45 Manly Hobbies

by Brett & Kate McKay on January 6, 2010 · 233 comments

in Hobbies, Travel & Leisure

Back in the day, leisure time was not thought of as a chance to “veg out,” but as opportunity to pursue one’s passions and interests, an outlet for the sides of a man that were not stimulated in one’s career. Unfortunately, we now often spend our leisure time camped out in front of the TV or computer. We say that modern life has become too stressful, that when we have free time, laying on the couch is all we can manage.

The truth is that spending our leisure time in satisfying pursuits, “fun work,” will refresh us far more than a non-stop marathon of playing Call of Duty. Hobbies can bring you joy, increase your eye for detail, keep your mind sharp, expand your creativity, and help you meet friends and learn valuable skills. They add interest to your life and help you become a more well-rounded man. If you’ve been feeling depressed, restless, or apathetic, the problem may be the lack of having something in your life you feel passionate about, something that brings you needed fulfillment.

We’ve gotten several requests to put together a list of manly hobbies, and we decided that the start of the new year would be a good time to publish such a list. Many of you are thinking about what you’d like to accomplish this year. How about putting “start a new hobby” on your resolution list? Here are 45 hobby ideas; hopefully one will stick out and grab you. But of course there are many more out there as well.

Almost every hobby listed has a corresponding Group in the Art of Manliness Community. So if you have questions about how to get started in the hobby or if you’re already involved and what to talk shop with other enthusiasts, be sure to join in the conversations going on there.

Note: When we talk about “manly” hobbies, we’re defining manly in terms of activities with a manly history or traditions, activities that help you gain manly qualities or just make you feel manly, and activities that are generally enjoyed more often by men than women. If you’re favorite hobby isn’t on the list, don’t get your knickers in a knot. Rest assured, any hobby that you’re passionate about is manly.


Men have been playing chess for thousands of years in order to fine tune their concentration, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, and problem solving skills. AoM favorite Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay back in the 18th century entitled The Morals of Chess. In it Franklin argued that playing chess created “valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, [that] are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready for all occasions. For Life is a kind of Chess…” What better way to pass the time with a friend than to play a game that makes you a better man. If you don’t have anyone to play with, check out chess.com where you can play online. And be sure to join the AoM Community Chess Group.

Ham Radio

Looking to be a part of a tight knit community with a focus on radio and communication? Look no further than ham radio. While the internet has taken radio’s place as the dominant form of communication, a vibrant community of amateur radio enthusiasts still exists. Radio hobbyists enjoy communicating directly with people from all over the world while expanding their knowledge of radio theory. In addition, most ham radio operators provide a public service to their communities by acting as relays in the event of emergencies or natural disasters. Radio operation is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, so you’ll have to be licensed to use a radio. Licensing isn’t difficult at all. You just have to take a multiple choice test that covers basic regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory. And of course you’ll need the equipment. Buying new will set you back a pretty penny, but you can find good deals on used radio equipment on eBay. For more info about getting started with ham radio check out the National Association of Amateur Radio and stop by the AoM Community Group-The Manly Art of Amateur (Ham) Radio.


Men today just don’t read, but there couldn’t be a manlier hobby.  Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious reader and so were most of the great men of history. Reading allows you to connect with the great thinkers and writers of history and exposes you to new ideas, consequently making you a more intelligent and well-rounded man. If you have access to a library card, reading can actually be a completely free hobby. If you need some ideas on what to read, look no further than our awesome reading lists. And you can get even more suggestions on good books and also talk about the books you love in the AoM Community Book Group.

Playing the Guitar

Instead of spending your time playing fake guitar on Guitar Hero, learn how to play the real thing. It’s a skill that will provide you and those around you with years of enjoyment. Oh, and chicks like a guy that can play guitar. Personally, I’ve used my guitar skills to get myself out of the doghouse with Kate by serenading her. And later in life you can gather the family around for some awesome sing alongs. Learning to play any instrument is manly, of course, but guitars have the advantage of being relatively cheap and having an easier learning curve for beginners. There are tons of resources online that provide free guitar lessons. Be sure to stop by the aptly-named AoM Community Group: Guitar=Manly.

Ballroom Dancing

Your grandpa knew how to dance, so why not  harness your inner Fred Astaire by taking up ballroom dancing, too? Ballroom dancing can help increase your self-confidence, poise, and posture. It’s also a fun way to get some cardiovascular exercise in. And of course, ladies dig a gent who knows how to dance. Most cities have ballroom dancing studios. Just Google to find the ones near you and then go talk to the instructors to get a feel for their style and check on their credentials. Private classes go for around $50 a pop. If you’re married or have a girlfriend, ballroom dancing is a great date night activity. If you’re a bachelor, ballroom dancing is a great way to meet new women. Join other men with dancing feet in the AoM Ballroom Dancing Community Group.


I’ve always admired men who could take pieces of plain ol’ wood and shape them into something useful and beautiful. They’re the men who make their own Christmas presents instead of buying them and can proudly point to furniture in their house and say, “I made that.” You can be that man by taking up the wonderful hobby of woodworking. In addition to giving you a useful skill, many woodworking hobbyists report lower stress levels and increased patience. When you’re taking a chisel to a piece of wood, it’s easy to enter into a zen-like state. Many technical schools offer woodshop classes. Woodcraft stores also offer classes on woodworking basics for about $50 each. Interested? Be sure to join the AoM Woodworking Community Group.


Perhaps one of the most powerful manly images in America is that of the yeoman farmer- he’s the self-reliant man who cultivates his own land to provide for his and his family’s needs. You don’t need a homesteading plot to start getting in touch with the land; a small square in your backyard will suffice. If you have a job that keeps you cooped up in an office all day with artificial light and stale recycled air, gardening is a great hobby to pursue in order to get some exercise, sunlight, and fresh air. As you watch your garden grow from seeds to plants, you’ll find yourself becoming more in tune with the seasons. When you harvest your small crop, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that beats any high score on a video game. And when you make your first meal with vegetables grown in your very own garden, you’ll feel a surge of manly pride. If you’re looking to get started with gardening, check out this informative and well written article by J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly. And be sure to stop by the AoM Community Group: A Man’s Garden.

Classic Car Restoration

In days gone by, men would stay in their garages for hours at a time tinkering with their cars. As cars have become more sophisticated and reliant on computers, home mechanical work is going the way of the dodo bird. However, if you have an itch to become a grease monkey, you can always take up classic car restoration as a hobby. With classic car restoration you’ll learn a bit of engineering, improve your problem solving skills, and experience the sweet feeling of success when the engine you rebuilt purrs like a kitten. Car restoration is an expensive hobby to get into. Not only do you have to buy the car to restore, but you’ll need the tools, space, and custom parts to finish the job. However, the time and money can pay off as fully restored classic cars sell for a pretty penny (even though you probably won’t be willing to part with your baby). For more information about classic car restoration check out Second Chance Garage.


