Adventure documentaries - men watching sunset

10 Adventure Documentaries You’ll Not Want to Miss

One of the best ways to get psyched for your next outdoor mission — bar actually going on an adventure — is to watch adventure documentaries and movies. It’s a sure-fire way to re-ignite that adventurous spirit in you that can so easily be snuffed out by the dreariness of winter or everyday commitments.

We’ve been enjoying watching all sorts of awe-inspiring short adventure films and feature-length climbing movies on Slipstream. It’s an adventure movie streaming service that features all the best mountain climbing movies and adventure documentaries, as well as surf films, epic biking journeys, outdoor lifestyle clips, and loads more.

Adventure documentaries, movies and short films

So to help get you inspired for your next grand adventure, or simply to start doing more exploring in your local area, here are a few of our favourite adventure documentaries.

Into the Empty Quarter

For those of you who haven’t come across Alastair Humphreys before, this short film just about sums him up. He is the king of challenge and adventure for no other reason that for the sake it. The quintessential mad English adventurer who, when not sleeping on a frosty hillside in the depth of a bleak British winter, is venturing further afield in search of something else. Anything else really…

Into the Empty Quarter is a simple narration of one such escapade, following in the footsteps of British Explorer Wilfred Thesiger, who completed the 1000 mile route almost 70 years ago. Humphreys and his travelling companion, Leon McCarron, take on the journey on foot with a homemade cart and not much more of a plan than to cross the desert from Southern Oman to Dubai.

Amusing and honest, the pair tell their tale of the simplicity of life in nothingness. The truths of their existence in solitude and the parallels with everyday life shine through to inspire and heart warm.

As the first film created by Humphreys, it earned a well-deserved spot in the finals of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in 2014. And as big fans of Alastair and his wacky adventures, it won us over too! Find out more about his exploits at his website.


Across the Sky

This short clip of Theo Sanson, a professional slackliner who would rather die from passion than boredom, is a pulse-raising portrayal of pushing the limits of mental strength and human ingenuity. The stunning visuals of Castle Valley, Utah will have your jaw at your chest and palms sweating by the opening scene!

If you’ve ever stepped on a slackline then you may have a small degree of appreciation as to what is involved in this incredible feat. You may also have considered the lengths that the 15 strong team went to to rig up the 500m line in the first place. An all round impressive accomplishment from conception to post-filming production.

To find out what it takes to be a pro slackliner, check out Theo’s website and more clips of him doing what he does best.

If watching this fearless Frenchman balance his way to happiness makes you want to run away and join the circus then have a read of what we have to say about taking your first steps on a slackline.


Snowman

Set in the majestic Coast Mountain Range of west coast Canada, Snowman tells the true story of a small town boy battling through to adulthood chasing childhood dreams. As kids, best friends, Kevin Fogolin and freeskiing icon Mike Douglas, dreamt of life in a snowy paradise doing what they loved. Each attempted life in the real world, but their passion for the mountains always proved too strong. Brave enough to break away and dream big, they finally created enviable lifestyles and ultimate happiness.

But for Kevin, the weather obsessed snow guru, the desire for freedom in the wilderness took him far beyond his dreams and into a nightmare reality that changed everything, leaving the childhood friends having to confront the inherent risks of their surroundings, head on.

It’s the story of a friendship forged in the mountains, and a lifestyle where the greatest risk is not daring to dream at all.

This thought provoking documentary of the high life, is a stark reminder of the risks that constantly lurk in the shadows of the hills, and evokes the question of whether following ones heart at all costs, is really worth it.

Switchback Entertainment have done a great job of bringing the reality of it all to the forefront of the mountain scene’s awareness, and their work won them Best Mountain Culture Film award at the 2014 Whistler Film Festival – amongst other awards.

In 2015, over 100 backcountry skiers lost their lives in the Alps alone – most of them killed by avalanches. Getting into situations that fast become out of control is all too easy, so if you find yourself being tempted by off-piste/backcountry skiing then make sure you are as prepared as possible. Get yourself on an avalanche safety course, get out with experienced people who can share their knowledge, make sure you have all the correct gear and know how to use it – and never ever be afraid to turn back.


Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out

Since Danny MacAskill first catapulted onto the world stage back in 2009, he has been a constant source of inspiration for bike riders everywhere. His indescribable talent for making a bicycle do things that really shouldn’t be possible has earned him his dream job of riding bikes for a living. And boy is he good at his job – probably the best.

