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50 Outdoor Adventure Films To Get You Through Social Distancing

Author: Hilary Oliver

March 31, 2020

We rounded up this big, juicy list of inspiring—and hilarious—adventure flicks to help keep stoke high even while we're all a bit distant. It's organized by category: Climbing/Alpinism, Oceans, Snow, Running, Adventure, Rivers, Hollywood, Just For Fun, For Laughs and our Personal Faves. So get comfy with a cold beer or a hot tea—better yet, we suggest making a date to watch the same movie as a friend remotely and then discussing it afterward for a richer, more social experience. We've got something for everyone on this list—and many of them stream for FREE. Also, don't miss OR Reruns: a look back at some of our all-time favorite OR films, rebroadcasted on the Outdoor Research YouTube channel. We hope you enjoy!

 

A mountain biker rides through a temple in Nepal.

OUR PERSONAL FAVES

RJ Ripper (Watch now on Vimeo, 20 min) FREE
“Kids and bikes; wherever you are in the world, they go together. The chaotic streets of Kathmandu may not seem like a typical breeding ground for world-class mountain bikers, but then again nothing is typical about Rajesh (RJ) Magar. Since learning to ride on a beat-up clunker, to becoming the four-time National Champion at age 21, RJ’s story is one of boundless childhood dreaming and unstoppable determination, forged from junkyard scraps and tested on the rugged trails of the mighty Himalaya.’

Drawn to High Places (Watch now on YouTube, 6 min) FREE
“In Drawn to High Places, artist Nikki Frumkin balances chaos, power, and beauty in her watercolor paintings of the Pacific Northwest’s most dramatic mountain ranges, breathing a new life and sense of wonder into these landscapes we cherish. Directed by Elise Giordano & Jaeger Shaw Written, Filmed & Edited by Elise Giordano Featuring Nikki Frumkin.”

How To Run 100 Miles (Watch now on YouTube, 28 min) FREE
“I stepped up to the starting line of the Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, alongside my friend Jayson Sime. The race is a 102.9-mile ultramarathon with 20,000 feet of elevation gain, no small feat for a couple of guys who don’t know what they’re doing. I’d say we were there to test out Jayson’s life philosophy, which is basically that you can do anything you dream up, as long as you put in the work and refuse to quit. That ethic has worked for him in almost every other area of life, despite growing up in poverty, one of six children with no father, and dyslexia.”

55 Hours In Mexico (Watch now on Vimeo, 9 min) FREE
“For those with 9 to 5 office jobs, the weekend is a source of freedom and balance. How adventurous can one get in a single weekend and 55 hours away from home? We headed to Mexico with our favorite working stiff Karl Thompson to explore the limits of the weekend warrior.”

My Big White Thighs And Me (Watch now on Vimeo, 25 min) FREE
“My Big White Thighs & Me encourages us all to turn down the volume on the demands of the world and to celebrate the quiet heroism of a female life and it’s body. A story about womanhood, miscarriage, healing, loving your own skin & freezing your bum off in cold water. My Big White Thighs & Me is Hannah’s personal story of how she rebalanced her life and began to appreciate the small things by dipping her feet and taking the plunge.”

The Road From Karakol (Watch now on Vimeo) (25 min) FREE
“In summer 2011, OR athlete Kyle Dempster took off on his bike across Kyrgyzstan with a couple mostly-accurate maps, a trailer full of climbing gear, and a vocabulary of 10 Kyrgyz words. He spent two months pedaling and pushing the bike more than 1200 km on roads of variable states of neglect, wading through wild rivers, dealing with corrupt military checkpoint staff, and soloing a handful of unclimbed alpine rock and mixed routes. He recorded the journey, his camera his only partner, friend, and sometimes the only receiving end of his conversations for days at a time.”

Afghan Cycles (Watch now on iTunes, Google, Amazon, 1 h 28 min)
“What lengths would you go to in order to ride a bicycle? Following a new generation of young Afghan women cyclists, Afghan Cycles uses the bicycle to tell a story of women’s rights - human rights - and the struggles faced by Afghan women on a daily basis, from discrimination to abuse, to the oppressive silencing of their voices in all aspects of contemporary society.”

 

A climber from the film Operation Moffat

CLIMBING and ALPINISM

Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey (Watch now on Vimeo/Amazon/iTunes, 1 h 35 min)
“Hailed as one of the most prolific and influential climbers of all time, Fred Beckey has become a cult hero in the outdoor world. Eschewing fame, sponsors and family life so his only obligation would be the next summit, this rebel athlete conquered more unclimbed peaks than anyone in history during his 80-year career, staying myopically focused on the mountains until age 94.”

