It's officially September, nights are slowly starting to draw in and the summer days of being outside until it gets dark at 11pm are behind us. Out comes the knitwear and the mugs of tea, because it's time to start thinking about getting cosy in the evenings with a cracking documentary.
Climbing, mountaineering, dog sledding, cycling, swimming and ultra running. There's something in here for everyone who feels the call to adventure.
There's so much inspiring stuff to watch at the moment so we've narrowed it down to our top 9 best outdoor films streaming on Amazon Prime.
Our Top Picks: The Best Outdoor Films and Documentaries on Amazon Prime
Free Solo (2018)
Alex Honnold, Sanni McCandless, Tommy Caldwell, Dean Potter, Dan Osman, Mikey Schaefer
Call to Adventure rating:
Yosemite National Park, California
Are you even a real adventurer if you haven't seen Free Solo? Do we even need to mention it? Ok, if you haven't seen it, don't worry. But we urge you to. This is undoubtedly one of the best films I saw pre-pandemic and I'm still talking about it now.
Documenting Alex Honnold's climbing training and lead up to his free solo ascent up the 3000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Free Solo is an inspiring, intimate, edge-of-your-seat outdoor film that will leave your jaw on the floor.
Not only does Free Solo prove that humans (or at least one human) can far outdo what we currently understand is possible, it paints a touching portrait of the budding romance between Alex Honnold and Sanni McCandless, and what it means to be with someone so dedicated to something so dangerous.
It is a celebration of the US wilderness, climbing, love, exceeding expectations and pushing human limits. One of the best movies ever made, let alone one of the best on Amazon Prime right now. Multi award winning climbing and adventure goodness. Go watch it!
Running for Good (2018)
Fiona Oakes, Rich Roll, Scott Jurek
Running for Good is a must-watch feature documentary about running the Marathon des Sables, but it's about so much more. It chronicles the life of Fiona Oakes, of her decades of setting world records, overcoming adversity, standing up for what she believes in and using her voice.
Fiona Oakes is a phenomenal woman. At the age of 14 Oakes was told she would never walk properly again after having a kneecap removed due to a tumour. 17 radical knee surgeries later and Oakes holds 4 world records for marathon running.
However, her overcoming of such difficulties was not rooted in ego or a desire to prove herself. This was a necessary battle to get to what she really wanted to be doing, to raise money and awareness for animals around the world.
Oakes has been vegan since the age of 6 and uses her running records not only to prove that veganism doesn't prohibit performance, but to give voice to the animals she cares for in her sanctuary. It is a platform she has created for herself to be able to speak about such things.
It's a banging documentary that will surely inspire you to get out there and challenge your own expectations.
Heavy Water (2015)
Darrick Doerner, Jay Adams, Bruce Irons, Brian Bielmann, Woody Brown
Amazon Prime are really treating us with this one. You can pretty much guarantee that a film by Red Bull Media House is going to be badass. Nathan Fletcher is the main focus, but this is as much a love letter to the ocean, to the surf, as anything else.
Tracing Fletcher's surfing roots back to his grandfather, a North Shore surfing pioneer, the film is a deep-dive into Hawaiian surf culture and the lives and minds of those that worship it.
This is a documentary about the allure of big-wave surfing and the ever-present threat of death. The inextricable nature of the two, and the complex, obsessive pursuit of it by Hawaiian surfers.
The film culminates in a death-defying stunt carried out by Nathan Fletcher as he attempts to disprove what humans are capable of. It's dicey, it's gripping, and it's sure to make your surfing endeavours feel like the most vanilla thing on the planet.
Kilian Jornet: Path to Everest (2018)
Kilian Jornet, Sèbastien Montaz-Rosset, Jordi Tosas, Reinhold Messner
Kilian Jornet is one of the most iconic ultrarunners of our time. His pursuit of mountain running is something he describes as emotional and physical. It's about discovering the landscapes around you and within you. Path to Everest is Jornet's most intimate film yet.
Documenting his fears, passions and motivations in his attempt to summit Everest alone and without oxygen, Path to Everest is an inspiring watch.
There isn't anything necessarily clever, arty or award-winning about this documentary. Jornet's journey speaks for itself. It is in itself compelling and awe-inducing. His dedication to the mountains, his altitude training and his love for running is contagious and makes you want to get out there and chase big things.
A Deeper Shade of Blue (2011)
Moses Goods, Mick O'Brien, Jamie O'Brien, Derek Hynd, Gerry Lopez, Dewey Weber, Miki Dora, Nat Young, George Greenough, Bob Mc Tavish
Award-winning filmmaker Jack McCoy delves deep into modern surf culture. Described as 'a film about surfing', and 'not a surf movie', A Deeper Shade of Blue is about man's pursuit of surfing, of connection to the ocean. It is about modern surfing, and the soulful history of the surfing generations that preceded where we are now.
