We love being in the outdoors in any way, shape or form. It lets you get away from the rest of it. But most of us have to go back to the rest of it at some point. For the majority of us, there’s boring life admin to be done. There’s food to be cooked and water to be drunk. There’s sleeping to attend to. There is – regrettably – laundry. Laundry is incessantly boring. And it’s this kind of outrageously mundane, zero excitement level task that has made us fall head over heels in love with outdoor and adventure podcasts.
Stick a podcast in your ears and you can legitimately make even the most mundane of activities (we’re looking at you laundry) exciting. You can get your brain engaged immediately, go on an audio adventure, get outdoor inspiration, learn a life lesson or come across a train of thought you’ve never heard before. Here are 10 of our favourite outdoor and adventure podcasts currently in production. In no particular order…
1) Of Mountains and Minds
Run by Edinburgh-based ultrarunner and adventurer Caroline Mckay, ‘Of Mountains and Minds’ is a podcast that explores not just adventure but the psychology of outdoor pursuits, and doesn’t shy away from serious discussions about mental health and welfare.
Caroline started the podcast after running the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in 2017. “I felt burnt out afterwards,” she tells us. “I was motivated to do something creative that challenged me in a new way and was keen to shine a light on the strong connection between endurance sports and recovery – meeting many endurance athletes who’d found their sport after struggles with addictions, eating disorders or mental health conditions.
“I was keen to shine a light on the strong connection between endurance sports and recovery”
“My own experience was also a factor; losing my mother at age 52 to ovarian cancer changed the way I saw the world yet fired a drive to live an adventurous life where I face fears, and public speaking was definitely one [of them]. I am fascinated by the grief process and believe fiercely in speaking up and overcoming the damaging culture of small talk culture.”
Each episode Caroline welcomes a different guest. Caroline chooses her guests by “brainstorming topics [she doesn’t] feel are talked about enough – especially those relevant to athletes and adventurers” and ensures the pod has a mix of higher-profile guests and lesser-known, but equally as interesting, individuals.
This is simply a fantastic podcast if you’re looking for a listen that, rather than acting as pure escapism, will really engage your brain and get you thinking about big topics around health and modern living, while still being firmly rooted in the outdoors.
2) The Adventure Podcast: Terra Incognita
Hosted by adventure filmmaker Matt Pycroft, the Terra Incognita podcast explores the “why” of adventure. Pycroft’s guests range from mountaineers to Arctic scientists to polar explorers. There are two types of content from Terra Incognita. First, there are the features. These are in the typical mould of an adventure podcast. They’re conversations between 40 and 80 minutes long with a fascinating human. Then there are dispatches, which are much shorter, quirky little stories to be listened to over a cup of coffee. In the introductory episode to his podcast, Pycroft reads a quote from English explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard. It reads: “Everyone who has been through such an extraordinary experience has much to say, and ought to say it”. Pycroft’s podcast provides a platform from which adventurers can do just that.
3) The Looking Sideways Podcast
One of the grandaddies of the outdoor podcast world, Looking Sideways is an absolute must-listen for anyone looking for a deep dive into the most interesting stories in action sports.
The podcast is run by journalist and co-director of All Conditions Media Matt Barr and “seeks to uncover the most interesting stories in action sports and other related endeavours”. We would comfortably say that it succeeds in doing that. Having been in the industry for over 20 years, Matt has an unrivalled insight and contact book, and it shows in the quality of the pod.
As well as the big names – from Free Solo’s Alex Hannold and Art of Flight’s Travis Rice to bouldering Queen Shauna Coxsey and surfing legend Herbie Fletcher – there’s a wealth of chats in there with fascinating individuals you’re less likely to have come across before. The likes of acclaimed mountain biking photographer Dan Milner, and Rip Zinger, a “self-described travelling monk” who has turned “couch-surfing into an artform”.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have some really intimate and in-depth conversations with people”
“I had been looking for an action sports-related podcast to listen to and the only ones I could find were a bit shit,” Matt told us. “So I had a moment where I thought ‘hang on, I could just make my own podcast’.
“The guest filter, very selfishly, is ‘do I find them interesting?’ I’ve been lucky enough to have some really intimate and in-depth conversations with people. It’s always a nice feeling 15 minutes in to know that it’s going to be a good one and to be able to relax and just enjoy it.
“I also really enjoy the feedback I get from listeners. There’s an ongoing dialogue with listeners played out on my Instagram which is really entertaining and definitely one of my favourite things about it.”
Another pod to keep an eye on, also from Looking Sideways, is ‘Type 2‘. Created in association with Patagonia, it explores the intersection between the outdoors, action sports and activism.
4) The Further. Faster. Podcast
If you’ve ever wondered why an ultra runner or mountaineer does what they do, and puts themselves in such danger, or how they manage to do it, then Montane’s ‘Further. Faster.’ is the podcast for you. Presented by Daniel Neilson, the podcast asks the question of people like solo endurance athlete Jenny Tough, Javed Bhatti, a man who completed the world’s coldest ultra race (the 430-mile Montane Yukon Ultra) and Steve Plain, who completed the seven summits of the world in just four months. Inspiration fodder at its finest.
