All ratings are meant for physically active people (i.e. if you run, bike, skate, hike, climb, surf, paddle, swim, board, hit the gym, compete in a sport, or do anything that increases your heart rate regularly).  Sorry, couchsurfing doesn’t count.

If you've never been on an Outerthere trip before, you will probably underestimate these ratings. And although you will be able to complete a trip at whatever level you select, it will probably be one of the most challenging trips you'll do up to that point.

Don't want to read or not sure what rating you makes the most sense for you? Take our adventure survey.

Everyone goes at their own pace and regardless of the pace you're on, you will never get left behind or feel as though you’re slowing anyone down. Whether you’re coming out for fitness or to just enjoy nature, the pace of the group can accommodate you.

There are currently 6 grades for Outerthere trips:

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Beginner trips and adventures are really for “advanced beginners” or anyone physically active at least one to three times per week. Trips may cover 5 to 10 miles in distance. You will be walking across unpaved, natural terrain anywhere between 4 to 8 hours with plenty of breaks.  And you may be required to use your hands for leverage, balance, and even getting up or down some features, which may be a difference of a few hundred feet in elevation change. These trips are recommended for anyone who wants to get more acquainted with the outdoors.

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Intermediate means challenging, but completely doable for people active three to five times per week. Trips may cover 5 to 20 miles, during which you'll be moving anywhere between 4 to 8 hours with short breaks. Terrain and weather is unpredictable, but always great.  You will be required to use your hands to scramble and support you to move through challenging, non-technical features. (If your knees or ankles are an issue, knee/ankle braces are recommended.  Trekking poles are also useful on this terrain. Here are suggestions on what gear to bring on trips by season.) Total elevation gain/loss throughout a trip may be hundreds of feet, so your calves, quads, and hams will get a good pump. You will need to focus and stay alert at all times for your safety. And you may be asked to support your fellow trip goers as a leader, sweeper, or expert throughout the trip.  When you’re done, you may say to yourself you’ll never do a trip like that again, but afterwards, you’ll look forward to the next one.  These trips are recommended for anyone interested in stepping up their outdoor game or anyone about to start a training program. 

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Advanced is intended for people who could probably put together their own adventure, but are interested in having an expert guide plan things for them. For people who are active almost every day, but haven't had the time to figure out how to get out there on their own or have friends who can keep up with them. Trips may incorporate more than just a hike. They may cover 10 or more miles over 1 or more days over technical terrain and weather. This may require more technical gear, which you should already have and probably need to dust off. These trips are recommended for anyone thinking about DIY trips and need some additional guidance, anyone training to do epic, multi-day treks, and/or anyone interested in mixing up their normal weekly workout.

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Training means you’re about to get schooled in something. It’s not easy, because you’ll be forced to work outside your comfort zone. It’s not hard, because safety is always a priority.  So, consider it intermediate challenging.  Training trips are typically coordinated with pre-screened 3rd party outfitters and other pro-guides who know their stuff.  If you've had a similar experience, please come with an open mind and ready to learn something new.

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The only challenge in family fun trips is making sure you keep track of your kid.  And you’ll be outdoors.

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Scouting trips are meant for us to "test the adventure" (like breaking gadgets on purpose to see if they'll hold up to regular use) and figure out all the risks before planning a safe adventure for anyone. That said, since we won't always know what to expect, sometimes these scouting trips are very challenging or total disappointments. But either way, I love doing them with select adventurers, who are open to anything and don't mind the unexpected inconveniences (weather, car issues, whatever) that come up on the way to a new experience. These trips are intended for people with advanced skills and experiences. By invitation or special request only.


* Big thanks to Outerthere regulars Andrea, Chris, Nadine, Sean, and Gaelle for suggestions!