Jaw-dropping action and adventure footage, stunning ocean videography and carefully selected music is overlaid with poignant narration on the ancient roots of surfing in Hawaii.
It pays homage to the original surfing founders, analyses the evolution of surfing equipment and explores the age-old spiritual connection surfing creates between us and nature.
Conrad Anker, Grace Chin, Jimmy Chin, Amee Hinkley, Jeremy jones, Jon Krakauer
Multi award-winning documentary maker Jimmy Chin (of Free Solo fame) is both behind and in front of the camera in this must-watch climbing adventure documentary. Meru is the real-life story of Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk, and their first ascent of the 4000ft 'Shark's Fin' on Meru peak in the Indian Himalayas.
It chronicles the unsuccessful first attempt of 2008, Ozturk's near-death accident that left him with only 5 months to recover before the second attempt, and their ultimate success at summiting.
It is the kind of documentary that feels like it should be fiction, on account of how unbelievable and death-defying a climb it is. Yet this is real humans, real climbers, risking their lives and putting climbing above all else.
It is as much a journey into the minds of extreme climbers as it is into their physical plight. Their view that achieving the climb is worth the possibility of dying is something most with families and loved ones cannot even comprehend.
It is simultaneously inspiring, horrifying, mesmerising and truly beautiful. One of the best climbing movies out there right now.
Africa Fusion (2016)
Hazel Findlay, Alex Honnold, Alard Hufner
South Africa & Namibia
If you're not sick of Alex Honnold yet (hello, are climbers ever sick of Alex Honnold?) this film is a real treat, and it only gets better for its inclusion of Hazel Findlay, professional British trad rock climber and all-round badass.
The documentary pays homage to the scenery, wildlife, people and rock of South Africa and Namibia (the title is somewhat misleading) and sees Honnold and Findlay uncover the world class sandstone trad routes of this beautiful country.
It shines the spotlight on a little-known climbing destination and is a welcome change from Yosemite and the Himalaya/Everest content we usually see. A familiar climbing genre, but unfamiliar scenery. A solid adventure film that's definitely worth a watch.
The Ultimate Triathlon (2016)
Luke Tyburski, Erica Pole, Vanda White, Paul Seagger, Warren Pole, Jason Bradbury, Kevin Bliss
Call to Adventure rating:
Morocco - Monaco
An epic feature length documentary film about one man's plight to complete a 2000km journey from Monaco to Morocco, swimming, running and cycling far past his limits. In just 12 days Luke Tyburski swam across the strait of Gibraltar, cycled the coasts of France and Spain and ran into Morocco, running double marathons back to back and averaging 200 miles a day on the bike.
An ex-Australian soccer player suffering from multiple injuries and reconstructive surgery, Tyburski, who claims to have never run more than 6 miles in his life, decides to take up ultra running.
After completing the Marathon des Sables, running through a Chinese forest and running down Everest, Tyburski decided it isn't enough, and set out to complete a challenge that makes the others look like measly warm ups.
The film chronicles his journey, which seems insane, impossible and extraordinarily crazy. Over the course of 94 minutes Tyburski slowly unravels. The training could never be enough, but that on top of the sleep deprivation, untimely weather, bad news and resurfacing injuries makes it an excruciating but intensely compelling watch.
It is a documentary about extreme endurance, survival, suffering and running away from your problems. It might not inspire you to get out there, but you sure as hell won't be able to take your eyes off the screen.
The Great Alone (2016)
Lance Mackey, Dick Mackey
Call to Adventure rating:
The Great Alone is an independent documentary film that tells the story of Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey's comeback. The Iditarod Trail is known as the toughest sled dog race on the planet.
Winding through 1,000 miles of remote Arctic wilderness, it is one of the harshest races out there, and Lance Mackey, cancer, homelessness and addiction survivor, is it's 4-time champion.
His passion for mushing is indestructible. Indeed, he comes back time and time again to the dogs and the sled. The film chronicles his story and his journey into, out of, and back into dog sledding.
It is an intensely intimate, heartbreaking and bleak story of mental and physical survival, but one that draws out joy, respect for nature and the great unknown. A real adventure film.
Did you enjoy our rundown? Feel like there's a film missing? Get in touch, we'd love to hear what you've enjoyed!
Not got Amazon Prime? Try our hottest outdoor documentaries streaming on Netflix.