Top 100 types of extreme sport: Ultimate list of adventure sports

Nov 14, 2018 BY Mark Barber

Compiling a list of all the different types of extreme sport is difficult – if not impossible! But just like the daredevils doing the activities we love a challenge… So check out our A-Z (abseiling to zorbing) list of adventure sports below. And please let us know if we have missed anything!

There has been an explosion in popularity in adventure activities over the last decade or so. With more and more people seeking to experience thrills from sports, as an escape from the mundane grind of daily life. Action sports are now more accessible than ever before, with clubs and centres popping up everywhere.

types of extreme Sport - wing suit flying - cc Wikimedia commons image - Ocean_Wingsuit_Formation_(6366966219)

Types of extreme sport – A to H

Abseiling

Climbing down a vertical face using a rope and harness.

Adventure Racing

Also known as Expedition Racing, this is a multi-discipline team adventure sport. It involves navigation across an unmarked terrain course and completing various challenges.

Alpinism

Climbing in high mountains such as in the Alps or Himalayas. Very similar to mountaineering but usually involving altitude, ice and snow.

Beginner mountaineering in Nepal Island Peak 1 of the 4 best Nepalese trekking peaks Image courtesy of Explore Himalaya

BASE Jumping

Jumping from a fixed structure or cliff edge. BASE includes buildings, antennas, spans (e.g. bridges), and the Earth itself. One of the most dangerous types of extreme sport.

BMX

BMX stands for bicycle motocross. BMX bikes are used for off-road racing and stunt riding, but also to get around town.

list of adventure sports - BMX - ccflickr image by blogarazzo

Bobsleigh

A winter sport where a team ride a sleigh at high speeds down an icy banked course.

Bodyboarding

Like surfing but using a shorter board on which you lay rather than stand.

tips to buy a bodyboard - Flickr CC by El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía & Video

Bodysurfing

Like bodyboarding but without the board. The ‘surfer’ uses their own body to ride the wave.

Bouldering

Rock climbing on small rock formations or artificial walls without the use of ropes or harnesses. Usually there is a crashmat and spotter to help break your fall.

Bungee/Bungy jumping

Jumping from a high point attached to a bungee rope. Probably the most accessible of the different types of extreme sport. Here are the best bungee jumps worldwide.

Interlaken one of the 12 best bungee jumps in Europe Bungy European style flickr CC image by Alan Light

Canoeing

A leisure activity or sport in a long narrow boat. Participants use a single bladed paddle.

Canyon Swinging

Attach one end of rope to your your harness and the other end to the edge of a cliff or bridge, then JUMP! You swing out under the bridge or through a canyon.

Canyoning / Canyoneering

Travelling along a canyon swimming, climbing, scrambling, abseiling and cliff jumping. The beauty of canyoning is it incorporates all these different types of extreme sport.

Canyoning: Introducing Undiscovered Mountains: Off the beaten track mountain activity holidays image courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains image courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains

Caving

Also known as spelunking in the US and Canada, and potholing in the UK. Caving is the recreational exploration of caves and potholes. Also see Potholing in this list of adventure sports.

Cliff Diving

Diving from cliffs (often at a great height) into water below.

types of extreme sport - cliff diving - ccflickr image by Jimelovski Platano Macho

Climbing

An activity or sport that involves moving up or across vertical terrain such as cliffs.

Coasteering

A little like canyoning but on the coast. This involves following the shorelines, usually along cliffs and rocky formations. You’ll need to climb, scramble, cliff jump and swim.

What is coasteering so much more than cliff jumping Flickr image by craiglea123

Cycling

Simply riding a bike. Although for many this is riding long distances in mountainous terrain.

Deep Water Soloing

Climbing – often to great heights – without the use of ropes over water.

Dog Sledding

A dog sleigh or sled pulled by one or more dogs, over a snowy or icy terrain. One of the most fun activities for kids on our list of adventure sports.

dogsledding Christmas in Lapland Review of Ruka family adventure holiday

Fell Running

Is a traditional British sport taking cross country running off road and over difficult terrain.

Free Climbing

A sport that involves rock climbing without any equipment such as ladders or ascenders that offer assistance. Ropes and belays can be used for safety.

