WHEN 32-YEAR-OLD Robby Huang, a freelance videographer and Zumba instructor in Indianapolis, showed his brother the pilot for a planned YouTube series chronicling his backpacking trips, Huang’s brother said, “Great, but are you sure people are going to want to watch you just out walking?” Four years later, Adventure Archives has 38,000 subscribers who tune in for hour long videos of Huang and his cousins Bryan and Andrew Lin walking, driving to trail heads, consulting maps, hanging hammocks, cooking, eating, and now and again waxing romantic about nature and solitude—all in high-def 4K resolution with a kind of spa-jazz soundtrack.
Adventure Archives is part of a social media-era version of outdoor programming you might call norm core bushcraft—regular people broadcasting their decidedly unextreme outdoorsy exploits. And millions of people are watching, further proof that You- Tube has done more to stretch the definition of entertainment than the Roman Colosseum and televised spelling bees. At the heart of the niche are a few bonafide Internet celebs with legions of followers. Seven million subscribe to the Brave Wilderness channel, on which a parade of ornery and venomous animals bite and sting a walking Steve Irwin parody calling himself Coyote Peterson. Nearly five million subscribers Zen out to the silent, anonymous Australian hero of Primitive Technology, who makes huts and stone tools and has earned gushy trib