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.
Top 10 Outdoor Documentaries on Netflix
The quintessential surf documentary shows what sports documentaries were like before GoPros. Roger Ebert called this “90 minutes of wish fulfillment.” Damn Straight.
Inspired by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s trek to Patagonia in 1968, Jeff Johnson recreates the journey. The ensuing trip, along with a face-to-face meeting with Chouinard, reveals insight on the nature of the man behind one of the largest and most environmentally conscious gear companies in the world.
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 Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy.
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 boundary 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 just 10 people 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.
Learn how top photographers capture some of the world’s most amazing images. The series details the motivation and technique of professional photographers in the outdoors. The episodes cover underwater, Himalayas, adrenaline, wilderness, panoramic, and tribal photography. Aspiring outdoors photographers, this one’s for you.
Finding Traction tells of Nikki Kimball’s journey to set the fastest known time 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.
In 1998 Marco Pantani won both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. No rider has repeated the endeavor since. Watch his rise to cycling stardom, fall, and ultimate battle against drug addiction. But the drug isn’t one you’d expect for a high-profile road cyclist.
An immediate classic, the entire first season of Planet Earth is available for streaming now. Timeless in cinematic beauty, and narrated by David Attenborough, watch what started the international hit. The original series covers the poles, mountains, fresh water, caves, deserts, ice worlds, jungles, shallow seas, seasonal forests, and ocean depths.
See page 2 for some more of our favorite outdoors trailers (that are no longer streaming on Netflix).