5 Books, Podcasts, and Films to Inspire Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Photo by Justin Sullivan

Have you exhausted your must read, listen to, or watch list? If so, I’ve put together a list of awe-inspiring adventure media that will likely spark an idea for your next outdoor adventure. I did some crowd sourcing and asked the most adventurous people I could find…members of the Shoestring Family! These books, podcasts, and films were recommended by mountaineers, ultra runners, avalanche experts, professional mountain bikers, canyoneers, adventure company founders, social media managers, blog managers, and environmentalists!

Whether you’re a reader, listener, or observer, I have something for you! Grab your library card, open your podcasting app, or take a look at your Netflix account, and start getting excited.


  1. Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox – In her memoir, Lynne Cox beautifully describes her love for swimming and the determination and athletic prowess that led her to become the first person to swim across the Strait of Magellan. If you’re a sucker for stories about inspiring athletes, I guarantee you’re going to love this book! Recommended by Shoestring Warrior and Ultra Runner Yitzhak Gilon
  2. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog – The harrowing story of Maurice Herzog and other members of the French Alpine Club who in 1950 set out to summit the 26,493-foot Himalayan peak known as Annapurna. The routes had never been analyzed before and the story of their summit and harrowing descent is considered by many to be one of the greatest mountain-adventure stories of all time. Recommended by Shoestring Warrior and Avalanche Expert Allen Giernet
  3. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing – This story is arguably the biggest survival story of the 20th century. For five months polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men were trapped at sea in the Atlantic after their boat, the Endurance, became trapped between two ice floes. They traversed nearly 1,000-miles in an open boat and on foot across glaciers and mountains. It is a story of sheer will and heroism. Recommended by Shoestring Warrior and Canyoneering-enthusiast Christian Stober
  4. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson – An entertaining tale of Bryson’s time spent on the Appalachian Trail. He shares the history of the trail which spans from Georgia through Maine and includes comical stories of people he met along his journey. Bryson is a famed travel writer and this story will definitely motivate you to hit the trail! Recommended by Shoestring Ambassador Shana Morda
  5. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall – Popular among runners, this book tells the story of one man’s journey through the heart of northwestern Mexico. McDougall spends time with the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyons of Mexico learning about their culture and what enables them to run hundreds of miles with little rest. The story intertwines science with history, culture, and modern day athleticism and sport. A good read if you’re an athlete of any kind, especially a runner! Recommended by Shoestring Warrior and Ultra Runner Brien Crothers
Photo by Tony Carranza


  1. Outside Podcast: Science of Survival – If you’re a fan of survival stories but don’t have time sit down and read an entire book, then this podcast is for you! It blends science with real-life survival stories. They interview survivors and their friends or families as well as experts in the field. From shipwrecks to plane crashes and everything in between, this podcast spans the spectrum of survival stories. Recommended by Shoestring Triptographer and Social Media and Content Manager Shani Leead
  2. The Consummate Athlete Podcast – The hosts of this podcast interview people who do multiple sports and live interesting lives. Do you know anyone who seems to be good at every sport or athletic activity they try? What makes them good? Learn the tricks that can pave the way to being good at almost any sport. Recommended by Shoestring Warrior and Professional Mountain Biker Kim Coleman
  3. She Explores Podcast – This podcast is for and about women who are passionate about the outdoors. From female entrepreneurs to guides, storytellers, and beyond, the women featured in this podcast are nothing short of inspiring. In addition to profiling incredible women, they also tackle interesting topics such as, “Are you allowed to change your dream?” and “Confidence – On the trail, is confidence good, bad, or something in between?”. Inspiring, thought provoking, and a must listen for any female outdoor lover. Recommended by Shoestring Founder Alyx Schwarz
  4. The Dirtbag Diaries – This is a grassroots podcast dedicated to stories from wild places. From obscure races such as the Race to Alaska, to episodes about endangered spaces, this podcast focuses on a variety of topics with a tie to the outdoors. Most episodes fall into these genres: activism, culture, climbing, ski/snowboard, and other sports. Recommended by Shoestring Warrior and Avalanche Expert Allen Giernet
  5. REI Wild Ideas Worth Living – When was the last time you had a “wild idea” and acted on it? Through meaningful conversations with people who have made leaps of faith, the host hopes to build a community of people who want to make positive decisions in their lives. From a story about someone who is making a living creating art inspired by surfing, to an interview with a National Geographic photographer who is creating awareness through photography, Wild Ideas Worth Living will get you thinking about making your own wild ideas a reality. Recommended by Shoestring Blog Editor Yosefa Gilon (yours truly)
Photo of and by Justin Sullivan


  1. Captain Fantastic – A beautiful film about raising children in an alternative way. It’s a story about six children whose parents have raised them to think critically, to be physically fit, and to navigate the wild without the use of technology. When the mother suddenly passes away, the father must take his children out of the depths of the woods of Washington to the outside world. Recommended by Shoestring Warrior and Canyoneering-enthusiast Christian Stober
  2. 180 Degrees South – In this documentary, adventurer Jeff Johnson travels to Patagonia as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins. From gorgeous footage of stunning Patagonian landscape to sweet surfing clips, this film urges viewers to think about preserving South American wilderness. The soundtrack is lovely too and includes original music by Jack Johnson. Recommended by Shoestring Ambassador Sarah Williams
  3. Into the Wild – This survival film is an adaptation of John Krakauer’s 1996 nonfiction book about Christopher McCandless’ trek across North America to the Alaskan wilderness. Film adaptations of books aren’t always great but this one definitely is! It really brings to life McCandless’ journey as a recent college graduate who decides to leave his possessions behind and ventures into the wilderness. It is a true story that will undoubtedly touch your heart. Recommended by Shoestring Blog Editor Yosefa Gilon (yours truly)
  4. Touching the Void – Categorized as a docudrama survival film, it’s a story about Joe Simpson’s and Simon Yates’ near-fatal climb of Siula Grande in the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. With some pretty tense moments you’ll be left holding your breath and wondering whether or not it’s actually a survival film. It’s an amazing story to watch unfold on screen. Recommended by Shoestring Ambassador Denise Weintraub
  5. The Important Places  – This short film tells the beautiful story of a father and son and their connection with each other and to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. It’s a touching film that is beautifully shot and incorporates home videos and footage that spans a lifetime. I first saw this film when it was featured in the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. If you’re not familiar with the festival, definitely check it out! Recommended by Shoestring Blog Editor Yosefa Gilon (yours truly)    
Photo by Chris Pickens

May the pages, sounds, and images bring joy and inspiration to you like they did to the adventurers who recommended them!

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