30 Extreme Hobbies Every Man Should Try
Chilled-out hobbies like gardening and collecting stamps are just fine for some folks. But there are others among us who need to get their blood pumping, feel the wind in their hair, and experience a rush of adrenaline. They need hobbies that are a little more extreme.
If that description strikes a chord, then this list is for you. For men with a need for speed or a thirst for adventure, these are 30 extreme hobbies that you just have to try.
Let’s start right at the top: skydiving. It’s one of the most well-known hobbies for adrenaline junkies. It’s something everyone really ought to try at least once. For some, it’s a thrilling once-in-a-lifetime experience. For others, it’s the start of a lifelong obsession.
Yes, jumping out of an airplane is pretty hardcore, but it’s actually much safer than one might assume. With all the safety measures in place, accidents while skydiving with a reputable company are exceedingly rare.
2. Whitewater Rafting
With risks that range from smacking your noggin on a rock to straight-up drowning, it’s safe to say that whitewater rafting is not a hobby for folks who like to play it safe. But there’s also something undeniably appealing about it that goes way beyond the simple adrenaline rush you get.
Whitewater rafting connects you to the river you’re riding in an intense way, and it sharpens your body and mind to a heightened state. You’ll also develop a powerful camaraderie with the people you raft with.
3. Downhill Mountain Biking
A particularly extreme variation of mountain biking that involves rugged, steep terrain and death-defying jumps, drops, and obstacles, downhill mountain biking is not for the faint of heart, as these GoPro POV videos will attest. But it does look thrilling!
Everything about downhill mountain biking is heightened, from the reflexes and physical stamina required to the actual bikes used, which are far heavier and stronger than traditional mountain bikes. Downhill mountain biking is practiced in dozens of countries around the world.
4. Running of the Bulls
You’ve seen the videos. Bulls are let loose on a city street, and people run away. A few of them may take a horn to the groin. What could be more fun!
Running with bulls – or, more accurately, running away from bulls – is a tradition in Spain that dates back to the 14th century. The most famous example is the encierro, which takes place every year in Pamplona as part of the festival of Sanfermines, but similar events are held in Portugal, France, and Mexico.
5. Hot Pepper Eating
Don’t think eating hot peppers qualify as extreme? Tell that to this guy. There’s a whole culture around eating hot peppers, and for those who truly enjoy eating the spiciest foods imaginable, it can be not only fun but also community-building.
For the heat-obsessed, the quest for spicier foods is neverending. If you find yourself hoarding hot pepper seeds for your garden and concocting your own fiery hot sauces, then you’ve officially graduated from dabbler to full-fledged hobbyist.
Boxing is one of the world’s oldest sports. There are 2,000-year-old pictures depicting boxing matches on the walls of Ancient Egypt, but by all accounts, the modern form of boxing evolved from 16th-century prizefights in Great Britain.
These days, boxing is a sport that improves self-confidence and self-awareness, all while honing your mind and body. Crucially, boxing also involves respect for your opponent and for the sport itself, making it an honorable pursuit, and much more than a mere exercise in violence.
7. Deep-Sea Fishing
Deep-sea fishing for big game offers an extreme thrill that no other form of fishing can match. Imagine a battle stretching for hours with a fish weighing hundreds of pounds, leaving you breathless, bone-tired and, if you’re lucky, victorious.
The fishermen who go out after big game like marlin, sailfish, and yellowfin are a different breed, just like the fish they pursue in the ocean’s depths. Try your first deep-sea fishing charter, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hooked too.
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is, somewhat paradoxically, both more extreme and less extreme than traditional rock climbing. It’s less extreme because the scale is smaller – seldom will you find yourself more than 15 feet above ground – but more extreme because no ropes or harnesses are used.
Only a pad is used to protect you if you fall. Bouldering is done indoors and outdoors, and it’s an intense form of exercise that uses almost every muscle in your body.
9. Ice Swimming
Who’s ready for a swim? Taking a dip during the frigid winter months is commonly known as ice swimming, and accomplished ice swimmers swear by its benefits. There’s evidence to suggest it improves circulation, boosts the immune system, and reduces stress.
Whether that’s true or not, plunging into icy water releases a flood of endorphins that creates a unique rush. It’s exhilarating. Most ice swims don’t last more than 30 seconds or a minute, so start with a few seconds and work your way up.
