(Illustration: Jack Richardson)

The 13 Outdoorsy Types You’ll Find on Dating Apps

Your field guide to swiping for a soulmate


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Looking for love online can be challenging whether your dating pool is Manhattan or Missoula. Even if you match with someone attractive who checks your boxes, there’s no guarantee you’ll get past the pen-pal stage and meet up IRLor that you’ll be compatible if you do.

Things get even more interesting when you’re trying to find someone who shares your passion for 5 A.M. dawn patrols and multi-day sufferfests. In general, people try to present what one study called an “ideal yet authentic self” on dating apps—in other words, a version of you that is honest, but extra shiny. When you start scrolling through hundreds of users who are all curating like hell to represent their best outdoorsy selves, patterns inevitably emerge. Some make sense: the fourteener summit pic is the Denver equivalent of the standard car selfie. Others are genuinely curious: what’s up with all the photos of the women in front of butterfly wings?

We consulted a group of veteran swipers to help us identify some of the most common outdoorsy types on dating apps. Our panel of experts includes a vanlifer who dates on the road, a founder of a dating app, and several regular people just trying to find love in cities like Seattle and Chattanooga and mountain towns like Silverton and Truckee. Our panelists use apps including Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Meet Mindful, Scruff, Grindr, and Lex.

ISO that special adventure partner? Here are the characters—and caricatures—you’re likely to encounter.

The Yogi

The type: Photographed performing dancer pose at Machu Picchu, an inversion on a paddleboard, or a heart opener in front of a glowing alpine sunrise. Probably doesn’t eat meat. Loves a good hot- flow class! Swipe right if: you’re also living mindfully and in the moment.

From the panel: “I definitely feel like there’s a yoga type. [scrolling] Oh yeah, see—the yoga on the stand-up paddleboard. They definitely mark ‘spiritual’ for their religion. [scrolls more] Oh wow, this chick’s actually kinda cute. [swipes right]”

The Transplant

The type: This person just moved to your town and wants you to “Show me around! Take me on your favorite adventures!” Looking for: “friends, activity buddies, dates!” Literally anyone!

From the panel: “They just want a tour guide. They’ll dump you in six months once they know how to drive to all the trailheads.”

The Fish Guy/Gal

The type: Guy holding a fish he just caught. He generally falls into one of two subcategories: the guy holding a really tiny fish from that one time he tried it (he’s open to new experiences!); and the serious fly-fisher who might be on the river in every single photo. High likelihood he’s also wearing polarized shades and a trucker hat throughout the entire collection, leaving you wondering what he actually looks like.

From the panel: “Research found that on our dating app—and this was especially true for guys—having a soft cuddly creature in your photo correlated with a higher percentage of being liked. Guys who had photos of their Saint Bernard on their hikes did better. But having a fish in your profile didn’t. It seemed to be furry animals, and furry animals that you hadn’t just killed.”

The Pit Viper Bro/Bra

The type: These specimens wear Pit Vipers, catch air, and shotgun beers in their photos, often all at the same time. Profile says: “Looking for someone who can keep up” or “Must be able to hang.” If it’s a guy, he has a handlebar mustache. If it’s a woman, she’s wearing jorts and/or a crop top.

From the panel: “They’re definitely not looking for a serious relationship.”

The Person Who’s Already in a Relationship with Their Dog

The type: There are dog people and then there are…these people. Here she is in the car with her dog in her lap. Here he is hiking with his dog. Here’s a photo of her SUPing with a dog onboard wearing a cute PFD that makes the dog look like a shark. Oh, here’s a photo of just the dog.

From the panel: “There’s definitely a ‘dog dad’ or ‘dog mom.’ It’s a package deal: ‘It’s not just me, it’s me and my dog, and that’s very important to me.’”

“I love dogs, but I don’t really want to date some dog you got with your ex.”