Metalworking has all the benefits of woodworking, except instead of the sweet smell of sawdust, you surround yourself with the delightfully noxious smell of burning metal. My brother-in-law picked up metalworking in high school, and it’s amazing the stuff he can make: cast iron headboards for that room your wife wants to decorate shabby chic, hanging pot plant holders, and garden archways are just a few of the things he can whip up. Your local vo-tech should offer classes on metalworking. Metalworking.com is a great place to find more info. They have a list of local clubs dedicated to metalworking.


If hunting isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the pleasure of shooting a gun by taking up a shooting sport and becoming an expert marksman. Marksmanship requires pure concentration and a steady hand. Shooting clubs exist all over the country that emphasize different gun sports. Take your pick among clay pigeon shooting, hand gun and rifle shooting, and even Frontier and Cowboy shooting. Shooting can get expensive. Guns are expensive and the cost of ammo has gone up dramatically due to increased demand. You’ll also need to find a place to fire your weapon safely, so if you don’t have property to do it on, you’ll have to rent some time at a gun range.

If you’re not sure about forking over the dough right away on a real gun, consider getting started with marksmanship with air guns. The basic principles and skills used with real guns are the same with air guns, except you can fire an air gun in your suburban backyard and a round of 100 air gun pellets cost just a dollar or two compared to the $10- $15 you have to drop for real ammo. Check out this informative article on using air guns as an alternative to getting involved with shooting sports (the article addresses the recoil factor).


Collecting things is something a lot of men love and most women just don’t get. Females are multi-taskers, while the male brain likes to single-mindedly zero in on something. We tend to get obsessed with things. Take this tendency and couple it with man’s primordial desire for the hunt, and there you have a man’s love for collecting. A man can spend a lifetime looking for that final item to complete his collection. It becomes his obsession. His White Whale if you will. Of course, completing a collection is usually anti-climatic. In collecting, the thrill is in the chase. Pick your poison. Duck stamps, baseball cards, antique typewriters, whatever. Just don’t get too carried away with it.


Modern man is restless and unhappy because he’s lost touch with the great outdoors. Every man should seek to regularly connect with nature for the sake of both his physical and mental well-being. He needs to break away now and again and sleep out under the stars. Leave your cubicle behind and spend a few days breathing fresh air and sitting around a campfire. In this recession, camping is one of the most economical ways to “get away from it all.” It’s a great way to hone your outdoorsman skills, reconnect with your buddies, and get some alone time with your significant other. We’ve done some articles on camping tips and backpacking tips, and you can also join the Camping Group in the Community.

Ship in a Bottle

It’s the classic old man hobby: putting intricate model ships in a glass bottle. Amaze kids with your ship in a bottle displays! They’ll spend the rest of their childhood trying to figure out exactly how you did it. Placing a ship in a bottle (or impossible bottle) is a task that takes dedicated focus, patience, and a steady hand. You usually build the model ship on the outside of the bottle with the mast down. After you insert the ship into the bottle, you raise the mast with a pair of long forceps. In addition to placing ships into bottles, you can create impossible bottles with other objects like a deck of cards or tennis balls. Find out more about impossible bottles here.


For millennia, a man’s role in his family was to provide. For most of human history this was done through tracking down and killing wild animals. The hunt was a way that many cultures and tribes initiated boys into manhood and provided men with an opportunity to bond and connect in a completely male setting. Fast forward to today. The way most men get their meat is wrapped in a piece of paper that says “Big Mac” or packaged in plastic at the grocery store.  And usually the meat is injected with hormones and antibiotics. There’s a huge disconnect between man, his food, and nature.

If you’d like to reconnect with the “Circle of Life,” it’s high time you go on a hunt. The benefits of hunting are innumerable, but here’s just a few. First, it gives you a chance to give you and your family a source of quality lean meat free from the antibiotics, hormones (and even ammonia!) that lurk in most factory farmed meat. Second, it gives you a chance to get back in touch with nature. Third, you’ll be supporting wildlife conservation as your dollars spent on hunting licenses and equipment goes to fund state wildlife agencies. And fourth, even if you don’t kill anything, hunting provides an opportunity for male bonding and friendships which is an important part of your overall happiness.


Maybe the idea of killing a deer or bear isn’t your thing. You can still enjoy the benefits of providing your own food and getting outside with fishing. Fishing is an iconic man hobby. It’s a great way for friends to bond (See Grumpy Old Men) and father and sons to spend time with each other (See Andy Griffith). It doesn’t cost too much to get started with fishing. A decent pole and reel will set you back about fifty bones and lures and bait are just a few dollars. Every state in the U.S. requires fishers to get a fishing license before they drop their line into the water. Check your state’s game and fish department for costs of licenses and information on the best fishing spots.


What if you want to start working with wood, but don’t have the money to get into real woodworking quite yet? Try whittling. All you need is a knife, a piece of soft wood, a rocking chair, a corn cob pipe, and most importantly, plenty of time. Whittling is one of those activities that can really help you relax and settle your mind after a hard day’s work. Stop by the library and pick up a book on whittling. You’ll find plenty of ideas and plans to help get you started.


Never grew out of your love for the game of hide and seek? Always wanted to go on a treasure hunt? Then the hobby of geocaching may be for you. People around the world hide objects or containers in all sorts of places and post the coordinates for the location online. People then go out with their GPS devices, seeking these well-hidden “treasures.” It’s a great way to get out of the house and explore parts of your town and area that you’ve never been to. For more info on geocaching and to find a list of geocaches in your area, go to geocaching.com.


Every man, whether nerd or meathead, should have some sort of physical activity in his life. The dichotomy between brains and brawn has always been a false one. Physical activity boosts your testosterone level (which men today really need since our T levels have been slowly dropping), keeps you healthy and in shape, staves off depression, and soothes your stress. Sports where a man’s competitive spirit can find outlet are particularly beneficial to one’s manliness. Tape part in pick-up games of football, basketball or soccer in your hometown, or form your own. I started playing weekly games of ultimate frisbee this year and absolutely love it. But solo activities-weight-lifting, running, bouldering-also have a lot of merit and allow you to space to think and get right with yourself. It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as it gets the blood pumping and heart racing.

