You know those Instagram couples that are #goals? Are they really, though? I’m here to tell you that yes, yes they are. Power couples can seem like intimidating forces, balancing their own wildly successful careers while thriving in healthy relationships, but it doesn’t come without challenges. Across the outdoor industry, these duos have managed to make it work while building empires together.
Katie Boué and Brody Leven
Ages: 29 and 30
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Power-couple credentials: If there were a first couple of the outdoor industry, these two would be it. Leven is a professional athlete who climbs up and skis down mountains all over the world. Boué is a storyteller who creates content for some of the key players in the business. Together, they’re both mega influencers and environmental advocates on a never-ending quest to save the planet. They live in the modern minimalist home of your Pinterest board dreams where they hoard their extravagant succulent collection and ride bikes to the farmers market on the weekends they’re actually in town.
How they met: They had been following each other on social media for awhile, but they officially met at Outdoor Retailer. According to Boué: “I had a terrible bug and could barely keep myself upright without puking, but it was my first show with OIA (Outdoor Industry Assocation), so I was trying to keep it cool. I was trying to avoid Brody, but he spotted me from across the room and called me over to say hi. I hugged him while trying not to puke on his shoes and then ran away. We both continued with our lives and didn’t start dating for over a year after that.” Cute. You know what I brought back from my first OR, Katie? Socks that didn’t fit and a pile of business cards from people who didn’t want to work with me.
How they adventure:
Leven: “My favorite trip with Katie involved climbing the Grand Teton via a route on which I had no experience. She was learning, performing, impressing. When she thought she had nothing left in the tank, she kept going. And then, in that moment, I think we became closer. She finally felt what drives me, I saw her find herself a bit more in the mountains. A similar but opposite realization happened in Mexico last winter. I flew home from Alaska with frostbitten toes, and within a few hours we jumped on a flight to Mexico to thaw, where, on a beach, Katie was so in her element and I was so out of mine. She taught me to lay in a hammock and read a book. Equally challenging and important.”
How they make it work:
Leven: “The way Katie makes me know she’s there for me, regardless of where I am, means a lot. Even more rewarding, though, is feeling pretty confident in my ability to let her know I’m there for her, regardless of where I am. She’s also a voice of reason in some ways. She’s someone pretty familiar with the industry I work in and my brand and company, and I turn to her for advice and trust her opinions.”
Boué: “Something I really appreciate about our relationship is that our outdoor experiences often overlap, but we also have individual relationships with the outdoors that remain our own. I’m not a ski mountaineer, and never will be, and I love that Brody is. He’s not super into desert trips, so I those stay “mine.” In the summertime, we mostly travel together, but in the winter, we do our own thing. It helps us keep our individuality and brings us closer when we are together.
Brody’s expeditions do give me plenty of anxiety, and when he’s out doing something like, say, camping at a burned down hut on the border of the Congo, I lose sleep. I worry a lot when he’s gone, but that’s just part of the deal. He’s one of the safest adventurers I’ve ever met, and I know that he assesses risks and doesn’t get himself in over his head (too much). Plus, nothing is more romantic than an “I love you” sent from a satellite phone on the other side of the planet.”
Boué: “If you want to figure out if you’re compatible with someone, fly to Mexico, and don’t book your Airbnb or rental car until you’re on the plane.”
Nina Williams and James Lucas
Ages: 27 and 36
Location: Boulder, CO
Power-couple credentials: It’s pretty easy to be a power couple when one half consists of Williams, a badass pro climber who eats highball boulders for breakfast. Lucas is also a seasoned climber who spent most of his time in the Yosemite scene before becoming an editor at Climbing Magazine. They do these insane training sessions together, but they keep it humble, so try not to be annoyed when you see them flaunting their super hard athletic bodies around the gym. But the best thing about them? They are both hilarious and create such a fun energy to be around. Seriously, this is the couple you want to third wheel the shit out of. Except that’s my thing, so back off.
