Nothing beats the experience of a thrilling adventure. Unfortunately sometimes life gets in the way and the next best alternative is finding inspiration in other places.
There’s nothing else like getting lost in a good book and impatiently waiting for the next time you get to pick it back up. Becoming an active participant in an outdoor adventure that you never thought was possible. All while relying solely on written words on pieces of paper and your imagination to take you on a magical journey.
If you’re longing for the thrill of adventure but the weather or the everyday grind is in the way. Grab one of the outdoor adventure books off this list and let your imagination take you on a wild ride.
Table of Contents
Lost in the Wild
Written by: Cary Griffith
Lost in the Wild is an easy read and the type of book that keeps you on the edge of your seat, constantly wondering what is around the corner. It’s two separate stories of people who get lost in the woods in NE Wisconsin. The story volley’s back and forth between the two tales and their individual struggles and successes of being lost and alone in the woods.
The moist poignant takeaway from both stories is how a tiny and seemingly innocuous decision can have a domino effect of unfortunate circumstances. It makes us reconsider how nonchalantly we all venture into the backcountry and hammers home how important being prepared is.
This book is a great read from front to back and withing it are lessons that everyone can learn something from. The best way to learn is from other people’s mistakes.
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart
Written by: Carrot Quinn
The Pacific Crest Trail has been around for a long time and up until recently has been a relatively unknown thru-hike. The movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon is really what catapulted it into the lexicon of pop culture. Carrot Quinn is one of the adventurous few who has taken the leap of faith and completed this 2,650-mile walk from Mexico to Canada while eloquently documenting her experiences.
The book is written the best way it could have been, as sort of a personal journal of her experiences and emotions throughout the adventure. There is a saying in the thru-hike world that you should always “hike your own hike” and Carrot’s book is the perfect example of that. She goes into great detail in a poetic and masterful way that demonstrates the good, the bad, and the ugly of the PCT.
One of the biggest takeaways from Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart is the raw and honest take on the ins and outs of daily trail life. If you want to find inspiration in it’s most honest form, this book is for you.
Alone on the Wall
Written by: Alex Honnold, David Roberts
If you don’t know who Alex Honnold is we’ll give you a little backstory. He found his passion for climbing at a young age and never lost his love for the sport. He is famous for “free soloing” the nose of El Capitan. In other words, he climbed one of the most challenging faces in Yosemite without any ropes or safety measures… Crazy right? Not so much.
The book is a mixture of Alex’s own writing and David Robert’s narrative of what it is that Alex does on a daily basis. Alex gives us an in-depth look into his mind and motivation for successfully completing climbs that most people would consider suicide. He delves deep into how he manages risk and fear.
You don’t need to be a climber to appreciate this book. It gives you an insight into an adventurous life that only a handful of people are “crazy” enough to attempt.
Written by: Tommy Caldwell
Push by Tommy Caldwell, one of Alex Honnold’s climbing partners is Tommy’s unique take on his climbing experiences. Unlike Honnold’s book, this is written solely by Caldwell. You get into the mind of a world-class climber.
This book is written in an autobiography style through the eyes of Caldwell and his storied career. He finds an enthralling balance of the personal aspects of his life blended with the adventurous parts to demonstrate his growth as a human and a climber.
If you have ever wanted to find inspiration in the true accounts from one of the most decorated climbers on the planet this book is for you. Tommy is raw, unfiltered, and introspective about what drives him and keeps him going… Up the face of the mountain.
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk
Written by: Ben Montgomery
Little is known about Ella Gatewood in the modern world, however, if it wasn’t for her there’s a good chance that the Appalachian Trail wouldn’t be what it is today. Ella Gatewood was the first woman to complete the AT and the first person to walk it twice, she actually completed it 3 times. That is quite the accomplishment in and of itself and she did it all after the age of 65.
Her adventurous walk got her media attention from magazines and TV shows. At the time, there were very few media outlets so the attention she brought to the rough state of the trail had an enormous impact. If it wasn’t for her, there is a good chance that the Appalachian Trail would have been taken back by mother nature.
The book alternates between her time on the trail and her life before the trail living with an abusive husband. Ella Greenwood was the best advertisement for the trail than anyone could have paid for and her story is absolutely worth a little your time.
The Stranger in the Woods
Written by: Michael Finkel
With the lightning speed that society and technology are propelling us forward, there is little to no time to look around and take a breath. The idea of escaping the rat race of modern society is a fantasy that has crossed all of our minds at one point or another. The Stranger in the Woods is the story of one man who did exactly that, on his own accord, because he wanted to.
This is the story of Chris Knight, a man who chose to walk away from his life, family, and friends and wander into the woods of Maine. It is a detailed account of Knight’s escape from the modern world and the ensuing struggles that inevitably arose. The simple things that we all take for granted like companionship, food, water, and shelter all become a daily struggle and the wilderness becomes his classroom.
By the end of this book, you begin to really understand what drove Knight away and drew him towards this unconventional yet primal lifestyle. It is a well-crafted masterpiece that keeps you wanting more with each turn of the page.
