Outdoor Inspiration

10 Outdoor Dads And Father Figures We Look Up To and Why You Will Too

From the Scottish-American naturalist known as the “Father of the National Parks” to a U.S. Navy veteran-turned-expert-fisherman, dads and father figures come from all walks of life. They inspire us to explore the outdoors as much as ourselves. We’re celebrating both the outdoor dads and father figures in our life this Father’s Day. 

Here’s our list of ten outdoor dads and father figures we look up to:

John Muir | “Father of the National Parks”

As a Scottish-American naturalist and early advocate of preserving the wilderness in the United States, John Muir became known as the “Father of the National Parks.”

He was also a father to two daughters, Wanda Muir Hanna and Helen Muir Funk. Because of his activism and many publications, he helped preserve Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park.

In fact, over his lifetime, Muir published over 300 articles and 12 books that described everything all of his nature explorations. Before he passed away, Muir co-founded the Sierra Club, which was also key in establishing several national parks. They now have over 2.4 million members.

Jimmy Chin | Professional Climber and Photographer

Not only is Jimmy Chin an Academy Award-winning film director, National Geographic photographer, and professional mountain sports athlete, he is also Dad to his daughter, Marina, and his son, James.

For over 20 years, Chin has organized and led innovative climbing, ski-mountaineering, and exploratory expeditions around the world — everywhere from China to Borneo. He’s no stranger to adventure. He’s climbed and skied Mount Everest from the summit and even crossed the Chang Tang Plateau in northwestern Tibet on foot.

You’re likely familiar with his work too. He co-directed the documentary films, Meru and Free Solo, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, a BAFTA, and seven Emmy Awards. You’ll also see his photographs on the covers of National Geographic Magazine and the New York Times Magazine.

Matt Hunter | Professional Mountain Biker

Matt Hunter is a professional Canadian freestyle rider living in Kamloops, British Columbia with a six-year-old son. When asked what’s the secret to getting kids on bikes he said, “I don’t think there’s a secret because bikes are cool enough that kids are going to get stoked on them. Just let them do whatever they want and bring lots of snacks.”

Instead of going down the competition route, Hunter chose to focus his attention on photography and videography. You can find his work for movies such as Follow Me, Seasons, Strength in Numbers, and From the Inside Out.

On his greatest mountain bike accomplishment, he said, “Well, I’m 35, and I’m just as stoked on MTB as I was when I was 14 so that to me is my greatest accomplishment.”

Jeremy Jones | Professional Snowboarder

Jeremy Jones isn’t just another professional big mountain freeriding snowboarder. He’s a dad to two of his children, Mia and Cass.

He is also the founder of his own freeride-oriented snowboarding brand, Jones Snowboards as well as the founder of the nonprofit organization, Protect Our Winters. His organization, founded in 2007, mobilizes the snowsports community to work to reduce the effects of climate change.

When he isn’t tearing up the slopes or doing activist work, he films his climbing and snowboarding adventures around the world. He’s been featured in snow sport films like Soul Purpose and Roadless by Teton Gravity Research.

Based on his “remarkable achievements in exploration, conservation, humanitarianism, and adventure sports,” National Geographic Magazine nominated him for Adventurer of the Year in 2012.

Chris Burkard | Professional Photographer

A modern-day explorer, Chris Burkard travels throughout the world to capture stories between humans and nature to make us question that relationship. Burkard photographs everything from landscape to surf to lifestyle to travel subjects, but specialists in cold climates. Frigid places like Iceland, Russia, and Switzerland and takes a photojournalistic approach to his editorial projects.

Burkard won the Visionary Photographer Award by the Photoimaging Manufacturers and Distributors “In recognition of your vision and creativity in offering new and exciting ways to bring images to life, and for inspiring a new course for future photographers by demonstrating the rewards of capturing uncharted territories.”

When Chris isn’t jet setting around the world or working with Fortune 500 companies or speaking on the TED Stage, he spends time with his wife Breanne and his two sons, Jeremiah and Forrest.