Operation Moffat (Watch now on Red Bull TV, 22 min) FREE
“Writer and climber Claire Carter is trying to forge a courageous path in life. She finds inspiration in the legendary guide and writer Gwen Moffat, who broke the mould for what women can achieve in the mountains half a century earlier.”

Meru (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 30 min)
“Renowned alpinists Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk attempt the impossible climb: the Shark's Fin on Mount Meru, a 21,000 foot peak above the Ganges River in Northern India and the ultimate challenge in the high-stakes world of big-wall climbing.”

Valley Uprising (Watch now on Vimeo On Demand, 1 h 38 min)
“The larger-than-life characters of Yosemite carved out an extreme bohemian lifestyle in the valley: living in the dirt, clashing with the National Park authorities, and pioneering the boldest climbs on earth. The torch has been passed across three generations of climbers; through rivalries, tragedies and triumphs, the art of Yosemite climbing has advanced beyond anyone’s imagination.”

Return To Mt Kennedy (Watch now on Amazon, Vimeo On Demand, 1 h 20 min)
“In 1965 Jim Whittaker led Senator Robert Kennedy to the first ascent of a remote mountain in the Yukon named after the late president, JFK. Fifty years later, the sons of the original climbing team—a raucous band manager, a candidate for governor, and a young mountaineer—embark on an expedition to the mountain to celebrate the special bond that connects them all. Featuring unreleased instrumentals by Eddie Vedder and never before seen footage and photos of Robert Kennedy.”

Break On Through (Watch now on Red Bull TV, 29 min) FREE
“Follow American climber Margo Hayes on her quest to make history and become the first woman to ascend two of the most revered climbs in the world – La Rambla in Spain and Biographie in France.”

Touching The Void (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 46 min)
“Two men's thrilling and disastrous climb of the remote and treacherous Siula Grande in Peru. An incredible account of tragedy, friendship and human endurance.”

The Dawn Wall (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 40 min)
“Legendary free climber Tommy Caldwell tries to get over heartbreak by scaling 3,000ft of an impossible rock face: the Dawn Wall of El Capitan.”

Free Solo (Watch now on Disney+, 1 h 40 min)
“From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi (“MERU”) and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin comes National Geographic Documentary Film’s FREE SOLO, a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock ... the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park ... without a rope.”

A Line Across The Sky (Watch now on Red Bull TV, 22 min) FREE
“Completing Patagonia's Fitz Roy Traverse, a journey across seven peaks and 4,000m of vertical climbing, is one of alpinism's most elusive achievements. Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold are world-class sport climbers, but are they ready for this?”

An American Ascent (Watch now on Amazon, Vimeo, iTunes, 1 h 6 min)
“In only a few decades the United States will become a majority-minority nation, as people of color will outnumber today's white majority for the first time ever. Yet, a staggering number of people in this soon-to-be majority do not consider the outdoors as a place for them. By by taking on the grueling, 20,310 foot peak of the continent's biggest mountain, nine African-American climbers set out to shrink this Adventure Gap by building a legacy of inclusion in the outdoor/adventure community.”

SHOP WOMEN'S ROCK CLIMBING GEAR / MEN'S ROCK CLIMBING GEAR

Two surfers from the movie North of the Sun.

OCEANS

Under An Arctic Sky (Watch now on iTunes, 40 min)
“The film follows six surfers along with adventure photographer Chris Burkard and filmmaker Ben Weiland as they seek out unknown swell in the remote fjords of Iceland's Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Chartering a boat, they depart from Isafjordur on the cusp of the largest storm to make landfall in twenty-five years.”

Maiden (Watch now on iTunes, Amazon, 1 h 37 min)
“The inspiring true story of the first all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World yacht race.”

North of The Sun (Watch now on Vimeo On Demand, 46 min)
“Inge Wegge (25) and Jørn Ranum (22) spent nine months of cold, Norwegian winter in the isolated and uninhabited bay of a remote, arctic island by the coast of Northern-Norway, facing nothing but the vast Atlantic Ocean. There they built a cabin out of driftwood and other cast-off materials that washed up on shore, and ate expired food the stores would otherwise have thrown away. But the boys brought with them two items of utmost importance: Their surfboards - perhaps their biggest motivation for the arctic adventure.”

 

The short film Eclipse.

SNOW

Pretty Faces (Watch now on Vimeo On Demand, 56 min)
“Pretty faces is an all female ski film featuring the best athletes from around the world in celebration of playing outside, pushing the sport of skiing and living up to our fullest potential as a supportive community. Inspired by the desire to offer young girls role models and inspiration to play outside, this film aims to capture all the girl stoke from the pioneers who have paved the way to the "never-evers" who will continue to define what it means to ski like a girl.”

