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.
This article was updated on 21 April 2021.
Climbing down a vertical face using a rope and harness.
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.
Climbing in high mountains such as in the Alps or Himalayas. Very similar to mountaineering but usually involving altitude, ice and snow.
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 stands for bicycle motocross. BMX bikes are used for off-road racing and stunt riding, but also to get around town.
A winter sport where a team ride a sleigh at high speeds down an icy banked course.
Like surfing but using a shorter board on which you lay rather than stand.
Like bodyboarding but without the board. The ‘surfer’ uses their own body to ride the wave.
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.
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.
A leisure activity or sport in a long narrow boat. Participants use a single bladed paddle.
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.
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.
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.
Diving from cliffs (often at a great height) into water below. Made very popular by the Red Bull Cliff Diving series.
An activity or sport that involves moving up or across vertical terrain such as cliffs.
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. Find out more about this great extreme sport in our ‘What is Coasteering?‘ article
Simply riding a bike. Although for many this is riding long distances in mountainous terrain.
Climbing – often to great heights – without the use of ropes over water.
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.
Is a traditional British sport taking cross country running off road and over difficult terrain.
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.
Climbing without safety ropes. Understandably one of the most challenging and dangerous all the types of extreme sport.
Diving, usually in deep water, without the use of breathing apparatus.
This type of adventure sport is very similar to parkour with a few subtle differences. Check out this article comparing parkour vs freerunning to find out more.
An air sport where the pilot, flies a un-motorised vehicle called a hang glider, which has a wing stretched over a rigid frame.
Using a helicopter to ski or snowboard unmarked terrain. A no-brainer when deciding what to include on our list of adventure sports!
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.
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.
Riding a horse can be competitive such as racing, dressage and equestrian. Or it can be more of a relaxing ride in the countryside.
Hydrofoiling is a subset of a variety board water sports using an underwater wing that elevates the board above the water surface reducing friction and providing more control. It has been used in a range of sports such as kite foiling, surf foiling, SUP foiling, wake foiling, windsurf foiling and is even used in sailing.
Climbing up frozen waterfalls and other ice formations using ice axes, crampons and safety equipment.
Scuba diving under ice.
A multi-event sport over extreme distances that requires strength and stamina. It is a competition that involves long distance running, cycling and swimming.
Driving a low bottomed, high speed, jet powered boat.
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.
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.
Being pulled along in a purpose built buggy by a kite.
Using an oversized skateboard, and a kite to travel across ground. Plus performing jumps and tricks.
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.
An oversized skateboard, usually used for downhill skateboarding on roads or for long distance skateboarding.
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).
A snow sport where participants use a single, wide ski. Bindings, boots and poles are used as in Alpine skiing.
Off-road motorcycle racing that can take place on circuits of mud, grass or gravel.
Riding mountain bikes off-road on natural single track or manmade paths, often over rough, terrain. There are many different types of mountain biking.
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.
Traditionally it is summiting mountains by hiking, scrambling or climbing. These days mountaineering usually has some technical element requiring rope work.
Snowboarding without the use of bindings, usually off-piste or backcountry in powder.
Navigating between a series of points using skills such as map reading and using a compass. Usually on foot. A popular activity in the Scouts and DofE.
Travelling to remote locations using land transport such as buses, trains, 4×4 etc. The journey and seeing many destinations is the principal activity. Find out more in this guide to the different types of overlanding.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A competitive sport that involves racing cars that are not road legal on special tracks. There are many motorsport disciplines.
Travelling down whitewater rapids while laying on a small craft.
Climbing up rock faces, often with specialist equipment and the use of ropes. The goal is to reach an endpoint or the summit.
A motor sport that takes place on private or public roads, using specially modified road legal cars.
Just like snowboarding but on sand.
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.
Swimming underwater using a self contained breathing apparatus known as a scuba.
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.
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.
Being towed on skis behind a horse. One of the more dangerous types of adventure sport.
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.
Traveling over snow covered terrain on skis. Feet are secured with the use of bindings and you face forwards.
Using skins on your skis to enable you to travel uphill to access the backcountry and difficult to reach terrain.
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.
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.
Also known as Sledging, a participant sits on as sled (aka sledge) to slide down snowy/icy terrain.
Swimming face down on top of water using a mask to see below and a snorkel to breath.
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.
Traveling over snowy and icy terrain using a snowboard. Feet are secured onto the snowboard using bindings. Unlike skiing, snowboarders slide while facing sideways.
Combining skiing or snowboarding with kitesurfing to propel yourself across the snow using the power of the wind.
Traveling across snow or icy terrain using a snowmobile – a bit like a jetski.
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.
See zorbing (at the end of this list of the different types of extreme sport).
Travels on a board in front of, or along the face of, a moving wave towards the shore.
Travelling over water using a surf ski – a long and narrow kayak with an open cockpit which often has a foot pedal controlled rudder.
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.
A form of skiing where the heel is not attracted to the binding. Read this to find out what is telemark skiing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Simply skiing on water being towed behind a motorised boat or by a cable system.
Using an inflatable raft to navigate a river often through white water rapids.
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.
Using a board with a sail attached the participant uses wind power to reach high speeds and perform tricks.
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.
Also known as wingsurfing, wing foiling, wing SUP and a few other names, winging is a very new activity that replaces a kite, paddle or sail with a wing to propel you across water. It combines elements of a variety of sports including kiteboarding, windsurfing, paddle boarding and hydrofoiling.
A leisure activity where participants roll downhill in a large transparent ball. Also known as sphering and orbing.
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!