Written by: Alistair Humphreys
Alistair Humphreys is an English born adventurer best known for taking epic journeys all over the world. He’s embarked on a 46,000 mile bike ride through 60 countries and 5 continents. He’s walked a 1000 miles through the desert and rowed across the Atlantic Ocean.
His book Micro Adventures is the polar opposite of his epic worldly adventures, however, the inspiring nature is the same. This book is broken down into short easy to read chapters demonstrating different adventures that are simple and within reach to the average person. It is a cornucopia of ideas that are close to home and give you a way to change your perspective of the world directly around you.
There isn’t another well-established authority on adventures o the planet. Alistair talks the talk and walks the walk. Micro adventures is an actionable adventure book that anyone can put into action.
- William Collins
- Alastair Humphreys
- Publisher: William Collins
- Paperback: 256 pages
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
Written by: David Miller
David Miller was just your ordinary guy with a job as a software engineer in 2003 until he decided to walk away from everything (temporarily). With the blessing of his wife and family, he set out to complete a lifelong dream. To complete the Appalachian Trail, a 2,172-mile walk from Georgia to Maine.
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is his first-hand account of attempting to complete an epic adventure on his first try. Throughout the book, David’s quiet and moderate personality shines through during his play by play of life on the trail. He gets personal in his longing for his family and the stinging truth of the realities of trail life.
This book makes you realize that you don’t have to be a hardcore adrenaline junky to complete an adventure of epic proportions. All that’s needed is drive, passion, discipline, and time to complete a life-altering journey.
- David Miller
- Lake Union Publishing
- Kindle Edition
- Edition no. 2 (10/18/2010)
The Emerald Mile
Written by: Kevin Fedarko
The Emerald Mile is the story of a wild ride down the Colorado River during a flood at Glen Canyon. This main focus of the book is the wild journey of a group of Engineers in a rickety wooden boat during one of the worst floods in the history of the Grand Canyon area. The initial goal was to break the speed record for the fastest boat ever down the length of the Colorado River.
This book not only covers the harrowing journey of the engineers but also explores all the people that were affected on the peripherals of the disaster. Kevin Fedarko covers the entire situation from beginning to end, including the rather mundane yet interesting parts.
Overall this is an extremely meticulous and well-researched book that covers every nook and cranny of the story. Around chapter 17 is where the book really takes off, but in the end, the adventure is one in a million.
Written by: Robert Kurson
Often we are told about a nonfiction story that reads like an adventure story only to be let down. It’s fair to say that Shadow Divers lives up to that statement and then some. The term “Shadow Divers” is given to a small community of scuba divers who go down to 200 feet and sometimes more, the average scuba diver bottoms out at 130 feet.
This is the story of a group of deep sea divers who head deep into the murky waters of the abyss of the coast of New Jersey in hopes of finding something. What they stumble across is the remains of a German U-boat that should have never been there, according to public records. This was the first time that America understood just how close the Germans came to American soil during WW2.
The discovery they stumbled on ended up being a multi-year saga that involved international phone calls, letters to governments, arguments with historians, and trips to Germany. In the end, this amazing find rewrote WW2 history as we know it.
Buried in the Sky
Written by: Peter Zuckerman
Buried in the Sky is the story of survival of two Sherpas who we involved in a catastrophic climbing event that occurred on K2. On August 1, 2008, a large international group of climbers was attempting to ascend K2 when an avalanche occurred and wiped out most of the group.
The book goes in depth in capturing the rich and storied history of the Nepalese culture and more importantly the Sherpas who lead these type of expeditions. It explains in depth the relationship of the people who are often considered exploited by Westerners, yet, are paid handsomely in comparison to the local wages.
Pete Zuckerman really did his research and actually traveled to Nepal to meet Sherpas on their own turf. He put on crampons for the first time and got his feet dirty. This dedication to the understanding of the story shines through in his brilliant depiction of the events that make this a white-knuckled thriller.
Written by: Erik Weihenmayer
Erik Weinhenmayer is uncommon among uncommon people. He is the first and only blind person to reach the top of Mount Everest. That wasn’t enough for him, he knew there was another epic adventure ahead of him and it was all sparked by a single comment from his expedition leader… He said to him, “Don’t make Everest the greatest thing you ever do.”
No barriers is the story of Erik’s life as an adventurer. He has climbed the 7 major summits in the world and he takes his experiences in life and helps others like him overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in life they face.
This book is so a story about the great achievements of one man, but more importantly, his impact on others like himself. It will make you review your own life and willingness to try new things. Erik’s writing is impassioned and powerful, this book will change your life.
Written by: Joe Glickman
Fearless is the story of a powerful woman named Freya Hoffmeister. As a young woman, she was a stand out gymnast. She went on to compete and win beauty contests and compete as a bodybuilder. Her adrenaline-filled adventures continued as a skydiver until she had a child, which understandably made her put the adventure life on hold.
At the age of 46, she decided to take on another seemingly impossible challenge. Kayaking around the continent of Australia. Her goal was to circumnavigate the 9,420 miles alone and do it faster than anyone before her.
This is the story of her wild ride around Australia and all the perils, dangers, and doubts that she faced. It’s hard to not appreciate accomplishments of this nature, and Freya exemplifies what makes a super athlete stand out from the rest of the crowd.