Model Building

Model building-building replicas of cars, planes, and ships-might have been something you enjoyed as a boy. But there’s no reason not to take up the hobby as a grown man. Model building helps you hone your eye for detail and will inspire you to learn more about the history of the things that you’re working on. Plus, you’ll end up with something cool to put in your office or man cave. Community Member Paul wrote up a great post about scale airplane modeling that is chock full of great tips and information.


The smell of leather always brings out the frontiersman in a man; the part of him who loved the stories of Davy Crockett as a boy. Leatherworking is a great way to get in touch with your inner-cowboy and learn an uber-manly craft. A skilled leatherworker can make a variety of manly goods- wallets, leather pouches, belts, gun holsters, and saddles to name a few. The downside? This can be a pretty expensive hobby. You’ll need all sorts of special tools to really make a go of it. To get started, try buying a starter kit from the Tandy Leather Factory. They include everything you need to make small stuff like a wallet and key fob. That way you can gauge your interest before plunking down big time cash to get into bigger projects. Be sure to read this thread in the Community for more info and join the Leatherworkers Group.


Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, Ralph Kramden, and the Dude. What do these iconic TV and movie men have in common? They bowled. During the 1950s, men flocked to bowling alleys to join league teams. It was a way for men to spend some time with other men, drink some beer, and smoke a cigar. The bowling alley became a refuge of masculinity in homes that were feminized by the constant presence of the stay-at-home mom. What’s great about bowling is that it’s a hobby you can share with your buds. Plus, it gives you an excuse to wear a kick ass, manly bowling shirt. So call up your buddies and put a team together.


While guns almost completely supplanted the bow and arrow in both hunting and self-protection, sometimes going back to the old ways can bring great satisfaction. A gun is to a sledge hammer as a bow and arrow is to a paintbrush. Archery allows you to connect with one of the most primitive of weapons; it works entirely on manpower. It’s the kind of quiet, repetitive, focused activity that can truly settle your mind. While the bow and arrow is rarely used for hunting anymore (although that’s certainly an option), great satisfaction can be found in target shooting, in training your skills to the point where you can hit an apple off someone’s head (metaphorically speaking, of course). Simple, beginner bows can be had for relatively cheap, so it’s a hobby you can start trying right away in your backyard (makes sure it’s a safe area!) There are also archery parks like this one, where 3-d targets that look like animals are scattered in the woods. Cool.
There’s another page of more hobbies! Click on Page 2 to see more!

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{ 229 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael January 6, 2010 at 5:01 am

Another great article! Love the photo under “Archery”: drinks + weapons = awesomeness (or court)! You forgot to mention ex-NFL player “Rosey” Greer, the #1 male proponent of needlepoint. And unfortunately, having grown up in Canada, when I think of magic I think of Doug Henning, which is about the un-manliest image possible.

And when I saw “Pipe Smoking Connoisseur” hit the bottom of my screen I half-hoped the accompanying photo would be J. R. “Bob” Dobbs. It wasn’t. I owe myself $5.

2 Kris January 6, 2010 at 5:56 am

I love, LOVE that you included knitting. I’m the (female) leader of the local knitting guild in Sydney, Australia, and as you might guess the female-to-male ratio is high. We encourage men to knit though! Women swoon for a man who can make stuff. A male Naval sailor once came to our knitting group, and when he said he knitted all his own socks the whole room sighed. Seriously, men, you’ll be most welcome in your town’s knitting circles. And you’d be surprised at the number of young women who have taken it up in recent years too…

3 Adam January 6, 2010 at 6:52 am

There is a community of homebrewers here at AOM:


Come by and get started!

4 Hoot Harrington January 6, 2010 at 7:12 am

Wow, such a complete list. I couldn’t agree more.

5 Andrew January 6, 2010 at 7:16 am

I didn’t see any mention of a musical hobby? I just started playing my trumpet again after 8 years and have been very much enjoying making something similar to music.

6 Kevin January 6, 2010 at 7:37 am

I smiled to see Ham Radio as #2 on the list. My very manly father was a ham radio operator and volunteered for the civil service during emergencies. It was his version of the World Wide Web, as he would show me the QSL cards he received from contacts all around the globe. As a boy, I was very impressed, as I should have been.

I am new to this site, but now have it in my RSS feed. I can’t tell you how much I concur with your thoughts and ideas. Thanks.

7 Ted January 6, 2010 at 7:38 am

I do hobby rocketry. This includes model rockets (Estes, etc.) as well as the high power rockets where the altitudes can be measured in miles. A bonus is that I am mentoring two teams of high school students this year for the Team America Rocketry Challenge. The world’s biggest rocket contest is now in its eighth year and top teams win scholarship money and science-oriented prizes. The contest proved so popular that it’s now spread to the UK and this year France will be holding their first.

8 Mike at The Big Stick January 6, 2010 at 7:58 am

I’ve done at least 2/3 of this list. Does that mean I am super-mannly? I think the moral of this post is that hobbies are a pretty damn good way to spend your free time. I can’t imagine not having mine.

9 Inkster January 6, 2010 at 8:16 am

I too have done most of the things on the list with a few exceptions. This has given me a few ideas about things to add. My friends always question how I “have time to do all that stuff”! To which I always reply, “when you cut out television and video games you’d be suprised how much time you have on your hands”! On the rare occasions when I do watch television I’m usually watching something hobby related (food network, home and garden, occasionally some baseball)

10 John January 6, 2010 at 8:21 am

Fishing is listed, and living up here in the deep freeze of the northeast, you could go ice fishing, but the ice isnt thick enough just yet. So, when I was a boy, I used to pass the time by fly tying. They have starter kits, and lots of tutorials on line, plus some shops offer classes.

11 criolle January 6, 2010 at 8:27 am

I catch a lot of grief about my hobby … I make candles. Not MANLY?
For me it’s crafting just like whittling or knitting or woodworking or model building. An added bonus is that I have lots of gifts to give away and when the lights go out … well.
It takes my mind completely off of the stresses of the day!

12 Craig January 6, 2010 at 8:28 am

Happy to see the Geocaching made the list. Since it has only been around for 10 years, there is no vintage photo to display, but I’m happy that it made the list. It’s a great activity. I encourage all to check it out.

13 Brent January 6, 2010 at 8:45 am

Great Article. I already do several of these hobbies and have done others in the past. What a great way to start the new year. I think I will re-start some of the good ones like marksmanship and of course Chess this year. Thanks again for another great article!

