Sweat, sunshine, fresh air—we love our time outside. But despite best-laid plans, sometimes weather, illness or the unexpected forces us indoors. When that does happen, you can stay inspired with these adventure books, movies and podcasts that help bring the outdoors inside.
You don’t need to be a thru-hiker to feel inspired by the grit on every page of this book—part trail log, part redemption story. In 2013, Heather ‘Anish’ Anderson broke the record for the fastest known time on the Pacific Crest Trail, trekking the world’s longest hiking-only footpath without support in a mere 60 days, 17 hours and 12 minutes. Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home details the high and low points that Anish pushed through to accomplish the feat. Consider yourself warned: Once you pick this one up, you won’t want to put it down.
Outdoor photographer Corey Rich has been capturing adventure shots for more than two decades, but this is more than a collection of jaw-dropping images. Pick up photography tips and discover how Rich managed to snap some of his favorite shots in this gorgeous compendium. Whether you’re an aspiring photographer or simply want to be amazed, this book doesn’t disappoint.
Thru-hikes are known for their ability to help heal, with Sarah Kaizar’s journey along the Appalachian Trail (AT) being no exception. Following her father’s death, she set off on the 2,190-mile trek in 2015, immersing herself in the community she met along the way. The book she developed only one year later is an arresting collage of backpacking culture, filled with Kaizar’s intricate drawings and photos from hiker Nicholas Reichard. Here’s your window into six months on the AT.
You don’t need to be a runner to appreciate this entertaining and, at times, witty book. Born to Run begins with a simple question: Why does my foot hurt? From there, author Christopher McDougall leads readers down a minimalist running rabbit hole. Follow him as he attempts to keep pace with some of the world’s most elite long-distance runners, including an Indigenous group from Chihuahua, Mexico, known as the Tarahumara. And, once you’ve devoured McDougall’s book, curl up with a profile of ultrarunner Lorena Ramírez, a member of the Tarahumara community, on the Co-op Journal.
History buffs, this one is for you. You may have heard of Rachel Carson, the scientist who helped spark the modern environmental conservation movement, but have you heard George Bird Grinnell? This New York anthropologist sounded an environmental alarm during the Industrial Revolution and went on to influence critical decisions affecting the fate of our nation’s natural treasures. From helping to found the National Audubon Society to advocating for the preservation of some of the last remaining bison herds in the United States, Grinnell played a role in shaping some of our favorite wild places. This is his story.
The co-op’s very own print publication Uncommon Path is meant to inspire you to try something new, teach you outdoor skills and even make you laugh out loud. It covers the outdoors both close to home and farther away, from urban trails to mountain peaks. And of course, it includes all the gear to get you there.
The co-op’s collection of films highlights the myriad ways people get outside, the seemingly insurmountable obstacles they overcome, and very often, the sense of humor they carry along the way. From trail running in Colorado with the Mirnavator to reaching snowy mountain peaks with mountaineer Yesenia Castro, these short documentaries will transport you—and have you cheering from your seat.
If you’re craving a healthy dose of adrenaline from the comfort of your couch, Free Solo delivers. Famed climber Alex Honnold’s historic attempt to free solo (climb without ropes or safety gear) Yosemite’s El Capitan will leave your palms sweating—not to mention challenge your perception of the limits of human ability. Better still, it’s currently available to stream online.
While you’re on the climbing movie kick, cue up The Dawn Wall, a story of personal and athletic accomplishment starring Tommy Caldwell. The decorated climber has faced levels of adversity that would convince most to stop adventuring altogether. Somehow, he just keeps aiming higher. In this flick, Caldwell and his climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson set their sights on Yosemite’s infamous 3,000-foot Dawn Wall, living on the wall for weeks as they attempt the epic route. Also available to stream online.
If podcasts were books, this one would be a page-turner—and possibly a tear-jerker. Each riveting episode from this REI Co-op-made series with host Shelby Stanger reveals the stories of those who have taken the road less traveled. Learn how Kim Chambers uses fear as motivation to tackle daunting challenges like swimming from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco and settle in as famed Wild author Cheryl Strayed counsels you on how to choose your best adventure.
No topic is off-limits and no adventurer is too gutsy to keep Paddy O’Connell and Elizabeth Nakano, the hosts of Safety Third, from affectionately heckling them for a full 30 to 45 minutes. Fun, adventurous and hilarious, this engaging series is ear candy for the outdoor world.
She Explores is quite simply a podcast by, about and for adventurous women everywhere. Host Gale Straub interviews women from across the outdoor community, covering a range of topics, like conservation, motherhood, going solo, diversity and more. Choose an episode for all your friends to listen to, and then have a virtual discussion.
Turn off the lights, don a headlamp and snuggle under the covers as you take in this spooky series designed for kids of all ages, but particularly those 6 and up. From Tahoe Tessie to the Jersey Devil, Camp Monsters spins the tale of eight distinct creatures you wouldn’t want to come face-to-face with. We can’t say whether they exist or not; you’ll have to decide that for yourself.
We want to hear from you: What adventure books, movies and podcasts help you stay inspired? Join the conversation and share ideas with fellow community members.
Editor’s note: After a great deal of careful consideration, we are temporarily closing our 162 retail stores nationwide. Learn more about that decision here and review FAQs regarding REI’s recent store closures.