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The Outdoor Encyclopedia

The Outdoor Encyclopedia


There are more than two hundred sports and activities that you can do outdoors — it’s not hard to get confused.

On this page, we collect and categorize them to help you navigate through all their diversity, starting from the 20+ major sports for which the was created in the first place. Here they are divided into four groups:

Water sports

Air sports

Land and snow sports

Other activities

It is customary to combine sports into several other groups like this, depending on the weather elements, season, equipment and other features. To the list above we can add also wind sports, extreme sports, endurance sports, and several other groups.

A sportsmen themselves are commonly called as outdoor enthusiasts, outdoorsy and outdoorsmen, or sometimes woodsmen or bushmen, which comes from the fact that hiking is the most common outdoor activity, as well as going to the woods or mountains in general with various purposes.

As we planned, later this page will turn into a small encyclopedia with the purpose to give you the basic and most useful information needed to begin doing this or that sport, or which will help you to become better at it or go to the next level. We also hope that this encyclopedia will inspire you to try a second or maybe a third sport.

So navigate through the diversity outdoor activities and follow the links to read in-depth guides to the individual types of sports.

Water sports and outdoor activities

Austin Neill / Unsplash


Kitesurfing is a water and wind year-round summer sport and outdoor activity. In kitesurfing, you move on the board under the action of the traction force of the kite. Therefore, the wind is a must for this sport. With enough wind, you can steer the kite to get more power and move upwind or downwind.


Kite jumping


Windsurfing is a water and wind year-round sport and outdoor activity. In windsurfing, you move on the surf board under the action of the traction force of the sail. Therefore, the wind is a must for this sport. A sail in windsurfing is almost the same as a sail in yachting. Well, almost. It looks a bit different.

Freeride windsurfing

Hydrofoil windsurfing

Windboarding (winter windsurfing)

Wing foiling (wing surfing)


Surfing is an extreme year-round sport and one of the most popular water outdoor activities in the world. Since 2021, it has become an Olympic sport. In surfing, you ride on a board on the big waves (swell). Then different types of boards are used for different types of surfing: from longboards about 3 meters long to small boards called handplane which are slightly larger than a palm.

Short board surfing

Longboard surfing


Tow foiling

Wake foiling

Pump foiling

SUP foiling

Wing foiling (wind surfing)

Electric foiling

Surf/Prone foiling



Parasailing (parakiting)


Sailing is a type of yachting, a kind of year-round water and wind sport and outdoor activity. In sailing, you ride on the water in a sailing boat due to the power of the wind. The crew, which may include one or more people, controls the sails into which the wind blows. Due to this, the yacht tacks — moves in a zigzag in the right direction, including against the wind.

Coastal sailing


Yachting is a year-round water and wind sport and outdoor activity. In yachting, you move on the water — a river or lake, sea, or an ocean — on a vessel called a yacht. Yachts can be with sails — this activity is called sailing, or with a motor engine — this is called powerboating. Yachts can be used for competition, short boat trips, or long cruises. People who go in for yachting are called yachtsmen.


Boat touring

Jetskiing (water scootering)


Kayaking is a year-round water sport and outdoor activity in a single or double boat with oars. In kayaking, you move on a small boat made of carbon, polyethylene, or fiberglass. There’re also inflatable kayaks that are easy to transport. You move in a kayak due to the oars with which you row, as well as due to the flow of water or waves.




Standup paddle boarding (SUP)

Standup paddle boarding, or SUP boarding, or SUP surfing is mostly summer water sport and outdoor activity. You could say it's a mixture of surfing and kayaking in lighter versions of both. To ride a SUP,  you just stand on a special large flat board, take a paddle and start rowing, you don’t need any special training or special skills.


Sport fishing

Icefishing (winter fishing)

Hook fishing (angling)

Fly fishing

Professional marine fishing


Scuba diving


Free diving

High diving (cliff diving, cliff jumping)


Air sports and outdoor activities

Ty Koh / Unsplash


Paragliding is an extreme year-round sport and outdoor activity. In paragliding, you fly in the air on a special non-powered aircraft. You sit in a harness or lie supine in a cocoon-like bag suspended below a wing controlled by slings. However, to start paragliding, a beginner needs a lot of preparation.

Hand gliding


Parachuting (sky diving)

Base jumping

Wing suit flying

Space jumping

General aviation

General aviation is non-commercial aviation, which doesn't affect the agricultural, medical, and administrative purposes of flights. Private amateur flights are made in a wide variety of aircraft: light and ultralight aircraft, sport aircraft, homebuilt aircraft, gyroplane, small turboprops, jets, and gliders. You can become an amateur pilot at special practical courses — they are organized on the basis of flight educational institutions.



Light and ultra-light aircraft aviation

Electric aircraft aviation

Air ballooning


Drones are a new kind of transportation and a year-round outdoor activity in the air using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is aircraft without any human pilot, crew, or passengers on board. In the case of drones as a sport and recreational activity — these are small flying machines: the smallest fits in the palm of your hand, for storage and transportation of standard drones you need a separate small suitcase.

Land sports and outdoor activities

Tommy Lisbin / Unsplash


Skiing is a winter and snow extreme sport and outdoor activity. In skiing, you use special boots fastened firmly into the skis and ride in the forest (cross-country skiing) or down the slope (Alpine skiing or skiing). Both main types of skiing are included in the program of the Winter Olympic Games. The latter includes five sports disciplines: slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill, combined.