How they met: In 2013, Williams won a climbing competition that Lucas was writing about, so he interviewed her for the story. However, it took another climbing comp for fate to set in because they didn’t actually meet in person until the 2015 Psicobloc Master Series. Shortly afterwards, he moved to Boulder for work and they started climbing together. According to Lucas: “She wanted to learn to trad climb and I wanted to learn how to do V3 dynos in the gym. We traveled to Yosemite together, onsighted the West Face of El Capitan and then spent the summer bouldering in Rocky Mountain National Park. As the summer temps cooled, our romance heated, and we switched from being just climbing partners to dating.”
How they adventure:
Williams: “I consider our whole relationship an adventure. Whether we are out on the wall, at the boulders, or puttering around the house, James and I will face and figure out any type of challenge. We train together, dance together, and have a lot of fun editing short videos. But I would say our favorite hobby is seeing who can finish the tasty snacks first without making it too obvious. I think I’m currently winning that one.”
How they make it work:
Lucas: “Being in a relationship means being there to support your partner, and having someone to share your passions with. Before meeting Nina, I traveled a lot and I found it difficult to date. I was living in my car, unsure of where I wanted to be. Nina made me want to spend more time with her and figure out a more stable lifestyle where I could do that.”
Williams:“Sometimes our jobs overlap; we collaborate on projects for the magazine and trade content between our social media accounts. We’ve learned to identify and talk about business matters vs. relationship matters and have gotten better about keeping them separate, but like anything else it’s always a learning experience. Being in the public eye is quite fun; I’m fine with putting myself out there for the most part. People can think and say whatever they want but in the end, only we know what’s really going on. It’s like a fun secret.”
Rachel Pohl and Charles Post
Ages: 25 and 29
Location: Bozeman, MT
Power-couple credentials: They’re both artists, which should give hope to every creative who fears ending up alone as a tortured soul. She is an acrylic landscape painter and he is a photographer, filmmaker and ecologist. These two are the best thing to ever happen to instagram and basically inspired this whole article. Seriously, the only reason I still check mine (besides being inundated with constant validation from loyal followers) is to read the romantic af posts they write to each other. Talk about two sappy losers who totally deserve each other. If they ever break up, I will be more upset than my parents divorce.
How they met: Apparently being sick at Outdoor Retailer provides a strong foundation for a lasting relationship (okay for real why is everyone falling in love at the Salt Palace without me?!). According to Pohl: “The day before I met him, I had a fever, chills, cough, nausea, and a sore throat, and someone even made me cry in public. I also had to wake up throughout the night to walk far away to my car and pay for more parking (long story) and it was January but pouring rain. I seriously thought about giving up and going back to Montana the next morning, but instead stuck it out in the show, feeling absolutely dreadful. While chatting with my friend, Forest Woodward, in the Patagonia booth, the crowd parted to reveal a very cute stranger waving at us with the silliest wave. Forest didn’t see the motion, so I took it upon myself to awkwardly respond in the same strange way, with the back of my hand pressed against my forehead and my fingers bobbing up and down disjointedly. Then the handsome man literally ran away into the crowd, and I went back to talking to Forest and feeling close to fainting/ throwing up. Soon though, Charles walked up and we were introduced. I don’t think we talked to anyone else the rest of the evening. I kinda new in that moment this person was going to be very special to me, be it as a friend or a life partner I had to have him in my life. I actually asked for his number and he said “you can just DM me!” which is so funny to think about now. In the days that followed, between meetings we would find each other (which worked a lot better after we actually exchanged phone numbers) and smile a lot, and went on many tea drinking and food eating dates. Charles changed his flight home four times to keep hanging out with me before finally heading home. He promised to come visit for Valentines day, but he showed up in Bozeman less than a week later. We knew we just couldn’t be apart, and after knowing each other for nine days, we were dating.”
How they adventure:
Pohl: “Adventure is at the heart of who we are as individuals, and plays a huge role in our relationship as well as our careers. Adventuring with Charles is awesome because he has the best attitude and willingness to learn everything, from bike riding and bike maintenance to avalanche safety, and he is so patient with my surfing skills (or lack thereof). When we’re in the mountains, I imagine how I would paint everything. I get lost in daydreams of color mixing and outlines. Charles noticies animals. I’m fairly certain I’ve been in the presence of innumerable animals over the years but just failed to see them. Thanks to Charles, I’ve now spotted bobcats, lynx, and a wolverine. Our favorite thing to do together is bow hunting. It is such a team sport in so many ways, and our first year hunting together this fall yielded a bull elk that we are very proud of. We eat our elk most days of the week, and I still can’t believe we harvested such an incredible animal. I’d never hunted before this fall, but am completely hooked.”