The Hardcore Athlete

The type: This person is up-front about what he or she is looking for. “I like to run so I hope you do too.” “I like to climb so I hope you do too.” The main profile photo is likely to include Lycra, a helmet, or a harness. A variation of this type is the Endurance Athlete: she is currently training for an Ironman or a marathon. His profile picture is a race photo that may include the line “Early to bed, early to shred.”

From the panel: “I feel like there are people where their outdoor sports are their entire personality. There was one guy on Hinge and every single prompt was about climbing. Ask me about: climbing. My deal breakers are: people who don’t climb. What I want to do with my life: climb. I matched with him, and I was like, ‘It seems like you’re really into climbing.’ And he was like, ‘Yep.’ And after that I was like, ‘What do we talk about now?’ And I’m a climber!”

The River Rat

The type: Lives in her vehicle (which is a Subaru, duh) and may have multicolored hair. Includes at least one photo of her surfing a wave and also a selfie in her PFD, smiling at the takeout. She just got the hottest old-school boat—a Siren or an Ace.

From the panel: “Her favorite thing to do on a weekend is a doubleheader on the Middle Ocoee. She might also mention when her last Grand Canyon trip was.”

The Mountain-Man Thirst Trap

The type: One gay panelist identified this sporty, alpine variation on the bare-chested urban bachelor often seen on apps like Grindr and Scruff. This type is identifiable by his shiny six-pack abs and perfectly manscaped pecs, which he enthusiastically flaunts in front of wild, dramatic landscapes.

From the panel: “There are still a lot of shirtless photos. But he’s showcasing more of his activities. There’s a photo of him SUPing, a shirtless photo of him in a desert somewhere.”

The Adventure Girl

The type: This person is identifiable primarily by her unbridled enthusiasm: “Let’s go on an adventure!” Or maybe she orders her adventure the way she orders her latte: “Adventure, please.” What kind of adventure, you might ask: Alpine boondoggle? Forty-eight-hour trip to Cabo? Unclear. But she loves it!

From the panel: “This guy was telling me all the women he sees online all have the word ‘adventure’ in their profile—and I was like, Shit, I have that in my profile. But it’s such a good word!”

The Hustler

The type: He’s a musician, a sushi chef, an endurance athlete, an entrepreneur, and a world traveler. He’s attractive and has a lot of interesting photos, like that one where he’s doing tricks on his snowboard. Frankly, he’s a little intimidating. He may or may not respond, since he’s just using the app as a Plan B—he doesn’t really have any problem meeting people IRL.

From the panel: “Everything is go, go, go. The profile is like, Come along on my journey. I messaged with a guy like this and he told me, ‘I might not return your texts when you need me to, because I’m off the grid really unplugging all the time.’”

The Peak Bagger

The type: Easily identified by the cardboard summit sign in their profile photo: “Mount Elbert: 14,440 feet.” May casually mention that they’ve summited Kilimanjaro or are working on their ADK 46. “Must love: early-morning wake-ups.” “We won’t get along if: you like to stay up late.” The Pacific Northwest variation on this type is known as The Waterfall Chaser.

From the panel: “In Denver, every guy has a cardboard fourteener sign in his profile photo. It’s like the outdoorsy equivalent of going to brunch.”

The Influencer

The type: No selfies here: the influencer only has professional-quality photos. He clearly pals around with photographers, because every image is beautiful and glowy. High likelihood of a handsome, close-up laughing shot. Wants to know what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life. Definitely works in the outdoor industry. 

From the panel: “All of their pictures are way prettier than all your pictures. They probably have ten photos or more. This is the opposite of the single-gym-selfie person.”

The Reluctant Outdoorsperson

The type: Posts one outdoorsy photo of himself—probably hiking—because he lives in a mountain town and doesn’t want to be excluded from the dating pool. Will tolerate the outdoors and can go on a hike but would really rather not.

From the panel: “I’ve seen women who will actually just say, ‘I’m not outdoorsy, and I don’t want to go for a hike. Ask me on a real date.’ I kind of respect that, actually.”

Lead Illustration: Jack Richardson

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