The 8 Best Outdoorsy Podcasts
Plug in your headphones and get ready to binge. These podcasts give ‘Serial’ a run for its money.
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If Terry Gross soothes you to sleep at night, Ira Glass sits shotgun on all your road trips, and season one of Serial marked some of the most exciting months of your life (the call logs!), you’re officially a podcast nerd. But you’ve probably noticed that outdoors- and adventure-focused podcasts are hard to come by. Their small, niche audience and limited number of reviews make them easy to miss when you’re scrolling through iTunes. Fear not: quality audio tales of epic summits and backwoods survival do exist—if you know where to look. Start with these eight podcasts, made by insiders and obsessives who pipe the culture of adventure straight into your ears. We found all types of gems, whether you're looking to harness a sense of adventure, get inspired to train harder, or find your new favorite beer to kick back with at the end of the day.
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Listening to Enormocast feels like being part of an exclusive club for climbers. The interviews get more personal than first ascents and bouldering grades. In one episode, Cedar Wright talks about his hippy childhood; in another, Emily Harrington reflects on her early success as a teen, taking on some of the toughest climbs in Rifle, Colorado. Host Chris Kalous, an occasional contributor to Rock & Ice, knows his way around the climbing world and often jokes his way into the intimate lives and athletic feats of today’s biggest climbers, many of whom are his good friends.
Where to Start: Episode 76: “Ethan Pringle—Don’t Call it a Comeback”
Twenty-nine-year-old sport climber and boulderer Ethan Pringle discusses what drives him to be a professional climber and what it means to start climbing at a young age. “Climbing is the easy part. Wondering whether I'm doing the right thing is the hard part,” Pringle says.
The Dirtbag Diaries
This might be the most well-known podcast on the list. Launched in 2007, The Dirtbag Diaries focuses on outdoors storytelling that spans most of the recreation world, from paddling and backpacking to road trips and skiing. Fitz Cahall, co-founder of production company Duct Tape Then Beer, narrates stories from famous athletes, including climbing and BASE-jumping legend Steph Davis, but amateur enthusiasts also get plenty of air time.
Where to Start: Episode 137, “Widge”
“Widge,” which refers to the name of a well-loved family dog, reminds us why canine pals often make the best adventure companions. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and at the end, you’ll want to give your own furry friend an extra scratch behind the ears.
The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast
If you can't believe that a show about fly fishing could be almost 300 episodes in and still going strong, this one's probably too specific for you—but fishing obsessives should jump right in. Tom Rosenbauer, a longtime fly-fishing author and one of the most prolific teachers in the sport, offers tips and tricks on how to make the most of the water in every possible way. Many episodes reach far over an hour, so it's a good choice for long drives to your favorite fishing spot.
Where to Start: Episode 250, “10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Fly-Tying When I Started”
From the finer points on deer hair patterns and thickness to the critical rules of fly proportions, Rosenbauer shares hard-earned advice on how to make your most enticing fly. His explanations of the art—how each detail helps the fly appear and move more realistically—could make even a non-fisher appreciate the excruciating behind-the-scenes work.
UltraRunnerPodcast talks to some of the biggest athletes in the sport. Many delve into what helps competitors go from average to great, rising trends in the race community, and why Dean Karnazes would rather drink a beer than listen to his interview on the UltraRunnerPodcast.
Where to Start: Episode 89, “Mike Foote Interview–The Crown Traverse”
Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe completed a 23-day-long traverse that covered over 500 miles of some of the most rugged terrain in Canada and the U.S. In this episode, Foote discusses the tricky logistics of planning and carrying out their adventure.
The First 40 Miles
The First 40 Miles offers tips and tales for beginner backpackers. If you’ve already bagged more peaks than you can count, this podcast probably isn’t for you, but if you’re ready to dip your toe into the hiking world, let Heather and Josh guide you through how to pack lighter, dress smarter, and enjoy your time on the trail.
Where to Start: Episode 47, “WILD: The Bear Episode”
Come for the details on why bears are terrifying, stay for the no-nonsense safety tips. In advance of the show, the hosts took a week-long trip in bear country, where, Heather confirms, they did indeed learn a lot about bears. “In some ways, that's lowered by blood pressure and helped me feel more confident in the backcountry,” she says.
Skinning, fat biking, and snowshoeing through fresh powder are all vital parts of what makes winter one of our favorite seasons, but there’s also an entire industry driven by snow. In Wintry Mix, Vermont Public Radio's Alex Kaufman talks to ski- and snowboard-makers, resort owners, and even the National Weather Service. From gear to snowmaking, Kaufman digs into the winter biz, showing that the season’s about more than sledding and hot chocolate.
Where to Start: Episode 10, “Ski Newfoundland: Ferries and Screech”
Living on the island of Newfoundland, the most eastern province in Canada, means loving fresh powder. With an average annual snowfall of 16 feet, many drive seven hours from St. John’s, Newfoundland’s largest city, to ski Marble Mountain every weekend. Kaufman warns of “geographic adult humor” at the start of the episode—you'll just have to listen to find out what that means.
Psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais explores the mental aspect of performance and the mind-body connection in Finding Mastery. While not all episodes relate to athletes (there’s one on composer Kai Kight, for example), many in the series examine how some of the most elite athletes in the world think. In episode 18, ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll discusses how he went from someone who didn’t even own a bike to completing five triathlons on five different Hawaiian islands in less than one week. In another, Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors contemplates how to cope with failure.
Where to Start: Episode 9, “Luke Tyburski: Endurance Adventurer”
This episode was recorded before Tyburski set out on the Ultimate Triathlon, a 1,250-mile-long race from Morocco to Monaco. He talks about the mental power required to push boundaries. “During endurance sports… your legs and bodies and shoulders are always going to be in pain,” he says. “But for me, it’s [about] being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Craft Beer Radio Podcast
Beer snobs, rejoice. As one of the oldest beer podcasts on iTunes, launched in 2008, Craft Beer Radio Podcast offers hundreds of hoppy episodes. Hosts Jeff Bearer and Greg Weiss break down interesting new beers, current laws and regulations that affect breweries, and trends in the industry. Our favorite part: listening as they try new beers and describe the taste and aroma in great detail.
Where to Start: Episode 336, “Savor 2015: IPAs Across the Country”
No surprise that this podcast does Savor, the annual D.C. craft gathering, right. In this episode—one of a whopping 18 Craft Beer Radio recorded from last year's event—reps from breweries across the U.S. present their top IPAs, discuss the background of each beer, and map out the foods that pair best with their brews.