Home > News

30 Young Adventure Leaders You Need To Know

Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

An ambitious project announced this year identified 30 young athletes, designers, brand founders, and ‘misfits’ who are challenging the status quo and ‘driving the industry forward.’


Called the ‘Outdoor 30 Under 30,’ the group was culled from more than 600 nominees. A judging panel comprising CEOs, founders, and chairpersons from the biggest brands in the outdoor industry whittled down an initial pool to pick a diverse list of 30 people, all age 29 or under.

Gear designers, adventurers, outdoor-athletes, government workers, and entrepreneurs make up the list.

The project is the brainchild of Andy Cochrane of Oru Kayak and Haley Robison, COO of Kammok. More than 25 additional brands are also sponsoring the awards, which will cumulate at a ceremony this summer during the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah.

1) Chris Burkard, Age 29 (Photographer)

Inspired by the cold, remote beaches of the world, Chris has spent the last 10 years chasing the perfect wave, scenic vista, and inspiring hikes on a global search through the Arctic and Northern Hemisphere to find the last quiet places in our world.

chris burkard

Why you should know him: Owner of his eponymous studio, Burkard believes it’s his blessing and responsibility to share his images and to inspire others to seek out wild places for themselves.

2) Angel Collinson, Age 25 (Big Mountain Skier)

Angel is a student of environmental law at the University of Utah, a part-time river raft guide at Glacier National Park, and a competitor in the Freeskiing World Tour.

angel collinson

Why you should know her: Collinson is on pace to become a force for environmental causes, meshing her skiing career and notoriety with a passion for stewardship.

3) Blair Braverman, Age 27 (Journalist, Dog Sled Racer)

Blair is a journalist and essayist whose work has been featured in various publications, including This American Life. She also started the professional dog-sledding team Mountain Dogs Racing.

blair braverman

Why you should know her: Braverman is spending the last years of her twenties training for the Iditarod, which she will undertake in 2019. Her upcoming book, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cubechronicles her time learning to race in Norway and working as a tour guide in Alaska.

4) Jon Bowen, Age 26 (Cartographer, National Geographic)

Jon’s work has been featured across the internet and in National Geographic’s topographical tome – “Atlas of the World.”

jon bowen

Why you should know him: Still four years shy of his 30th birthday, Bowen has been featured in three National Geographic atlases, a Pearson textbook, and in numerous interactive online media. Bowen’s work makes understanding the shape and makeup of our world and its inhabitants easier and more beautiful.

5) Claire Kestrel Neaton, Age 25 (Founder, Salmon Sisters)

Working with her sister, Neaton’s business aims to “create a direct connection between you and the independent fishermen” by selling only wild salmon and halibut caught from sustainably managed fisheries.

claire kestrel neaton

Why you should know her: Claire grew up on a remote homestead in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, commercial fishing with their family for wild Alaska salmon and halibut. For each product Salmon Sisters sells, a can of wild Alaska salmon is donated to the Food Bank of Alaska.

6) CJ Goulding, Age 26 (Lead Organizer, Natural Leaders Network)

CJ leads training and support for over 200 diverse millennials across the country who are active in creating change and connecting their communities to nature through the Natural Leaders Network.

cj goulding

Why you should know him: Gouldin’s work is a crucial piece of the future stewardship puzzle, he is striving to redefine “environmental education” and understand how urban communities connect to and have control over their environment.

7) Camrin Braun, Age 27 (Ph.D. Student Biological Oceanography at MIT/WHOI)

Camrin is a scientist, explorer, diver, mountaineer, and programmer motivated by a passion for understanding the natural world and how we interact with it.

camrin braun

Why you should know him: Braun specializes in tracking the movement of large fish, like sharks and tuna, to understand where they go and why, in hopes of improving our understanding of one of society’s most important food sources.

8) Anna Stork, Age 29 (Co-Founder LuminAID)

With a background in engineering and design, Anna launched a company that develops innovative portable solar products for emergency aid and outdoor use.

anna stork

Why you should know her: After the Haiti Earthquake, Stork and her partner invented an inflatable solar light that packs flat. LuminAID aims to make light an essential part of emergency aid supplies distributed after disasters.

9) Daniel Opalacz, Age 28 (Co-Founder Bedrock Sandals)

A geologist-turned-entrepreneur, Daniel lives below deck on his sailboat, growing the independently-owned adventure sandal company he started fresh out of college in 2011.

daniel opalacz

Why you should know him: Opalacz’s brand is based on a commitment to the minimalist outdoor lifestyle. All of his company’s sandals are made in the USA and backed with a lifetime warranty.

10) Austin Turner, Age 26 (Talent Manager/Partner RXR Sports)

Austin is a driving force in one of the industry’s most successful outdoor marketing companies, working closely with talent such as Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin, Scott Jurek, and Ashima Shiraishi.

austin turner

Why you should know him: Turner helped pioneer and define what talent representation looks like in the outdoor space, promoting and advising the biggest names in the adventure world.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive GearJunkie content direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive GearJunkie content direct to your inbox.