11 Best Outdoor Documentaries Streaming on Netflix

Jumbo Wild

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.


The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

With a name as daunting as “The Race That Eat’s Its Young,” the Barkley Marathons is one of the most challenging and curious ultradistance 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.


The Endless Summer

This quintessential surf documentary shows what sports documentaries were like before GoPros. Roger Ebert called this “90 minutes of wish fulfillment.” Damn straight.


Higher

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 made up of “Deeper,” “Further,” and “Higher.”


Finding Traction

“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.


McConkey

It’s fitting that Shane McConkey’s biopic is one of the most riveting action sports films we’ve ever seen. “McConkey” is a touching tribute to a man who left a humongous mark on the outdoor world and personified the phrase “seize the day.” In fact, the film’s real triumph is that it honors the man by continuing his habit of inspiring others to go bigger.


Rising From Ashes

Chronicling the Rwandan National Cycling Team’s bid to rise up from the horrors of genocide (and reach the 2012 Olympics) under the coaching of mountain bike pioneer Tom Ritchey, this film is alternately devastating and hopeful.


Into the Mind

This is one of the most beautiful films on the list, but it isn’t the usual preseason stoke film. Framed by a loose narrative that takes viewers through the stages of life as seen by a skier, the storyline and amazing cinematography and editing in this feature film elevate it far above the medium of ski porn.


Beyond the Edge

Reenactments can be documentary death, but director Leanne Pooley effectively balances her staged shots with archival footage and interviews, drawing viewers into the story of what went on behind the first summit of the world’s tallest mountain.


Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau

More than a surfing film, “Hawaiian” explores the struggles of native Hawaiians in the face of development and takes a close look at one of Hawaii’s surf legends.


30 for 30: Slaying the Badger

The film depicts the rivalry between Greg LeMond — the first (and now only) American winner of the Tour De France — and his greatest rival and teammate. Told through interviews and archival footage, the drama rivals fiction and captures the pain and joy present in every competitive sport.


Mile… Mile & A Half

In a list packed with professional athletes, this film features regular joes who spent a month hiking California’s John Muir Trail. If the fun personalities, the great cinematography, and the beauty of California’s backcountry don’t make you want to go hiking, you probably clicked on GearJunkie.com by accident.


Where the Trail Ends

Pro freeride mountain biker Darren Berrecloth and friends travel the world searching for new terrain to rival the cliffs in Virgin, Utah. And, man, do they find it. This is a great look at the sport’s more contemplative side.