Podcasts have become a big thing in the outdoors community. A good audio-show can be a friend in your ear and an inspiration for your next excursion.
It seemed a good idea to create an entry in our Armchair Adventure series focused on the best outdoor podcasts. Armchair adventuring is all about way to keep the outdoors close to your heart during the current crisis. With great anecdotes, inspirational storytelling, and enthusiastic hosts who get what you’re going through, these shows make for ideal listening right about now.
We’ve included links to podcast homepages, but each of these can be easily found by searching Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.
The name couldn’t be clearer; this podcast is all about the big A. Each week the host, Matt Pycroft, invites a guest onto the show to talk about their own adventures and experiences. Crucially, however, the conversation is more about the why of adventure than the how – meaning the show has a warm, human tone that’s like overhearing a conversation around the fire.
There are over 30 episodes now available, with some stellar guests from a wide range of disciplines. Highlights include ex-sniper Aldo Kane discussing the nature of fear, journalist George Monbiot’s tale of bluffing his way into Papua New Guinea, and Dee Caffari’s account of her record-setting sea circumnavigation.
The show has faced the current situation head-on, with recent specials dedicated to the topic of isolation. They make for reassuring listening that 1) things aren’t so bad and 2) they will get better.
Dirtbag Diaries is an outdoor podcasting institution, with over a decade of episodes going right back to the infancy of the medium.
Like The Adventure Podcast above, storytelling is key to Dirtbag. Each episode is made up of a story from a ‘normal’ person. They are intimate, humorous, tragic and inspiring, but they never feel like they are told by supermen or women. Instead the stories find the resonance of the outdoors in everyday life, albeit with a little twist. Recent highlights (from the many, many episodes) include “Picaflor” – in which a man, spiralling into depression, finds solace in big wall climbing, and “Over the Line” – all about a race to Alaska, on a boat with no motor.
Again, Dirtbag have also responded brilliantly to the lockdown, with a recent episode devoted to “The Great Indoors”. It’s all about how to cope, and how to be a force for good in the world.
The road trip tends to be seen as a male dream. The Women on the Road podcast is set up to dispel that idea. Each fortnight the host Laura Hughes interviews a different woman who has embraced van life. It isn’t all Instagram snaps and reading books in hammocks though, Laura explores a vast array of road-living women, from a grieving widow to a woman dedicated to increasing body positivity through the bikinis she sells from her van. The podcast is as much about creativity and individuality as it is about the road, but that’s not to say it doesn’t pack in a lot of practical advice on nomadic living as well.
With over two years of episodes, the show has plenty to keep you dreaming of new horizons. But if you want more there is also WOTR’s big sister podcast – She Explores, focusing on broader stories of women in the outdoors.
This one’s a bit of an oddity. We all love a spooky story don’t we? And when better to hear one than sitting around a campfire on the edge of the trail?
Ok, so currently that’s not possible, but REI have come up with the next best thing. Their Camp Monsters podcast is an eight-part series looking at the myths, mysteries and monsters that haunt the woods and dark places of America.
The style and production values are first class. Rather than giving a dry run down of local lore, each episode takes the form of a virtual campfire, in which your trail-guide companion tells YOU all about the things that folks say about ‘these here woods’. They cover some of the most famous monsters in American legend, such as the Jersey Devil, but plenty of them will be unknown to a UK audience. Forget Sasquatch, what about BATsquatch?
This is one to enjoy on your early morning dogwalks or whilst sitting in the garden at twilight. The best part? Season 2 is coming soon. And if you like this kind of thing, check our own Odd Outdoors blog series.
If you needed more reason to get comfy in that armchair, then reading about when the outdoors went badly wrong may help. Each month The Sharp End regales you with a tale about an accident in the mountains and interviews with those involved in the fight for survival.
The show is sponsored by Mammut - you know it has some serious mountain pedigree - and hosted by Ashley Saupe who is a mountain expert (as well as snowboarder and surfer, ‘cos why not?) She was inspired by reading the book Accidents in North American Climbing and fifty episodes later she’s still coming back with tales of desperation and heroism. You can jump in anywhere, but the recent live recording with Charlie Sassara and Jack Tackle is a true heart-in-the-mouth story of life and death stakes.
Enjoy this with a nice brew and think how pleasant it is to NOT be freezing on the side of a mountain.
We hope you find something you love here. Please let us know any of your own podcast suggestions in the comments or on social using #BlacksPlanB.