The Levels of Fun: Type I, II, and III


What is Type I Fun?

Type I Fun is your typical, everyday fun, as defined by your local dictionary.  While were on the subject, this is how fun is most simply defined by Merriam Webster: What provides amusement or enjoyment.Sounds about right to me. Type I fun is mellow, enjoyable fun that will cause you to smile and (most likely) wont leave you paralyzed.

Types of Type I Fun: Beers at sunset, resort skiing, car camping, playing kickball

What is Type II Fun?

In between the simple enjoyment of Type I fun and the panic and fear of Type III fun is Type II Fun, perhaps my favorite type of fun and one that mountaineers, backcountry skiers, backpackers, climbers, and other types of adventurers chase with religious fervor.

Type II Fun isnt served on a silver platterand its not actually fun at all. Its challenging, difficult, and, in the moment, smiles are less likely to be on your lips than frowns of focus and involuntary expletives. Looking back, however, say at a photo of a sunset from a hard-earned summit, the hard-edged moments will fade, softened by retrospection, and youll say, Yeah, that wasnt so bad. That was actually pretty fun.

Examples of Type II Fun: Running an ultra marathon, backpacking in the rain,

What is Type III Fun?

On the darkest side of the Fun Scale is Type III fun, which is unequivocally not fun. Type III fun is antithetical to fun, but on the Fun Scale, we categorize it as fun all the same. Why? Perhaps because fear and misery are natural consequences when we, through the medium of outdoor adventure, pushed to and beyond our limits. In the moment, Type III fun is harrowing. Death may be knocking on your door; pangs of regret, prayers, and visions of loved ones may flash through your mind. And when you do look back at that moment, even years later, a shiver of contrition will shoot down your spine and youll remain certain that you never, ever, want to do anything like that ever again.

Examples of Type III fun: alpine climbs gone awry, biking across the desert during a heat wave, swimming across the Atlantic.

Further Nuancing The Fun Scale:

For the sake of nuance, its not uncommon for people to rank fun as Type 1.5 Fun or Type 2.5 Fun. This, because, in addition to human beings having an affinity for hierarchies, there are certain activities where its difficult to distinguish the amount of enjoyment had. Namely, its tough to discern whether, years later, youll actually want to do something like that again. As such, Type 1.5 and Type 2.5 Fun allow us to hover in the gray areasand I love gray areas.

Type 1.5 Fun:

Fun thats a bit more challenging than your everyday dictionary-defined Type 1 Fun, but doesnt quite have the epic connotations of Type 2 Fun.

Examples of Type 1.5 Fun: Backcountry skiing, backpacking over mountain passes, surfing monster waves

Type 2.5 Fun:

This is a tough one, as the line between Type II and Type III Fun can blur, especially as time goes on. For the sake of continuity, well say that following an activity deemed as Type 2.5 Fun, you are uncertain about whether you would do it again, as parts of it were harrowing, parts of it were miserable, but the glory of the pursuit remains, at least a tiny bit, tempting in retrospect.

Examples of Type 2.5 Fun: Instances of alpine mountaineering, swimming the English Channel

A Note on Scale Subjectivity:

Of course, the scale is subjective. You might disagree with these definitions, or you might disagree with how an athlete ranks their own activity. Its key to realize that much of this depends on your personal fitness and experience level. A professional endurance athlete might scoff at a sprint triathlon as Type I fun, but to the average Joe who hits the gym twice on a good week, just thinking about road biking for extended periods of time may near Type II Fun.