Outdoor movies to take your mind off indoor isolation

Craig McClelland


The current climate means many of us are spending more time than we usually would indoors rather than in the outdoors.

So while we can’t get to the wild and wonderful natural environments that we’d like to, we can find inspiration in a bunch of superb outdoor films – and plan for our next adventure when the time is right.


The first all-female sailing team to race around the world in the classic Whitbread Round the World Race (now known as the Volvo Ocean Race).

It highlights the courage and determination the crew needed to overcome not only the open ocean, but also sexism and scepticism, on this epic nine month 53,108 km (33,000 mile) voyage that took them from England to Argentina and Australia, then onto New Zealand and America.

They entered the race with a secondhand, 58 foot yacht – and dubbed it ‘Maiden’. An inspirational story of confronting stereotypes, persevering and conquering challenges.

It is the People – A Pacific Crest Trail Film

If you didn’t already want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail – one of the great cross country routes – you absolutely will after seeing this motivating flick. It follows a New Zealander journeying from the Mexican border to Canada and discovering the incredible spirit of the trail along the way.

A whopping 4,270 km (2,653 miles) long, this famous through-hike takes most people around four to five months to complete. More than just a trail, it’s described as ‘privileged homelessness with intention’ in the film.

If you’re looking for a movie that’s full of adventure, you’ve found it.

Into the Empty Quarter

As the title suggests, this incredible documentary movie tracks two adventurers on an expedition through the Empty Quarter Desert on the Arabian Peninsula.

Showcasing the pair’s struggle, the film contrasts the seriously brutal landscape with their encounters meeting locals and the acts of kindness that come their way.

An eye-opening glimpse into the harsh environment in this part of the world, ‘Empty Quarter’ takes us from the coast of Oman, passing through desert and small towns, and finishing in the UAE.

Free Solo

El Capitan is the toughest climbing face within Yosemite National Park – and many would say, the world. Just to attempt it with equipment is considered almost impossible, but Free Solo follows the unbelievable preparation and attempt of one man to climb ‘El Cap’ without safety ropes.

An Oscar winner, Free Solo features incredible videography as it trails Alex Honnald and his life goal to conquer El Capitan’s Freerider route.

You might end up sweating just by watching this nerve-racking endeavour.

Run the Line

“Why don’t I join the line back together” was a simple thought that Australian local, Beau, had when running on a regular section of an old train line that once passed through his neighbourhood.

Embarking on a running journey that hasn’t been done by anyone since 1958, Beau starts at dawn on his epic 43 km (27 mile) run. Encountering obstacles like bush, farms, private homes and even the local police make this adventure unique and totally Australian.


If you ever needed a film that illustrates the human relationship with some of the world’s highest peaks, then Mountain is it.

This immersive, panoramic documentary attempts to portray why humans feel the need to risk their lives by painstakingly clawing their way into the upper reaches of our atmosphere.

Narrated by Willem Dafoe, Mountain is a visually stunning cinematic experience.

The Road from Karakol

Ever thought about travelling to Kyrgyzstan in the heart of Central Asia with the intention of biking across the country and climbing huge peaks?

Sometimes called the ‘Switzerland of Central Asia’, Kyrgyzstan is well and truly off-the-beaten-track and this short film highlights the remote beauty of this little-known, ex-Soviet nation.

Self-shot by adventurer, Kyle Dempster, it’s an uplifting journey that embraces the local people and their mountainous environment.

Into the Wild

Let’s round this up with a full-feature classic. Released in 2007, Into the Wild is a film adaptation of the book with the same name. It showcases the spirit of a young person who shelves all his materialistic comforts, then hits the road (and nature) with little planning except to experience life in the wilderness.

It’s the freedom of youth and the excitement of heading off on your own for the first time – with no real idea of where it might take you.

When it comes time for you to head back ‘into the wild’ of nature, you’ll be brimming with anticipation.