How they make it work:
Post: “Creating that divide between work and life is crucial and exists on an ever changing landscape. How can you tell someone to stop working when their work is something they love doing? The key is identifying and honoring those boundaries otherwise work consumes life and doesn’t afford energy or opportunities to be anything more than roommates, peers and colleagues. I think the lack of balance is all too common among our peers, and in our industry of freelancers and creatives. But it’s true, you’ve got to hustle, be selfish at times, push hard and dig deep to make it. Creating your own occupation out of thin air isn’t easy, and it takes blind commitment at times. And of course as you grow your business and brand more and more opportunities arise, so it’s important to communicate with one another and consider each opportunity as a team, so that each of us takes on jobs and trips that fit our goals and expectations as a family. It’s a team sport.
Pohl: “Past partners didn’t understand my travels and even harbored some resentment towards such opportunities. Back then I was happy to go on trips for some breathing room and independence. But now I prioritize our relationship before most epic opportunities, because I don’t want to leave my adventure partner behind. Charles has lead a similar path of traveling for work, so I really didn’t have to explain myself early on which felt amazing. I want to bring Charles with me everywhere, and go on all of his trips, because life’s just so much better when we are together.”
P0hl: “If both you and your partner love getting up at 3 a.m. for days on end to sneak through freezing darkness to (maybe) see some horse-sized animals with swords on their heads, and possibly get within 10 yards so that you might harvest one by way of a pointy stick projectile, you should probably get married.”
Hayley Gendron and Taylor Burk
Ages: 25 and 26
Location: Vancouver, BC
Power-couple credentials: He’s a photographer, she works as a writer and tour guide, and they’re both pretty Instafamous. This is the couple that makes you scream “#RELATIONSHIPGOALS!” as you throw your phone at your boyfriend for being so inadequate in comparison. If you haven’t followed them on the ‘gram yet (and shame on you), be prepared to feel lazy about whatever you’re doing with your life. Not only are they total soulmates who work together to create phenomenal content around the world, but they are both hella attractive. God help the classmates of their future children.
How they met: Oh this is refreshing because they’re the first couple on this list that didn’t officially meet at Outdoor Retailer. According to Burk: “One day I received a DM on Instagram from Hayley, she was asking me how I went about obtaining a camping permit for the Berg Lake Trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park. We chatted about it, I creeped her profile and thought she was really cute and continued on the conversation afterwards. After figuring out how much we had in common and discovering we were going to be in the same city soon we decided to meet in person a week or so later when I was visiting Vancouver. She ended up being more than just cute and into the outdoors, she had a great sense of humor, was intelligent and had a beautiful soul. We started out as friends then slowly formed a relationship while bonding during outdoor activities.”
How they adventure:
Gendron: “Our relationship wouldn’t exist without our mutual addiction to outdoor adventure. Since meeting we’ve done a lot of backpacking, kayaking, and trekking together, and we’ve been lucky enough to turn these adventures into work occasionally. Most recently, we’ve been learning to rock climb and have been getting into more serious mountaineering. It’s been amazing growing these skills together and pushing each other to play harder. The trust and confidence stemming from these activities is invaluable.”
How they make it work:
Burk: “Distance makes the heart grow fonder. We have been extremely fortunate enough to travel and work on projects together quite a bit in the past year. Hayley is currently in Costa Rica and will be there for a total of 6 weeks, it can be really tough at times, especially having little to no contact with each other but in the beginning we made it clear that we will give each other support when it comes to certain opportunities no matter the distance or time. You have to make sacrifices.”
Burk: “Starting out as friends and having similar hobbies is really important. My past relationships have failed because the friendship aspect wasn’t there. Even if we weren’t together I would still love to have Hayley as a friend.”