What Defines The Word “Dirtbag”?

Dirtbag Runners Crista Scott, Cat Bradley, Sean Garbutt and Tyler Clemens in Bryce Canyon, Utah. (Photo Credit: Molly Nugent)   With the start of Dirtbag…



Dirtbag Runners Crista Scott, Cat Bradley, Sean Garbutt and Tyler Clemens in Bryce Canyon, Utah. (Photo Credit: Molly Nugent)


With the start of Dirtbag Runners, our most often asked question is, “Does [insert random behavior or activity] make me a dirtbag runner?” Second to that would be, “Does [blank] make me not a dirtbag runner?”

We have gone back and forth with how we feel about defining what it means to be a dirtbag runner. We have given our basic description: “Dirtbag Runners is a community of trail and ultrarunners exploring the world and sharing their stories.” Which effectively avoids defining the actual term of “dirtbag”.

In a time when everyone is obsessed with definitions and knowing if they fall into the appropriate categories, we at Dirtbag Runners felt it was important to address this topic.

So first off– let us say this: There is no single definition for what it means to be a dirtbag.

The term ‘dirtbag’ itself can reference several approaches to life, in addition to a type of lifestyle.

According to the Dictionary, a “Dirtbag” is a: Very unkept or unpleasant person.

Urban Dictionary defines it as:

“A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Dirtbags can be distinguished from hippies by the fact that dirtbags have a specific reason for their living communaly and generally non-hygenically; dirtbags are seeking to spend all of their moments pursuing their lifestyle.”

Many agree that to be a “true” dirtbag, you must live out of your van / car / in a tent, not have a full-time job, and have next to no personal possessions. Others, like many of us on the Dirtbag Runners Team, believe that the term embodies a lifestyle approach. While many of us do live out of our cars and are constantly on the road, others have homes, full-time jobs and quick access to showers. Some might argue takes away our “dirtbag” card. We don’t believe the term is black or white.

When it comes down to it, if someone wants to sit back and judge another for how much of a dirtbag they are, we might suggest that they aren’t a dirtbag themselves and thus have no business making a statement about it in the first place. Many travelers, nomads, adventurers, explorers and “dirtbags” agree on a few important things: having less is more, money is better spent on experience rather than possessions, and life is all about the adventures you go on and relationships that you build. Since when is the term dirtbag something to be defensive of? It appears as if some believe the term must be upheld to some high honor, reserved only for those of the upmost extreme. Unfortunately, most people cannot maintain that level of extreme.

We did not create Dirtbag Runners to alienate individuals who are successful and have jobs they love. We do not look down on a person for having furniture, a car that they don’t live in, or for paying rent. We do, however, look down on those who choose to criticize and judge others for their attempt at living such a lifestyle when they can, even if it means they only get to “dirtbag” it once a month or so. We believe in community, we believe in the beauty of nature, and we believe that life is better spent on the trails and with those who share the same views.

Dirtbags are not limited by professions, lifestyles, or sports. There are dirtbag climbers, dirtbag surfers, probably even dirtbag golfers. Did you know that you can spend the night in your car at most golf courses? It’s fairly common for people who want to be the first on the course. You could even be a dirtbag without a sport in general. There are plenty of people who travel just for the pure joy of traveling. Simple as that.

Last month Vanessa and Shacky walked into a Vegas chapel and got married. The minister they had never met asked them about themselves. When they told him that they lived in a small RV and travelled, his eyes lit up and he started talking a mile a minute, asking questions and getting extremely excited. He was a dirtbag minister with a full-time job.

We have dirtbag friends with hot tubs, who we adore for obvious reasons. We have dirtbag friends with huge houses and many extra couches. We have dirtbag friend who live in vans, in trailers, out of their backpacks, and can’t afford to buy themselves lunch. We have dirtbag friends who can afford to buy lunch for everyone, just because they want to. The one important factor is that every single one of them would share anything they had in a heartbeat.

Some dirtbags are extremely social and love staying up late around a campfire sharing songs and stories with friends. Others prefer the solitude of the mountains, going to bed early and being up at the crack of dawn when the world is fresh and hangover-free. Dirtbags come in all shapes and sizes. We are a community.

A true dirtbag is someone who can be themselves, without worrying about fitting into a label. They don’t skip showers to be cool. They live where they want to live and act how they want to act. This makes some of them sweet, some of them silly, and most of them downright weird. If you suspect you’re a dirtbag, you probably are.

So next time you question whether X, Y, or Z qualifies you to be a Dirtbag Runner, sit back and ask yourself these questions:

Do I love adventure?

Do I love being outdoors?

Do I love the weekends I spend camping, running and exploring the world and meeting new people?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you embody the Dirtbag Runner (in our terms) ideology. Congraduations. Now stop worrying about the term itself and get out there on the trails where life really matters!


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