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.  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 remains pleasurable for the majority of the experience.

Types of Type I Fun: Homemade margaritas, water slides, spring break, good sex, 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 our favorite type of fun and one that mountaineers, backcountry skiers, backpackers, climbers, and other types of adventurers chase with religious fervor.

Type II Fun isn’t served on a silver platter—and it’s not actually that fun. It’s 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 you’ll say, “Yeah, that wasn’t so bad. That was actually pretty fun.”

Examples of Type II Fun: Rip tides, backpacking in the rain, alpine starts, sober karaoke

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 you’ll remain certain that you never, ever, want to do anything like that ever again.

Examples of Type III fun: Any 8000 meter peak, jury duty, swimming the Atlantic, war

Further Nuancing The Fun Scale:

For the sake of nuance, it’s 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 it’s difficult to distinguish the amount of enjoyment had. Namely, it’s tough to discern whether, years later, you’ll 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 areas—and I love gray areas.

Type 1.5 Fun:

Fun that’s a bit more challenging than your everyday dictionary-defined Type 1 Fun, but doesn’t quite have the epic connotations of Type 2 Fun.

Examples of Type 1.5 Fun: Backcountry skiing, 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, we’ll 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: 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. It’s 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.