5) The Dirtbag Diaries Podcast
The Dirtbag Diaries is an American podcast which has the outdoors at its heart and tells the type of personal, intimate stories people normally only hear over a campfire. “As long as we’ve climbed, skied, boated or travelled, we’ve been telling stories,” reads the website. It’s “a grassroots podcast dedicated to the sometimes serious, often humorous stories from wild places.” The podcast has been running for over 12 years now and it’s perfect for anyone who wants to get inspiration but doesn’t plan on climbing the highest mountains in the world or attempting the record for cycling around the world anytime soon. These are the stories of normal people, told like they would be in a bothy at the end of a long day on the mountain.
6) The Mpora Podcast
The Mpora podcast is run by former Surf Europe editor Paul Evans and experienced Aussie freelancer and surf expert Ben Mondy. It’s about all things outdoors though, not just surfing, and all in, it’s a bit of a riot.
Each episode has a different guest, from Swiss-French snowboarding ace Anne-Flore Marxer to Zimbabwean endurance adventurer Sean Conway. Aside from that though, the Mpora pod is largely anecdotal, with Paul and Ben’s one-of-a-kind takes on everything from surfing four-foot barrels naked in front of pods of whales to dental floss, eco issues of the week and why nobody called Gary or Wayne ever goes up Mount Everest.
“We were keen to do something different. We have some fun with it”
The interviews are also normally a bit different to the usual. In few other places will you find such an in-depth chat with Will Hodshon and Rich Mitchel about how they managed to take a number two while sailing non-stop, unassisted around Britain in a 15ft dingy, for example. A great podcast to stick on when you want an outdoor listen, and a bit of a laugh. But maybe not over dinner.
“There’s a lot of serious, let’s be honest, quite dry, adventure podcasts out there. We were keen to do something different with our one,” says Mpora editor Jack Clayton. “We have some fun with it. Every episode of the Mpora pod sees Paul and Ben have a silly, pub-style, chat with someone from the world of action sports and adventure. I can’t speak for all the listeners out there but it makes me laugh. And that’s what counts, right?”
7) Women on the Road
Have you ever wondered what the van life is like for women on the road? Hosted by Laura Hughes, who also runs the acclaimed ‘She Explores‘ podcast, the bi-weekly ‘Women on the Road‘ is a fascinating insight into exactly that, inviting a variety of women who are living the van life to share their stories down the mic. Laura herself is a full-time van-lifer making her way around the planet. In the podcast she not only gives tips to women hoping to do the same but chats to everyone from bluegrass musicians and travel guides to women recovering from serious issues like domestic abuse. This is an incredibly original podcast which can be fun, educational, sobering or emotional depending on the episode, but which is always engaging.
8) The Tough Girl Podcast
The Tough Girl Podcast spans women in sport across all disciplines. From adventure to inline skating, there’s a little bit of everything. Podcast host Sarah Williams chats with her guests about their journey. The adventures often act as a backdrop for discussing themes like fear, success and mental health.
“The biggest thing for me was: how can I increase the number of female role models in the media?” Sarah told us. “Because there just aren’t any. We’ve got things now like the women’s football being aired: how incredible would that be for your little girl to see this on TV? When I was growing up there wasn’t anything. You didn’t see female sport. And even now on the back pages, it’s never really women. It’s so disappointing and it’s so unfair.”
With over 200 interviews, each around an hour-long, plus ‘Tough Girl Extra’ catch-ups with previous interviewees, that’s a whole lot of inspiring women.
Some adventurous highlights include a chat with Anna McNuff on running the length of New Zealand, a conversation with Lucy Barnard about trying to become the first woman to walk the length of the Earth and Sarah Davis on paddling the length of the Nile.
9) Niall Grimes’ Jam Crack Climbing Podcast
Irish/Sheffield climber Niall Grimes tells tales from the wall and jumps in conversation with prominent climbers from the UK and international climbing scene in his podcast ‘Jam Crack’. You don’t have to be into climbing to enjoy this one. Anyone who’s interested in adventurous stories will get a lot from Grimes’ podcast, which range from thrilling to whimsical to comedic, sometimes all in the space of one podcast. There are episodes with top UK and international climbers like Emma Twyford and Yugi Hirayama to stories from guests like Nick Bullock, a man who gave up life as a prison guard to live in a van and travel the world climbing. This is well worth a listen for anyone who likes rocks, and in particular, climbing to the top of them.
10) Wild Ideas Worth Living
Hosted by American journalist Shelby Stanger, Wild Ideas Worth Living is a podcast aimed at people who have ever had a crazy idea, whether travel-related or otherwise, but haven’t had the confidence or knowhow to see it through. The podcast is fun and full of handy tips for anyone looking to take a leap of faith and re-focus away from the 9-5. The podcast is jam-packed with conversations with all sorts of inspirational people. One week might be a deep dive into how to cook good food around a campfire. The next will be an interview with an activist, action sports drag queen. The next might be wellness and mindfulness tips from a world-renowned athlete. Wild Ideas Worth Living has a little bit of everything. If it’s utter inspiration you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
If these podcasts have had the desired effect and inspired you to get out there, check out our range of hand-picked adventure trips where we’ll do the hard work for you.