsible. Others celebrated that he'd managed to break the shackles of convention. A look back on the life of an AT antihero.

Reachable only by boat, this remote Pacific atoll is inhabited by descendants of a footloose Englishman. The idyllic vibe is unmistakable, but it's tested by the realities of living in a very vulnerable place in a warming world.

Riding to your flight is the ultimate in smugness

Last winter, Moroccan officials found two hikers dead on the trail to the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains. The international investigation that followed revealed the fragility of the adventure travel economy, as well as what happens when a small tourist hub is suddenly made strange by violence.

Colombia boasts huge mountain ranges, large portions of the Amazon, and endless coastline and surf breaks. But can a country come back from a civil war to become a mecca for adventure?

Like the rest of us, Tom Vanderbilt was dreaming of a new kind of vacation. He wanted adventure and a physical challenge, but also a trip that would appeal to his wife and young daughter. The answer: swimming in the open ocean, day after wet, wild day.

Canaima National Park, sacred to the indigenous Pemón, is a marquee destination for international explorers. But the region's economic future is in doubt after forces loyal to Nicolás Maduro shot and killed longtime guide Rolando Garcia in February.

There was something about Primland that made Emily Nunn see red—a lavish and expensive outdoor Xanadu situated near her beloved Virginia hometown. Then she went there and had... a pretty good time. Blame the trout stream and the 400-thread-count linens.

At 1.1 million acres, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is one of the largest and most popular backcountry destinations in the U.S. and a longtime proving ground for adventurers. But now the region is facing the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining. Stephanie Pearson paddles into the wild.

Vanlife might seem like the most eco-friendly living option, but in reality, my gas-guzzler is hurting the environment more than I would in a small, nonmobile home

Outpost wants to disrupt the outdoor gear trade show business. Our writer descended on its California festival last fall to check out the felt hat–wearing, Bulleit bourbon–sipping crowd and to find out whether the buzzy experience is anything more than an Instagram-ready fad.

You heard me. On cramped flights, the person who reclines their seat in front of me really chafes.

There are many noble qualities about living simple. But if you want to impress someone, for God's sake, don't tell them you live in your van.

When she was in college, Jack Kerouac’s book The Dharma Bums helped the author find her place in wilderness and in life. She hoped it would do the same for her 16-year-old son as they embarked on a mother-son California road trip retracing Kerouac’s adventures.

Fantasizing about the open road

Because the map application on your phone cannot give you the big picture

Travel is one long introduction to the broadest of humanity. We aren’t perfect, but most members of our species are worth knowing. To meet those neighbors, follow these simple rules.

Help came right away. And then it stopped. Patrick Symmes reports on the business-as-usual corruption that brought a mountain kingdom to the ground.

With Airbnb and Yelp already operating in Cuba's capital, will hordes of American tourists sipping McDaiquiris ruin the very authenticity that draws us to the rebel island nation? Allow us to explain why you should go now—before Cuba changes, while it changes, and because you will change it yourself.

When you're outdoors, you tend to worry about grizzly bears, sharks, and mountain lions. But the real dangers are the parasites and microbes you can't even see. Steven Rinella has been felled by the worst of them, and he offers an essential guide to prioritizing your panic.

There's a reason exiles dreaded being packed off to Siberia. While retracing the path of a doomed 19th-century U.S. polar expedition in the Russian High Arctic, we encounter swarming mosquitoes, a few Kalashnikovs, an island lost in time, the burial site of ten brave men, and a haunting beauty like nothing we've ever seen.

Europe has a secret. It's called Albania—a Maryland-size playground of rugged peaks, emerald seas, and ripping rivers. The only catch? It's really poor, graft is rampant, and there's little environmental regulation. Pack your bribe money for a warts-and-all jaunt through the wildest post-Communist state on earth.

Want to know what domestic bliss looks like? A rundown cabin with no electricity on the edge of rain-soaked Alaskan wilderness.

Each spring, the modest mountains that line Iceland’s Troll Peninsula host creamy corn snow, sunlight that lasts until 10 P.M., and steep, rarely skied chutes that take you right to the ocean’s edge

The author packed up his house and family and moved to northeastern Brazil for a year. Fantasy or struggle? It’s complicated.

Go to Argentina and find the best steak on earth, we told him. It was a dream assignment for our favorite swashbuckling gourmand—until he found himself staring into el ojo de la vaca.

Ever fantasized about building a restful escape, with your bare hands, in some untrammeled back of beyond—and it all coming together just as you'd planned? Moron.

It usually takes a week of traveling with Ed Tower before I’m seized by the tantrum-pitching impulse and can barely resist the urge to punch myself again and again in the face.

Since I was a kid, I've been warned that the mighty Mississippi is a deadly stew of swirling eddies—and that swimming across it is oneof the stupidest things a person can do. Naturally, I had to give it a try.

Six weeks, I told my wife. All the way to heaven and then home. Perhaps I would fail in some, or every, way. But one must go oneself to know the truth.

When we travel, we think we don’t want to get sick, but maybe, less consciously, we’re not so sure. If nothing of note happens on a journey, was it one?

Is it a bird or a haunting memory? Wells Tower tracks an uncertain resurrection of the ivory-billed woodpecker in the big woods of Arkansas.

Casting for bonefish in the mangrove-choked lagoons of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

For 90 million years the turtles have massed to lay their eggs. This time they gathered for their own mass murder…