Outside's longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will entertain, inspire, and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since added three additional series, The Outside Interview, which has editor Christopher Keyes interrogating the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, Dispatches, a diverse range of stories on newsworthy topics, and Sweat Science, which explores the outer limits of athletic performance.
After suffering a brain injury in a bicycle accident, Sarah Allely found it difficult to read, write, and watch television. She struggled with everyday tasks. Eventually, she realized that the only way for her to get better was to spend time in nature. As a journalist, her instinct was to chronicle her experience and also investigate the science behind nature’s health benefits. The result is Brain on Nature, a podcast that’s deeply personal but offers invaluable insights for anyone seeking balance in today’s hyperpaced and overconnected modern world. This week, we’re excited to share the first two episodes in this powerful audio series.
Topher White founded the nonprofit Rainforest Connection with the intent of creating a low-cost monitor that could help remote communities in their efforts to halt illegal logging, which is an enormous threat to tropical habitats. As it turns out, the best way to track people who are cutting down trees is sound. Using old cell phones linked to an artificial-intelligence platform in the cloud, White developed a system that can detect chainsaws in real time and send automated alerts to authorities. Today, Rainforest Connection is recording audio continuously from over a 1,000-square-miles of forest across 12 countries. That scale, along with rapid improvements in machine learning, have opened up tantalizing possibilities for understanding what the sounds of nature really mean.
Every winter, the Pacific Ocean produces massive swells that roll across the open sea and crash into the Hawaiian island of Oahu. For more than 50 years, the surf world has gathered here, on the North Shore, along a stretch of legendary beaches that are collectively known as the Seven Mile Miracle. A lot of drama is to be expected: epic rides, agonizing wipeouts, and every so often, a heroic rescue. In this episode, we share two stories from the latter category. One comes from photographer-filmmaker Jeff Johnson, who, back in the day, was a young lifeguard at Sunset Beach, determined to prove himself. The other is from big-wave rider Kohl Christensen, a North Shore local whose work to safeguard the lives of other surfers recently ended up saving his own.
Conservationists hoping to protect a threatened wild species tend to take a standard set of actions. These can involve political campaigns, lawsuits, and media outreach. But sometimes it’s the unexpected approaches that can make the difference. Over the past several years, artist Jane Kim has been creating large-scale public murals of the monarch butterfly, an insect that’s in a state of crisis. Recent surveys indicate the that the population of the western monarch in California has plummeted to below 30,000, down from 4.5 million in the mid-1980s. Kim’s latest work is a painting in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that wraps three sides of a 13-story building and includes a 50-foot-tall monarch. It’s suddenly one of the most dramatic features in the city’s skyline. The question now is whether this extraordinary piece of public art will spur the actions really needed to save the species—or become a tribute to a once beautiful butterfly.
In today’s fitness space, self-experimentation is the name of the game. All kinds of people are embracing new technologies and diets in the hope of finding faster strategies for getting in the best possible shape. In this crowd, few are pushing things further than Ben Greenfield. The exercise physiologist and personal trainer has made his mark by exploring the limits of what seems reasonable (Example A: injecting his penis with stem cells) and voicing controversial ideas, including skepticism about standard vaccination practices. In his new book, Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body & Defy Aging, he covers almost anything you might want to know about being the fittest and healthiest you can be. For this episode, Outside editor Chris Keyes speaks with Greenfield about strategies for better sleep, the upsides of cold therapy, the problems with gym workouts, and more.
At some point, almost every skier or snowboarder who has sat on a stalled chairlift has wondered, Could I just jump off here? The resounding reply from the experts is no, no, no. Don’t jump off the chairlift. Not ever. In addition to the high risk of getting injured yourself, you’re putting the people on other chairs around you in danger in ways you don’t understand. So stay put, and wait for the lift to restart. Or, in those rare instances when the chair really is broken, wait for ski patrol to get you down. But there are those truly unique cases when breaking the rules may be the only option. In this episode, we tell the story of very unlucky snowboarder who was forced to make the worst kind of choice.
Ask scientists about the aurora borealis and they’ll explain that the spectacular display of lights we see in the wintertime sky is caused by solar winds that send charged particles into the earth’s upper atmosphere, where they smash into gases. But witness this otherworldly show yourself, and ancient beliefs about magic often feel more true. It was the magic that mattered to Hugo Sanchez, a self-taught photographer who fled civil-war-torn El Salvador and moved to Canada. But tragedy followed him, and it was chasing the perfect shot of the northern lights that gave him a new sense of purpose.
As host of one of the most popular interview shows in the podcast universe, Rich Roll is known for his limitless empathy. That approach grew out of his long personal journey. A talented college swimmer, he developed an alcohol problem that later destroyed his first marriage and nearly derailed his career as a lawyer. He sobered up but became a miserable workaholic, until, at age 40, he went vegan and started endurance training. Soon he was a top finisher at the Ultraman, an infamous sufferfest in Hawaii. On his weekly show, Roll interviews everyone from elite athletes to spiritual leaders to bestselling authors, all in the interest of empowering the rest of us to make better decisions. In this episode, he shares his inspiring story and the many hard lessons learned.
