Tag Archives: outdoor sports

Could These Extreme Sports be Exactly What’s Missing from Your Life?

This is a guest post by Billy Henry. Billy Henry has been an extreme sports nut ever since he experienced his first sky dive on his 21st birthday. He is very interested in trying out BASE jumping next.

As sports fans, some of us are always searching for the next big buzz, seeing how far we can push the envelope and raise the ceiling. Once you’ve exhausted all the more conventional avenues though (snow sports, skydiving etc), is there really anywhere left to go? This article strives to offer an answer to that question, by exposing readers to a raft of more unconventional extreme sports from all around the world.

BASE Jumping

If you really want to feel like James Bond, there is no extreme sport quite as exhilarating or daring as BASE jumping. The sport involves free-falling from a bridge, a building or any incredibly tall, inanimate object with a parachute attached and opening it on the way down. With adequate training, BASE jumps can be achieved almost anywhere, but there is a set calendar of events for enthusiasts, where they congregate to perform ‘mass jumps’. Of course, this is NOT a sport to be taken lightly. It requires plenty of training and a strong stomach as any mistakes made could be potentially fatal.

Jousting

No this isn’t some kind of bizarre euphemism; we’re literally referring to medieval style jousting here. You might have thought jousting died out along with court jesters and ‘fair maidens’ but jousting is still alive and well today, but it’s certainly not for the fainthearted! If you’re not aware of the basics of jousting the sport involves two heavily armoured ‘knights’, charging at one another on horseback whilst carrying an 11-foot lance. The aim of the game is simple; knock your opponent off their steed before they knock you off yours. Competitors can reach up to 30 miles an hour and as such, jousting is a decidedly dangerous extreme sport that requires great riding skills, a solid centre of balance and significant upper body strength. Events take place all over the world, from New Zealand to California. The ‘Harcourt Park World International Jousting Tournament’ held annually in New Zealand draws up to 10,000 people every year.

Ice Climbing

This is a sport that requires a certain amount of experience in climbing and nerves of steel, as you’ll be climbing vast ice caves supported only by your own wits and a seemingly infinite (and definitely fatal) drop. The largest indoor ice wall in the world is actually located in Scotland at Kinlocklevan. This is a great place for beginners and seasoned professionals alike to train and gather their skills. Once you’ve tackled the artificial snow and have acquired a decent level of training and equipment, you can move on to the real deal. Needless to say however, a great level of fitness is absolutely necessary!

Volcano Boarding

Even the title of this one is exciting right? It’s also surprisingly literal. Of course for most people, the sight of one of the world’s most active volcanoes would cause them to turn tail and run as fast as humanely possible in the opposite direction. But of course, you’re not “Most people”, are you. Volcano boarders are daredevils who choose to travel down the Cerro Negro volcano in Nicaragua wearing just some thin overalls and a pair of goggles on a thin wooden board. The active volcano is located just outside Leon in Central America and has erupted 23 times in the last 160 years. Boarders can either stand or ride their boards like snowboards down the mountain (indeed, the ash is almost the consistency of snow) or sit and sledge down the steeper sides. Over 10,000 people have boarded down Cerro Negro since 2005, do you fancy joining their ranks?

Downhill Mountain Biking

A time trial event generally held on incredibly steep, rough terrain and often featuring jumps, rock patches and other obstacles, downhill mountain biking is an extreme sport that requires not just the right gear, but a steady hand and a clear head. In many ways, downhill mountain biking is a little like downhill skiing, in so much as how the basic principles of the sport function. The UK is not known for its snow though, but we do have quite a few incredibly mountains. Snowdon especially is something of a Mecca for downhill mountain biking enthusiasts from all over the world. This is a sport that requires a decent initial investment when it comes to gear, but if you visit SportPursuit.com you’ll be able to find a bunch of reasonable offers on some of the best mountain biking equipment money can buy.

Limbo Skating

We’ll end with an incredibly odd one. Taking two already potentially dangerous sports and combining them into one even more dangerous sport, the relatively new sport of Limbo Skating is essentially exactly what it says on the tin. You’re basically taking limbo dancing and adding skated into the equation. The results are something akin to a dance, only a dance that could easily end with a broken back if things go wrong. The most famous limbo skater in the world is the young Indian boy Rohan Ajit Kokane, who is able to skate horizontally with his body only 8 inches above the ground! His record is to skate underneath 20 cars whilst almost completely horizontal!

