We can’t all climb Denali’s summit or surf the world's biggest waves - but thanks to the power of documentary filmmaking, we can come close. It's one of the reasons we sponsor the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.
To get you inspired for your next adventure (even if it’s just a morning hike), we’ve rounded up twelve of our all-time favourite outdoor adventure documentaries. These movies have it all - high stakes, incredible scenery, and human drama. Together, they show us that anything’s possible as long as you have the audacity to try.
Think sailing around the world is hard? How about sailing around the world, alone, at the age of fourteen? Laura Dekker gives it a shot in this powerful documentary, which also chronicles the almost year-long battle Dekker waged against Dutch authorities to grant her permission for the trip.
An American Ascent
Mountain climbing is a sport unfairly dominated by scruffy white guys. This movie follows a group of climbers who band together to change that perception by forming the first African-American expedition to make it to the top of Denali, North America's highest peak.
Touching the Void
We couldn't leave out this classic, gripping film about two young climbers attempting to be the first to summit the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. All goes well - until it doesn't. A heart-pounding and inspirational survival story about the limits of human endurance (and friendship).
With incredible footage, this film follows professional climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to climb the face of El Capitan without a single rope. Watching Alex 'free climb' is a terrifying and unbelievable testament to human accomplishment (and recklessness).
Mile... Mile and a Half
Discover the beauty and history of California's High Sierra in this movie, which features five friends who hike the John Muir Trail in 25 days. This one will inspire you to pick up your own backpack.
From sailing to climbing, and California to South America, this movie follows Jeff Johnson as he tries to retrace the steps taken by Patagonia founders Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins on their 1968 trip to Patagonia. As Jeff surfs, climbs, and explores, he searches for the bigger meaning behind outdoor adventures. This one will make you rethink your life.
California's Yosemite National Park is at the heart of American climbing culture, thanks to the rebels and beatniks of the 1960s and 70s who started it all. This movie combines old footage with present-day interviews of the climbing renegades who defied society's expectations (and the laws of gravity).
The Great Alone
Discover what it takes to win Alaska's gruelling Iditarod Trail dogsledding race in this movie, which tells the life story of it's greatest champion, Lance Mackey. Come for the dogs and the scenery, stay for drama and wild tenacity of Mackey's story.
How close can we really be with nature? Grizzly bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell pushes it to the limit in this film, which is directed by Werner Herzog and made from Timothy's own footage of his life with grizzlies in the Alaskan wilderness.
Discover the history of big wave surfing in this film, directed by skateboard Stacey Peralta. Surfing 50+ foot waves is crazy, reckless, and an incredible feat - the adrenaline rush from watching it alone will make you either want to hop on a board or take a nap.
The Dawn Wall
Rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson spent years planning their climb of Yosemite's Dawn Wall, and then weeks camped out on the face of the sheer cliff attempting it. What makes this movie so compelling isn't just the amazing cinematography and the drama of climbing, but the relationships and events that brought the climbers to this point.
Do you have a favourite outdoor adventure film we didn't mention? Tag us! @drinkrumble #bestoutdoorfilms