Explorer core is a term that I made up in order to bring all of my daily activities under one umbrella. While reflecting on my past life, and planning my future life, I realised that it is possible to tie all of my favoured activities together into one coherent vision!

Jippi, hurray! And that vision of my life is what I call ‘explorer core’. It’s a nod to all the different ‘cores’ that have popped up over the recent years. Such as ‘cottage core’, ‘gorpcore’, ‘royalcore’, and a whole bunch of other ‘cores’ that are out there. But oh wait, you don’t know what a ‘core’ is? Well, dictionairy.com describes it as follows:

‘The -core trend takes the idea of fandom and applies it to aesthetics, fashion, home decor, accessories, and even styles of art and photography.’

You can read the full explanation and more examples on this page.

It is basically just an umbrella term that you can use to tie a lot of things together. It mostly focuses on aesthetics, but I’d like to include all sorts of activities.

In this document I will outline how I define ‘explorer core’. It’ll be based on a few pillars that I will describe beneath. But first, let me describe how I and why got to the act of creating this term.

Why am I trying to define some sort of genre?

To understand this, you have to understand that I am quite a reflective person. I enjoy thinking and analysing. Especially my own life. So at the end of each year, I take the time to reflect on my life and the direction it is going into. And based on that I create a document of goals that should enable me to steer my life in the direction I would like it to go.

This year, while reflecting on my life, I had an epiphany! I realised that I am able to connect all the dots in my planning. My vision of the future became very sharp, as I realised everything I had been doing and everything I aim to do can all be described with three little sentences (see below). And later I was able to condense these three sentences into one coherent vision: explorer core!

a full colour poster from the 1960 of a explorer with a subtle mustache in a European forest holding a book and a pen

What is explorer core?

In my 2023 goals document, I summarised my life, values, and hobbies with these three lines:

  • Adventure, endurance sporter
  • Creative developer
  • Independent thinker

I believe that most of my endeavors can be classified under one of those titles. Of course, it is a bit narrow-minded to try to simplify your life into a few words. But on the other hand: it can be very helpful for the comprehension of your life. However, it is important to acknowledge that you can never fully entail all facets of life into a theoretical framework. And it would be silly to try. But theoretical frameworks are very handy tools nonetheless! They should just not be taken too seriously.

In fact, I believe that the tree above-mentioned bullet points are a bit dry and boring. They can be spiced up a bit! Where is the imagination? Where is the fun?

And that’s when I realised that it can all be combined into one vision. The vision of a historical explorer!

a realistic, full-colour, 1920 detailed propaganda poster of an adventurer in a European forest on an expedition to study nature, wearing linen clothes, holding a book and pen

Just think about it:

  • Adventure, endurance sporter
    • You have to be fit and strong to go on expeditions into nature! Long days of collecting samples and exploring unchartered territory. Your body needs to be able to carry heavy bags of books and equipment. And your body needs to be able to run away from wild animals, or other dangerous situations.
  • Creative developer
    • You are not just a ‘creative developer’, you are an inventor! Just like Leonardo Da Vinci, you like to study natural phenomena and put that knowledge into practice using modern technologies. And don’t forget that you need to be very practical when you are out on an expedition. You need to be able to create the weirdest little inventions in order to keep the expedition going. Make, do, and mend!
  • Independent thinker
    • As an explorer, you have a curious mind. You don’t take any information for granted and you want to investigate everything firsthand. You enjoy studying books as much as you like to go out on expeditions to gather empirical evidence. Your thirst for knowledge never stops!

To me, the heart of ‘explorer core’ is the inquisitive outlook on life. Like Leonard Cohen once said: ‘the whole world was functioning for the benefit of my personal observation and education’. This means that to be an ‘explorer’ means that you are an observer, but not merely as a poet. You are an observer in the most analytical sense, in the way that scientists and philosophers are observers. You want to unravel the mystery, whereas poets merely revere mystery.

The explorer, a.k.a. philosopher, scientist, and poet.

An explorer is the combination of a philosopher, a scientist, and a poet. It all starts with the curiosity of the philosopher. You observe and wonder about the world. Trying to make sense of it.

When you find something that catches your attention, you become very structural. Your analytical brain starts to work. This is the scientist at work. He wants to dive deep into the matter. Make structural observations, take samples, and study the matter at hand.

Lastly, there is the poet in you. For some things cannot be unraveled. Sometimes, the mystery remains a mystery. Then the poet in you wakes up and is able to appreciate the mystery in all of its glory. It is able to not only appreciate it, but it is able to worship/praise/honour it with love.

a full colour hand drawn poster from the 1960s of a explorer with a subtle mustache in a European forest holding a book and a pen


Without explaining them all in detail, I’d like to share some of my personal values that I can see being reflected in ‘explorer core’.

  • Freedom
  • Exploration
  • Curiosity
  • Analytical
  • Critical (thinking)
  • Diversity
  • Openness
  • Discipline
  • Structured
  • Challenging

Inspirational pictures 🙂

The first example that came to mind when thinking about ‘explorer core’ was the fictional character Lord Asriel from the His Dark Materials trilogy. I absolutely adored these books when I was a kid. And I think Lord Asriel embodies ‘explorer core’ quite well. He is a cultured, well-connected individual who is a scientist and an explorer. He spends his days traveling, exploring, studying, and making an impact on the world.

For the aesthetics of explorer core, I will now share some cool images of early 20th-century mountaineers. I feel like they perfectly embody what I mean when I think of ‘explorers’.

Socks up high, shirt tucked in, wide trousers. These hot guys are 100% explorer core. Source
Shirt tucked into trousers is essential for explorer core. Also: wide trousers, essential. Source.
Jacket with lots of pockets? This screams explorer core. Please. Source.
Excellent jacket. Strong material, strong pose. Good job mate. Source
Jacket. Lots of pockets. Say no more. Socks up high? An excellent choice my friend. Source
This picture does not need any further explanation. This is explorer core. source
explorer core
A bit too chaotic for explorer core. But the colours and materials are nice. Clean this room up and you’ve got yourself a nice explorer core room. source
Lots of tiny drawers to put samples in. Very explorer core. Source
Making field notes: explorer core. Studying and observing. Very much explorer core. Source