14 Bob January 6, 2010 at 8:51 am

I think each of these has the possibility to lead to other related hobbies, after I started flyfishing I spent my off season tying flies. When my brother in-law first introduced me to archery I bought a compound bow and aluminum arrrows but as I got deeper into the sport I started to “evolve” to recurve and longbow and making my own arrows and bow strings. Lots of great alternatives here to sitting in front of the TV!

15 Troy January 6, 2010 at 8:54 am

Parkour. Rediscover your environment while others shuffle along, staying in the barriers. Develops mental, creative and physical strength.

16 Dan Smith January 6, 2010 at 8:59 am

I’ve known for some time that I need to learn a foreign language for my future life as a Baptist preacher, but to find out that it is here as a manly hobby is very interesting! You mean I can be considered manly for that? Wow! Honestly though, it’s just the thing I needed to get me through the doldrums of having to learn another lesson. Now it’s not so much a chore as something I want to do.

17 Mark January 6, 2010 at 9:01 am

All great hobbies.

Which is manly? Whichever one you pursue!

I personally discovered that mine was juggling, then unicycling, then cycling, then tandem cycling.

You want manly? Get a tanden bicycle! You cannot get more manly than commanding a tandem. She may not pedal, but she has to follow.


18 Jared January 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

So why is playing chess any different than a strategy based video game?

19 Ken January 6, 2010 at 9:28 am

Great article! Bee Keeping is a good hobby as well!

20 Ryan January 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

The hobby does not make the man, the man makes the hobby!

I would add to the list ‘service work’ – whether it is at a food pantry or being a member of the a local service group like Lions or Kiwanis

21 Jason January 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

I’m a bit surprised to see that Motorcycling didn’t make the list. Aside from being an efficient mode of daily transportation, there’s not much that beats gearing up and heading out over the road.

22 T January 6, 2010 at 10:01 am

Great list! I’d add the broad category of “home repair” – painting walls, installing shelves/cabinetry, repairing furniture/appliances/electronics, etc. Distinctly manly, and a very productive hobby.

23 Micah January 6, 2010 at 10:01 am

This list sounds like the Boy Scout Merit badge list (with a few exceptions). Proof that Boy Scouts is the best organization for young men.

24 Josh January 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

Cheesemaking…involves skills similar to homebrewing, and tastes great!

25 Amy January 6, 2010 at 10:30 am

Delighted to see that my fiance already enjoys a good number of these manly hobbies–dancing, hunting, marskmanship, fishing, archery, chess, camping… But I agree with Jared that in lieu of an opportunity to play sports or play the strategy based game of chess (from say, a lack of opponents), a strategy based video game could take that place–as long as it’s not his only hobby!

26 Mikey January 6, 2010 at 10:31 am

I make my own homemade orangecello (similar to limoncello), which is basically grain alcohol infused with the the zest of oranges and a simple syrup of sugar and water. Above all else, this requires patience, as the infusion process takes 5 weeks if you do it right. Not only does this stuff taste good, but it will knock your socks off…

I was also part of a crew that recently spent the better part of a day at a buddy’s house drinking beer and turning 300lbs of ground pork, various spices and intestinal casings into Italian sausage (a “sausage fest” in the good sense, if you will). Doesn’t get much more manly than that…

I too was amused by the author’s mix-up between “martial” and “marital” arts–I would imagine that in some volatile households, they might indeed be one and the same!

27 The BOFH January 6, 2010 at 10:42 am

Mountain Biking, Bike Trials, BMX. There’s nothing like hurtling down the side of a mountain on pushbike to get the adrenalin going. It de stresses like nothing else when the next root, rock, corner, drop or jump could mean serious injury so you have to forget your worries in those few minutes. Then you get to the bottom, out of breath, pumped, arms trembling from the bumps & working the brakes. Then you throw your bike onto the ute & have another run. It’s also manly to sit in the tray of a ute or on a trailer.

28 Kevin January 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

Glad to see reading made the list, and thanks to the book lists that were put up I do have quite a bit to start reading, Though I did want to put forward a hobby of my own for consideration, I memorise poetry, anything that strikes my fancy, which means alot of Ruyard Kipling and Robert Service. I still remember when I was in basic training, and my section was down and out during the field phase, I just started reciting “The Quitter” by Service, I got a few strange looks at first, but by the time I was finished it looked like I had restored some morale.

29 Nate @ Practical Manliness January 6, 2010 at 10:58 am

Great list!

I have done a few of these hobbies (leather working, stamp collecting, etc.), and this list gives me some ideas for new hobbies.

I would contend that reading something that every true man should engage in regularly and not an optional hobby, but it is still a great list!


30 Shane January 6, 2010 at 11:02 am

Love the artilce! I was recently at a kids birthday party and joined the group of 30+ year old dads in the kitchen and was amazed on the amount of time the spent talking about video games. It’s a very sad thing. I’ve given up TV almost entirely (except for Baseball and Basketball Playoffs and the Super Bowl) and the news occasionally and haven’t played a computer/video game since turning 30. Since giving up the couch potato lifestyle I’ve lost 50 pounds and gotten rid of a number of aches and pains. Now I enjoy biking (not on the list!), hiking, camping, gardening and when possible taking in a minor league sports game ( I live in Portland, Maine home of 3 minor league sports teams) or the local arts and music scene.
My wife and I have also taken up playing card and board games in the evenings instead of watching TV. It’s a little more social and mentally stimulating than the TV, add in a nice cocktail and some groovy tunes and you’ve got your self a nice evening.

31 Rico January 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

Let’s not forget electronics. From building kits to repairs, working with a soldering gun can be as relaxing as it is practical.

32 Justin January 6, 2010 at 11:07 am

Great list. I’d add the performing arts. I’m a theater guy myself. Not only do I love the craft in and of itself, but anytime a woman meets a man who does something artistic with his time she gets very interested in that man. At least, this has been my experience.

I think of it like this: Doing things = manly. Talking about doing things/Watching others do things = not manly.

33 Geoff January 6, 2010 at 11:12 am

Love the list. However, hunting with a bow is hardly rare here in Michigan. Bow hunting (deer) season opens well before the firearms season, and lasts until after the firearms season closes. And I would surely pick up and *run*, not walk, if I ever encountered people drinking beer and shooting a bow and arrow, but I realize it’s only a picture.

34 Joshua January 6, 2010 at 11:25 am

Well, there was ham radio and classic car restoration. But a hobby I’ve begun reading about and plan to pick up soon: Classic radio restoration. There’s quite a few sites out there of people who collect, repair and sell old radios.

35 Joshua January 6, 2010 at 11:27 am

A hobby I’ve begun reading about and plan to pick up soon: Classic radio restoration. There’s quite a few sites out there of people who collect, repair and sell old vacuum tube radios.