It’s around this time of year that we tend to ask ourselves the big questions: Am I living the life I want to be living? Am I a good a person? And, of course, is this going to be an epic ski season, or a bust? This week, we present a story that miraculously addresses all of these questions. It comes to us from the good folks at the Dirtbag Diaries, and has outdoor industry veteran Dan Kostrzewski sharing a very personal tale about a skiing accident with his young daughter, and how it helped him gain a new perspective on the sport that has long been at the center of his personal and professional identity.
Of the many story lines that came of the New York Marathon this November, perhaps the most inspiring was the performance of Kikkan Randall. The 35-year-old was racing in her first-ever marathon, yet she finished 51st among all women and 12th in her age group. It was impressive, even for Randall, one of the most accomplished cross-country ski racers in American history, especially when you consider that just 18 months earlier, she’d been diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. *Outside *contributor Stephanie Joyce talks to Randall about her pattern of coming back stronger from tough times and failure, and where she goes from here.
Search a major online music platform for “nature” and you get a lot of stuff designed to help you relax. Recordings of chirping rainforest creatures, gently tumbling waves, a pulsing didgeridoo—it’s what you expect to hear during a massage treatment. The reality, of course, is that nature is often far from tranquil. It can be barbaric, dissonant, and downright metal. In that spirit, this week’s episode presents two tales that pay homage to nature’s thrasher tendencies. The first involves a threatening predator that was fought off with Metallica. After that, we’ll hear from a professional hard rocker who attempted to be the hero of a shipwrecked crew, and shared his experience at a live storytelling event hosted by The Moth.
When Free Solo was released last fall, it was an instant sensation—the movie that everyone was telling their friends they had to see. The picture, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature chronicled Alex Honnold’s quest to climb the 3,000-foot sheer rock face ofYosemite's El Capitan without a rope. It also captured his emotional growth as he fell in love with Sanni McCandless, a relationship that made his goal much more complicated. One giant reason Free Solo was so special was the husband and wife directing team of Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, whose unique backgrounds made them the perfect duo to tell the story. In this conversation with Outside’s Michael Roberts, recorded earlier this month at Summit LA, they open up about the life and work that they’ve created together—and where it goes from here.
On the new History Channel show Kings of Pain, Rob “Caveman” Alleva and cohost Adam Thorn get bit and stung by the nastiest insects, reptiles, and fish on the planet—on purpose. They’re following in the footsteps of entomologist Justin O. Schmidt, whoOutside profiled back in the nineties while he was developing the first-of-its-kind pain scale for stinging insects. But for the TV show, Alleva and Thorn are pushing this brand of experimentation even further by subjecting themselves to the agony-inducing defense mechanisms of snakes, fish, and lizards, with sometimes horrifying results. Outside* *Podcast host Peter Frick-Wright wanted to know: What’s it like to be in so much pain, so often? And why were they willing to take this job?
Author Richard Louv is best known as the author of Last Child in the Woods, his 2005 bestseller that established the phrase nature-deficit disorder and helped spark an international movement to examine the health benefits of spending time outdoors. His ideas were initially seen as radical—recall that in 2005, the iPhone didn’t exist yet—but today they’re ubiquitous. Now Louv is back with a new book, Our Wild Calling, that presents more radical ideas, this time about the need for humans to rekindle our relationships with other species. Outside editor Christopher Keyes spoke with Louv about the basis for this theories and why even the most serious scientists get that something special happens when we engage with wild creatures.
In our last episode, Peter Frick-Wright told the story of the time he broke his leg at the bottom of a remote canyon and was saved through the efforts of multiple search and rescue teams. Now, more than two years later, Peter is still processing what happened to him. Meanwhile, the rescuers who cared for him have participated in numerous other high-stakes incidents in the wilderness. This week, Peter speaks with one of the people who hauled him out of the canyon about the coping strategies that have worked—and haven’t—in the aftermath of a life-altering trauma. This episode was produced for the podcast Rescuer MBS, a show that aims to increase the resilience of the volunteer search and rescue community.
About two years ago, Outside Podcast host Peter Frick-Wright was canyoneering in Oregon when he jumped off a ledge and broke his leg. He was stuck at the bottom of a canyon, and it took an epic effort by search and rescue teams to get him out of there. The experience was rough on Peter and rough on the many volunteers involved with transporting him safely to a hospital. Many of them had to go right back to work the next day. This week we’re going to replay our 2017 episode about the accident to set the stage for an upcoming conversation between Peter and one of his rescuers about a part of the healing process most people don’t talk about.
Recent years have seen a surge in adult-recess leagues across the United States. By some estimates, there are now 1.6 million grown-ups participating in these leagues across the country, and they’re only growing more popular. Today’s adults are seemingly desperate for more playtime—and so we’re eagerly bounding outside after work for all kinds of kid-style activities, from kickball and flag football to capture the flag and cornhole. But it’s not all fun and games: some of the leagues are highly competitive, with team names, uniforms, and strict scheduling. To find out what’s really going on, reporter Mimi Montgomery and producer Alex Ward visit rec fields in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon, to observe grown-ups at play.
No one has had a greater influence on modern recreational running than writer Christopher McDougall. His 2009 book Born to Run introduced the masses to barefoot running and became a revolutionary bestseller. As a result, the multibillion-dollar running-shoe industry went through a dramatic upheaval, and today runners have a broad range of shoe types to consider, from minimalist slippers to ultra-cushy maximalist fatties. Now McDougall is back with a new book that chronicles his work training a sickly donkey to be an endurance athlete (no, seriously). Titled Running with Sherman, it tells the story of an unexpected journey that was really good for the donkey—but also for McDougall. Outside editor Christopher Keyes spoke with McDougall about this surprising turn of events and whether it means the rest of us should be running with animals, too.