Having ridden for Red Bull since very early on in his career, Danny has travelled to far flung places creating films, perfecting tricks and stunts, and exploring in the only way he knows how; comfortably mounted on one of his many bicycles. And yet for all his miles riding on foreign soil, (or rails, roof tops, rocks and ridges), it is ever obvious where his heart truly lies – back home in Scotland, the setting of his latest and arguably greatest film of bike trickery yet.

Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out will amuse and entertain you. It will wow you, inspire you, and then leave you gobsmacked and empty whilst you sit there questioning how that childlike playfulness, that Danny portrays in every turn of his pedals, managed to slip away from you so easily. His modest demeanor oozes ‘local boy’ charm that just makes you want to be 13 again, playing on your bike down the street, ideally with Danny as you mate!

But what really stands out on Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out is the unexpected creativity in which he approaches each new feature. He effortlessly turns his backdrop of just another day pootling in the Scottish countryside into a masterpiece of expressive movements and unusual stunts. Much like a well designed skate park or bike ramp, it’s as if the terrain in which Danny rides was created specifically for the trick that he performs on it. Perhaps in Danny’s eyes, that’s exactly how the world is. Just one giant purpose-built terrain park.

So before you sit back in all your grown up sensibility to watch Danny play on his bicycle, do make sure you have a pot of tea at the ready. It’s unlikely you’ll even get to take a sip of it as you watch open-mouthed, but at least it’s there if you need it.

So what’s next for this bike riding legend? Well October 2016 sees Danny embarking upon an African adventure that will be documented by Freeride Entertainment for their new film Nothing’s For Free. The film, that is due to come out in spring 2018, explores the history of freeride mountain biking over three decades. We’re pretty excited for it’s arrival, but in the meantime there’s still time to get on yer bike and nail that trick that you never quite mastered back when you were 15. Good luck!


Unbranded

The epic and incredibly beautiful documentary Unbranded, is an adventure movie like no other. Just four riders journeying through the wilderness on horseback, these modern-day cowboys took on the greatest adventure of their lives, and one that very few others will ever get the opportunity to repeat.

The documentary was the brainchild of Texan-born Ben Masters, who, desperate to raise awareness of the current plight of the wild mustangs in the US, set up a Kickstarter project to fund the film. To prove the worth of the horses, Masters and his three friends, Thomas Glover, Jonny Fitzsimons and Ben Thamer, adopt, train and ride 11 hardy mustangs 3000 miles from Mexico to Canada, through the wildest terrain in the American West.

All fresh out of college, the group of horsemen pour their hearts and souls (and a good deal of sweat and blood) into this astonishing and epic journey of self-discovery and adventure.

With a humorous bit of good old western charm, this is a film that you won’t forget in a hurry. The dramatic and hostile landscape sets the scene perfectly for the treacherous journey through canyons and deserts, storms and drought. And the film crew and editors could not have done a more impressive job at capturing the drama and at times, the deeply moving spirit of the adventure.

Gripping, honest and exceptionally beautiful – a dream made true.

For more information on how to support the mustangs of the west check out The Mustang Heritage Foundation.


North of the Sun

If you’re in need of some inspiration to get your priorities back on track then a dose of North of the Sun may just be the required tonic.

This independent adventure film, which won the Banff: Grand Prize, People’s Choice Award in 2013 (amongst many other awards) documents the day-to-day lives of Inge Wegge and Jorn Ranum in their pursuit of paradise. Their adventure takes them to a remote beach on Norway’s northern coast. Great surf and simple living fill their agenda, as well as dealing face-on with the frigid seclusion of a sunless arctic winter.

North of the Sun isn’t just another arty clip of thrill-seeking surf bums. It’s an invitation for us to step back and consider the reality of winter survival with nothing but a beach full of trash. The pair do just that and more. Their incessant thirst for life leads them to thrive in a world where frozen wetsuit boots are chosen above cosy dry slippers!

Whilst the beautifully stark and often gloomy picture might leave you pondering over the depth of the adventure, the film itself is heartwarmingly cheery and endlessly optimistic.

Surfer or not, we can all enjoy the sentiment behind this brilliant film and look forward to seeing where their next project will take them.


Down to Nothing

The Hkakabo Razi National Park in northern Myanmar is a region that very few westerners have ventured to. So few in fact, that its lack of exploration leaves the question of Southeast Asia’s highest peak undetermined. In 2014, a dedicated team from The North Face and National Geographic embarked upon a journey into the depths of the national park to settle the matter once and for all. Three members of the six-strong team, led by mountaineer Hilaree O’Neill, attempted to summit Hkakabo Razi peak, after a gruelling 135-mile journey to it’s base.