36 Sean F. Glass January 6, 2010 at 11:34 am

EXCELLENT list. I wish more men would do this. :D Among the hobbies listed, I play guitar, draw, I love reading, I used to carve wood but gave it up when I got a nasty cut (ha ha) I also play chess pretty well but no members of my family ever play so I rarely get practice ;P I also write poetry and am semi-working on a novel when I have time. ha
I would like to learn a foreign language and possibly learn to dance :) There’s so many things to do besides vegetating in front of a screen.

You asked for tips for those starting out, well, as far as guitar- start with one that’s fairly affordable but not too cheap because if it’s poorly made it will just frustrate you. Look online or in a music store for a used guitar for around $200 (I know, it’s a sizable amount, but..) then get a book or a video and learn some basic stuff to see if you will like it. There’s a good chance you’ll get hooked and will be able to play some of your favorite music within a few months if you stick with it. (nothing Hendrix-worthy but certainly some accompanying chords at the very least ;) )

If you want to draw but think you can’t, just go to your art store and get a pad of sketching paper, and some nice drawing pencils and start. Pencils and sketch pad is an easy way to start (no messy paint or learning curve involved with the actual medium.) Find a photo of something you like and just carefully try to draw it. Keep doing this (and SAVE your attempts) and you will be amazed in a yr or 2 how much you will have improved.

Have fun and find a hobby!

37 Adam January 6, 2010 at 11:53 am

I’m so glad that Geocaching made this list. It is the perfect Family Man hobby. It is sometimes tough to keep the little ones engaged in hiking, but with geocaching there is a prize at the end of the trail that keeps them coming back for more. It isn’t that expensive to get started and it provides excellent manly family time.

38 Mr. Martin January 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Wow, I was amazed at how many of those I’ve done or at least tried. I’ve settled to blacksmithing, carpentry, bagpiping, classic truck restoration and ATV exploring. Guess that about fills up the hobby time.

39 Daetan Huck January 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I have always been a fan of chess. In recent years, I’ve really enjoyed another game: Go (also called Wei-Chi). It’s a simple game. Turns are taken placing white and black stones are placed on line intersections. When a stone is placed on an intersection the four intersections that it is connected to are “breathing” points. The goal of the game is to capture territory and to “suffocate” opposite colored stones. Ultimately, the simple rules provide for a massively complex game that takes years and years to learn and master. It’s equally fulfilling as chess! Try it out!

40 Adam January 6, 2010 at 12:36 pm

My wife and I are expecting our 5th child in a couple of weeks. This time around we’ve decided on a homebirth. At the hospital when a child is born they are immediatly given a hand-knitted hat that some kind soul has put together through a volunteer program. This time around I am knitting my new son’s first hat. Until now I have been knitting in secret, feeling manly about it, but feeling societies stereotypes taking hold. Thanks for including knitting as one of your manly hobbies!

41 Daetan Huck January 6, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Also, for an even more effective outlet for your warrior spirit I highly suggest combatives. While MMA and Taekwondo are “combat sports”, combatives emphasis real-world self-defense. Krav Maga is a good example of such a martial art. Developed by the Israeli Defense Forces it is a brutal killing art where anything goes. It will serve you better in the street than sport technique, although Taekwondo and Tai-Chi which are more sport and philosophical respectively cannot be replaced in those capacities! It depends on what you’re looking for!

42 Casey January 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I agree with Geoff, bowhunting is BIG in Montana. If I might add, I think that horsemanship is a fairly manly hobby also big in Montana. You don’t have to be a bronc rider or have a 100 acre spread to enjoy horseback riding. It can be expensive, and I would say there can be a steep learning curve, but I wouldn’t be intimidated by it or horses. During summers, when other families took vacations to wherever, my family took pack trips into the Bob Marshall, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. Finally, I would say that if you get a good horse and take care of him, he will take care of you and become companion and friend, just like a good dog.

43 ryan January 6, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Golf and Tennis?

44 Steve C January 6, 2010 at 1:13 pm

This is a GREAT article! Really, you put HAM radio at the top of the list?



45 Mike January 6, 2010 at 1:30 pm

I get a lot of slack for it is seen as the unmanly hobby of birdwatching, but I think it combines a lot of the traits mentioned in the hobbies on the list. It gets you in the outdoors, can be a collection of sorts if you’re a lister, etc. I started as a way to focus my interest in photography (no pun intended), but it’s become a great hobby of mine in and of itself.

46 Erik January 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Your opening comments about the value of “productive” activities over mindless couch-surfing couldn’t be more true. I have two boys (5 & 11yrs old), and I really try to limit their screen time. At first they complain when I say we’re going to start a project, but once they get involved they begin asking when we can do it again. We’ve planted a small garden together, created collages from images clipped from magazines and newspapers, shot and edited stop-motion animated videos, and made our own Christmas decorations. My older son and I have been doing archery together for a few years. It takes an extra effort these days to show kids the art of self-entertainment and enrichment, but it’s a skill they can carry with them into manhood. Thanks for the great article, and for giving me more ideas for ways to build my boys into men.

47 Roger Willey January 6, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Good list! I wish I had the resources to get into some more of these.

I’d like to add my personal favorite hobby, which is writing. It’s cheaper than anything on the list except hiking, and to my mind it’s at least as satisfying and probably moreso than anything else out there. All it takes is a pen and paper, or the computer you have in front of you, and a little bit of creativity. Nothing is quite as exciting as stumbling into a new story idea and then watching as the back of your brain runs off with it, spinning it into an interesting story. I think you’ll find that, despite any fears of inadequacy you might have, your friends and family will be enamored with what you can create.

48 Scott January 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm

How about adding “Choral Singing”? It is an even older manly tradition than most of the things on this list. It is also very accessible; everything from Church choirs to amateur ensembles to professional.

49 CoffeeZombie January 6, 2010 at 3:23 pm

“Rest assured, any hobby that you’re passionate about is manly.”

Unless, apparently, that hobby is video games.

Are you making a distinction, though, between the console games and the PC games? Because there really is a difference.

I can understand people seeing console gaming as a “kids who won’t grow up” thing. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to get into (just shell out $400 for the latest system and start playing), and it is often dominated by frat boys, 13-year-olds, and “geeks” (i.e., people who call themselves geeks but, well, let’s just leave it at the quotations marks).

However, PC gaming is very different. And I’m not talking World of Warcraft here. I’m talking the real geeks. Those of us for whom the process of gaming involves more than sticking a CD in the tray and fragging all night. I’m talking about the people who want to get the best experience out of their games, who know about computers, and build their own systems. The people who can tweak their systems to get that little extra kick out of it.