At midlife, food writer Jeff Gordinier felt like he was sleepwalking. His marriage was crumbling, and he’d lost his professional purpose. Then he got a curious invitation: René Redzepi, the superstar head chef and co-owner of Noma, in Copenhagen, one of the world’s most influential restaurants, asked Gordinier to join him on a quest to Mexico to find exceptional tacos. Thus began a yearslong series of global adventures—foraging for sandpaper figs in Australia, diving for shellfish in the Arctic, seeking cochinita pibil in a remote part of the Yucatan—that reawakened Gordinier passion for both life and food. In his book Hungry, Gordinier describes how Redzepi’s raw energy and philosophy of constantly moving forward were an intoxicant as well as a kind of medication. For this episode, Outside’s Michael Roberts spoke with Gordinier about the wildest moments along his journeys with Redzepi and his new habit of saying yes to just about everything.
The odds of getting seriously injured by a bear in North America are slim. There are just a few dozen bear attacks on the continent every year, and only a handful of them put someone in the hospital. But bear-human encounters are on the rise, in part because more people than ever before are heading out into bear country. This year in particular there have been a lot of stories of people fighting off attacks in dramatic ways, including that guy in British Columbia who ended up killing a black bear with a hatchet. But Alaskan Colin Dowler has the most incredible story of them all, and his tale offers potentially lifesaving lessons for anyone venturing into the wild.
Recent months have seen a media frenzy around the return of great white sharks to the waters surrounding Cape Cod. And with good reason: over the summer, great whites were routinely spotted off the iconic vacation destination’s most popular beaches. In 2018, a Cape boogie boarder died after being bitten by a shark—the first fatal attack in Massachusetts since 1936. But behind the headlines about freaked-out tourists and angry locals, the real story on the Cape is about how we learn to live with fear—or, just maybe, get past it. Produced in collaboration with our friends at the Outside/In podcast, this episode investigates the extreme reactions we have to living alongside one of the world’s most terrifying predators.
The 2018 Carr Fire was one of the worst wildfires in California history. By the time it was contained, it had burned 359 square miles, destroyed close to 2,000 buildings, and killed seven people. It also spawned a massive fire tornado—only the second ever recorded. Meteorologists examining the damage afterward estimated that the vortex had generated winds of up to 165 miles per hour. When a blaze like that is coming your way, the only sane thing to do is run for your life. But Gary and Lori Lyon did the opposite, staying to defend their home. Outside contributor Stephanie Joyce has the story on why, in an era of increasingly intense fires, someone would dare to stand and fight an inferno.
In the world of athletics, the idea is that if you want to be the best, you have to specialize young and maintain near laserlike focus. The archetypal example is Tiger Woods, who, as the legend goes, started swinging a golf club before he could walk. More recently the focus has shifted to grit. The secret to success, we’re told, isn’t skill or raw talent but the ability to persevere. But that may not be the whole story. In his new book Range, author David Epstein challenges the arguments for specialization and grit, arguing that a more generalized approach is the surest route to excellence. Outside editor Christopher Keyes spoke with Epstein to about the advantages of doing a bit of everything.
Doug Peacock took an unlikely path to becoming an icon of conservation. Following two tours in the Vietnam War as a Green Beret medic, he sought solace and comfort in the American Wilderness, where he began observing and then filming grizzly bears. He believed the bears saved his life, and he felt compelled to return the favor. Many people know Peacock as the inspiration for George Hayduke, the infamous character inThe Monkey Wrench Gang, the 1975 novel by Ed Abbey. Over the years, Peacock authored a number of books about his journey. At the 2019 Mountainfilm festival, in Telluride, Colorado, he sat down with veteran radio producer Scott Carrier to offer an enlightened perspective on the history of bears in this country, share some hysterical stories about his own encounters with the animals, and give his take on the big challenges that grizzlies face today.
Water is critical to human life. Our bodies are more than 50 percent water. We can survive months barely eating, but even a few days without water and we’ll die. Water flushes toxins out of our organs and cools us down after a workout. But how much do really need? And how much is too much? Lately there’s been a lot of attention on the internet to what’s known as the Water Gallon Challenge: drinking a gallon per day for a month, with the promise of glowing skin and a lot more energy. Outside editor Aleta Burchyski took on this challenge, which for her was all the more daunting because she hates the taste of plain tap water. In this episode, we talk to her about her quest and check in with a leading hydration expert, who explains that we don’t know as much about how water effects our bodies as you might think.
When Mirna Valerio first began running ultramarathons, she immediately got a lot of attention, but not for the reasons you might expect. Because of her body size, she didn’t fit the accepted image of a long-distance runner. Her story isn’t about an average athlete trying to get better. It’s about what happens when people assume that someone can’t possibly be an athlete because of the way she looks—and then how they how they react when she takes on enormous challenges and finds a way to keep going and going. This episode kicks off the second season of the Athletes Unfiltered podcast from Strava.
