Feeling cooped up? Don’t fret, we’ve got your back. Grab your remote and scroll below for the coolest outdoor adventure documentaries aimed to offer some fresh air for the mind, a waft of the salty breeze, the shred of some fresh powder, the sway of a sailboat off the coast, the glow of the arctic lights, the night sounds of the great outdoors… okay, you get the point. Get the Trailmix ready, sit back, and get the visual outdoor refresh you’ve been craving.
180° Degrees South
Director Chris Malloy follows the path of Jeff Johnson as he attempts to recreate Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard and The North Face founder Doug Tompkins’ 1968 journey from Ventura, California, to Patagonia. As the footage unfolds, it reveals a beautiful journey and the understanding that each person’s experience is one in their own in whatever direction you choose to head—not to mention it might have the greatest soundtrack of any documentary in our opinion.
Chin, Conrad Anker, and Renan Ozturk set out to climb Meru Peak, located in the Himalayas starting in 2008, and tandem Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin decided to document the experience. Filmed with absolute heart, the footage is gorgeous but emotional as the climbers fight through difficulty and face adversity to accomplish the strenuous task. Beyond the footage, it deals with calculated risk, and how it is a way of life for humans.
Under an Arctic Sky
Under An Arctic Sky is a brilliant film documenting a journey to the most remote corners of Iceland in the middle of winter in search of perfect surf, Yes, we said surfing and ICELAND. Six surfers set out along the frozen landscape to the reckless shores as the most dangerous storm in twenty-five years is about to arrive. The hunt for a pristine ice-cold wave then becomes a life-threatening prospect, but the endeavor to make history by surfing under the northern lights propels further.
Bran new on this list is Patagonia’s newest film, Treeline, a story about trees, but it is a lot more than just that. It follows a group of skiers, snowboarders, scientists, and healers to the birch forests of Japan, all the way to the red cedars of British Columbia. Trees tell the story of life on planet earth, and if we listen and examine carefully, there is much to learn. The film is visual eye candy for any outdoor aficionado, adventure, fascination, and culture are rooted within the gorgeous and informative film. You can watch on YouTube as we speak.
We would strongly advise any watcher to have a couple of beers before this one because if you haven’t seen the Oscar-winning Free Solo yet, it will leave you feeling like you are hanging by a finger off a cliff. Now, why would you want to watch that? Well, simply because it’s fascinating. Professional rock climber Alex Honnold attempts to conquer the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan’s 900-meter vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park. The film examines his mental capacity and physical determination to conquer what any regular person would feel unaccomplishable. A must watch, over and over again.
The Endless Summer
The OG on the list, this 1964 documentary follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August on a surf trip as they chase summer around the world. Bruce Brown’s narration, late 1960s surfing, and a surf-rock soundtrack make it addictingly classic. At some points, it almost feels over the top comical, but there is a beauty in the fact that this documentary and all its quirks helped create the wave that many ride today.
Mile… Mile and a Half
At this point in quarantine, we could all use a hike. Follow five friends that set out to hike California’s 211-mile John Muir Trail in just 25 days. The film offers majestic views and friendly antics, all inspired by the group’s bond and dedication to trek forward. The group of artists face epic snow conditions, recording the wild landscape; you can smell the fresh trail air out the speakers. Stock up on the Trailmix and hit play for this solid documentary on traversing through pure alpine beauty.