Like many of you these days we are practicing proper social distancing and depending on where you live you may not be able to access your favorite areas for hiking or backpacking because of local regulations. While it’s hard on all of us, now is a great time to plan your next trip when it is safe to get back out there, or just lounge around on the couch and watch an endless stream of outdoor movies.
We’ll admit it, being lazy isn’t so bad, it’s just like being on an extended amount of zero-days, where all there is to do is laundry, eat pizza and ice cream, and veg out in front of the TV. The plus side of these zero-days is that you’re not crammed in a crappy hotel room with 3 other hikers with a stench so bad not even flies will come near it. Plus, right now you can bathe without having to worry that your hiking partners laundry soaking in the tub…
So without further ado here are a variety of films to inspire you, some are free on streaming platforms, and others are available for a fee or DVD.
Available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft Movies, Vimeo, DVD, and BluRay
Highline follows 5 hikers as they traverse a lesser-known mountain range in Utah called the Uinta. Viewers will experience the adventures and challenges along the way. Local archaeologist Tom Flanigan adds another layer of depth to the experience by sharing stories from the past and conveying the importance of this obscure place. As the story progresses, viewers begin to learn more about the hikers, and why they choose to hike for days, weeks, and even months at a time. Stories of PTSD recovery, addiction recovery, health, and family issues are heavy topics in the film.
Available at www.squatchfilms.com for streaming or DVD.
Squatch Films are humorous and informative all at the same time. His series of trail-related and travel films cover everything from the AT, PCT, Bigfoot Trail, hikes in Iceland and Ireland, and beyond.
Our personal favorite is Wayfaring “A Jaunt Along the Camino de Santiago”, this film was so good my wife, who has never considered thru-hiking, now wants to hike the Camino.
Our second favorite is Asquatchalypse Now- (A summer on and around the Bigfoot Trail), which has a cameo by our very own Chief Morale Officer, Karluk, and follows a journey along the gnarly 360-mile long Big Foot Trail in northwest California.
Right now you can get a deal on any or all of his films during his “Cabin Fever Sale” with prices slashed by over 60% off!
Available at tbwproductions.com on DVD only at this time.
The only Triple Crown series of hiking films shot and produced by a Triple Crown hiker Shane “Jester” O’Donnell, this series of 3 films are about the closest experience you can have to a thru-hike without having to leave home for 6 months and walk the trails yourself.
Wizards of the PCT
Thru Story: A Season on the Appalachian Trail
Our personal favorite is Embrace the Brutality, A Continental Divide Trail Adventure. This film has it all stunning scenery, great music, and entertaining hikers. It captures a thru-hike of the CDT so well that when I sent it to my parents in 2016 before leaving for my thru-hike on the CDT. My mom told my brother, “he’s crazy, we need to have an intervention so he doesn’t die out there”.
Go get your copy of these great films, don’t shower until they arrive, then strap on the pack and start hiking in place in your living room so you get that true virtual thru-hike experience.
This film follows 6 Southbound Continental Divide thru-hikers as they spend 5 months walking the CDT towards the barbed-wire fence at the US Mexico border. If you ever wondered what it was like to hike the CDT before the big number started hiking it (well, if roughly 300 people over 3,100 miles is a big number to you) then give this film a look.
The Muir Project are a group of professionals who make videos for a living and took on the John Muir Trail as a way to get out hike and as a passion project. The scenery alone makes this film a great pick and the story of a group of friends hiking the JMT will make you start planning your own hike on this legendary trail.
Why we feel your time is better spent watching the above-mentioned films, we would be remised if we didn’t mention a few takes on hiking by Hollywood in the past decade or two. These dramatized films are what many in the hiking community point to as the beginning of the popularity of thru-hiking.
Based on the bestselling book by Cheryl Strayed of the same title, this screen adaptation follows one woman’s hike along the Pacific Crest Trail back in 1995. Starring Reese Witherspoon, this film is often the one people will mention when you tell them you’re a thru-hiker. While some of the graphic scenes are a bit much for some, the story of how hiking can help heal someone’s trauma is a theme many of us in the world of the outdoors can relate too.
Based on another best-selling book by Bill Bryson and considered the OG of bringing thru-hiking into the zeitgeist of the general population. This film starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte portrays Bill Bryson’s attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 1996 - the same year as our VP of Sales and Marketing's AT-thru-hike. The film is meh in our opinion, and as one of our staff said after renting it at a Redbox, “I could think of better uses for a $1.50 then the 2 hours I spent watching that movie”.
Starring Martin Sheen, this film features the Camino de Santiago and the healing that takes place for a father who has lost his son who was attempting to hike the trail. The film portrays the hike the father decides to finish in his son’s honor and helps Martin Sheen's character heal and understand more about himself and the son he lost.
If you enjoyed this list, then stay tuned for next week's list of our favorite outdoor blockbuster films!