Earlier this year, Outside contributing editor Rowan Jacobsen wrote a feature that questioned whether our efforts to avoid skin cancer have caused us to develop an unhealthy relationship with the sun and sunscreen. Looking at controversial new research that challenges established guidelines for sun exposure, Jacobsen suggested that more direct sunlight on our unprotected skin might actually be good for our health. The story struck a nerve, becoming the most popular article in the history of Outside’s website and provoking some pretty loud criticisms. Outside Podcast contributor Stephanie Joyce talks to Rowan about his reporting, his response to critics, and whether skipping the SPF 50 is really a good choice.
A large and growing body of research has found that time outdoors makes us happier and healthier, but there’s relatively limited science explaining why. According to findings published last summer in the journal Emotion, a big part of the answer may be awe. Studies conducted by psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley showed that feeling awe during a nature experience has a singular ability to lower stress and improve our overall well-being. Even more compelling, the research suggests that we don’t need to climb a mountain or run a river to get the healing power of awe—the simplest moments outside are all it takes. For this final episode in our Nature Cure series, we talk to the scientist who led the Berkeley study, as well as a man who says awe saved his life.
For the past few years, journalist Leah Sottile has been looking at the question of who owns public lands in the West. Her reporting began with the Bundy family, which infamously challenged the authority of the federal government on its ranch and then with an armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. That investigation resulted in the award-winning audio series Bundyville. Now, Sottile is back with a new project that begins with the case of a man named Glenn Jones, who in the summer of 2016 blew up the house of a friend and former coworker in the tiny town of Panaca, Nevada. To her surprise, she would come to learn that that bombing had roots in the very same conflict that began with the Bundys.
In recent years, a grassroots movement of physicians have begun prescribing time outdoors as the best possible treatment for a growing list of ailments, from anxiety and obesity to attention deficit disorder and high blood pressure. Meanwhile, research institutes for nature and health are opening at major medical centers and a couple bold insurance companies are embracing the idea. For this third episode in our Nature Cure series, we sit down with science writer Aaron Reuben, who reported on this emerging trend for Outside magazine. The question now, he says, is what it will take to convince big health care that free medicine is the way of the future.
A while back, Outside contributor Meaghen Brown noticed a strange phenomenon among the elite ultrarunners that she was training with. Runners would come on the scene, win races and smash records, and then a few years later succumb to a mysterious ailment that left them a shadow of their former selves. Top athletes were suddenly lethargic, depressed, and unable to train, and doctors couldn't tell them why. Their problem, it turned out, was overtraining syndrome, or OTS. One researcher called it "The scariest thing I've seen in my time studying athletes." And it’s not just runners that are at risk. In this episode, we look at how OTS can afflict anyone who takes a more-is-more approach to their sport.
About six years ago, ecologist Chris Morgan was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room when he picked up a copy of Outside and read the cover story, “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.” The article, written by Florence Williams, explored the scientific basis for something that Morgan had intuitively felt all his life: being in nature is inherently healing and leaves us feeling more alert, alive, and content. Ever since, he wanted to have his own guided nature experience. For this second installment of our Nature Cure series, Morgan shares a story from his new podcast The Wild, in which he goes forest bathing in the Pacific Northwest, then asks Williams, What happened to me out there?
For the last 19 years, Tim Friede, a truck mechanic from Wisconsin, has endured more than 200 snakebites and 700 injections of lethal snake venom—all part of a masochistic quest to immunize his body and offer his blood to scientists seeking a universal antivenom. For nearly two decades, few took him seriously. Then a gifted young immunologist stumbled upon Friede on YouTube—and became convinced that he was the key to conquering snakebites forever.
These days our smartphone addiction has gotten so intense that many of us now habitually use the devices even when we’re supposedly unplugging. We listen to podcasts on our trail runs and endlessly document our weekend adventures for Instagram. All this has author Cal Newport deeply concerned. Newport has made a name for himself as a sort of canary in the digital coal mine, writing about the perils of our screen-dependent modern lifestyles. Last winter he published Digital Minimalism, a manifesto that proposes a reimagining of our relationship with technology that begins with a 30-day digital diet. Outside editor Christopher Keyes talks with Newport about his radical—but very simple—approach to technology and how it can work for everyone.
When Kyle Dickman set out on a spring road trip with his wife and infant son, he was fueled by a carefree sense of adventure that had defined his life. Then he got bit by a rattlesnake in a remote part of Yosemite National Park. The harrowing event changed his entire outlook on the world. Now he’s on a quest to understand the toxins that nearly killed him—and trying to come to terms with a world where everything slithers.
So you just found a buried treasure. Hooray! But wait, what do you do next? Are other treasure hunters going to stalk you day and night? Are you going to have to pay taxes on your new riches? How do you turn gold and jewels into usable money anyway? If these are the kinds of questions that keep you up at night, then this episode is for you. Or maybe you’ve been wondering about something more practical, like what’s the craziest thing duct tape has ever been used to repair? This week our friends at the show Every Little Thing, who are committed to answering listeners’ most interesting, least important questions, take on both topics.
Bob Ross is one of the most beloved painters of his generation, and he focused almost exclusively on the outdoors. Depicting the “happy trees” and “friendly mountains” of Alaska and the greater western US for his TV show, The Joy of Painting, he earned a following that has only grown since his death. But surprisingly little is known about his life. Famously private, he granted only a handful of interviews and never really spoke about his deeper motivations. So how should we remember Bob Ross, and what does his art say about the natural world? Data journalist Walter Hickey took on these questions, analyzing all 381 of the paintings Ross did for his show. What he found will have you looking at Bob Ross in a whole new light.
