Want to know the secret to becoming a great storyteller? Consume a lot of stories. Of course, not everyone has the opportunity (or inclination) to settle in with a book or full-length film; consider, then, the humble podcast – a snack-sized narrative you can enjoy while driving, working out, or even making dinner. Here are ten of our recommendations to fill your listening queue:
THE DIRTBAG DIARIES // dirtbagdiaries.com
They say: “A grassroots podcast dedicated to the sometimes serious, often humorous stories from wild places.”
We say: This is perhaps the granddaddy of adventure podcasts, launched in 2007 by writer, producer, and storyteller Fitz Cahall of Duct Tape Then Beer. It consistently ranks at the top of “Best Outdoor Podcast”-type lists (including two mentions by Outside magazine), and that’s because it does a stellar job covering a range of outdoor adventures and adventurers, including podcast listeners.
Recent episode: “Anti Gravity” – The story of climber, gear shop owner, and immigrant Juan Rodriguez.
THE ENORMOCAST // enormocast.com
They say: “Here at the Enormocast, no beta is wrong, no story is too long-winded, and I will never utter the words, ‘Can we talk about something besides climbing for a change?’”
We say: Climber and storyteller Chris Kalous focuses on climbing, climbing, and more climbing on this…climbing-focused podcast that will entertain hardened dirtbags as much as it will casual observers of the sport. The best part is the camaraderie he fosters – no matter how prolific the guest, Kalous makes it sound like he’s simply chatting with an old friend.
Recent episode: “Kathy Karlo Goes Deep” – About blogger, podcaster, and climber Kathy Karlo.
OUT THERE // www.outtherepodcast.com
They say: “In the same way that going out into nature can help us see our lives in a new way, stories about the outdoors can help us evaluate what we’re doing with our lives, and how we inhabit the world.”
We say: Thru-hiker, cyclist, skier, and writer Willow Belden harnesses her past in public radio to offer a well-produced NPR-esque riff on adventure storytelling. These tales have adrenaline, sure, but they also have heart, and lots of it.
Recent episode: “Selfless Acts” – An exploration of generosity through the lens of “trail angels.”
OUTSIDE PODCAST // outsideonline.com/podcasts
They say: “Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with exclusive features that will both entertain and inform listeners.”
We say: If you enjoy Outside’s top-notch written storytelling, you’ll love it in audio form. The podcast currently occupies three verticals: Science of Surival (epic tales that look to science for nuance and explanation); The Outside Interview (where EIC Chris Keyes chats with athletes, scientists, authors, and more); and Dispatches (an assortment of “newsworthy topics” from politics to groundbreaking athletic achievements).
Recent episode: “Burnout” – The fourth in a series about wildfires.
OUTSIDE/IN // outsideinradio.org
They say: “You don’t have to be a whitewater kayaker, an obsessive composter, or a conservation biologist to love Outside/In. It’s a show for anyone who has ever been outdoors.”
We say: This show, hosted by Sam Evans-Brown in partnership with New Hampshire Public Radio, focuses on the natural world and the environment while still injecting stories with a sense of adventure.
Recent episode: “The Sky Is Burning” – A story of what it’s like to be surrounded by wildfire.
SAFETY THIRD // safetythirdpodcast.com
They say: “More fun than a powder day. Riskier than leaping from a mountain. Weirder than a week on the playa. No topic is taboo.”
We say: This Duct Tape Then Beer production, hosted by multimedia storyteller Paddy O’Connell, is a fun, funny, and wildly enjoyable exploration of, well, everything. Topics range from relationships to tragedy to diversity in the outdoors, but one thing is for certain – you’ll never be bored while listening.
Recent episode: “Virtual Reality Can Save the Places We Love” – A discussion of how cutting-edge tech can work for contemporary environmentalism.
THE SHARP END // americanalpineclub.org/sharp-end-podcast
They say: “Host Ashley Saupe interviews the climbers and rescuers involved in life-threatening incidents and shares their lessons, helping all of us become safer climbers.”
We say: This podcast isn’t just inspired by American Alpine Club’s annual Accidents in North American Climbing, it actually dissects the epics described in the publication to help listeners learn from others’ mistakes so that they don’t repeat them on the rock. Practical, yet highly entertaining.
Recent episode: “Two Broken Bolts” – A discussion of an accident caused by bad bolts.
SHE EXPLORES // she-explores.com/podcast
They say: “A Podcast for and about women who are inspired by time spent outside.”
We say: While this podcast features women and is theoretically aimed at a female audience, the stories are far more universal (and emotionally relatable) than the title might indicate. While the episodes sometimes feature well-known outdoorists, the subjects are often everyday outdoor enthusiasts who have a special story to share.
Recent episode: “Lightening Trauma’s Invisible Weight on the Trail” – How hiking helped one woman heal through trauma.
THE TRAIL SHOW // thetrailshow.com
They say: “Every month we’re filling the hiking void in your podcast library.”
We say: This podcast is the most casual of the bunch, but in a really charming way – it feels like you’re hanging out with old trail buddies each time. There aren’t a lot of hiking-specific podcasts out there, and The Trail Show takes up the mantle by covering all things hiking (especially long trails) with a mix of boozy humor and genuine enthusiasm for the sport.
Recent episode: “The SHT” – A bevy of trail tales, including ones from the Superior Hiking Trail.
WILD IDEAS WORTH LIVING // wildideasworthliving.com
They say: “Wild Ideas Worth Living is podcast dedicated toward empowering others to take a break from the mundane and live out their wildest ideas.”
We say: This podcast, presented by REI and hosted by journalist and water sports enthusiast Shelby Stanger, offers an enormous dose of inspiration with every listen. Stanger interviews a diverse array of people who’ve accomplished impressive feats of all stripes – from surfboards to boardrooms – to help unlock the secrets to making our own “wild ideas” come true.
Recent episode: “Rue Mapp – Starting a Movement to Celebrate Diversity and Get More People Outside” – A conversation with the founder of Outdoor Afro