Of course we’ve only scratched the surface here. Other unconventional extreme sports that should earn themselves a place on any fanatics bucket list include ‘Bike Polo’, ‘Sled Dog Racing’ and ‘Drift Diving’ (like a roller-coaster, only on your back and in the water). So get out there and get stuck in!

Adventure Clothing – Without Getting Damp and Sticky

This is a guest post by Ben Brown: Freelance writer, author and walking enthusiast Ben Brown looks at the best in breathable technologies – and why it works.  

Breathable qualities are an essential characteristic for outdoor gear and modern materials and manufacturing processes ensure that this essential ingredient is built into most sportswear today. In fact breathable fabric could be argued to be more important than wind-proofing and waterproofing fabrics (or at least as equally important). However, there’s plenty of jargon to wade through (enough to get you into a real sweat) when it comes to choosing the right gear for your outdoor pursuits. In terms of breathable it helps to understand the basics.

Natural Cooling Systems – The Naked Truth

Breathable garments are designed to work in conjunction with the body’s natural cooling system; perspiration. “Garments” is a broad term and, in the case of outdoor gear, it includes everything from the tip of your headgear to the tips of your boots and shoes. As we overheat, our bodies produce sweat to cool us; the moisture evaporates, our skin cools and we return to our optimum temperature. This is fine if you’re not wearing any clothes at all, but not so great if you’re trekking up a mountain or running a marathon (in both cases clothes being more or less required) or conducting any other kind of sporting activity. For hikers, skiers, mountaineers and long distance trekkers. Balancing the need to stay warm and dry means that the body’s natural cooling mechanism can become a problem. Once clothing becomes damp from perspiration, it can remain so, keeping us cooling longer than we need to and eventually chilling us. While problematic at any time of year this can be a serious issue in winter when staying warm while outdoors can equal staying alive. Breathable fabrics operate to solve this problem by effectively drying quickly. Moisture is moved away from the skin and evaporates from the surface of the material, meaning our temperatures remain constant. While traditional materials, such as wool, have these qualities, modern polypropylene and polyester have been designed to create lighter weight garments with the same qualities. In terms of wool, often used in part in fleeces as an insulation layer, look for high quality merino wool products.

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Wicking Qualities and Why they Work

While wool has been favoured as a breathable, fast drying fabric but the modern equivalents are considered more efficient. Today they are designed to incorporate ‘wicking’ qualities. Wicking describes the process in which moisture is moved from the skin and evaporates quickly, transferring it away from the skin in the same way that heat evaporates wax from a candle. For base layers, designed for a range of outdoor activities, materials with wicking qualities are ideal. For insulating layers material that is also breathable allows moisture to be quickly removed from between the layers and a final breathable waterproof layer ensures that excess moisture is drawn away from the body, while keeping out rain and or wind.

Horizontal Rain and Minuscule Vapours

Waterproof and breathable outer garments are now widely available and may seem an unlikely combination of qualities. These garments let moisture out and yet also stop it from passing through from the outside. The simple science behind this seemingly magical quality is the fact that moisture vapour from sweat is actually made up of smaller droplets, which can leave the fine mesh of the fabric, while droplets that form on the outer layer of the material (droplets in this case often being pelting, horizontal rain) are too big to enter, these run off thanks to waterproofing coatings. In many cases over time both the waterproofing and breathable qualities of this type of garment becomes compromised but regular treatments with recommended products help to restore and/or maintain jackets and coats.

Buying Tips

Buying appropriate waterproof outdoor gear is essential. For winter activities robust, strong outer layers are advisable, especially for mountaineering, trekking and hiking. Summer brings it’s own challenges in terms of weather conditions and lighter weight coats are advisable, unless climbing to high altitudes. For cyclists and runners these lighter weight outer layers are often ideal, even in winter. However, in all case ensure the best quality (usually branded) items are chosen. At this time of year as the winter sales and Boxing Day sales beckon, it can be the perfect time to restock on all manner of outdoor gear, from tents to clothing and waterproofing products. Where possible always buy quality outdoor wear and kit, as apart from its effectiveness it can last for many years (and many adventures) to come.