Then, of course, there’s the people who create mods for the games they enjoy. They will either tweak the game to make a tiny adjustment to gameplay with interesting effects, or they’ll use the original game for a base for a whole new game!

If computer programming is an acceptable manly hobby, I don’t see why PC gaming wouldn’t be, too. And, as Jared pointed out, why is chess acceptable but not, say, Civilization IV?

As a side note, I learned quite a bit just from playing the Sim City games. They force you to think economically, to realize that you can’t just expand, expand, expand, and expect there to be enough resources to go around all the time, that money is limited and, while you’d love to build that impressive commercial district full of skyscrapers, you’ve gotta start small.

50 Elijah Lloy January 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm

To Mike,

Theodore Roosevelt was (among many other things) an ardent bird watcher. I’m pretty sure he’s kind of admired here at AoM.

51 Andrew January 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Decorative knotting is one not on the list
Learning how to tie a turks head,and its seemingly limitless variations, can be very rewarding and rather inexpensive to start. Turks heads are just one aspect. Braids, wraps, monkey fists, etc are all part of it. These knots are founded in practical functions that have expanded to be beautiful as well.
For that matter, learning practical knots is also a great hobby.

52 Gregor January 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm

The knitting cracked me up. I remember a movie called Fflolkes (aka North Sea Hijacking) starring Roger Moore, where he played a total bad ass that knitted.
Good list, even the knitting. It’s great therapy.

53 Adam Cook January 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Good article! I, of course, agree that mountaineering is a manly hobby. After reading the first page, I was wondering about mountaineering, brewing, and cooking, but there they were on page 2. Couldn’t have thought of many more myself (besides maybe amateur flying, and being a connoisseur about nearly anything)

On the video game topic, I agree that it can be a manly past time. It’s emerging as something not unlike watching sports. A bunch of guys get together, put on a huge pot of coffee, and game all night. The flip side of that though, is the profound immaturity found on so many online gaming communities these days. It’s those immature gamers that give the rest of us a bad rep.

54 Martin Howard January 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm


I think you guys will enjoy seeing my collection of 19th century typewriters.
You will be surprised by the many different designs that were available at that time.



55 Athene January 6, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I have to second horsemanship. The origional English riders were military and that tradition is continued today by dressage riders, showjumpers, and eventers (a threw day triathalon event including jumping crosscountry, jumping in an arena, and dressage). In Europe the majority of English riders are men and so are more then half of the top US riders. It is an international sport that is in high demand all over the world. In fact the World Equestrian Games are being held this year in Kentucky, for the first time outside of Europe. It’s also an excellnt way to meet women.
Western riding is also very manly with Cowboys of the wild west begining this style. There are many types of riding to choose from, but any way you go you get great excersize, be outdoors, build muscle, and enjoy the company of a close knit community. Stacking hay, mucking stalls, and riding horses will build your body like nothing else and keep you fit and attractive long into retirement.

56 Scott January 6, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Lifitng Weights/strongman training.

57 Todd January 6, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I agree with the entire list. However, I feel it is a glaring omission to leave out sailing.

58 Marton January 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm

If you want to fly, but don’t have the resources to buy and keep a plane, you can always take on Para-gliding. It’s an amazing felling of freedom to be in the air with nothing below you, and hunting for good winds in order to keep the flight better.

59 Graham Hutson January 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Aren’t hobbies generally a manly pursuit anyway? You don’t find many girls with hobbies, unless you count knitting, but they would probably argue that counts as work.

Excellent post, BTW, and the blog is a fine read!


60 Mike January 6, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Great post! I actually put down the mouse tonight and picked up my Guitar. Keep up the great job and keep them coming!


61 Mr. Blue January 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm

The archery guy is drinking PBR at the range!!! That should be #65: Drinking PBR, just drinking it is an activity in itself.

62 Josh Juice January 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Man until I read this I didn’t realize how many hobbies I have. No wonder my wife rolls her eyes every time I mention taking up a new one. Let’s see Beer Brewing is one of my favorites probably second, Paintball would be third (played since I was in High school). To top my list of 3 favorite would definitely be aviation. I grew up with a Dad who was an A&P Mechanic and a Marine who crewed CH-53 Sea Stallions. I’d build model planes, sneak off to hang out with Dad at his squadron’s hanger and just perk up anytime anything was mentioned about airplanes/aviation. I guess that’s why I myself became an A&P with full intentions of getting my pilot’s license. Well I got married and needless to say, my flying lessons are wearing diapers and learning how to sit up properly. But I’m hoping to work something out with my boss (he own’s and rents out 2 Cessna 172s) within 2010. Great Article!

63 Vagrarian January 6, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Cool article. Astronomy is relevant for me because I just got a telescope for $20…(Google “Galileoscope”, you can buy a refracting scope that’s the same power that Galileo used to discover the moons of Jupiter)…and I plan on joining a local astronomy club when the weather’s a bit warmer.

And the knitting amused me as well. I work for a dental organization and I know many of the dentists who knit or do embroidery or other needlework in their spare time, because it helps keep their fingers nimble and toned. I’m told many surgeons also knit or do needlework, so they qualify as manly! There was a book called “Knitting with Balls” that was geared toward men, but I think it’s out of print now.

64 Nik January 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm

This is a fantastic list. It’s just sad to think I will never have time to become proficient at the approximately 35 of these that intrigued me. I’ll have to narrow it down to my top 10 for now.

And I have to say that I’m disappointed that you listed hearts instead of bridge under card-playing. How can you mention manly card-playing without the best and manliest of all card games? James Bond is sporting a barely perceptible frown.

65 TomTheft January 6, 2010 at 10:18 pm

What about model railroading?

66 Another David January 6, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Excellent list, but I feel like it’s missing a couple things… golf, sailing, cycling? Glad to see that at least half are Boy Scout merit badges :)

My 2010 resolution is to do as many of these as possible, follow my journey! anotherdavid.blogspot.com

67 Alec January 6, 2010 at 11:00 pm

this is a great list of activities that any man worth his salt can do.
hiking, photography, and marksmanship are top of my list!
although as an alternative to paintball, airsoft is a more military and tactical version of it, also if your thinking of purchasing airsoft is less expensive in the short and long run.
a good airsoft gun with set you back about $150-300 (plus how extravagant you go with camo and accessories)where as paintball; the more money you pomp into your gun the better it is. so it comes down to who has the better gun vs. better player.
i was surprised and reassuring to find knitting on the list(have been for about 2 years now)

68 Manuel January 7, 2010 at 1:44 am

Hey I’m soon to be man, just turned 18 and all I can say is that when I think of manly guys I always think about the interesting hobbies they might do. I occasionally play chess with friends and family, I’ve been doing magic for five years and planning on learning martial arts. All I can say is having a good set of hobbies can really keep you busy when your bored and they don’t have to be that expensive (unless if you do become a fanatic, like me with magic) and not only that but hobbies also add character and something to share with others. I’ve been waiting for this post to show up.