The ketogenic diet, a.k.a. “cutting carbs,” is all the rage in the fitness world. But is it better for you than any other kind of diet? And does it actually make athletes stronger or faster? These questions have been debated for hundreds of years, and every few decades the idea that cutting carbs can unlock your true athletic potential comes back into fashion. Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee was part of the most recent and most rigorous testing of the low-carb high-fat diet, which took him straight to the top of his sport. Just not for the reasons everyone expected.
No one has done more to sound the alarm about climate change than writer and activist Bill McKibben. He’s been doing it since 1989, when he wrote his first big scary book on the topic, The End of Nature. Thirty years later, he’s still at it, and climate change is even scarier. The result is the book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Out? In many ways it’s his darkest book yet, drawing on even more scientific evidence while investigating new threats, like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Outside editor Chris Keyes wanted to know, is there any hope at all? The answer is, Yes, there is a scenario in which our species actually makes it out of this mess. Chris caught up with McKibben at his home in Vermont to talk about it.
In 2008, Katie Arnold was hiking a trail near her home in Santa Fe with her baby daughter strapped to her chest when a man attacked her with a rock. Two years later, Arnold’s father died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. Overwhelmed with grief and anxiety, she tried many remedies but the only one … Continue reading "Dispatches: Can You Outrun Anxiety?"
As the host and creator of the MeatEater podcast and Netflix series of the same name, Steven Rinella spends a lot of time talking about hunting, fishing, and cooking. He is a proud voice in what’s often called the hook-and-bullet crowd. But he’s also a staunch conservationist, a longtime contributing editor of Outside magazine, and the author … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Steven Rinella Wants Hunters and Hikers to Hold Hands"
Recovery is the new frontier of athletic performance. The quicker you recuperate, the more you can train, and pro athletes across sports have been revitalizing their careers by taking time off. Now a wave of new recovery technologies are being pitched to a broader market: boots that improve blood flow, cryochambers, infrared pajamas. Science writer … Continue reading "Dispatches: Sports Recovery Secrets from Scientists"
Every day there’s more research showing the benefits of mindfulness. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and may even slow the aging process. What we’re only starting to figure out, however, is how meditation might improve athletic performance. Outside Editor Christopher Keyes caught up with Pete Kirchmer, program director of mPEAK, … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Mindfulness for Peak Performance"
Since the sport’s early days in the seventies, mountain bikers have carved illicit trails on public and private land. Pioneering riders create winding singletrack in their favorite nearby hills, then carefully share the location with only a handful of friends. But in recent years, as the sport has grown bigger and bigger, government agencies and … Continue reading "Dispatches: The Mountain Bikers Fighting New Trails"
Over the past year, professional surfing has undergone a remarkable and very unexpected evolution. Beginning in 2019, the World Surf League is offering equal prize money to men and women at all of its events, making it one of very few global sports leagues to do so. A key part of this story was the … Continue reading "Dispatches: Bianca Valenti Is on a Big Wave Mission"
Former Navy SEAL David Goggins has spent the past two decades exploring the outer limits of human performance, both in the armed forces and as an endurance athlete with more than 60 ultras under his belt. But what makes Goggins truly unique is the hardship he faced long before he began his athletic career. A brutally … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Using Pain to Reach Your Potential"
There are a lot of really tough endurance races out there, but perhaps none are harder—both mentally and physically—than the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race in Queens, New York. The whole thing takes place on a single city block, and in order to finish before the cutoff, runners have to run the equivalent of … Continue reading "Sweat Science: The 3100-Mile Run Around the Block"
Almost everyone who’s used underarm crutches agrees: they are terrible. They’re hard on your wrists, they cause falls, they cause nerve damage. This is why almost every country in the world has abandoned them. Except the U.S., where if you go to the hospital with a leg injury, you’re most likely going to leave with … Continue reading "Dispatches: Can We Please Kill Off Crutches? "
There’s no more painful pursuit for a cyclist than the hour record.It’s just you, by yourself, on a bike, going as far and as fast as you can in 60 minutes. Eddie Merckx, considered by many to be the greatest pro racer in history, called it the longest hour of his career and only attempted … Continue reading "Sweat Science: Loving the Pain"
For more than two decades, Ruffwear has been reinventing gear for dogs. The brand makes booties, jackets, collars, toys, and pretty much anything else you could want for your pup. But how do you design something when the end user can’t give you feedback other than incessant tail wagging? And don’t dogs get just as … Continue reading "Dispatches: What Dogs Really Think about Dog Gear"
Pararescue specialists—known as PJ’s in the military—are the most elite unit in the Air Force. But if you want to be a PJ you have to make it through Indoc, a brutal nine-week training course that’s designed to test your motivation and resolve. And there’s no easier way to make someone uncomfortable than sending them … Continue reading "Sweat Science: Don’t Waste Your Breath"
Wilderness therapy has been used for decades to help troubled teens and addicts, and recently all kinds of people are seeking out guided nature experiences to detox from their hyper-digital modern lives. The classic approach of such programs is to push participants to challenge their limits in order to build character. That can work great, … Continue reading "Dispatches: Can Nature Heal Our Deepest Wounds?"
