Extreme sports are all about the thrill. For some people, it’s for pure fun, and for others, it’s about testing the limits of what is humanly possible
To whatever degree, extreme sports all carry a certain wow factor, giving them a unique sense of appeal. Here is our complete list of extreme sports, listed from the “intense” to outright “INSANE”!
Take a giant inflatable ball, jump inside the middle, and roll down a hill. Some people have gotten very creative with zorbing, turning it into a giant game of bowling or reenacting the runaway boulder scene from Indiana Jones, better run fast!
2. SCUBA DIVING
Some might not consider scuba diving to be an extreme sport. But think about it, you’re 100+ feet underwater and the only thing keeping you alive is that tank of oxygen strapped to your back. Not to mention all of the creatures lurking below… pretty intense.
Sure, it’s not the most extreme sport you can think of. But, some people get very technical with their power stilts; flips, kicks, tricks, and all kinds of acrobatics.
So, here’s how it works, take a giant airbag, set it in the middle of a lake, put a person on one end, and have someone else jump onto the other end. The higher/heavier the jumper, the bigger the liftoff!
5. MOUNTAIN BOARDING
Also known as dirt boarding and offroad boarding, mountain boards take on all types of terrain, and are sometimes used to do tricks or even downhill races. Kind of a cross between skateboarding and snowboarding.
6. WAKEBOARDING / WATER SKIING
Wakeboarding and water skiing are very popular water sports, typically done at the recreational level. But, some take these sports to a whole new level, throwing fancy maneuvers and jumping the boat’s wake to do tricks in the air.
Also known as kitesurfing and kiteboarding. All you need is wind, the board, and a big kite to harness into. On the water, on the sand, or on snow… it’s in a rush. Just hope a giant gust of wind doesn’t take you away.
Many probably think parasailing is just a relaxing tourist activity at the beach. But, when you’re being pulled by a piece of rope hundreds of feet above the water, the adrenaline rush definitely kicks in.
Just like water-skiing, but without the skis. Barefooters must travel at speeds up to 35-40mph to stay above the water. As if that isn’t enough, barefooting competitions include tricks, slaloms, and even jumps.
Pogo sticks on steroids! Extreme pogo involves all types of flips, tricks, and jumps up to 9 feet in the air. Bet you thought pogo sticks were just for kids.
Also known as freerunning, parkour is the art of moving over obstacles as quickly and efficiently as possible. No equipment is needed; parkour can be practiced practically anywhere. The bigger the obstacle, the greater the risk.
There are varying degrees of skateboarding, but here’s the bottom line. Every skateboarder works to improve their skills, adding more difficult tricks every time. Crashing onto the pavement is to be expected, and getting back up to try it again is part of the process.
The bigger the wave, the better the ride. Some surfers will ride waves up to 50 feet in height! Staying on the surfboard is critical because a bad wipeout can be ugly.
14. WHITE WATER RAFTING
Using an inflatable raft or kayak to navigate choppy “whitewater” that has an unstable, turbulent current. Rafters risk hitting sharp rocks, unexpected steep waterfalls, and being thrown from the raft. Hang on tight!
15. ABSEILING (rappelling)
Descending down a cliffside on a rope. Sounds easy right? People must trust their safety and lives to the rappelling equipment and their skills. One mishap can make for a very bad situation.
16. HANG GLIDING
Imagine a giant paper (actually fabric) airplane. Suspend yourself from the frame and run off a cliff or steep hillside, that’s hang gliding. What could go wrong?
The same concept as hang gliding, but paragliding uses a certain type of parachute, and in some cases a propeller. Paragliders can reach great heights and soar for several miles at a time. Due to gusts and shifting wind patterns, paragliding is rather risky.
18. HALF-PIPE / VERT RAMP
Whether on a skateboard, bike, snowboard, or skis, people turn to half-pipes and launch ramps to defy gravity and pull off some gnarly tricks. And of course, there is a certain level of error (and injury) that comes with this sport.
There’s the traditional BMX racing and then there’s BMX freestyle, where riders attempt to gain massive air and pull off next to impossible tricks. Landing a big trick on a BMX bike brings a big rush, but crashing brings a big OUCH!
20. ICE CROSS DOWNHILL
A lovely combination of speed skating and hockey, where four people wearing pads and hockey skates race down a track made of ice. Steep hills, tight turns, jumps, and rollers make for a very exciting scene. Oh, and there’s really only one rule, first, one to the bottom wins.
Teams of two or four sled down a twisted, banked, iced track at speeds up to 90 mph. The only thing protecting you in the event of a crash is your helmet and the unforgiving bobsleigh, which is an open cockpit.
22. STREET LUGE
Riding a custom-made board down a road at speeds up to 60 mph, using only your shifted weight to steer, and relying solely on your feet to stop. Street luge brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “roadkill”.
23. DOWNHILL SKATEBOARDING
Downhill skateboarders use hybrid longboards with longer decks, softer wheels, and wider trucks, enabling them to reach ridiculously high speeds. When there is a crash, the carnage isn’t pretty.
