• Haleigh Shedd

18 Side Effects of Being an Outdoor Adventure Guide

Sometimes in life, you decide to go on a great outdoor excursion to get your stagnant blood pumping again. You may try zip lining over a canyon, whitewater rafting down a roaring river, or get your feet wet at a rock climbing gym. Most people may spend the day chasing the adrenaline high of outdoor recreation and then return to their normal day-to-day activities. However, there are a few of us who just can’t seem to get enough of the adrenaline high. These people often become the guides who take the city slickers on their great outdoor adventures. It’s the best job in the world; spending every day outside taking people on their wild adventures. The lucky ones even get to do this full-time.


While our jobs may strike fear into the hearts of the timid, we can’t get enough of the adventure. However, every cool job comes at a cost. Here are 18 side effects of being an outdoor adventure guide:


1. You have the weirdest tan lines

Farmers ain’t got nothing on you. Socks, sunglasses, waterproof watches, shorts, splash jackets; you name it - we have a tan line for it. I’ve never had a tan until working in the outdoor industry, so this was a big deal for me. #PaleLife


2. Heights are much less frightening

Some people may need time to adjust initially, but once you get your tower legs, you feel right at home. I spent a few months working on a hundred-foot tower at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC sending people on our zip lines and believe me-- it was the most incredible view.


3. You’re more willing to try new things

Once you get a taste, you just want more. Growing up, I was terrified of boats. In college, I started rock climbing and backpacking with my minor program and it led me to try whitewater rafting and kayaking. I was terrified at first, but I loved every minute of it after I got past my second waterfall. It even led me to become a canopy zip line guide which both terrified and enthralled me even more.


4. You love nylon and polyester

Moisture wicking technology is music to your ears. Anything that keeps you cool and dry during the blazing summers and warm during the harsh winter conditions is your best friend.


“Well, what about cotton,” you ask? Thank U, next.


5. Cargo and zip off pants are socially acceptable

Very few professions can justify zip off pants or cargos being cool. They’re so versatile and how about all those pockets? You can store so many snacks and no one would ever know!


6. You use carabiners outside of work

Carabiners are an actual gift from God. Their primary function is to quickly and reversibly connect components in a fall protection system, but they have additional capabilities--LIKE KEEPING YOUR WATER BOTTLE ATTACHED TO YOUR HARNESS ON A HUNDRED-FOOT TOWER or just to look cool (lol). No shame - I even use them to bring in groceries.


7. Stickers + Water Bottle = COOL

You’re not true outdoorsy folk unless you have a water bottle covered in stickers. It’s basically an unspoken rule and the more stickers, the better.


8. You’ll have a near miss at some point and it’ll completely rock your world

Near misses are the worst. The only thing more terrible than a near miss is an actual incident, but hopefully those are rare occurrences. You could forget to attach your own fall protection system while sending a guest off a platform or reverse your primary and secondary carabiners and risk cross-loading your system. It happens even to the best of us and if it doesn’t scare the crap out of you, then you have no business in this industry. Just make sure you learn from your mistakes and avoid repeat offenses.


9. You eat the same snacks as a five year old

Granola bars, tangerines, PB&J's, oh my! Anything a kid packs in their school lunchbox can likely be found in your snack arsenal. A personal favorite of mine: mini pepperonis straight from the bag.


10. Layers R life

We’ve all been there. You show up for work at 7:00 a.m. and it’s 30 degrees and you’re freezing, but by noon it’s 70 degrees and you’re sweating. If you don’t dress in layers, you’re going to be miserable later on. Again, zip off pants are perfect for this kind of weather.


Also, I live in SC, so this is totally normal. Other states have their own climate struggles that I haven’t experienced yet.


11. Sweat bothers you less

South Carolina summers are the definition of actual hell on earth because it is literally the same temperature as the innermost circle of the underworld. This one still bothers me, but not as much. I couldn’t care less if another person sees me dripping sweat at work because they’re likely just as hot and sweaty as I am, so we all get to suffer together.


12. You secretly enjoy watching people get scared

I’ll be the first to admit it. I totally get a kick out of terrified guests. It’s because I know they’ll have the best time if they just find the courage to take a leap of faith.


13. You get excited when those same people conquer their fears

Once they find that courage, you get to watch them scream their head off [and smile] the entire way. I’ve also been that terrified guest, so I really understand what they’re feeling.


14. You push people to try new things

Challenge by choice will always apply, but you are a guru at encouraging people to just give up their reservations and take the plunge.


15. You gain a lot of muscle

This is probably my favorite side effect. Outdoor adventure sports can often be physically strenuous, so it’s no surprise that you get a little toned along the way. #SwoleLife


16. Early mornings are less terrible--sometimes even enjoyable

If the sun is up, so are you; sometimes even before. Once you get into the routine of being active in the wee hours of the morning, it actually becomes kind of nice - once you have your coffee, of course.


17. You climb things outside of work

Need something off the top shelf? No problem. I climb the storage shelves at my restaurant job at least three times per shift. It was a little jarring for my co-workers at first, but they don’t even bat an eye now.


18. You spend more time unplugged

These activities require your undivided attention because giving anything less can be dangerous for you or your guest. This means you can’t be worried about who is texting you or what’s happening on Instagram. After long hours without your phone, it becomes a bit of a habit to stay unplugged.



Ah the great outdoors. This planet has so much to offer and adventure guides can’t seem to get enough of it - despite the unusual and quirky side effects.



Adventure guides, did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments below!

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