Do you know that funny thing when you see a man drinking water in the movie and it instantly makes you feel thirsty? Well, it's kinda like that with hiking/outdoor movies as well. As I watch them they make me feel ready and motivated to hike, to just go out and explore. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, depending on do I have enough time to go somewhere. Regardless, you really should find the time to pick at least a couple of movies from the list and see them. On the list, you can find movies and documentaries related to hiking/outdoors (in some way). They are not all necessarily hiking movies strictly speaking, as I listed even some that just feature scenes of nature, albeit glorious ones. You could stumble upon a true hidden gem of a movie here. So without further ado, we present you the list of 20 best hike/outdoor related movies in our humble opinion.
- Into The Wild
I know you've seen it. Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who walked out on society to live alone and survive in the Alaskan Wilderness. This story was made famous by Jon Krakauer's book from 1996, which was adapted to a film in 2007 (directed by Sean Penn). Emile Hirsch is starring. Oh, and the original soundtrack is truly astonishing - code name: Eddie Vedder.
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Another one based on a true story made popular by a book – that of Cheril Strayed hiking (backpacking) the PCT as a path to recovery after numerous problems left her life in shambles. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, and starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern (both nominated for Oscar).
IMDB Rating: 7.1
3. 180° South
The film follows adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins. Jeff joins a small boat crew and sails to South America in hopes to go climbing in Patagonia. Along the way, he gets shipwrecked off Easter Island, surfs the longest wave of his life - and prepares himself for a rare ascent of Cerro Corcovado. Highly recommended.
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Three famous climbers struggle to find their way through obsession and loss as they attempt to climb Mount Meru, one of the most coveted prizes in the high stakes game of Himalayan big wall climbing. Beautifully filmed and beautifully told.
IMDB Rating: 7.7
5. Dances With Wolves
I know – there's not a lot of hiking in Dances With Wolves, but this movie is a masterpiece. In Dances With Wolves, the land of South Dakota might initially appear to be a bleak place, but as Lieutenant Dunbar (Kevin Costner) spends more time at his isolated fort in the middle of nowhere, he somehow slowly merges his soul with the surrounding territory. And isn't that exactly what hiking is all about?
IMDB rating: 8.0
In 1977 Australian naturalist Robyn Davidson crossed the Australian outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean with only four camels and her dog as companions. Nominated for Best Film at Venice Film Festival, this movie is about a nine-month journey of 2.700 kilometers. How about that for a long-distance hike?
IMDB Rating: 7.2
7. As It Happens
Another documentary. Frustrated by the monotony of city life, and eager for a new adventure, two friends decide to trek across the Pacific Crest Trail - a 4.000-kilometer stretch of rugged terrain that runs along the border of the west coast from Mexico to Canada. Together, they're determined to test the limits of their endurance, soak in the majestic natural environment to which most are oblivious, and capture every step of their journey along the way. As It Happens: Pacific Crest Trail is the oftentimes grueling, but always inspiring document of their efforts.
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIvyuazEoaw
8. The Way Back
This one is more about pain and suffering than enjoying nature. A group of men escaping from a Russian gulag, and crossing 6.500 kilometers almost barefoot just so they could become a free man again. It's a celebration of the human spirit, perseverance, love of life. Based upon a true story.
IMDB Rating: 7.3
9. The Long Start To The Journey
The Long Start To The Journey follows filmmaker Chris Gallaway on his personal attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and to learn what the trail means to individuals he meets along the way. Chris (or 'Frost' as he comes to be known on the trail) meets hikers young and old with wildly disparate backgrounds, 'trail angels' who provide food and support along the way, and an assortment of wildlife that make the journey much more exciting. Long-distance hikers who finished the Appalachian Trail confirm that this is one of the most accurate and real depictions of what it's like to hike the AT.
IMDB Rating: 8.4
10. A Walk In The Woods
After spending two decades in England, Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) returns to the U.S., where he decides the best way to connect with his homeland is to hike the Appalachian Trail with one of his oldest friends, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte). Reviews of the movie are not on-par with others from this list, but it's a kind of feel-good movie and well worth a shot. It's based on one of the most iconic hike books A walk in the woods by Bill Bryson.
IMDB Rating: 6.4
11. 7 Years In Tibet
No need for a special introduction here. Brad Pitt plays Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became a friend with the Dalai Lama at the time of China's takeover of Tibet. He decides to add glory to his country and the Austrian pride by climbing Nanga Parbat in British India and leaves his expectant wife behind. This one is also based on a true story.
IMDB Rating: 7.1
12. 127 Hours
Ouch! 127 Hours is another true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over the next five days, Ralston examines his life and survives the elements so he could finally try to discover if he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary.
IMDB Rating: 7.5
13. The Revenant
Outdoor movie at its finest. Unbelievable cinematography. The natural landscape and some of the scenes are overwhelming and spectacular. Violent at times, actually – most of the time, but maybe, just maaaaybe we can call it educational as well – after all, Leo used all his survival skills to survive to the very end.
IMDB Rating: 8.0
14. Touching The Void
The true story is a theme on our list. This one is about two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. This film is much tenser, and nail-bitingly gripping than most of the Hollywood action movies - because you know that everything you're seeing and hearing did happen to these guys.
IMDB Rating: 8.0
15. Free Solo
This movie is so impressive that it’s not a surprise that it won an Oscar in the category “Best documentary feature” at the Academy Awards ceremony in 2019. The movie revolves around his dazzling attempt to be the first person ever to ascend the 3000 feet tall El Capitan rock formation in Yosemite National Park, USA.
IMDB Rating: 8.2
16. Mile… Mile & A Half
In an epic snow year, five friends leave their daily lives behind to hike California's historic John Muir Trail, a 211-mile stretch from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney (the highest peak in the contiguous U.S.). Their goal - complete the journey in 25 days while capturing the amazing sights & sounds they encounter along the way. Inspired by their bond, humor, artistry & dedication, the group continues to grow: to include other artists, musicians & adventure seekers. The movie is a thru-hike documentary, funded via a Kickstarter campaign and featured on Netflix.
IMDB Rating: 7.3
17. Tell It On The Mountain
One more thru-hiking experience was documented by six hikers along the PCT from Mexico to Canada. Through the deserts in South California and icy mountain passes in the High Sierra to the torrential rains of the Pacific Northwest, we get the chance for an insider's view into what it takes to spend half a year living in the wild.
IMDB Rating: 8.7
18. Motorcycle Diaries
Not quite walking, hiking, or trekking, rather driving a motorcycle… but hey, the guy traveled 8,000 km in four months on two wheels. The movie is a dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in the youth that showed him his life's calling.
IMDB Rating: 7.8
19. Desert Runners
A diverse cast of non-professional runners attempts to complete the most difficult ultramarathon race series on Earth. Their dramatic journey takes them across the World's most picturesque yet brutal landscapes, pushing their bodies, hearts, and spirits through a myriad of external and internal obstacles. DESERT RUNNERS delves into the mindset of ultra-athletes, and the complex ways in which human beings deal with both heartbreak and triumph.
IMDB Rating: 7.6
20. North Of The Sun
Our final recommendation is this majestic movie - Nordfor Sola. Two friends spent nine months surfing on a pristine Arctic island of the Northern coast of Norway, facing nothing but the vast Atlantic ocean. One of the messages in this film is environmental conservation, but the message is expertly delivered without the viewer even knowing the moral of the story until it is pleasantly obvious.
IMDB Rating: 8.4