5 steps to becoming a world-class dirtbag

Before we begin, let’s examine what a dirtbag is:

“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.”

Every single one of these dirtbag attributes is easily achievable, and I’ll show you five easy steps on how to get there.

1. Quit your job

This is the most obvious step. You no longer have time for cubicle life. Gone are your weekend warrior days.

For your dirtbag aspirations to come true, you must stop what you’re doing right now at work. And quit.

By doing so, you will undoubtedly find little to no work in your chosen industry when your dirtbag days expire. But that is not the point at the moment. Worry about those headaches when the time comes.

2. Quit your relationships

Total dirtbag devotion requires a solitary, single-minded lifestyle.The more you work on maintaining your relationships with phone calls, e-mails, Skype and all that other garbage, the less quality time you have to pursue what is most important in life: Dirtbaggin’.

A true dirtbag has no qualms whatsoever about canceling plans with people at the last minute, even if it means friendships will be lost. You have one friend, and one friend only. And that person would be you.

Don’t let silly things like love and attachment deter you from your dirtbag goals. Be prepared for numerous challenges along the way.

What might seem like an attractive, suitable, and maybe even long-term mate is really just a major distraction.

Remember, always stay focused, dirtbag.

3. Drop out of society

Don’t pay rent. Don’t pay bills. Don’t own a cell phone. Don’t drive a car. You have one singular goal in mind, and it’s dirtbaggery.

The moment you start participating in society is the moment you’re forced to prioritize between something precious like sweet, sweet powder and something lame like having a roof over your head. Do not make this mistake.

If anyone attempts to force you to pay rent/bills, casually walk away and never return. It’s time to move on. The same is true if you happen to find yourself paying for a bar tab.

Ultimately, you want people to say “I don’t have a freaking clue where he is these days” when your name comes up in conversation.

4. Sleep anywhere

A dirtbag will—and most often prefers—sleeping wherever he/she can hang a hat. The closer to the action, the better. Plan on tackling burly climbing routes in the morning? Crash within walking distance.

It doesn’t matter if you sleep on private property, on a sandy beach, or in a supposed “no camping” zone. What matters is that the moment you wake up, you’re there. Rules no longer apply to you, dirtbag.

Grow accustomed to the idea of never owning a quality bed again.

5. Never shower

Showering is a big no-no in the dirtbag community. Grime and body odor is good. Scientists said something about the health benefits of not showering, but I can’t remember what. Just know you are doing the right thing.

Breaking down and showering is a total waste of time, and maybe even money if you were suckered.

You are, however, allowed to splash cold water on your face. Swimming in rivers also counts as showering.

Congratulations. You are now a world-class dirtbag.

Now, get off the computer you’re borrowing and the wi-fi connection you’re stealing, and go live your dirtbag dreams. I’m proud of you.



  1. I didn’t realize until I read this blog how dangerously close I am to being a full-fledged dirt bag. As soon as my car is repossessed and my cell phone gets shut off (due to happen any day) I will just need to stop showering & I’m there.

    Wow. Here I thought I was pursuing my dreams?

    1. The dirtbag thing to do in your situation would be to drive your car somewhere cool (like an awesome running spot, for you), and just leave it there.

      1. I was thinking of parking it at Chase Bank, since they’re the ones who own it anyway. If my knee was better I would just run away.

      2. I probably should not have joked about something that has actually left me feeling at an absolute lifetime low. When I enrolled in grad school, my career goal was not to be a dirtbag.

      3. I’m really sorry to hear that. Sometimes humor is the best medicine though. We’ve all been there. One really positive thing you have going for you as a runner is the willpower and determination to keep pushing on. This economy has made unintentional “dirtbags” out of a lot of people. Keep your head up, friend.

      4. Thank you. I didn’t mean to come down hard, if I did. I had a particularly rough morning. But .. I made a very positive change, I was requested to take a drug test (potential job offer on the horizon!), I have a new place to live (free, big, sharing only space with an office – no one lives here!) AND above all else, I’m giving myself permission to be happy. One step further away from being a dirtbag 🙂

      1. In other words, you are 4/5 of the way to being a world-class dirtbag. Good work!

      1. Hum, good question. When you put it that way, a dirtbag is entirely positive. The term probably carries a negative connotation for people (like me) who have to work and pay bills, while the dirtbags get to have all the fun all the time. So yeah, us non-dirtbags are jealous.

      2. Get sandy. I do have access to a huge sand box on the ocean right down the street. Does that count?

      3. My rudear (yep, that’s supposed to be rude + radar) is way off. Damn thing must be broken again.

    1. If the Dirtbag Manifesto existed (and who knows, maybe it does), this might be the parody.

  2. Almost there, but I’m still miles away from world-class : I like showers in hotel rooms with functional no-charge WiFi.

    Here’s another thing: is “world-class dirtbag” a good ol’-fashioned oxymoron?

    1. You might be right. But if we define “world-class” as “ranking above all others,” one could certainly rank above all others in the science of dirtbaggery.

  3. I spent five years as a dirtbag, and let me tell you California is the place to be, if what you’re being is a dirtbag. (I didn’t do the food stamps, but I hear they’re really easy to get) I did work on a month to month basis as an industrial cog, construction gopher and restaurant whore (if only people truly understood what kind of trash cooks their food they would stay home) and I did occasionally shower at the random friend’s house or the local community college. So with all my working and showering, I guess I was only a 3/5ths dirtbag, but I was in an ideal location and I had a car. An urban dirtbag is either a gutterpunk (I cannot abide by those) or an authentic homeless person (I give cigarettes, not money). Everyone should give dirtbaggery a try for at least a year of their life, but you must be surrounded by dirt, not concrete. Dirtbaggery sure beats college, it’s much cheaper and the view is much better.

    1. Just a note. If you were to write “Diaries of a California Dirtbag,” I would read it.

  4. I would also have to disagree with your introductory definition of dirtbag. Living communally is not usually in the dirtbag’s bag. If all you have is one bag of second-hand trail mix, one can of sardines or one 32oz bottle of beer, one is not usually inclined to share. A six pack of Natty Ice and a moldy loaf of bread procured by dumpster diving the local Whole Foods is a gutterpunk staple, and is meant to be shared. A true dirtbag, does not usually eat much, and what he does eat is obtained by selling scrap aluminum or hopefully copper to the local scrap yard. If he does share, it is more likely to be with a dog than with the neighborhood gutterpunks. Although communal living would be quite efficient in the dirtbag’s forest floor, the types that laud the concept tend to prefer a city with a plethora of national banks in which to cash their parent’s monthly checks. A dirtbag needs no friends, which is good because he certainly doesn’t attract many.

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