Free Soloing

Climbing without safety ropes. Understandably one of the most challenging and dangerous all the types of extreme sport.

Freediving

Diving, usually in deep water, without the use of breathing apparatus.

Freerunning

See parkour.

Hang Gliding

An air sport where the pilot, flies a un-motorised vehicle called a hang glider, which has a wing stretched over a rigid frame.

Hang gliding one of the many types of extreme sport Ultimate list of adventure sports Flickr CC image by texaus1

Heliskiing/Heliboarding

Using a helicopter to ski or snowboard unmarked terrain. A no-brainer when deciding what to include on our list of adventure sports!

Highlining / Slacklining

Walking on a tightrope at elevated heights such as between buildings, tops of trees or across ravines and canyons. Most use a simple harness in case of falls.

Jossi Wells interview Fear freedom and frenchies Image courtesy of The Free Man Movie

Hiking

Walking in the great outdoors often requiring some navigation. Usually carrying enough equipment for a day, although sometimes with overnight gear. Also see walking and trekking.

Horse Riding

Riding a horse can be competitive such as racing, dressage and equestrian. Or it can be more of a relaxing ride in the countryside.

Types of extreme sport – I to Q

Ice Climbing

Climbing up frozen waterfalls and other ice formations using ice axes, crampons and safety equipment.

Cheap adventure holidays: 28 tips for budget adventures Flickr CC image of ice climbing in Slovenia by dani_tic

Ice Diving

Scuba diving under ice.

Ironman

A multi-event sport over extreme distances that requires strength and stamina. It is a competition that involves long distance running, cycling and swimming.

Ironman one of the many types of extreme sport Ultimate list of adventure sports Flickr CC image by jikatu

Jet Boating

Driving a low bottomed, high speed, jet powered boat.

Jet Skiing

Jet Ski is actually a brand name of a Japanese company called Kawasaki. But is a personal watercraft (PWC) that is raced at high speeds. Tricks and stunts can also be performed.

Adventure Travel safety jetski lake michegan Flickr image by Blok 70

Kayaking

Is a water sport that involves paddling a small boat (a kayak) using a double bladed oar. One of the best types of extreme sport if you want to combine travel with adventures.

Kite Buggying

Being pulled along in a purpose built buggy by a kite.

types of extreme sport - kite buggy - Flickr CC image by gaelx

Kite landboarding

Using an oversized skateboard, and a kite to travel across ground. Plus performing jumps and tricks.

Kiteboarding / Kitesurfing

The two names are used interchangeably to describe using a kite to travel across water. A kitesurfer usually has a board shaped like a surfboard, sometimes without foot harnesses, that is often used to surf waves. A kiteboarder uses a wake style board with foot harnesses often performing huge jumps and impressive tricks.

Longboarding

An oversized skateboard, usually used for downhill skateboarding on roads or for long distance skateboarding.

Introduction to competitive downhill skateboarding: Kurtis Dawe and Aaron skippings photo by lightphonics

Modern Pentathlon

An Olympic sport that combines five different activities: fencing (one-touch épée), freestyle swimming (200m), equestrian show jumping (15 jumps), and a final combined event of pistol shooting and cross country running (3200m).

Monoskiing

A sport and recreational activity where participants use a single, wide ski. Bindings, boots and poles are used as in Alpine skiing.

Motocross

Off-road motorcycle racing that can take place on circuits of mud, grass or gravel.

types of extreme sport - motorcross - Flickr CC image by Bernard Spragg. NZ

Mountain Biking

Riding mountain bikes off-road on natural single track or manmade paths, often over rough, terrain. There are many different types of mountain biking.

Mountain Boarding

A board sport or activity that has similarities to skateboarding and snowboarding. Participants use a snowboard sized deck with wheels to travel over natural terrain such as mountain slopes and woodland.

Mountaineering

Traditionally it is summiting mountains by hiking, scrambling or climbing. These days mountaineering usually has some technical element requiring rope work.

Southern French Alps Mountaineering

Noboarding

Snowboarding without the use of bindings, usually off-piste or backcountry in powder.

Orienteering

Navigating between a series of points using skills such as map reading and using a compass. Usually on foot.

