We’d all rather go out and live the outdoors than watch someone else do it, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a little inspiration every now and then.
With streaming video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, getting a virtual stoke is just a click away. Here, in random order, are 10 of our favorites, a few of the best outdoor documentaries streaming on Netflix now. (Last updated Feb. 21, 2018.)
Top 10 Outdoor Documentaries on Netflix
Get a taste for the training, sacrifice, and suffering inherent in climbing big mountains as elite climbers Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, and Renan Ozturk summit one of the world’s most difficult peaks. More than just a climbing movie, it’s a tale of perseverance, friendship, and survival.
This quintessential surf documentary shows what sports documentaries were like before GoPros. Roger Ebert called this “90 minutes of wish fulfillment.” Damn straight.
The plot is simple: Four brave women set out to row across the Pacific Ocean from America to Australia. The details, however, are anything but ordinary as the crew spends 9 months at sea overcoming extreme challenges. It’s history in the making.
Love “180 Degrees South?” Then this is the frigid surf film for you. Come along as six intrepid surfers head to Iceland in search of waves unlike any they’ve seen before.
Watch snowboarders ride peaks so steep it boggles the mind. Jeremy Jones is at it again with this big mountain snowboarding film, “Higher.” It depicts first descents in Jackson Hole, the Alaska Range, and above 20,000 feet in the Himalayas. Snowboarders Bryan Iguchi, Luca Pandolfi, and Ryland Bell join him for some out-of-this-world footage. Released in 2014, “Higher” completes the trilogy: “Deeper,” “Further,” and “Higher.”
An immersive, must-watch film, “Valley Uprising” details decades of Yosemite’s fabled big-wall climbs and climbers. Beginning in the golden age of early rock climbing, the film masterfully shows the rivalry between Royal Robbins and Warren Harding. It progresses to the Stone Masters of the 80s and the present-day Stone Monkeys. Each generation has icons and manages to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of rock climbing.
Jumbo Glacier and the surrounding area in British Columbia is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and backcountry skiers. Patagonia’s film “Jumbo Wild” explores the fallout from an architect’s desire to build a year-round ski and golf resort within the valley. The project would alter the immense wilderness all the locals enjoy. Watch and contemplate the pros and cons of easily accessible skiing on some of the world’s best powder.
With a name as daunting as “The Race That Eat’s Its Young,” the Barkley Marathons is one of the most challenging and curious ultra-distance races in the world. In over 25 years of races, only 10 people have finished. Across 100 miles, the course climbs 54,000 feet through untracked terrain and brambles. Entrants must write an essay on “Why I should be Allowed to Run in the Barkley” and pay the $1.60 application fee. Are you up for the challenge? Watch and find out.
“Finding Traction” tells of Nikki Kimball’s journey to set the fastest-known time (FKT) on Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail. From training in the Rockies to her record attempt, the film intimately portrays her journey. Known as America’s oldest trail, the route runs the entire length of Vermont through the Green Mountains. The story encourages people to spend more time outdoors and offers a new perspective on how far the human body and psyche can go.
Originally released in IMAX theaters, this documentary features some truly breathtaking footage of America’s natural wonders. Come along as a trio of adventurers revisits the camping trip that inspired the creation of the National Park system. An enjoyable mix of history and beautiful wild places.
See page 2 for some more of our favorite outdoors trailers (that are no longer streaming on Netflix).