Adventure Has No Type: A Conversation with Mountainist Founder, Tana Hoffman

Did you know that 6 out of 10 women can’t think of a single outdoor female role model? While the market for women’s outdoor adventure is growing, there is still a long way to go when it comes to visibility, gear options, and community support. Tana Hoffman is at the forefront of making outdoor adventure sports more easily accessible to all women from beginners to enthusiasts. 

A life-long adventurer herself, Tana grew up in New Hampshire surfing, skiing, and getting outdoors. After college, she moved out West and experienced big mountains and big opportunity—"adventure with a capital A”—for the first time and would never look back.

“I loved the mountain lifestyle and the energy.”

She was having so much fun that she would constantly take her friends out so they too could experience these adventures.

“I found that I loved the mentorship aspect of getting women out to try something new. I loved helping people discover things about themselves: “I can’t do that!” Yes, you can! I was running out of friends to drag out with me but I wanted to do more of this. I thought, how can I bring this to more people?”

It was through these personal experiences and her work as a marketing director in the outdoor industry that the idea for Mountainist was born. Launched in February 2019, Mountainist is the first online platform to champion women in outdoor adventure sports. Its goal is to walk women through their entire outdoor adventure experience ensuring they have the support, information, and gear necessary for a successful outing.

"Adventure has no type. Mountainist isn’t about just getting women out there—it’s also about sharing different perspectives and including women from all across the spectrum of different mindsets, backgrounds, and shapes. There are so many stereotypes of what we should look like in the outdoors and we need to change those."

There is one woman in particular who Tana recalls helped her change her perspective on what getting outdoors means for different people. Jenny was a waitress in her late 40s who Tana worked with in high school. They quickly bonded over their love for surfing.

Jenny woke up early every single morning to hit the beach with her longboard before work. The best part? She only stayed on her belly. She never stood up because she wasn’t comfortable with that, yet it still brought an enormous smile to her face. For her, that was enough. She was a surfer all the same.

“I don’t want women to be concerned about getting out and doing as well as someone else. I just want to make sure they get out and have fun. Find the smallest next step you can take that will make you feel good and do that. What will make you smile? Do whatever it is that allows you to dip your toes in the water and move forward. And share those stories proudly. We need more stories like that.”

It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or have been adventuring for years. What is important is figuring out what works for you, what will keep you coming back for more, and what will make you happy.

“The outdoor market can feel super competitive. Women who haven’t done these activities before might have a skewed perspective that they have to prove themselves in the outdoors. It’s not about that. When you challenge your mind and body in the outdoors, you come back stronger and ready to take on the world.”

While Mountainist already has a strong base for supporting women in the outdoors through their online community, gear rentals, Mountainist TV, and guide/clinic listings, Tana is looking to do even more.

“When I started Mountainist, I did not expect people to be so vocally supportive on email and social channels. There were so many unprompted responses in support of the greater mission and goals of the company, and it justified that women in the outdoors is a bigger issue that deserves a conversation. Being able to engage in these conversations has broadened my perspective and made me realize what we can do as a company. The conversations have shown me how we can create programs that support women from all backgrounds and ability levels getting outside.”

As Tana’s intentions and Mountainist itself grows there will be even more opportunity for women to find the support, gear, and knowledge they need to head out on their next great adventure, be it a first descent or belly surfing.

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