Brad Ludden

Founder of First Descents and Stoke Broker

Hometown

Whitefish, MT

Current

Whitefish, MT

Brad was born at the base of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, and raised in the Rockies of Northwestern Montana. His days have always been spent outside — through all four seasons, across continents, and on some of the world’s most remote rivers, charting unexplored territory. It is in the heart of the wild, natural moment that Brad comes alive. An avid pilot, skier, outdoorsman, and whitewater kayaker, Brad most enjoys watching the sun rise and set in places where he feels small and insignificant against the backdrop of extraordinary adventure. He is a former professional whitewater kayaker, the founder of First Descents, a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer and other serious health conditions, and the founder of Stoke Broker, a cause corporation wholly owned by First Descents, which creates life-defining adventures that ignite impact.

He is a former professional whitewater kayaker, the founder of First Descents, a nonprofit organization that provides free, life-changing outdoor adventures to young adults impacted by cancer and other serious health conditions, and the founder of Stoke Broker, a company that creates life-defining outdoor adventures and is wholly owned by and in support of First Descents.

Life Motto: What could possibly go wrong?

Top Adventure Bucket-list Objective: Spend some time in Iceland skiing and surfing!

What does living the mountain life mean to you?

To me it means prioritizing outdoor adventure above all else. Mother nature is the greatest teacher. Her lessons are invaluable and offer perspective, guidance, humility and inspiration. Living the mountain life gives us a front row seat to these valuable teachings if we choose to seek and receive them!

What's one of the best decisions you've ever made?

To prioritize passion over profit.

Describe what your perfect day in the outdoors looks like.

I like to think of it more as a perfect and average Saturday at home. It starts with a fresh cup of coffee in my hand as I open the hangar door to see the first light of the day shine onto the plane. After a visit to a remote backcountry strip for some fishing I put the plane away and jump on my bike for a long ride through the mountains to let my mind wander and my legs get tired. Finishing off the day with a cold drink and hot fire as the sun disappears behind the peaks and offers an opportunity to reflect on the day and think about tomorrow's adventures.

What's one reason you love working with Stio?

I love how they truly embrace and live the mountain lifestyle. It's not an act - it's their passion. And I share it! Their gear is a reflection of that passion and wearing it allows me to have better, bigger and more memorable adventures myself. 

Do you have any goals or objectives for the coming year?

I want to continue building time in my Cessna 180 and learning more about backcountry aviation with her as my teacher. I want to ski. A lot! And in new places. I'd like to spend more time in the backcountry on my skis than on the resort. And, as always, I'd like to have some unforgettable river adventures when the snow begins to melt. 

How do you create balance in your life? 

I prioritize time spent outside daily - without the distraction of technology. This time is sacred and allows the space for my mind to wander, new ideas to emerge and my mental health to move in a positive and restorative direction.

What styles (Stio products) are you most excited about this season, and where will you be taking them?

I'm stoked on the Environ pant and jacket - can't wait to go on some long tours in the remote Montana mountains with that gear!

What does Let The Outside In mean to you?

It means putting outdoor adventure first! Creating the space and time for the healing power of adventure!