It’s a commonly known fact that the key ingredient to a successful outdoor adventure is planning. But what if you don’t even know what to plan in the first place? There are so many places to choose from, routes to take and adventures to embark on that getting inspiration can feel a little daunting. Sometimes all you need to get a great idea going is a little nudge in the right direction. And fear not: you can find it right in your living room!
A great way to get some ideas for your next epic trip to the outdoors can be through watching inspiring outdoor movies. From outdoor heroes like Alex Honnold and Cheryl Strayed to epic landscapes and awesome stories of animals and humans alike, there are so many movies that will spark your curiosity to plan your next epic trip. And who knows where it might lead you!
Perhaps the outdoor movie that caused the biggest hype for a walking trail ever, Wild tells the true story of how Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail—carrying a humongous backpack and more emotional baggage than most people could lift, let alone carry for over 2000 miles. From living the simple life to the importance of knowing your shoe size, this movie will inspire you in ways you can’t imagine.
In the outdoors world, there are few groups more badass than big rock climbers. And there’s one place where it all started… Yosemite Valley. This documentary tells the tale of the most badass (read: insane) climbers you’ll ever meet, and the rising of a counter-culture that turned into a global sport sensation. You’ll be holding on to the edge of your sofa for this one.
Alaska. Wide open planes, huge riverbeds, and a whole lot of… grizzly bears. This movie is an Oscar-winning documentary about a man who gave his life to protect these creatures, and lets viewers experience how raw nature can be through his eyes. An absolute jaw-dropper of a movie.
Into the Wild
Based on a book by John Krakauer, Into The Wild follows the true story of Christopher McCandless on his journey away from civilization and into the bliss of nature. Plus, this movie is an excellent motivator to make sure you pack enough food on your next trip. Believe me.
Surfing. Wavy hair. Keanu Reeves. If watching this epic* movie doesn’t want to make you jump in a car, drive to a beach and learn to surf immediately, I don’t know what to tell you.
*(terribly acted and ultimately ill-fated, but still)
Have a few kids and your adventure days are over, right? Wrong! This incredible family shows how epic adventures can be done with kids, and even grandparents in tow. All these guys need is a van, some sufboards, waves to ride and air to breathe. Beautifully narrated by 6-year old mini-surfer dude Given, this movie is a wonderful inspiration for family-based trips.
Anything narrated by David Attenborough
Planet Earth is a magical place, filled with creatures, natural phenomena and paradise birds more impressive than your wildest dreams. And the awesome TV series Planet Earth and Our Planet capture it like no other. Watching a few episodes of any of these series will return your sense of wonder for the natural world, and might have you choosing your next outdoor adventure based on the landscapes and wildlife you might find there.
A Walk in the Woods
Similar to what Wild did for the PCT, A Walk In the Woods does for the Appalachian Trail. Running from Georgia to Maine, the AT is a 2200-mile long continuous footpath, braved by thru-hikers for months at a time with the goal of completing it in one season, which takes about 4-6 months. And one of those thru-hikers was novelist Bill Bryson. This is a humorous film about his travels on foot, including an infamous bear scene, with beautiful scenery of the Appalachian Mountains.
We’re back in Yosemite folks, and this time with a climbing record that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Free Solo is an Oscar-winning documentary about Alex Honnold’s “free solo,” aka ABSOLUTELY ROPE-LESS, climb up the 3000-foot solid rockface of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, in one solid ascent. Yeah. Not for the faint-hearted.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
This heart-warming and hilarious movie about a young boy and his grumpy adoptive “uncle” fleeing armed forces through the woods is an expected and underrated charmer. Directed by New Zealand’s finest, Taika Waititi, it’s full of laughs and warmth, as well as the slightly realer side of outdoor adventuring: injured ankles, bursting hot-water bottles and unforgettable family bonding.