69 Dan January 7, 2010 at 2:33 am

Good article. Short enough bursts to read a few at a time, long enough in total to have some crunchy content.
I combine collecting, blogging, and travel. I visit college campuses and find a decent cup, or mug, or glass. Originally it was always a plastic cup or a shotglass, but now I’m not always looking for the cheapest. Rocks glasses, pilsners, wine glasses, etc. are finding their way onto my shelf. I’m almost to 100! (Initial goal: all the D-1 schools)


70 Pat I. January 7, 2010 at 4:39 am

Great article, the list is very complete, we all have our favorites of course. I’d like to add Model Railroading to the list myself.

71 Guido January 7, 2010 at 5:16 am

I myself play the drums, which I consider a pretty manly hobby. Hitting stuff with wood to make a lot of noise, only a man can think of that. It’s not the cheapest of hobbies though, and not experienced at it’s best without a band.
After reading this, I should pick up letter writing. I promised a girl in Sweden last summer I’d write to her, but I still haven’t gotten around to do it!

72 Sir Lancelot January 7, 2010 at 6:11 am

I totally agree on the superiority of structured hobbies as opposed to just hanging out or passing time. Some of the hobbies on the list were already on my own to-do list, but now I want to try them all! Well, perhaps not knitting…

On the subject of knitting, I’m sorry to be pedantic but net making has traditionally been a female role.

73 Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com January 7, 2010 at 6:30 am

Wow, that geocaching sounds really interesting. I am definitely into chess and reading. Need the mental stimulation that’s natural and not from coffee or Red Bull!

74 Ralph January 7, 2010 at 8:40 am

Fantastic list! With all due respect to Fred Astaire, I won’t be taking up ballroom dancing without being forced to anytime soon.
Archery is definitely something that I haven’t done. Thats going on my list.

75 Roger January 7, 2010 at 9:44 am

I enjoy being in The Knight Of Columbus. With a bunch of men doing different things for their local community.

76 Jared W January 7, 2010 at 1:21 pm

SCUBA Diving would be a great addition to this list, together with snorkeling, spear fishing, and other undersea sports.

77 Jay January 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm

- Boxing?
- Winemaking?

Not that I practice them…. Great list!

Install a olugin like this one: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe-to-comments/ – keeps commenters informed – and returning

78 jesse January 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I was expecting one to include those audiophiles who listen to vinyl. Its something i admired but dont know anything about. Hope you write a article on this hobby someday. I put those who listen to a records in the same category as appreciate cigars or liquor.

thanks for including leather working. A old friend from High school came to town and his very manily rugged father showed me how they do leather working. awesome skill and very creative. hopefully i will try it out soon.

79 Jim January 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I used to hate ballroom dancing. I didn’t think it was manly and I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I finally came to realize that it’s more embarrassing, and it takes more effort, to avoid dancing–at, say, a wedding, where nobody knows how to dance–than it does to man up and lead a lady through a shuffle or sway for three minutes.

Now I can dance. Now I’m the “leader” and she’s the “follower,” and what could be manlier than that? I’ve learned that success on the social dance floor—which I define as satisfying your partner—has as much to do with confidence as it does with dance ability. As in real life, women like confident men. If you can’t dance, the secret is not in faking the dance, but faking your confidence.

80 W1AGP January 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm

With over 30,000 new people in the US becoming ham operators in 2009 (both men and women), it’s nice to see #2 on the list. Amatateur Radio is far from dying off – America’s 680,000+ hams are not even slowing down!

81 Angelia Sparrow January 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm

It’s an excellent list. My husband does a number of the things on there, including studying new languages (right now, Japanese, previously, Esperanto), playing music (a violin like Sherlock Holmes), electronic work and board games. We used to shoot archery and he sings when he can.

@Graham, where I come from, women class some of those “hobbies” as basic survival skills: gardening, cooking, knitting, brewing, letter-writing, orienteering, second languages, etc. Girls, up to 25 or so, tend to be too busy with school, work and socializing.

Most middle-aged women I know have a hobby or three. I crochet, knit, embroider, garden and sew. I know women who play drums, tat, hike, scrapbook, make pottery, make art or write for love (as opposed to the pro artists and writers I know), many who dance and a fair number who shoot archery.

82 Bruce January 7, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Figure skating, baking and sewing clearly are missing from this list. And I am shocked that no one has complained that attending book clubs has failed to make the list as well. And let me second the candlemaking, choral singing, performing arts (omg, srsly! you forgot theater!) and birdwatching too. What were you thinking?

83 Hugo Stiglitz January 7, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Good article and I like many of the hobbies listed. However your opening paragraphs must be taken with a grain of salt — the ones where you mention that “leisure time” to people nowadays is sitting in front of the computer, playing video games, etc. Well the truth of the matter is that those products and pastimes were invented and marketed by generations past. Yes, we should all be thankful to the so-called “greatest generation” for fighting in WWII / living through the Depression, etc., but keep in mind that this was the same generation which spawned and raised the baby boomers who fought against everything their parents stood for.

Years ago the so-called “greatest generation” lived a dream. Back then, life was simple. A man could count on getting out of high school or the service, marry the girl from down the street, work at a good factory job for 20 years and retire with a fat pension. People HAD time for hobbies back then, not like today when people are working 72 hours a week just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. So of course many people today have just enough energy to come home, watch a TV show, eat a quick dinner and go to bed. Not like it was in the cakewalk 50s and 60s where you picked up your lunch pail and headed out the factor door at 3pm when the whistle blew. And don’t forget that many families back then could survive on just the man working.

Thanks to the incompetent politicians and other fools who blew it for the rest of us. Let’s face it, America will never be what it was 40-50 years ago.

84 A True Golfer January 7, 2010 at 7:25 pm

I would have incorporated golf as it’s own hobby.

85 Bender January 8, 2010 at 1:02 am

Geocaching? GPS?

Come on. GPS is for boys. Men use nothing more than a compass and a map.

86 CoffeeZombie January 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm

@Huge Stiglitz While I’m always skeptical about the idea that things in the past were “better” than they are today, I do have to second your point about men having the time and energy to even begin taking up hobbies.