10. Knife Throwing
Knife throwing as a hobby has grown exponentially in the last decade, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a fun and exciting pastime, and it gives you a chance to really track your progress in a tangible way as you get better and better at it.
Plus, it makes you feel like an old-timey assassin. If you’re new to throwing knives, start by looking into knife throwing classes in your area where you can learn the ropes in a safe environment with a trained instructor.
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11. Sand Surfing
Sometimes referred to as sandboarding, sand surfing is a sport that involves riding down sand dunes while strapped to a board similar to a snowboard or surfboard. It hasn’t totally caught on as a mainstream hobby, but the folks who are into it are very into it.
Most of the best sand surfing spots in the US are in desert areas in the Southwest, where there are some massive dunes to board down. There are also great places to sand surf on both coasts, and even in areas around the Great Lakes.
12. Hang Gliding
Gliding through the air beneath what amounts to a giant kite is perhaps the most peaceful and freeing of all extreme sports. It’s truly a unique experience that can only be described by those who have done it.
Hang gliding essentially involves launching yourself and the non-motorized glider you’re harnessed in off a high point using only foot power. The trick is launching into the wind for proper takeoff. Otherwise, you’re in deep trouble.
13. Cave Exploring
The world that lies beneath our feet beckons to be explored. For those who heed that call, it often goes far beyond a hobby and becomes a full-blown obsession. Caving is serious business.
A lot of that has to do with the risks involved. While some caves are well-trodden and popular among novice explorers, most have dangerous passages with all manner of obstacles. There are risks of becoming lost, getting stuck, drowning, and all manner of other potential hazards. Still, who wouldn’t want to discover this world that few ever see?
14. Body Surfing
Body surfing is pretty much what it sounds like – surfing without a surfboard, using only your own body to ride the waves. It’s actually a much older sport than board surfing, most likely originating in Polynesia thousands of years ago.
Many modern body surfers use a pair of swim fins as their only piece of equipment, while others use none at all. Body surfing enthusiasts often cite a feeling of greater connectedness with the waves as the main reason for eschewing surfboards.
15. Free Soloing
Free soloing is about as hardcore as rock climbing gets, and it’s definitely not a sport to be taken up lightly. It’s an extremely technical and demanding form of climbing that uses no ropes, harnesses, or other protective equipment. And you must climb alone.
Alex Honnold made headlines and entered the record books in 2017 when he ascended to the top of Yosemite’s El Capitan in just such a manner. Few humans are built to achieve such a feat, but there is a devoted group of daring climbers who try.
16. Big Game Hunting
Hunting big game may seem like a one-sided sport, but that’s not always the case. Many big game hunters face significant dangers getting close enough to their quarry for a clean shot, and in many cases that danger comes from the animals themselves.
There’s a lively debate to be had about the ethics of killing large game animals, and which side you fall on may determine whether this is a sport for you. At the end of the day, revenue from hunting licenses goes a long way toward preserving wildlife habitat, and hunting is arguably the most sustainable way to harvest meat for the table.
17. Extreme Ironing
Extreme ironing. It’s a sport that begs the question: “do people actually do this?” As it turns out, yes they do. The Extreme Ironing Bureau even has its own Facebook page.
Just what is extreme ironing? It’s an adventure sport in which participants iron clothes in extreme and hard-to-reach locations, such as the top of a mountain, in a river raft, or at the bottom of the ocean. In that way, it actually combines a lot of different extreme hobbies. I swear I’m not making it up.
The idea behind Parkour is for participants to get from point A to point B in the most complex way possible. There was a moment in the early aughts when Parkour had its 15 minutes of fame, but this extreme sport has not gone away. Far from it.
Parkour is usually done in an urban environment and involves going over, under, around, and through all manner of obstacles. It evolved from military obstacle course training and requires some real skill to perform safely.
Kitesurfing is a bit like standup paddleboarding, except you and your board are propelled across the water’s surface by the wind. There’s a bit of a learning curve to it, but it’s also a fairly beginner-friendly hobby.
As extreme sports go, kitesurfing is pretty laid-back. But there are still dangers to be aware of. In addition to the physical demands and the effects of exposure to the elements, many kite surfers have found themselves accidentally being blown farther out to sea than intended, and then struggle to get back.
20. Swimming With Sharks
Also known as shark diving, swimming with sharks is probably the greatest underwater adrenaline rush you can get. There are a few variations on this activity, but the two basic versions are shark cage diving and cageless diving.