24. DOWNHILL MOUNTAIN BIKING
The name suggests it all. Get down the hill as fast you can on a mountain bike. Take special notice to protrude trees, roots, and rocks along the way.
25. ALPINE SKIING & SNOWBOARDING
There seems to be a correlation between speed and adrenaline rush. Take a pair of waxed-up skis or snowboards and rip down a steep, snow-covered mountainside at speeds that approach 100 mph. Piece of cake; “It’s all downhill from here”.
26. WATERFALL KAYAKING
As if hitting raging rapids isn’t enough, some kayakers choose to push the limits of what a plastic boat (and human) can endure. Press your luck and dive headfirst off a waterfall. Good Luck!
27. ICE CLIMBING
Scaling up massive ice formations either on frozen waterfalls or snow-covered mountains. Ice climbing open’s itself up to all kinds of risks, broken chunks of ice, avalanches, even falling to a cold death.
28. FREESTYLE SKIING & SNOWBOARDING
A type of snowboarding or skiing that includes tricks, jumps and flips on any type of terrain including boxes, rails, and even trees. Objective: “Go big or go home”, and perform a trick that’s never been done before.
29. FREERIDE MOUNTAIN BIKING
With freeriding, mountain bikers traverse down a hill or cliffside that is essentially deemed not navigable. There are no set courses or rules; just make it to the bottom with the flashiest over-the-top riding skills one can display. Full-face helmets definitely needed for this sport.
Highlining is a form of slacklining (basically tightrope walking on a strap) at elevated heights. Enthusiasts set up at the tops of trees, between buildings, even across ravines and canyons. In the event of a slip-up, the only thing keeping you from plummeting is a simple harness and rope attached to the line.
31. CLIFF DIVING
We’re not talking about jumping from that big rock at your local swimming spot. We’re talking about big ass cliffs that are 10, 15, 20 meters tall. At those heights hitting the water feels like breaking through concrete; not much room for error here. By the way, the divers don’t wear any protective clothing, just a basic swimsuit.
32. BIG MOUNTAIN SKIING / SNOWBOARDING
Here’s the gist. Make it to the top of a treacherous, ungroomed, snow-covered mountain (often via helicopter) and ride it to the bottom without tumbling into a nasty spill, or a raging avalanche, or any other type of life-threatening obstacle. Any takers?
33. FREE CLIMBING
What does this mean? It means you climb a rock formation without any other type of assistance or support besides your climbing harness. If you slip/fall, the only thing keeping you from tumbling down to the bottom is your safety rope and the clips anchored into the rock; better hope they’re secured!
34. LUGE / SKELETON
Who wouldn’t want to go 80+ mph head or feet first down a twisty, narrow, icy track on a small steel sled? Don’t worry, if you crash you have the rock-solid ice banks and steel support beams to slow you down.
Probably one of the oldest of all extreme sports, skydiving originated over 200 years ago. The sport has since evolved into jumping from aircraft and doing a variety of mid-air tricks before deploying the parachute. Although it is a widely practiced sport, it still carries a considerable amount of risk and produces an adrenaline rush that is described as addictive.
36. CANYON SWINGING
Here’s a different type of trust fall. Take a long piece of rope, attach one end to your harness and the other end to the edge of a cliff or bridge, then JUMP! You’ll enjoy a stomach-turning free fall, followed by a giant pendulum ride that swings you back and forth for several minutes.
37. BUNGEE JUMPING
Jumping from a high structure and entrusting a large elastic rope around your ankles to break your fall is quite counterintuitive. But, if you can talk yourself into taking the plunge, you’ll have a near out-of-body experience to brag about.
38. BASE JUMPING
Jumping from a Building, Antenna, Span, or Earth (BASE) and free falling at over 100 mph is a thrill that is difficult to match. Unpredictable wind gusts, proximity to other buildings, and the short period of time to deploy the parachute are some reasons why BASE jumping is a favorite to many adrenaline junkies. Not to mention it’s illegal.
39. RUNNING OF THE BULLS
Mess with the bull and you get the horns, for real! For most people Running of the Bulls is a “fun”, nerve-racking experience that will leave a bank of memories for endless conversation. For an unfortunate few, it means a trip to the hospital, or perhaps worse.
40. WINGSUIT FLYING
If you have a friend that has an obsession with flying and an addiction to adrenaline, buy them a wingsuit! These futuristic suits allow BASE jumpers and parachuters to more effectively steer their direction of travel and achieve maximum hang time in the air. Some people even use their wingsuits to “fly” along cliffs and hillsides, giving them a greater sense of speed and flight.
41. SOLO CLIMBING
Anyone that does this is absolutely insane. But, a very select group of people practice the sport of solo climbing without any safety rope or form of protection, just a good pair of climbing shoes and a favorite chalk bag. In order to be a successful solo climber, you must have a “grip of death” and be able to “hold on for dear life”, literally.