John Orth is a violin maker from Colorado. Andrew Shapiro is a college kid from Virginia. They have little in common except that for the last two years they’ve been trading back and forth the world record for the most pull-ups in 24 hours. Over the summer, they both set their sights on 10,000 pull-ups. … Continue reading "Sweat Science: The Pull-Up Artists"
In this first episode of a new series exploring how gear gets made, we investigate the origin of arguably the most refined fork in history. When designer Owen Mesdag was a graduate student in the late-1990s, he fell in love with a particularly clever spoon. Engineered by outdoor brand MSR, it doubled as a stove … Continue reading "Dispatches: One Fork to Rule them All"
The new movie Free Solo is arguably the greatest film about climbing that’s ever been made. In just over 90 minutes, it chronicles Alex Honnold’s astonishing no-ropes ascent of the 3,000-foot sheer face of Yosemite’s El Capitan, which he completed one morning in June, 2017. Even more impressively, it captures the unique mindset of Honnold, … Continue reading "Dispatches: Alex Honnold on “Free Solo”"
Journalist Laura Krantz doesn’t believe in Bigfoot. She’s trained to be skeptical, and all the best Sasquatch sightings and photos have been debunked. Except, then she heard about Grover Krantz, a serious academic and long lost relative who had spent his career researching the possibility that an upright, bi-pedal homonid had once roamed the forest. … Continue reading "Dispatches: Wild Thing"
Maybe you saw the fire coming, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you were ready for it, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you did everything right. Maybe not. Maybe you just lost everything. Maybe that’s not even the worst of it. For this final episode of our wildfire series, we asked fiction writer Joseph Jordan to imagine the experience … Continue reading "Science of Survival: Burnout"
To reduce the intensity of megafires in America, we’d need to treat and burn about 50-80 million acres of forest. So, how do we do it? What would it cost? How long would it take? Is it possible? In this episode we look at whether or not there’s anything we can do about wildfires in … Continue reading "Science of Survival: The Future of Fire"
How do you protect yourself from wildfire on a warming planet? You burn everything on purpose. No, seriously. Thanks to climate change, the whole world is a tinderbox. Fire season now starts sooner and ends later, and scientists say lightning will become more frequent, and winds more powerful. Our only defense may be intentional fires. In this … Continue reading "Science of Survival: Fighting Fire with Fire"
There are between eight and ten thousand wildfires in the United States each year, but most quietly burn out, and we never hear about them. The Pagami Creek Wildfire in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area was supposed to be like that. It was tiny and stuck in a bog that was surrounded by lakes. It was the kind … Continue reading "Science of Survival: The Sky is Burning"
Carina Hoang grew up in a wealthy family in Vietnam. She had a nanny to take care of her and a maid who cleaned up after her—she didn’t even wash her own hair. But when the Vietnam War broke out, she and two siblings fled the country on a boat, landing on Kuku beach, in … Continue reading "Dispatches: The Hidden Graves of Kuku Island"
Most of the time, when lightning makes the news, it’s because of something outlandish—like the park ranger who was struck seven times, or the survivor who also won the lottery (the chances of which are about one in 2.6 trillion), or the guy who claimed lightning strike gave him sudden musical talent. This is not … Continue reading "Science of Survival: Struck by Lightning"
Everyone gets older, but not everyone bows out of competition in middle-age. Journalist Jeff Bercovici wanted to know: Why? Why do some athletes flame out in their 30s and 40s, while others are still going as senior citizens? Is it genetics? Special training? Diet? And could amateur athletes achieve similar results? Outside editor Chris Keyes talks with … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: The Simple Secrets to Athletic Longevity"
Climbing was Shelma Jun’s fallback sport. A snowboarder and mountain biker, she found her way into a climbing gym after injuring her shoulder and looking for an activity where she wouldn’t risk more impact. As a friend told her, you can’t fall very far if you’re attached to a rope. In 2014, she created an … Continue reading "Dispatches: Shelma Jun Can Flash Foxy"
Knox Robinson grew up watching his dad run and went on to race track himself at a Division I college, but he was never defined by the sport. He’s more of a renaissance man. For years, he gave up athletics, studying and living in Japan, then managing rock stars and rappers in New York City. … Continue reading "Dispatches: Knox Robinson Crafts Running Culture"
Ayesha McGowan came late to competitive cycling. An accomplished violinist, she didn’t enter her first organized biking event until after college. Despite riding an old steel bike with a milk crate on the back and wearing jean shorts in a peloton of spandex, she impressed the other women, who encouraged her to start competing. A … Continue reading "Dispatches: Ayesha McGowan Wants to Be First"
When Mikhail Martin started climbing at a Brooklyn gym in 2009, he was one of very few African Americans to rope up. Today, his group, Brothers of Climbing, is working to change that. BOC is tackling diversity in rock climbing, which includes bridging the gaps in lingo, jargon, and etiquette that keep people of color … Continue reading "Dispatches: Mikhail Martin is a Brother of Climbing"
In 2014 the federal government rounded up Cliven Bundy’s cattle over a matter of unpaid grazing fees. So the Bundy family gathered a posse and took them back, at gunpoint. Two years later, they took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundys are making a habit of taking on the federal government and winning. … Continue reading "Dispatches: Bundyville"
