Several weeks ago (I often like to catch the popularity wave of momentum on the way down; I think I’m doing it wrong), much more famouser than me blogger and Outdoor Research sponsored athlete, Brendan Leonard of Semi-Rad wrote a post about The Rules for Dating a Dirtbag. Head GearGal Jill then wrote a response on her blog. She commends people that are living the outdoor lifestyle while maintaining a professional career and NOT yearning to live in a van at the base of a mountain, living a nomadic lifestyle, and only occasionally brushing their teath at a faucet with running water instead of the local stream. Personally, I find them both attractive, but not in their entirety. And that’s why this post is called “The un-dirtbag”.

The Un-Dirtbag

What the heck is that? Well, I’m glad you asked. If you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

To me, I am the un-dirtbag. I am not unique. In fact, I think un-dirtbags are the vast population of outdoor enthusiasts these days, the ones that are overcrowding the once-popular-only-to-extreme-outdoorspeople destinations. The un-dirtbags are the people that true dirtbags are beginning to despise.

We (un-dirtbags) love the outdoors. Truly, we do. We love camping. We love backpacking. We love going to the crag. We love sleeping in tents. We love everything in the natures. What we don’t love? Not having “things”. Not having a [stationary] warm (or air conditioned) house or apartment to come back to after an extended adventure. These things cost money. And that’s where Jill’s post stands. I’d like to take this one further.

Because I follow (on Twitter) the people Jill mentions in her post, I see what kind of lifestyle they portray online. They are the typical khaki pants/shorts, chaco sandals, and flanel shirt wearing type that can function normally in society, but when you see them, you know they’re not familiar with 80% of pop culture. They love to live the granola lifestyle. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Nor do I want to single out those specific individuals. “They” are everywhere.


Personally, I don’t own a pair of khaki anything except for some slacks that I have worn twice in the past 4 years for work-related purposes, against my will. I do like flip-flops, but I’m good with the $20 kind. I don’t need the “outdoor specific” name brand. I also don’t care for plaid patterned shirts. I do have 3 active-wear Columbia button-up shirts, but I only wear them in the depths of the backcountry, never in public. When I’m out in public, I actually care about fitting in with societal norms, or even standing out because of my above average fashion awareness and boy’ish good looks. (That’s a tough admission to swallow.)

How about music? This is something most people probably don’t consider, but let’s think about it for just a little bit. Personally, I’ve never really enjoyed the “The magical sounds of the whispering Orca” CD. Don’t care so much for folk and acoustic music either, unless I’m in a very specific mood. If you look at my iTunes, it’s filled with mainstream hard rock, mostly unheard of metal bands, and a variety of hip-hop. I can’t imagine a dirtbag bumping their van to Eminem’s “Kim”.

Sports? Almost no one that I follow ever tweets anything about mainstream sports like football, basketball, or baseball. I pretty much only see things about trail running, biking, yoga, and climbing. The latter being the only one I care about. My true love, more than climbing, is football. I played organized football for 10 years, including in college. I check ESPN NFL every single day of my life. Gosh, I love the Packers.

I think we’re all getting the hint

The un-dirtbag is the person that looks, functions, and cares about how “normal” society perceives them; yet, at the same time, has that same undeniable, fiery passion for the outdoors as the dirtbag washing her clothes in the campground’s bathroom sink. We have careers in the city and hobbies in the wilderness. We like to buy “stuff”. We like to look good. We like the Top 40 radio station. We eat junk food. We have the ability to find walking amongst the skyscrapers enjoyable.

Maybe I’m way off base. Maybe you find me too judgemental. Or maybe you don’t want to admit that you’re an un-dirtbag. Maybe, in the audience this post will reach, being classified as a “dirtbag” or “granola muncher” is favorable and being defined as an “un-dirtbag” is something you wish you weren’t. Maybe being defined as an “un-dirtbag” brings negative connotations to your mind.

Does it really matter? Deep down inside, we’re all the same people. We all want to be on top of a mountain, kayaking a beautiful sea cave, hiking through canyons. We just choose to lead our lives outside of those events in different ways. We care about different things. We have different priorities in life. And that’s ok. As long as we can coexist out on the trail and respect nature in the same way, does it really matter if I like to wear jeans and a sport coat?

C’mon, bring it in. We need a worldwide, outdoor life group hug. Am I right?

Don’t Miss Your Chance

I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.

Then I took control.

You can too, and it starts right here.