5 best adventure holiday lists used to answer: What is adventure? Flickr CC image hiking Mt Washington by jisoosong

Obring

See zorbing.

Overlanding

Travelling to remote locations using land transport such as buses, trains, 4×4 etc. The journey and seeing many destinations is the principal activity.

Top 10 tips for planning overland camping holidays flickr image by David Holt

Parachuting (Static Line)

The parachute opens automatically by a static line which is attached to the aircraft so there is no freefall. The participant then lands by themself.

Paragliding

After launching from a height, the participant glides through the air with the use of a canopy a bit like a parachute whilst sitting in a harness.

List of adventure sports - paragliding - flickr cc image by Steve Slater

Paramotoring

Combining a standard paraglider wing with a harnessed mounted motor. Also known as PPG, the two types of paramotors are foot launch and wheel launch.

Parascending

Also known as Parasailing. A kite sport where the participant is towed behind a vehicle (often a boat), while attached to a specially designed wing.

Parkour

An extreme sport where the participant moves freely through and over terrain. This often takes place in urban environments and includes, running, jumping, climbing and quadrupedal movement. Parkour is also known as Freerunning.

types of extreme sport - parkour - Flickr CC image by Thor

Potholing

Also known as Caving, is simply the recreational activity of exploring caves and potholes. A popular activity and a welcome addition to our list of adventure sports.

Types of extreme sport – R to Z

Race car driving

A competitive sport that involves racing cars that are not road legal on special tracks. There are many motorsport disciplines.

motor racing one of the many types of extreme sport Ultimate list of adventure sports Flickr CC image by decypher the code

Rappelling

See abseiling.

River Bugging

Travelling down whitewater rapids while laying on a small craft.

Rock Climbing

Climbing up rock faces, often with specialist equipment and the use of ropes. The goal is to reach an endpoint or the summit.

Guide to rock climbing in Squamish The Chief of Canadian crags Flickr image by Ruth and Dave

Rallying

A motor sport that takes place on private or public roads, using specially modified road legal cars.

Sand boarding

Just like snowboarding but on sand.

list of adventure sports - sandboarding - FlickrCC image by US Naval Forces Central Command US Fifth Fleet

Sailing

Traveling in a boat that is powered mainly by sails. Boats vary in length from small dinghies up to huge yachts. One of the most accessible activities on this list of adventure sports.

Scuba Diving

Swimming underwater using a self contained breathing apparatus known as a scuba.

Guide to the best Malaysian scuba diving in Sipadan Flickr CC image of Barracuda Point by No dust

Skateboarding

A recreational activity, mode of transport, and one of the most common types extreme sport. Participant rides or performs tricks, on a board with wheels. Often in urban environments.

Skeleton/Luge

Riding a small sled at speed down a course or a road. The winter version uses an icy banked track and you lay face down and head first.

Skijoring

Being towed on skis behind a horse.

Skijoring 'Need for speed' Swiss adrenaline break Best extreme weekend

Ski Jumping

A competitive action sport where skiers try to do the longest and most stylish jump off a steep ramp, from a great height and at high speed.

Skiing

Traveling over snow covered terrain on skis. Feet are secured with the use of bindings and you face forwards.

Best British ski areas Guide to skiing in Scotland Image courtesy of Nevis Range Facebook page

Ski Touring

Using skins on your skis to enable you to travel uphill to access the backcountry and difficult to reach terrain.

Skydiving

A sport or recreational activity which involves jumping from an aircraft in flight and free-falling before using a parachute to land. There are a few different types of skydiving.

top 5 tips of how to maintain your skydiving gear Flickr image by Philip Leara

Sky Surfing

An extreme sport and a form of skydiving where the participant has a board (similar to a snowboard) attached to their feet. This allows surf style tricks and acrobatics to be performed while in free fall.

Sledding

Also known as Sledging, a participant sits on as sled (aka sledge) to slide down snowy/icy terrain.

Snorkelling

Swimming face down on top of water using a mask to see below and a snorkel to breath.

Snorkelling Image courtesy of Adventure Sports St Tropez

Snow Cross

A winter extreme sport where participants race each over an icy track on ice skates. It is fast and furious with the participants wearing similar clothing and padding to ice hockey players.