Kellee Edwards had a dream of getting her own show on the Travel Channel. She also had a plan. As a black woman trying to break into the overwhelmingly white and male world of travel television, she figured she would have to be overqualified to get noticed. So she got certified as a scuba diver, … Continue reading "Dispatches: Kellee Edwards’s Story is a Trip"
Distance runner Alexi Pappas is the rare dual-threat of Olympic athlete and movie star. In the 2016 film Tracktown, which she wrote, directed, and plays the lead character in, she set out to capture the running-obsessed culture of Eugene, Oregon—a place where recreational runners share the trails with pros, and local farms and butchers step … Continue reading "Dispatches: Alexi Pappas Dreams Like a Crazy and Runs Like One, Too"
One day in 2005 or 2006, a young wolf in Idaho headed west. He swam across the Snake River to Oregon, which was then outside the gray wolf’s range. After he established a territory, he became the most controversial canid in the state. Dubbed OR4 by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, he was the … Continue reading "Science of Survival: A Very Old Man for a Wolf"
Mavericks, the monster surf-break off the Northern California coast, has long been a proving ground for the world’s best big-wave surfers. But the big wave surf contest held there most years has never included any women, despite the fact that female surfers have been dropping in on giant swells for decades. In fact, the first-ever … Continue reading "Dispatches: The Woman Who Rides Mountains"
After building Patagonia into an internationally renowned apparel brand, the company’s first CEO, Kris Tompkins, walked away from the job, following her heart to South America. She landed on a small farm in Chile, where she and her soon-to-be husband, The North Face founder Doug Tompkins, set to work conserving one of the last wild … Continue reading "Dispatches: Kris Tompkins’s 10-Million-Acre Life"
It was the kind of disaster that wasn’t supposed to happen anymore. On February 11, 2017, the fishing vessel Destination disappeared in the Bering Sea on its way to crab grounds. It was a boat with an experienced crew, in unremarkable weather conditions, but there was no mayday, no life raft and no survivors. For … Continue reading "Science of Survival: “F/V Destination, Do You Copy?”"
Apparently nobody told Bear Grylls that reality TV stars never have long careers. A dozen years after the cheeky Briton exploded onto American television, the king of survival entertainment is charging harder than ever, guiding A-list stars into the wild for his NBC show, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, while launching innovative new series for … Continue reading "Dispatches: Bear Grylls Will Never Give Up"
In her acclaimed 2012 memoir, Wild, Cheryl Strayed delivered a fresh take on outdoor writing—a redemption story set on the Pacific Crest Trail. The book spent seven weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List and reminded people everywhere that a grueling journey through the wilderness can help us overcome almost anything. At last … Continue reading "Dispatches: Cheryl Strayed’s Wild Creativity"
In 2009, Canadian researcher Geoff Hill asked park managers across North America what problems did they needed solved? Every single one of them said, “Human waste.” Since then, Hill has been on a quest to figure out what to do about the fact that each year national parks in the US and Canada get hundreds … Continue reading "Dispatches: An Amazingly Crappy Story"
If you’ve ever beaten yourself up after eating an entire pint of ice cream, know this: it’s really not your fault. According to obesity researcher and neurobiologist Stephen Guyenet, author of The Hungry Brain and founder of the wellness and science blog Whole Health Source, millions of years of evolution have hardwired us to seek … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Your Hungry Brain is Making You Fat"
On the 833-mile border between Finland and Russia, a band of elite Finnish soldiers are preparing to defend the country if Russia decides it wants to again redraw the map of Europe. With tensions still high after the Kremlin’s invasion of Crimea and Ukraine, writer David Wolman went to Finland to find out what this … Continue reading "Dispatches: Red Dawn in Lapland"
To write her three bestselling books about the ocean, Susan Casey went deep with great white sharks in California, followed big-wave surfing icon Laird Hamilton in Hawaii, and chased wild dolphins around the world. Her willingness to literally immerse herself in the topic of the ocean—she’s a former competitive swimmer—has allowed her to craft captivating … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Susan Casey Might Have Gills"
Falls are the leading cause of death in the backcountry. Nothing else comes close. And while many are freak accidents that amount to nothing more than bad luck, some are more nuanced and interesting—and personal. If you found yourself stuck at the bottom of a canyon with a broken leg, what would you do? And … Continue reading "Science of Survival: He That is Down Need Fear No Fall"
Andy Petranek and Michael Stanwyck know fitness. Petranek was a former adventure racer and RedBull Athlete before founding one of the first CrossFit gyms. Soon after, Stanwyck walked in looking for a new type of workout and quickly became CrossFit LA’s manager. But while their classes made gym members stronger, the pair longed to have … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: The Whole Life Challenge Is Easier Than You Think"
Bee venom is similar to a rattlesnake’s. It rapidly disperses in your tissue, and when you’re stung the pain you feel is a combination of proteins and peptides attacking your cell membranes. Each sting contains enough venom to incapacitate a small mouse, but bees won’t really hurt you unless you’re allergic. Or at least, that’s … Continue reading "Science of Survival: Bee Still My Heart"
There are several thousand species of mushroom, but only a handful that will kill you. And the toxins found in poisonous mushrooms are some of the deadliest natural poisons on Earth. Just seven milligrams—one quarter of a grain of rice—is enough to kill an adult, compared to a full teaspoon of cyanide. When you picked … Continue reading "Science of Survival: Dangerously Delicious"
