Can Tinder Be Used For Finding An Adventure Buddy, Rather Than Hook Ups?
It's not all sleazy individuals and dodgy dick pics...
Finding an adventure buddy can be tricky - particularly if you live in a city.
Ski resorts and coastal towns draw adventurers from all over the world into one place - but once the season is over and everyone disappears, it can be hard to meet like-minded people to go on adventures with.
This summer, I began a rather entertaining experiment. I decided to repurpose the controversial hook-up app, Tinder, into a personalised adventure buddy finder.
Here is what I learnt after a summer of using Tinder to hunt out the skiers, hikers and climbers in the city...
1. People do actually use Tinder to make friends in a new place
This was news to me, but I came across plenty of profiles explaining how they’d just moved to town and were looking to make friends.
It seems that Tinder is slowly leaving its adolescent ‘hook up’ reputation behind, and more people are searching for, and finding, meaningful connections through the left-right-swipe lottery.
2. It’s totally possible to navigate Tinder without receiving countless dick pics
I’m sorry ladies, but if you’re receiving dick pics, you’re just not being discerning enough. Especially if it’s outdoorsy types you’re looking for.
I can assure you, the guys we’re after are more interested in finding a rad chick to hang out with than sending selfies of their genitals to unsuspecting females.
3. The key is creating the ultimate ‘platonic-right-swipe' inducing profile
This needs to be done with the goal in mind. They should want to go adventuring with me, not to sleep with me.
This means interests, not breasts, have to take the front row.
Make it clear you’re looking for friend-dates, list the activities you’re up for, and cue up pictures of you in action.
Skiing, climbing, hiking, biking, slacklining, paddle boarding, longboarding, whatever tickles your fancy. Throw in a goofy grin and we’re ready to go.
Which leads us to…
4. His profile will tell you whether a guy is serious about getting rad (or not)
Don’t be misled by the fakers. The guys we are after won’t rely on one token holiday snap of them skiing, climbing or surfing.
His entire profile will be saturated with shots of him getting after it, and the blurb will be equally focused. Think “Sleep. Ski.Repeat." in its purest form.
5. You have to be patient
It’s unfortunately true that Tinder is 45% over-muscular, slick-haired selfies, 45% insipid city boys trying to impress girls with a pay cheque, and 9.5% straight up oddballs.
That means looking for outdoorsy types on Tinder can be like looking for a fellow chess enthusiast at London Victoria during rush hour.
They are few and far between but they’re out there. Just. Keep. Swiping.
6. Don’t be afraid to list activities that you aren’t totally awesome at already
I’ll be honest, I’m a skier first and foremost, and hiking isn’t exactly a tough one to pick up.
But when it comes to mountain biking, climbing or paddle boarding I’m not about to impress anyone with my mad skills.
List it all anyway. If they can see that you’re not afraid to get stuck in and dust off the odd fall, guys tend to be happy to take you under their wing for a day in the interest of meeting a fun girl.
7. You’ll probably find yourself more than a little out of your depth
It turns out ‘hiking’ means different things to different people. No, that is not a euphemism for something else.
I discovered that it can mean the difference between chucking some food, water and layers in a backpack for a jaunt and donning harness, carabiners and ropes for a panoramic eight hour mountain traverse.
It’s also how I ended up riding the steepest mountain bike run of my life and feeling like a total badass.
You only get better by moving outside your comfort zone, so take advantage.
8. The outdoor sports community is a small world
Two thirds of the guys I met I had some kind of common connection with, be it mutual friends or places we’ve lived.
I even met a guy whose dad was ski besties with my mechanic!
Compared with the rest of society, the action sports world is pretty small, making it reassuringly likely you’ll have something significant in common.
If nothing else, this certainly helps to relieve some pre-meet up “is he a total creeper" anxiety.
9. Despite your best intentions, at some point you will end up just meeting someone for a drink
That skier I matched with, for example, who lives in the same city and had some solid credentials.
Well we weren’t about to go carpooling for six hours to the glacier for a day shred.
Sometimes a drink in the local really is an easier way to make first contact.
Plus at least we knew we could resort to discussing next year’s ski graphics instead of the awkward “Soooooo… how’s about this weather?"
10. Try as you may, you can’t fully escape the essence of Tinder
Let’s be honest, you’re probably right-swiping people you find at least relatively attractive, and they are too.
Plus, once you meet up, you’re both secretly assessing each other for potential less-platonic ‘activities’.
But a) that’s entirely natural, and b) the beauty of the ‘buddy finding’ approach is that it’s ok if you’re not attracted to them, since that wasn’t the point in the first place.
Hey, if it does turn into something more then you’re doing better than I did!
11. It turns out there are apps for this kind of thing…
I eventually did some research and a few apps do exist.
Most notably there’s Gociety, which tries to be a Facebook for outdoors lovers.
However, the main problem seems to be a tricky interface and a distinct lack of users.
In England, it totally draws a blank, and when I recently tried it out on a trip to Southern California, there were apparently only two people doing anything within 100 miles of me.
So, until one app actually gains some credibility, you can look for me in the Tinder line up.
I’ll be the one with with some cuts, bruises and a goofy grin.