Illustration: Hiker encounters mountain lion
Some of our favorite survival tales have been brief but harrowing. (Illustration: Geraldine Sy/Good Illustration)

We’re Looking for Your Survival Stories

Introducing a new essay contest for Outside readers

Illustration: Hiker encounters mountain lion

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

At Outside, we know something about incredible survival stories. We’ve published epic tales from writers who were bitten by rattlesnakes and who competed on Naked and Afraid. We also know that anyone who spends time outdoors has their own favorite yarn about the trip when everything went terribly wrong but they lived to tell their friends about it. For a new online series, we’re looking to hear those stories from our readers. We’re interested in short stories that pack a punch. Some of our favorite survival tales have been brief but harrowing: an encounter with a mountain lion in the middle of a run, or being stranded at sea for ten days.

Of course, survival doesn’t always refer to literal matters of life and death. We also want to read about your parenting mishaps and relationship misadventures in the outdoors, or the times that nature helped you endure a difficult aspect of life. The theme is intentionally broad—the only rule is that your essay somehow connects survival with the outdoor world.

Here are a few other guidelines:

  • Send submissions to, with a potential headline for your essay in the subject line.
  • This round of submissions opens February 5, and the deadline is Friday, April 15.
  • Keep your initial story submission to 1,500 words or less. (Published essays will be edited, in collaboration with the writer, and may run longer or shorter than the original submission.)
  • If we publish your story, you’ll be paid a flat fee of $1,000.
  • We’d especially like to hear from readers who identify as part of an underrepresented group.
  • Please don’t submit essays that have previously been published elsewhere.
  • We will aim to respond to all submissions before announcing the winner, but our response time may vary depending on the volume of entries. There’s no need to follow up on your submission.
  • The complete contest rules can be found here.
Lead Illustration: Geraldine Sy/Good Illustration