What if you could opt out of society and go live in a completely self-contained glass bubble in the desert? You and your team would be cut off from the rest of society. For two years, you’d have to grow every morsel of food that you wanted to eat and fix anything and everything that … Continue reading "Dispatches: The Secret History of Biosphere 2"
What happens to people who are swept out to sea? Some survive for months and even years, alone in life boats eating whatever they can catch and drinking rainwater. In this episode we ask you, the listener, to imagine a surfing session gone very wrong when a strong offshore wind blows you out into the … Continue reading "Science of Survival: Adrift"
As we get ready to roll out new Science of Survival episodes beginning on November 14, we wanted to replay the one that started it all. This thrilling re-creation of the classic Outside feature by Peter Stark leads the listener through a series of plausible mishaps on a bitterly cold night: a car accident on … Continue reading "Science of Survival: Frozen Alive Redux"
Peak performance has always been about getting as close to your genetic potential as possible. The limits of your training, nutrition, and recovery are dictated by your DNA. But what if they weren’t? What if you could change the genetic code you were born with? As sequencing DNA gets cheaper and faster, and gene-editing tools … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Can’t Hack It? Gene-Hack It"
If you want to understand sleep deprivation, you want to talk to a Navy SEAL, who go nearly a week without rest during training. And there’s probably no better Navy SEAL to talk to than Dr. Kirk Parsley, the physician who started noticing all sorts of problems with his fellow elite soldiers. They weren’t recovering … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Doc Parsley Solves Your Sleep Crisis"
Several decades ago, radio producer Scott Carrier and his brother Dave tried to chase down an antelope on foot. That might sound crazy, but Dave was an evolutionary biologist and had just come up with a radical idea: that during the heat of the day humans could outrun most any creature, even one of the … Continue reading "Dispatches: Can Humans Outrun Antelope?"
For most athletes, achieving peak performance means training hard, eating right, and maybe some stretching. But when you get to the elite level, where everyone’s doing that, it’s the mental game that makes winners and losers. How hard can you push your body? How much pain can you tolerate? How can you avoid getting psyched … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Dr. Michael Gervais on Mental Mastery"
Kevin Fedarko is a celebrated and well-heeled journalist, accustomed to dropping in on an exotic place and extracting a story, often in less than a week. But in 2004 he left his job at Outside and went looking for something deeper and more meaningful: a story forged over months and years. He ended up at … Continue reading "Dispatches: Captain Jackass"
More than two decades after he radically transformed big-wave surfing, Laird Hamilton is still a dominant force in the sport. As detailed in the new documentary Take Every Wave, Hamilton is again pushing the edge with his new obsession, hydrofoil surfing. His wife, Gabby Reece, is a former professional volleyball player, model, author, and currently … Continue reading "The Outside Interview: Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece on the Extreme Edge of Fitness"
Killer frogs! Forest-destroying moths! Bird-eating mongooses! These may sound like biblical plagues, but they’re all the result of bad human decisions. After an invasive species shows up in an ecosystem and wreaks havoc, our response is to import another species that will eat the first one. Then, of course, the predator turns out to be … Continue reading "Dispatches: The Fine Art of Weaponizing Critters"
Jack Johnson is known as the world’s mellowest pop star. A surfer raised on the North Shore of Hawaii, his acoustic strumming has been the default soundtrack to good-times beach living for more than 15 years. But these days, something’s up with Jack Johnson. He’s decided that in the current political and social climate, quietly … Continue reading "Dispatches: Jack Johnson Loses His Cool"
Rebecca Rusch is called the “Queen of Pain” for a reason. She’s a three-time world champion in the 24-Hour Mountain Bike race, the 2011 National XC single-speed champion, and she’s won the Leadville 100 mountain bike race four times. But a couple years ago, Rusch decided to take on an entirely new kind of pain. … Continue reading "XX Factor: 1200 Miles on Blood Road"
In 2012, Vanessa Garrison co-founded GirlTrek, an organization with a simple goal: get women walking for 30 minutes a day. Now 100,000 walkers strong, GirlTrek is a national force. The story of GirlTrek is about health, justice, power, and survival. But mostly it’s the story of trying to change your community, and the world, through … Continue reading "XX Factor: Vanessa Garrison Walks the Walk"
The swamps of Alabama are one of the most biodiverse places on earth. They’ve been called America’s Amazon for the remarkable number of species of fish, turtles, mussels, and other aquatic creatures. Not so long ago, the Alabama sturgeon was a staple of life in these parts. The funny looking fish swam here for millennia, … Continue reading "Science of Survival: A Very Scary Fish Story"
When it comes to important innovations in sports technology, few inventions can compete with the sports bra. In the 1970s, women’s interest in athletics was surging following the passage of Title IX. There was just one problem—actually, make that two problems: breasts. Boob bounce hurts, as women getting in on the jogging craze quickly found … Continue reading "XX Factor: How the Sports Bra Changed History"
Nearly every sport can point to a classic comedy film taking aim at its flaws. Hockey has Slap Shot. Car racing got Talladega Nights. Skiing will always have Hot Dog. And dodgeball has, well, Dodgeball. Now cycling can claim its own: HBO’s Tour de Pharmacy, featuring executive producer Andy Samberg and a laundry list of … Continue reading "Dispatches: Andy Samberg’s Tour de Farce"