Alpine skiing (downhill skiing)

Freeride skiing (freeriding)

Backcountry skiing (off-piste skiing)

Ski touring (Alpine touring, excludes ski lifts or transport)

Ski mountainering (skialpinism, skimo)

Freestyle skiing

Extreme skiing

Heliskiing (helicopter insted of ski lift)

Cross-country skiing

Nordic skiing

Telamark skiing

Ski jumping (after sliding down from a curved ramp)

Ice skiing


Snowboarding is an extreme winter snow sport and outdoor activity. In snowboarding, you go down a snow-covered slope on a special board with bindings. While riding, you are rigidly attached to the board and is always in the same position. You control your movement, trajectory, and speed by shifting your weight to the back or front of the board. Snowboarding is part of the Winter Olympics.

Jibbing snowboarding

Freeriding snowboarding

Freestyle snowboarding

Alpine snowboarding

Backcountry snowboarding


Big Air snowboarding

Half-pipe snowboarding

Snowboard cross (Boardercross)

Snowboard racing





Cycling is a year-round sport and outdoor activity, for which the bicycle is used. The basis of any bicycle is the triangular frame, as well as the saddle, handlebars, and pedals. There’re many types of bikes, depending on the conditions and tasks of riding: road, cyclo-cross, mountain bikes, track cycling, BMX, cycle speedway, and even artistic cycling, cycle polo, and more.

Road cycling

Road bike climbing

Mountain biking

Bike freestyle jumping


Bike touring

City biking

Electric biking (ebiking)

Electric biking or ebiking (e-biking) is a year-round sport, outdoor activity, and way of life. In electric biking, you ride a bicycle equipped with an electric motor that provides additional power while pedaling. Therefore, riding an ebike, especially uphill, is much easier for a rider than on a regular bike without a motor.

Land sailing

Motorbike riding



Hiking or trekking is a type of year-round walking outdoor activity when you follow an easy route for one day in the nature. In hiking, you don’t need any special equipment — just dress for the weather. But if you regularly plan to make small hikes, then we recommend that you purchase suitable light clothing and, most importantly, comfortable shoes in which you can go all day on rough terrain.




Ultralight backpacking

Fastpacking (trail running plus ultralight backpacking)

Winter hiking


Coasteering (coastal walking)








Free climbing


Ice climbing

Tree climbing

Mountaineering (alpinism)

Rock climbing

Via ferrata

Everest climbing

8000s climbing

7 summits climbing

Peak bagging




Caving (cave exploration)

Chasing waterfalls

Zip line riding

Ice skating

Ice walking


Running is a type of year-round outdoor activity and one of the most popular spots in the world on par with soccer and swimming. You don’t need any special equipment for running — just dress for the weather. In addition to the usual running in the city or park, running as an outdoor activity includes such types as trail running, sky running, ultra running, vertical running, and others. It is also included in triathlon and other multisports.

Trail running

Vertical running

Sky running

Stairs running

Ultra running (long distance running)

Marathons running

Slack line

High line (high altitude slack line)


Other sports and outdoor activities

Patrick Janser / Unsplash


Multisport is a year-round sport and outdoor activity for competitive purposes. It is also an Olympic discipline. During multisport, you participate in several sports at once, one at a time. For example, in a triathlon, perhaps its most popular multisport, you first swim 300 meters in the open water, then ride a bike for 8 km, and then run 2 km.

Triathlon: swimming, cycling, running

Cross triathlon: swimming, mountain biking, trail running

Duathlon: running, cycling, running

Cross duathlon: mountain biking, trail running

Swimrun: multiple swim and run

Aquathlon: swimming, running

Biathle: running, swimming, running

Biathlon: cross-country skiing, rifle shooting

Aquabike: swimming, cycling

Quadrathlon: swimming, kayaking, cycling, running

Rowathlon: indoor rowing, cycling, running

Winter triathlon: running, cycling, cross-country skiing

Winter quadrathlon: cycling, running, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing


Exploration is a type of outdoor activity to discover and research new territories, paths, information, resources and so on. Geographically, exploration usually refers to the Age of Exploration or the Age of Discovery — the discovery of new lands by Europeans from the 15th to the 17th centuries. But since man discovered almost everything on earth, the term has come to mean discovering new information and gaining new life experiences for scientific and personal purposes.

Space exploration



Arctics expedition

North pole expedition

Everest expedition

Outdoor adventure

Surviving in the wilderness


Tornado hunting

Treasure hunting


Outdoor recreation

Nature walking


Outdoor yoga

Training in the nature (outdoor fitness)


Outdoor games

Disc golf


Benchmarking (geolocating)


Wildlife watching


Berry picking

Mushrooms hunting

Plants collecting

Clam digging

Team building in the nature

Outdoor education

Outdoor photography

Sports photography

Nature and wildlife photography

Landscape photography

Underwater photography

Aerial photography‎


Space photography

Outdoor services


Avalanche and mountain rescue



Mountain guide

Fishing guide


Natural science

Natural science is a year-round outdoor activity to study nature and its various phenomena, during which you describe it, understand and try to predict. Natural science is based on empirical data from observations and experiments, which are conducted not only in a laboratory, but rather in nature during field research (field studies, fieldwork) — another concept with which this term is closely related.





Glacier specialist








Journalist (field reporter)

Field research (field studies, fieldwork)


National Park Service ranger

Sea capital (ship's captain, shipmaster)

Lighthouse keeper

Fire lookout (fire watcher)


Updated on March 24, 2022

Text: Ivan Kuznetsov, an outdoor journalist, editor and writer from the Dolomites, Italy, and Karelia, Finland, with 10 years of professional experience. His favorite sports are hiking, cycling and sauna. Read his other articles. Other team authors contributed to this guide

Cover photo: Arctic Guesthouse Igloos / Unsplash

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