Aaron Chase | Professional Mountain Biker

Aaron Chase is an innovator. With over 10 years of experience in the mountain bike industry, Chase is coming up with new ways people ride, how courses and bikes are built, and changing up footage and scripts of mountain bike films.

Not only is he filming shoots, competing, and coaching others, he’s also pioneering the all-terrain slopestyle movement to bring back the “creative spirit of mountain biking.”

With a toddler, Chase already has him ripping up the pump track on his Stryder. In an interview with Men’s Journal, Chase says, “There’s a lot of benefit in teaching your kids to get out in the woods. They’re burning energy and have an outlet to learn about the rawness of nature. Mountain biking is just as good as swimming or hiking when it comes to finding a perfect activity to get your kids outdoors.”

Chad Brown | Expert Fisherman and Founder of Soul River Inc.

A U.S. Navy veteran, artist, designer, educator, expert fisherman, and mentor, Chad Brown worked to find a way to channel his post-traumatic stress into something that will help others. Brown found fly fishing as his medicine.

After leaving the military and moving away from New York, Chad found himself in Oregon in 2008. Away from his family and with extra time to think, he sunk into a deep depression. After visiting a VA clinic and getting the help he desperately needed, a VA attendant took him bass fishing. He was hooked ever since.

Then he became inspired. Like Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, Brown wanted to get kids out fishing through donated equipment and grants to lower the barriers of entry. After meetups and speaking invitations, Soul River Runs Deep was born, a small boutique of outdoor equipment that helps support Soul River Runs Wild. Soul River Inc. is the nonprofit bringing veterans as mentors and inner-city youth together in the outdoors. Through this relationship, both veterans and youth venture into threatened wild spaces through “deployments” where “advocacy and outdoor education meet.

Although Brown doesn’t have children of his own, through his foundation, Soul River Inc., he has without a doubt, been a father figure to those kids who join him.

Peter Edmund Hillary | Mountaineer

Not only has Peter Edmund Hillary summited Mount Everest twice, he crossed Antarctica to the South Pole in 84 days, guided an expedition with Neil Armstrong to land a small aircraft at the North Pole, and completed the “Seven Summits” — reaching the top of the highest mountains on all seven continents.

Because of all of his accomplishments, Hillary has gone on to make a career out of his successful adventures. He is a professional public speaker, writer, adventure travel operator, and has participated in multiple interviews on television and radio and in documentaries.

When he’s not running his career or up a mountain, he’s a father to five children. A feat in itself.

Ang Rita Sherpa | Sherpa, Mountaineer

Most mountaineers would be lost without sherpas. Ang Rita is one that countless mountaineers relied on to reach the top of Mount Everest. Orphaned as a teenager, Ang had no other choice but to become a mountaineer to support his family when he was 15. He spent most of his time driving yaks, carrying tools and supplies to trade in Tibet, and carrying for the farm on which he lived.

He was finally able to assist in a German-American expedition where he reached the summit of Everest without bottled oxygen. Ang went on to summit Mount Everest 10 times without the support of oxygen, setting the world record of the most successful number of accents. From there, he became known as “The Snow Leopard.”

Ang has two sons, Karsang Sherpa and Chhewang Sherpa, who followed his footsteps. Ang personally trained both of his sons who have successfully summited Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma.

Kílian Jornet Burgada | Professional Endurance Athlete

Kílian Jornet Burgada isn’t your typical professional endurance athlete. He is fast uphill. He’s a skyrunner, trail runner, ski mountaineer, and long-distance runner. He’s superfast. He’s a six-time champion of the Skyrunner World Series and winner of prestigious ultramarathons like Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run.

Among his records of fastest ascents and descents of Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Denali, and Everest times, he’s also the 24-hour uphill skiing world record holder in which he skied 78,274 feet uphill.

If that wasn’t enough, Burgada started a personal project called, “Summits of My Life.” The goal was to set ascent and descent records on some of the biggest mountains on the planets, ending with his record attempt on Mount Everest.

In March of 2019, his biggest accomplishment was becoming a father to his daughter, Maj.