Cageless diving is usually performed in shallow reef areas with relatively small, non-aggressive species like nurse sharks and reef sharks, which are unlikely to intentionally attack a human. Cage diving is generally reserved for more dangerous species like great whites.
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21. Bungee Jumping
One of the most traditional extreme hobbies, bungee jumping has been around for many years. It was inspired by the practice of land-diving, a ritual among natives of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, but became a mainstream hobby in western culture in the late 1970s.
You know how bungee jumping works. The jumper leaps from a high point, such as a bridge across a deep gorge, harnessed to a cord that stretches and recoils to keep them from hitting the ground. It’s a pretty extreme rush, and no matter how many times one does it, the thrill never fades.
22. Ice Climbing
Few extreme hobbies are as thrilling as ice climbing, nor are there many that offer a more beautiful environment. It involves climbing ice formations such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and icy cliff faces.
Anyone who has ever rock climbed shouldn’t have too much trouble transitioning to ice climbing. That being said, ice is more volatile and fragile than rock, and the dangers of ice climbing are greater.
Motocross is a popular form of off-road motorcycle racing. If zigzagging along a winding track with steep inclines and sharp curves at a thrilling rate of speed sounds like your idea of a good time, then you may have found your new hobby.
No two motocross tracks are exactly the same, and a big part of the sport’s excitement comes from traveling and getting to know new tracks. Motocross also attracts a lot of gearheads who are into the mechanics of motorcycles, especially since the bikes used for motocross are uniquely built for racing.
24. Extreme Pogo
You may have hopped around on a pogo stick when you were a kid, but most likely never considered turning it into an extreme sport. But a couple of years ago, a few individuals did just that, and they created extreme pogo, also known as Xpogo.
Extreme pogo involves achieving maximum height and performing aerial tricks using specially designed pogo sticks that are capable of launching you up to 10 feet in the air. Honestly, it sounds like a lot of fun!
Freediving is a form of diving that involves no breathing apparatus of any kind. Instead, divers can only dive as deep and as long as their breath will allow. Fins are typically the only equipment freedivers use.
There is such a thing as competitive freediving, but most people who dive in this manner do so for the pure enjoyment of immersing themselves in an ocean environment with no modern conveniences to get in the way. Freediving is also associated with traditional forms of fishing and sponge collecting.
26. Wildlife Photography
If you have a knack for taking great pictures, then wildlife photography is a great way to incorporate some adrenaline into your photography projects. It’s often peaceful and serene, but it can also get pretty intense.
As anyone who has photographed animals like moose, grizzly bears, and wolves will tell you, there is some very real risk to life and limb that comes with the territory. Be safe, and always approach your subjects with due respect.
Parasailing isn’t necessarily extreme in terms of skill level, physical endurance required or danger faced by the participant. But it certainly feels extreme, sailing high above a body of water attached to a giant sail.
Parasailing involves being pulled behind a vehicle – usually a boat – attached to a parachute-like sail that gives you the necessary lift to become airborne. It’s a popular activity for vacations and holidays. The moment of take-off really gets the blood pumping.
28. BASE Jumping
Jumping from a tall structure and free-falling at up to 100 mph for the few seconds until your parachute opens is, to put it lightly, not for the faint-hearted. But that’s BASE Jumping for you. By the way, B.A.S.E. is actually an acronym. It stands for Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth (i.e. the four things BASE jumpers jump off of).
Just so you know, BASE Jumping is illegal in a lot of places, including most US cities and all US national parks. It is permitted at Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho, and one day out of the year at the New River Gorge in West Virginia.
29. Cheese Rolling
Every year, a few dozen people hurl themselves down a steep hill near Gloucester in England while hundreds of others watch the spectacle. The goal of those who enter the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling is to be the first to catch the 9-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese sent spinning down ahead of them.
If you haven’t seen the resulting chaos, you really need to check it out. One lucky participant may catch the cheese wheel. Many others go to the hospital. It’s really something!
An adventurous hobby that combines several extreme outdoor sports into one, canyoneering is essentially the exploration of canyons (some simply call the activity “canyoning”). It’s popular in rugged parts of the American Southwest like Zion and Arches National Parks.
Canyoneering combines hiking, swimming, rappelling, rock climbing, route finding, and problem solving. There are some very real dangers involved, and rescuers end up having to go in after lost canyon explorers every year. But for outdoor lovers with a thirst for adventure and an interest in navigation, it’s a perfect pastime.
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