For some time after getting married and getting a house, I was restless and discontent. I eventually realized that the reason for this was that I simply did not have the time to do, as I felt, “anything I *want* to do.” In other words, I just didn’t have time for hobbies. As I’ve been taking a look at where all my time goes, I’ve realized this situation may never change.

Of course, I don’t know anyone who has a “regular 9-5″ job. You’re expected to *work* 8 hours a day, which means you’re working 8-5 or 9-6, if you take an hour-long lunch break. And then you’ve got commute time; for me, it’s about 45min either way (total of an extra 1.5 hours on top of my 8 hours + 1 hour lunch, for a total of 10.5 hours). For many other people in my area, commutes are 1 hour or more. And public transportation is pretty much nonexistent, so the option of catching a bus or a train and doing something like reading on your way to work just isn’t possible.

Of course, my wife works as well, and is pregnant, and has one of those hour+ commutes, which means we go to bed earlier than I normally would, and get up earlier, but not enough earlier to really do anything before I have to leave for work. Then, because my wife works, we split up chores in the evening, and, of course, I want to spend some time with her.

After that, I have a good-sized list of things I need to fix or get done around the house that, no matter what I do, always seems to grow. And then there’s car maintenance, or repair when something breaks. And there’s the dog to take care of…

Did I mention my wife is pregnant? Well, a lot’s going to change when that baby comes. She’ll be staying home from work, which means she’ll be able to get more chores done herself. But…we’ll also have a little one to look after. I’m already looking forward to it, but I also know that, chances are, I’ll just end up having *less* time for my own hobbies.

I do still find time for some hobbies here and there. I roast coffee, which usually takes me about an hour a week (though some weeks I don’t get the time to). I have a friend that comes over most Thursday evenings and we watch anime together. And I get out mountain biking during warmer months when I can, which isn’t often. Oh, and I will read sometimes during my lunch break (when I’m not using it to run errands).

And, honestly, there really isn’t anywhere I can cut back. Leisure time? Maybe if I can retire someday I’ll know what that is…

87 Matt January 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Another interesting addition to the list would be fishkeeping. I’m only scratching the surface in my own experience, but nearly every city has a amateur aquarist club, and you’ll discover that you have nationally known aquarists in your own back yard. The initial investment can seem daunting, but the possibilities are endless. From setting up biotopes to represent specific environments, to breeding (most clubs have award programs), to conservation of endangered species, there’s something for everyone, not to mention the simple beauty of a well stocked and maintained tank.

88 Greg January 8, 2010 at 7:43 pm

If you enjoy #1 chess, #2 ham radio, and #12 camping, please join my Facebook group for the Society for the Establishment of Competitive Off-Road Radio Chess Camping. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=109795840028

89 Nathan January 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm

One hobby that might appear slightly strange or quirky (maybe because it is) is learning the Rubik’s cube. I just got my first one for Christmas and have found that it’s a great way to pass the time; it’s repetitive and calming while still mentally engaging. Also, there are loads of different ways to solve it, so it will take a while to expend your options.

90 Michael January 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

Excellent list, and I was glad to see amateur astronomy in the list. I was starting to wonder. The telescope in the picture looks like a homebuilt, which brings up another related manly hobby: telescope making. My father and built a good-sized telescope when I was a teen (my Dad pretty much did the building, I just did some mirror grinding and tech advisory), and it’s still the largest and most powerful telescope in my little arsenal today.

May I suggest aquarium keeping as an addition to the list?

Glad to see that someone knows the difference between truly manly and merely macho.

91 Mark January 9, 2010 at 10:04 am

Add bowmaking to archery, making your own bow and stringing it is a very manly and satisfying thing. Besides, old fashioned bows are harder to draw then these modern contraptions, thus better exercise.

92 dave January 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I agree with you and think that a hobby can really make a difference in a person’s life. My latest hobby is making knives. The metal the wood together give knife making a very organic feel in a hobby. The designs and styles are unlimited so every hobby has its own advantages but as for me I like to make knives!

93 Mark January 10, 2010 at 12:39 am

Another great article, Just wanted to throw in my two cents, Fencing is a great hobby that anyone can pick up as well. Most towns have plenty of fencing clubs to pick from. The United States Fencing Assocation has a great directory for those interested at http://www.usfencing.org/pages/3788 And few things are more manly than learning how to use a sword.

94 Hank January 10, 2010 at 12:52 am

The only things manly that I do that you didn’t include would be Barbershopping and juggling. Where you find barbershoppers you will most likely find manliness from brawn to beard, from muscle to mustache. When I say juggling I mean juggling; in other words I’m NOT talking about being a clown. I’m talking about Juggling as a sport (see http://www.thewjf.com). Then again sports was listed.

95 Bryon Perona Jr January 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Under painting it should be ‘effect’, not ‘affect’ – “He understood the healthy *effect* having a creative outlet can have on a man.”

Thanks for another great article, Brett. Reminded me again of how much I loved fencing when I took a few classes years ago.

96 Justin Richardson January 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I realize that I already do or have dabbled about half of the things on this list, off to a pretty good start. I play guitar and really enjoy fishing, hunting, backpacking etc and plan on one day having a good backyard garden.

Great Article

97 Duncan January 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

Great article! This article really drives home the fact that it is very unmanly to sit idle. I wanted to echo another post from a reader that mentioned mentoring, this is perhaps the most manly thing I can think of. It does not matter what activity you are engaged in, the simple fact you have devoted time to others is huge! With that said, I would have been delighted to have seen Scouts (both boy and cubs) mentioned as a worthy and manly hobby. Almost 1/2 the mentioned hobbies I have enjoyed with my boyscouts and seeing the personal growth from these boys is very rewarding. Thank you all for sharing.

98 Charles January 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm

What about motorcycles?

99 Phil January 12, 2010 at 8:13 pm


Working along with things that could kill you, to make a food that will not rot, as well as the possibility of making honey meade. Think Beorn of The Hobbit.

100 Tom Luczycki January 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I derive great pleasure and satisfaction from throwing boomerangs. Probably every kid has had a boomerang, and in large part those same kids have been bitterly disappointed. I was lucky enough to live in an area where there was a club that met on a regular basis where I was able to get some one-on-one instruction and sources for decent boomerangs.

It is a sport of personal achievement, but one that can be easily shared and enjoyed together. A hobby for all ages – world records were made by people as young as 14 and as old as 60.

One you have gotten the bug to throw them, the next logical many step is to start get into the woodshop and start making them.

Go to http://www.usba.org/ to get started.

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