Eclipse (Watch now on YouTube, 31 min) FREE
“It was a ridiculous idea from the start. Travel to the edge of the earth to see one of the planet’s rarest events- a total solar eclipse in the Arctic. Faced with the likely reality of bad weather obscuring the sun and having to battle frigid, arctic temperatures and winds, the Salomon Freeski TV team set out on an expedition to realize photographer, Reuben Krabbe’s grand vision to capture a single unique image- one of skiing during a solar eclipse.“

The Art of Flight (Watch now on Red Bull TV, iTunes, 1 h 19 min)
“Curt Morgan and Travis Rice create the world's most progressive snowboard film by combining cutting-edge cinematography, stunning locales and the best freestyle snowboarding ever captured. Starring Mark Landvik, Pat Moore, John Jackson and more.”

SHOP WOMEN'S NEW ARRIVALS / SHOP MEN'S NEW ARRIVALS

A runner from the film Free to Run.

RUNNING

The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (Watch now on iTunes, Amazon, 1 h 29 min)
“A famous prison escape sparks the idea for a cult-like race that has seen only 10 finishers in its first 25 years. This award-winning, oddly inspiring, and wildly funny documentary reveals the sports world's most guarded secret.”

Where Dreams Go To Die - Gary Robbins & The Barkley Marathons (Watch now on YouTube, 1 h 16 min) FREE
“A documentary created by Ethan Newberry (The Ginger Runner) that follows Canadian ultrarunner, Gary Robbins, during his two attempts at completing The Barkley Marathons - a 100+ mile event many consider the toughest endurance run on Earth. Spanning more than 2 years, this journey is emotional, powerful and truly inspirational.”

WONDERLAND: Gary Robbins' FKT around Mount Rainier (Watch now on YouTube, 36 min) FREE
“On July 1st, 2015, Gary Robbins started at Longmire, in the shadow of Mount Rainier, and attempted to set the fastest known supported time around the Wonderland Trail. Kyle Skaggs' record of 20 hours 53 minutes was always considered unbeatable. 93 miles, over 24,000ft of elevation gain, and record breaking heat.”

Free To Run (Watch now on iTunes, Amazon, 1 h 39 min)
“Follow the history of running as it moves from stadium to streets and learn how legends like Steve Prefontaine and Kathrine Switzer redefined the sport as a popular phenomenon.”

 

The Frozen Road

ADVENTURE

The Great Alone (Watch now on iTunes, 1 h 22 min)
“The Great Alone" is an award-winning documentary packed with adventure and thrills that follows the inspiring comeback story of four-time Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey and his indestructible love and passion for dog sledding, his family and the infamous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.”

The Frozen Road (Watch now on Vimeo, 25 min) FREE
“Self-shot and edited whilst cycling around the world, this short film charts Ben Page’s winter journey into the Canadian Arctic as he completed his bike ride up the American continent. Compelled by Jack London’s assertion that ‘any man who is a man can travel alone,’ he sought an adventure of perfect solitude.”

180 Degrees South (Watch now on Amazon, 1h 26 min)
“Jeff Johnson retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Choulnard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia.”

Walkabout (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 40 min)
“A young sister and brother are abandoned in the harsh Australian outback and must learn to cope in the natural world, without their usual comforts, in this hypnotic masterpiece from Nicolas Roeg. Along the way, they meet a young aborigine on his "walkabout," a rite of passage in which adolescent boys are initiated into manhood by journeying into the wilderness alone.”

Blood Road (Watch now on Red Bull TV, 1 h 32 min) FREE
“In this award-winning film, Rebecca Rusch cycles 1,930km along the Ho Chi Minh Trail through the jungles of Vietnam. The goal is to reach the site where her father, a US Air Force pilot, was shot down in Laos more than 40 years earlier.”

Unbranded (Watch now, 1 h 46 min)
“Sixteen mustangs, four men, one dream: to ride border to border, Mexico to Canada, up the spine of the American West. The documentary tracks four fresh-out-of-college buddies as they take on wild mustangs to be their trusted mounts, and set out on the adventure of a lifetime. This film illustrates the challenges of managing 'mustang' population throughout the western states.”

Minding The Gap (Watch now on Hulu, 1 h 33 min)
Filmmaker Bing Liu searches for correlations between his skateboarder friends' turbulent upbringings and the complexities of modern-day masculinity.