The challenge of the expedition was such that it left the team struggling to reach their goal, with dwindling food and supplies testing their mental and physical strength to the extreme.

O’Neill spent more than two years carefully planning this old-fashioned expedition after summiting Everest in 2012. As a result, Down to Nothing tells a story of personal drive, and the suffering endured for the sake of chasing dreams. It is a very real reminder of how even the best laid plans can crumble to little more than basic survival.

It is hard to comprehend how videographer Renan Ozturk and photographer Cory Richards had the capacity to put together such a beautifully shot piece of cinema in the circumstances. But they certainly did an incredible job, bringing us a raw and honest account of a truly intrepid adventure into the unknown.

As well as the film, National Geographic put together an in depth article of the expedition and you can also take a look at their behind the scenes edit of the film.


Eclipse

In March 2015 there was a solar eclipse. A once, or maybe twice, in a lifetime event that most of us will be lucky if we are even aware of, let alone be able to see. And yet, with the odds stacked against him, ski photographer Reuben Krabbe set out on a most unique expedition to capture his dream shot.

His team comprised of pro-skiers Chris Reubens, Cody Townsend and Brody Leven, whom Krabbe hoped to capture in action during the eclipse. The unlikely combination of characters and their conflicting motivations provide an insightful account of one man’s drive to achieve what most would right off as insanity.

Salomon, in partnership with Switchback Entertainment, documented the project and captured the drama and beauty of Northern Norway’s Svalbard region. Their efforts won them Best Film: Snow Sports at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in November 2015.

We look forward to more award-winning clips from Salomons’ Freeski TV series over the coming winter.


Danny Macaskill Cycles The Ridge

If Danny Macaskill ever invites you along for a bike ride you should politely decline.

The 30-year-old has been wowing the internet since 2009, when his first video hit youtube. It follows him as he carves up Edinburgh on a trial bike, including cycling along the top of metal railings and making seemingly impossible jumps. Red Bull sponsorship soon followed, along with a host of opportunities to show off his skills, even getting to ride around a giant replica of his childhood bedroom.

But he’s now raised the bar by tackling a death-defying ride along the notorious Cuillin Ridgeline on his native Isle of Skye, in Scotland. Arriving by row boat, he soon has his bike hopping over the beautifully rugged landscape as effortlessly as if he was going out to fetch the paper. Following an epic summit pose – with a treacherous final climb captured by helmet-cam – is the nerve-jangling descent where one wrong move would cost him dear. To top it all off, he casually somersaults a barbed wire fence… because he can.

Filming on the mountain also proved a challenge. “It was a serious effort just getting to the filming locations”, says director Stu Thomson. “Cuillin Ridge is seven miles long and to get to the easiest summit is at least two hours of hiking up (and then two hours back). We had to carry food, water and all our camera gear, including the drone and eight batteries for it, in and out each day. The longest day on the mountain was 8 a.m. until 1 a.m., and included a total of seven hours of hiking for five shots in the film.”

The results are certainly impressive. We can’t wait to see what Danny comes up with next.


Jumbo Wild

Deep in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia, lies Jumbo Valley. Wild, remote and untouched – for now. It is one of the last remaining pockets of true wilderness areas in North America, and for almost 25 years, has been the stage for an epic battle to protect this last frontier against the building of the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.

The resort proposals boast year round skiing on 4 glaciers and the development of 6000 hectares of land within the valley. Those in favour of the development also claim that there will be a significant boost to the regional and national economy. Those opposed to the plans, however, have a very different view altogether, and continue to fight for the protection of this sacred land.

Once such opposition group are the Ktunaxa Nation who have occupied the area for 9,000 years. To them, Jumbo Valley is known as Qat’muk, home of the grizzly bear spirit. It is also recognised internationally as one of the most important wildlife corridors in North America.

In 2014, the first concrete foundations for the resort were laid. Unable to meet the environmental requirements however, further development was stopped in it’s tracks. But the irresistible lure of unrivalled real estate potential in the valley only spurs the developers on to push forward. New plans are being drawn up to bypass the environmental review process, so that work can resume.

This fall, Wildsight will be delivering a petition, asking Premier Christy Clark to say no to development and yes to permanent protection of the Jumbo Valley. For a deeper understanding of the project and the importance of keeping Jumbo wild, take a watch of this hour long Sweetgrass Productions documentary – Jumbo Wild: The Movement.

If you want to support this cause then take action and sign the petition today; say no to Jumbo Glacier Resort and yes to permanent protection for Jumbo Valley.

About the author

author-joey

Joey Holmes is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard and hiking small mountains and big hills.

You may also like

Open Menu