11 Ways to Connect with Other Outdoor Women
When I started blogging three years ago, there weren’t a lot of blogs out there that I could relate to. Mostly what I found was manly men doing crazy things. As a late outdoor bloomer, I wondered what resources were out there for me. All I wanted was to learn about gear, find some cool trails to hike on, and advance as a female in the outdoors. And that’s the gist of how Bearfoot Theory was born. I figured if there wasn’t a comprehensive resource out there for women, I was going to create one.
A lot has changed since then. Now there are a ton of awesome female-driven outdoor blogs, and outdoor gear companies are making a concerted effort to improve their female-specific gear, which is a great first step. Then there are companies like REI who recently launched an incredible movement called Force of Nature, which is an effort to put females front and center in the outdoors. REI’s goal is to foster a strong female outdoor community where ALL females feel welcome and comfortable, no matter who you are or where you are in your outdoor journey.
I’m super excited to partner with REI, a company that I have been a proud coop Member of for over 12 years, to share my advice for how to connect with other outdoor women. Whether you are looking for a new female hiking buddy, a supportive group in which to learn a new outdoor skill, or girlfriends that will say YES to adventure, this blog post has 11 helpful tips for finding an awesome group of ladies to bond with over a mutual love of nature.
1) Sign up for an all women’s class or trip
If there’s an outdoor activity that you’re interested in, but you don’t have the skill set to get out there on your own, consider joining an all-women’s course or trip. I recently participated in a 4 day all-womens ski camp, and I went from being a scared and intimidated skier to leading my small female pack down some of the steepest runs at Alta. Imagine the things that can do for your confidence.
REI offers a number of all-women’s classes (check out nationwide offerings n May 6th), such as women’s hands-on bike maintenance or women’s beginner climbing. Check your local store’s schedule to see what they offer. REI is also organizing 3 Outessa gatherings this year, where women gather for a weekend of adventure. Signing up for organized classes or weekends like this is a sure-fire way to meet some awesome new ladies that you can excel with in a new activity.
2) Look for outdoor women Facebook groups
Social media can be a powerful tool for meeting new friends. When searching for “outdoor women” on Facebook, you’ll find that there are a number of female-only Facebook groups spread all around the nation. There are also outdoor women’s groups focused on interest. There is a Ladies of the John Muir Trail group which is an incredibly welcoming and helpful resource for women looking to hike the John Muir Trail or to get information on thru-hiking. There is also The Appalachian Trail: Women’s Group, a number of female climbing groups, cyclist groups, hiker groups, and solo female traveler groups. Join one and introduce yourself!
3) Join a climbing gym
I’ve heard some women say that they met their best female friends at the climbing gym. If you want to find women to go climbing with, hit up your local climbing gym and don’t be shy. Put your harness on and go up to the first group of women you see. Tell them you’re new at the gym, and ask if one of them needs a belayer.
4) Check the bulletin board at your local REI, yoga studio, coffee shop, or grocery coop.
Think about the common stomping grounds in your town that oudoorsy people like to hang out at and check out their bulletin board. See what’s going on or if you’re feeling brave, leave a note that you are a woman looking for a female hiking, climbing, or biking buddy. If you’re weirded out by leaving your contact number, create a new email address just for this purpose.
5) Volunteer at a beach cleanup or trail restoration event
You’re likely to find other outdoor women at conservation-focused volunteer events. Check with your local environmental non-profits to see what events are coming up and how you can help. Then when you are at the event, mingle with the other ladies who are there and spark up a conversation about your outdoor interests.
6) Follow women’s specific hashtags on Instagram
Just in case you don’t know how a hashtag on Instagram works, adding a hashtag to a photo is just a way to tag it with a keyword. So if you search the hashtag #outdoorwomen on Instagram, you’ll see all the photos with that hashtag. Over the past several years, a bunch of hashtags, like #outdoorwomen, have collected millions of photos. One that is gathering steam is #girltrek, founded by an organization that helps African American women change their lives and communities by walking outdoors together. Other popular ones are #sheexplores, #mountaingirls, and the #ForceOfNature hashtag started by REI in an effort to connect women in the outdoors.
I suggest searching these hashtags and see what you find. Even if you don’t find people in your own community, you might make new friends on the web who could turn into real life friends. I met my friend Kat Carney on the internet. I thought she was an awesome photographer, so I liked and commented on her photos, and now we’ve met up three times in person on camping trips.
7) Reach out directly to women you look up to
Reach out to your favorite local female outdoor photographer, athlete, podcast host, blogger, or any other outdoor woman you look up to. Maybe they’d be willing to meet up for a coffee or, even better, a hike? Even if that’s not a possibility, my guess is they will be stoked to hear from you, and you can ask to be kept in the loop if they ever organize a meet up.
8) Go to local talks by outdoor women
Check your local college or library and see if there are any outdoor or conservation talks that you might be interested in. Particularly those run by women will draw a female audience. Make sure to go up to the speaker at the end of the event and introduce yourself!
9) Contact your local chamber of commerce
It’s easy to forget that you have a local chamber of commerce whose entire job is to showcase events and groups in your community. Give them a ring and ask if they are aware of any female-focused community organizations that might be of interest. Even if they aren’t outdoor focused, if there’s something you’re interested in, go. You never know who you’ll meet.
10) Take a hike
Want to find new women to hike with? Then go on a solo hike. Pick trail that you are familiar with that’s not too far off the beaten path. Say hi, smile at people on the trail, and try to engage other females in conversation. Ask another girl about her backpack and whether or not she likes it. Want a picture of yourself? Skip the selfie and ask the nearest group of girls if they can snap a photo for you.
Afraid of hiking alone? Check out my tips for getting over your fears and having a successful first solo hike!
11) Be the organizer
Normally go out to dinner with your girlfriends? Why not take charge and suggest you go on a hike next time you get together. Maybe your female outdoor community is sitting right there in front of you, and you all just don’t know it yet. Instead of happy hour, meet up at the trailhead on a Saturday morning. If you are all new to the outdoors, pick a trail or activity that is beginner friendly, and remember that hiking is not all that different from walking down the sidewalk. Just grab your shoes, any backpack, water, and go! 😃
I hope this blog post helps inspire you to be confident in your efforts to find a strong and supportive group of women to get outside with, so we females can be a Force Of Nature.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by REI. As always, all words and opinions are my own and your trust remains my highest priority. For more details on my sponsored post policy, see this page.