Snowboarding

Traveling over snowy and icy terrain using a snowboard. Feet are secured onto the snowboard using bindings. Unlike skiing, snowboarders slide while facing sideways.

Les Menuires snowboarding review freeride

Snowkiting

Combining skiing or snowboarding with kitesurfing to propel yourself across the snow using the power of the wind.

Snowmobiling

Traveling across snow or icy terrain using a snowmobile – a bit like a jetski.

Snowmobiling one of the best Ontario adventures on activity holidays in Canada Flickr CC image by Jordan Cameron

Splitboarding

The snowboarders version of ski touring, using a snowboard that can be split in half to create two skis to tour uphill before snowboarding back down.

Sphering

See zorbing (at the end of this list of the different types of extreme sport)

Surfing

Travels on a board in front of, or along the face of, a moving wave towards the shore.

mexico surfing holidays - CC Flickr image by Santi LLobet

Surfskiing

Travelling over water using a surf ski – a long and narrow boat with an open cockpit which often has a foot pedal controlled rudder.

SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding)

Using an oversized surfboard you stand up and use a paddle to propel yourself across the water. One of the fastest growing activities in this list of adventure sports. SUP can be performed on flat water, waves or in rapids.

Review of Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton with Lagoon Watersports

Telemark

A form of skiing where the heel is not attracted to the binding. Read this to find out what is telemark skiing.

Tobogganing

A toboggan is a traditional sled that is used for travelling over snowy and icy terrain. More than one person can usually sit on a toboggan. One of the most traditional activities on our list of adventure sports.

Trekking

Multi day hiking in the great outdoors. Often you carry all the equipment required to be self sufficient for the entire trek. Although some treks are supported meaning gear is carried or transported for you. Also see hiking and walking.

NZ trekking holidays Milford track one of the best treks in New Zealand flickr CC image by Iancochrane

Triathlon

An event that consists of three different sports, usually swimming, cycling and running. But there are events that incorporate other activities such as SUP, mountain biking and trail running.

Ultra-distance Running

Any footrace which is more than the usual Marathon distance of 42.2 kilometres (26.2 miles). This requires the greatest fitness of all the different types of extreme sport.

Via Ferrata

Translated as ‘Iron Way’ it used fixed ladders, bridges, wires etc to assist climbing. Participants are protected by clipping onto a cable along the route. Via Ferrata is great fun and challenging and should be included on any list of adventure sports!

types of extreme sport - via ferrata - Flickr CC image by Leukerbad Loèche-les-Bains

Wakeboarding

Either towed behind a motorised boat or by a cable system the rider uses a board, which is a little like a snowboard – but usually wider and shorter – to glide across water and do tricks.

Wakesurfing

Similar to wakeboarding but with a boat that creates a large wave and a surf style board. Once on the wave you can let go of the rope and keep surfing.

Different wakeboarding types Wikimedia image of wakesurfing by MirandaUrbina

Walking

Probably the least extreme activity on this list of adventure sports. It differs from hiking as a walk is usually only a few hours and can be done in trainers and without needing to navigate.

Water skiing

Simply skiing on water being towed behind a motorised boat or by a cable system.

White-water rafting

Using an inflatable raft to navigate a river often through white water rapids.

Adventures with kids 11 best family adventure holidays Rafting in Argentina flickr CC image by alq666

Wild Water Swimming

Simply swimming in the wild. For example, this could be in rivers, lakes, or the sea. One of the simplest activities in this list of adventure sports, but remember to swim safe.

Windsurfing

Using a board with a sail attached the participant uses wind power to reach high speeds and perform tricks.

Best windsurf spots in Egypt - Pixabay CC image

Wingsuit Flying

One of the most dangerous types of extreme sport! Jumping from a plane, helicopter or BASE wearing a wingsuit to fly through the air. To land they use a parachute.

Zorbing

A leisure activity where participants roll downhill in a large transparent ball. Also known as sphering and orbing.

List of adventure sports – final words

We hope you have enjoyed our comprehensive list of types of extreme sport. What do you think? Have we missed any out? Let us know in the comments!

 
 
     

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