The Last Honey Hunter (Watch now on Vimeo, 35 min) FREE
“In the steep mountain jungles of Nepal’s Hongu river valley, members of the isolated Kulung culture have risked their lives for generations scaling dangerous cliffs to collect a wild and toxic honey. Deep and dark, the film glides through a misty world of forest spirits, dreams, and woodsmoke to share the story of the leader of the harvest and his final journey.”

SHOP WOMEN'S BACKPACKING GEAR / MEN'S BACKPACKING GEAR

Kamchatka Steelhead Project

RIVERS

Eastern Rises (Watch now on Vimeo On Demand, 38 min)
“The Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East may as well be the end of the Earth. Its enormously wild landscape is swarming with bugs and bears and threaded with rivers full of massive mouse-eating trout. In this stunning film, fishing is poetry, Bigfoot lurks in the fog and fishermen risk life and limb in decommissioned Cold War helicopters to explore rivers that have never been fished before.”

Kamchatka Steelhead Project (Watch now on Vimeo, 7 min) FREE
“Catching steelhead in Kamchatka is illegal unless you’re capturing data on the fish for the Russian government.”

The Important Places (Watch now on Vimeo, 10 min) FREE
“This poignant short about the father-son bond teaches us that although we may sometimes go astray — stuck in eddies and in life — the path back to the important places is never too far away.”

The Time Travelers (Watch now on Vimeo, 23 min) FREE
“In January 2017, the USA Men’s Rafting Team set their sights on making history by attempting to break a legendary speed record down 277 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Their goal was 34 hours. 34 hours…straight.”

 

The movie Tracks.

ADVENTURE BY HOLLYWOOD

The Bear (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 36 min)
‘Acclaimed account of an orphaned grizzly cub and a wounded Kodiak bear that join forces in their struggle for survival in 1885 Canada.”

Tracks (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 40 min)
“From the producers of THE KING'S SPEECH comes this remarkable true story of Robyn Davidson, a young woman who leaves her urban life to trek through the sprawling Australian desert.” Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Rainer Bock

The Eiger Sanction (Watch now on iTunes, Amazon, 2 h 9 min)
“Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this intrigue thriller about a retired assassin who is forced into action when a deadly double agent murders a close friend.”

Into The Wild (Watch now on Amazon, 2 h 28 min)
“This is the true story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch). Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead, McCandless instead walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure.”

Wild (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 55 min)
“Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line) stars in this extraordinary true story from the director of Dallas Buyers Club and based on the best-selling novel.”

Walkabout (Watch now on Amazon, 1 hr 40 min)
“A young sister and brother are abandoned in the harsh Australian outback and must learn to cope in the natural world, without their usual comforts, in this hypnotic masterpiece from Nicolas Roeg. Along the way, they meet a young aborigine on his "walkabout," a rite of passage in which adolescent boys are initiated into manhood by journeying into the wilderness alone.”

127 Hours (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h, 33 min)
“James Franco shines in the fact-based story of rock climber Aron Ralston who was trapped for five days in a desolate canyon.”

Eddie The Eagle (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 45 min)
“Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman co-star in the inspirational true story of Eddie the Eagle, a British ski-jumper whose Olympic performance wins the hearts of fans around the world.”

 

Homeward Bound

JUST FOR FUN

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 24 min)
“Two dogs and a cat set out across America to find their owners.”

Moana (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 48 min)
“Moana sets sail on a daring mission to save her people. Along the way, she meets the once mighty demigod Maui–together they cross the ocean on a fun-filled, action-packed voyage.”

 

Vertical Limit

FOR LAUGHS

Cliffhanger (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 52 min)
“Uber-mountain man Sylvester Stallone matches muscles and wits with ultra-bad guy John Lithgow in this dizzying thrill spectacular.”

Vertical Limit (Watch now on Amazon, 2 h 4 min)
“A young climber must risk his life in order to rescue his sister on top of K2, the world's second highest - and deadliest - mountain.”

The River Wild (Watch now on Amazon, 1 h 51 min)
“A family struggling to stay together decides to take a rafting vacation, only to meet up with a pair of mysterious men whose desperation grows in this intense, white-knuckle ride. With David Straitharn, John C. Reilly.”

Hilary Oliver

​Hilary Oliver is a freelance writer and creator of TheGription.com. She loves climbing, biking and writing about climbing and biking. Her work has appeared on Adventure Journal, The Dirtbag Diaries, Freehub Magazine, Women’s Adventure, The Clymb, Women’s Movement and several other publications and web sites. If she’s not on the trail or up a rock, you can probably find her typing away on her laptop, hopefully within close proximity to strong coffee and hot breakfast burritos.