Adventure Dad: Balancing Fatherhood, Outdoors Pursuits

Ken Hoeve is a professional paddler, TV personality, snowboarder, brand ambassador and an all-around hard-charging outdoor enthusiast. He is also the father of two small kids.

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The challenge of tackling fatherhood while maintaining an adventurous lifestyle is not lost on Hoeve, 44. He has an enviable life in the Colorado Rockies — by day he is a TV weatherman, business investor, and an athlete who works with several brands. Hoeve shared a few rules and “best practices” for balancing fatherhood, family, and the outdoors pursuits he loves.

For Expecting Dads: Get In Shape, Stay In Shape.

Weeks of sleep-deprived nights, changing diapers, and carrying little ones around can wear anyone down. Before the baby comes, get yourself together, eating healthy, getting sleep, and maintaining fitness to make yourself a better dad and a better outdoors athlete, too.

Adventure Doesn’t End; It Takes A New Shape.

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The perception that outdoor pursuits end when kids arrive is all too prevalent, Hoeve said. He is a case study in that not happening; just look at his Instagram feed to see him ski, paddle, or SUP in remote alpine lakes. However, Hoeve, like many dads, shifted priorities once his kids were born. He manages his time differently, for one — an activity that may have taken up an entire Saturday is now more often compressed into a session early in the morning or at lunch.

Keep Doing What’s Important To You.

“Just because you have less time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any time,” he said. Despite a shift in priorities, Hoeve believes dads should still get away on occasion. A weekend trip with friends or a solitary bike ride lets a dad recharge. Even a few solo runs during a family ski day can work as a quick escape. Balance home life with the time you need outdoors, pushing yourself, sweating, and rebooting a bit before jumping back into the happy (but often chaotic!) atmosphere with the kids.

Show The Kids Your Love Of The Outdoors.

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Bringing kids on trips and adventures exposes them to your passions. Hoeve creates mini adventures that ease his kids into bigger challenges and deeper wilderness.

“Instead of paddling class IV whitewater, I stick back with the kids on easier water,” he said, “or maybe it means staying in-bounds while skiing instead of tackling backcountry powder.”

Best Activities For Kids? The Easy Ones.

Simplify your outdoor pursuits and, if needed, cut costs where you can. Kids can have as much fun on a winter hike as a day on the slopes, and the price tag is much less. Rock climbing is relatively cheap; for the cost of a gym membership, a harness, and a pair of shoes, your kid can enjoy hours of fun. A new mountain bike, or a full ski setup and a season pass, on the other hand, can be a big investment.

Yes, introduce your kids to the ski resorts and adventurous destinations you love. But remember their context is very different from yours. Most everything is new to them, and the top priority is not often the epic-ness of a place but more about spending time outdoors happy with their siblings and mom and dad.

Start Gathering Gear Early.

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Have a buddy who’s getting rid of a kids’ bike? Snatch it up. Those size-2 rock climbing shoes? Your kid will probably fit in them at some point. Buying new gear for your kids can get extremely expensive, especially when they’re outgrowing it every year. Hoeve purchases new and used gear for his kids and then lets it pass down the chain as his kids grow.

Thrive Off Their Joy.

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Hoeve says the outdoors and the idea of what adventure is takes a new shape when you start bringing your kids. He said, “I get just as much joy watching my kids accomplish something as if I were out there doing it myself.”

-Ken Hoeve is a YETI Ambassador. This article is sponsored by YETI Coolers.

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Eric is a contributing writer based in Bozeman, MT. An avid climber, mountain biker, backpacker, and snowboarder, he earned his degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota – Duluth. When not living the GearJunkie life, he can be found exploring the Montana backcountry.

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