While fun, adventure sports are often cost-prohibitive, both to purchase the equipment and just to get to the location where they take place. Skiing and snowboarding are perfect examples; once you buy the gear, you still have to shell out close to a hundred bucks on a lift ticket - every time you want to go. For motorized water sports like jet skiing, the equipment costs thousands of dollars, and you will continue to spend money on gas, maintenance, insurance and storage.
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There are, however, adventure sports that cost very little to enjoy after you've made the initial investment - these sports also happen to be environmentally conscious. All of these sports are self-powered, providing participants a valuable workout, usually in a beautiful setting. These are seven adventure sports you can enjoy without breaking the bank.
Ultimate is a non-contact field sport played with a disc (think "Frisbee") where each team tries to score points by passing the disc from player to player and eventually catching the disc in their end-zone. Though not an adventure sport in the traditional sense, ultimate provides an intense physical workout and the excitement that comes from healthy competition and team spirit. Look for listings in your local newspaper, and visit http://www.usaultimate.org to get you started. Startup Cost: About $200 for disc, cleats and league registration.
Cost to Play: Transportation to and from the game.
- Rock Climbing
Rock climbing involves climbing on boulders or up steep, rocky faces using specialized equipment. Indoor climbing walls have made this sport accessible to people who would like to try it out in a controlled setting. Many communities also have outdoor climbing walls, supervised by trained professionals, on which to practice skills. Most people who start rock climbing rely on other people (whether guides or friends) to have the expertise and equipment to keep climbing safe and fun. To begin with, you'll need shoes, a harness and a chalk bag. Take a trip to your local shop or visit http://www.rockclimbing.com/ for information and gear. (Playing group sports can be expensive, find out The Most Economical Sports For Kids.) Startup Cost: About $200 for climbing shoes, harness and chalk bag.
Cost to Play: Transportation to the rock; or small fee for climbing wall (daily: $10- $15; annual pass: $300 - $400).
- Mountain Biking
Mountain biking provides an intense aerobic workout that you can feel proud about. Charging up and down hills on a narrow trail is exciting, challenging and fun. Single-track trails are designed for mountain biking and vary in difficulty. You can visit your local bike shop for information and gear. The International Mountain Bicycling Association and regional mountain bike associations provide trail and events information, as well as announcements for group rides. Your first bike might take a beating, so buying used is a good idea. Startup Cost: About $500 for a decent used bike and a new helmet.
Cost to Play: Transportation to the trail or right from your front door.
The quintessential beach sport is an easy sport to get into, assuming you live near waves. If so, you don't need any special equipment beyond the surfboard and some sunscreen. Surf and you become part of a sport that is respected and envied worldwide. Visit your neighborhood surf shop or check out www.realkiteboarding.com for new and used boards. Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps protect the world's oceans, waves and beaches. Startup Cost: About $500 for an entry-level surfboard.
Cost to Play: Transportation to the waves; how about a surfboard rack for your bike?
Kayaking is a fun water sport that people can enjoy on whitewater, flat water (such as lakes) or in the ocean. Paddlers looking for a little adrenaline gravitate towards white water rivers, while those looking for serenity will go to a lake for some nature watching. Kayaking in the ocean can be calm or exciting depending on the weather and the surf. Since most kayaks (except for high-end or competitive ones) are made from durable plastic, buying used equipment is an economical and reasonable choice. Check out your local shop, or visit http://www.noc.com/ for gear and instruction, and to read about their annual Guest Appreciation Festival (under "Festivals & Events") where you can score used gear for cheap. Startup Cost: About $1,000 for a used boat, paddle, spray skirt (to keep the water out) lifejacket and helmet.
Cost to Play: Transportation to the river, lake or ocean.
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Stand up paddle boarding (or standup paddle surfing) referred to as SUP, has in recent years enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. SUP is a water sport where a person stands on a surfboard-type craft and moves through the water using a long paddle. SUP enthusiasts play in the ocean - and even in big surf - as well as on lakes and, increasingly, rivers. SUP provides a healthy, challenging workout and an opportunity to enjoy nature. Visit your local shop or go to www.bigwinds.com on the West coast; or www.realkiteboarding.com on the East Coast for gear and information. Startup Cost: About $1,000 for an entry-level board and paddle.
Cost to Play: Transportation to the river, lake or ocean.
Kiteboarding is a relative newcomer to the adventure sports world which has seen tremendous improvements in design and safety in recent years. The sport combines surfing with kiting: a rider stands on a surfboard-like craft and uses a kite to harness the wind's power to move along through the water or surf. When buying gear, don't sacrifice safety for cost: many older designs are available for practically nothing on eBay; however, these older designs do not have the safety innovations of recent designs. Go to your local shop or visit www.bigwinds.com on the West Coast; or www.kittyhawk.com on the East Coast for gear and information. Startup Cost: About $1,200 for an entry-level kite, lines, board and harness.
Cost to Play: Transportation to the wind and water.
Get Out There This Summer
As with any adventure sport, it is a good idea to secure professional instruction for at least your first couple sessions, especially if the sport is outside your element. Instruction, which can add a couple hundred dollars to the startup costs, more than pays for itself in terms of safety, comfort and advancement in the sport. Finding other people interested in the sport can make it more enjoyable and easier to plan outings. After the initial investment in equipment and any instruction, you can have an amazing adventure and a great workout, while enjoying the outdoors.
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