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Best Adventure Books to Get You Inspired – Bearfoot Theory

Stories are important. They inspire us, teach us, motivate us, and help us find common ground. Plus, how nice is the feeling of reading a good book in a hammock outside or cozied up at home. Whether you’re reading by the fire, under the stars, or while traveling, we’ve rounded up the best adventure books for you.

Here are the best outdoor adventure books to get you inspired.

Best Hiking Books

Wild by Cheryl Strayed 

It wouldn’t be a list of the best outdoor adventure books if we didn’t include Cheryl Strayed’s prolific memoir, Wild. A great read for experienced thru-hikers and aspirational backpackers alike, this book is a poignant and truthful depiction of what it’s like to work through heartbreak in the outdoors and why you’ll always be the better for it. A modern-day addition to the outdoor literary canon, for sure, add Wild to your list of books to read.

If you are interested in thru-hiking, check out how to train for a thru-hike and our comprehensive guides for the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail.

Wild // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis

Similar to Wild this book from Jennifer Pharr Davis retells her transformative experience of life as a solo female thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. A story of overcoming obstacles, finding yourself, love, and loss on the trail, Becoming Odyssa is like required reading for women outdoor enthusiasts looking for inspiration to fuel their own next adventure.

Becoming Odyssa // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Between Each Step by Patrice La Vigne

From 2014-2015, Patrice and Justin La Vigne (who are Bearfoot Theory community members!) hiked along Te Araroa in New Zealand, a continuous trail stretching roughly 2,000 miles from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff at the bottom of the South Island. Between Each Step powerfully captures the essence of trail life, New Zealand’s unique culture, and the tradeoffs to an off-the-beaten-path trajectory during their 4-month journey. It is an amazing memoir that will inspire you to follow your dreams and have you dreaming of booking a flight to New Zealand.

Between Each Step // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Best Inspirational Outdoor Books

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

Inspiration from the king of outdoor adventurers himself, Yvon Chouinard, details his early years as a climber, the first climbing tools he ever made by hand, and the origins of Patagonia. Let My People Go Surfing one of the best adventure books we’ve ever read and an instruction manual on how to center your life around the outdoors.

Let my People Go Surfing // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

The Art of Getting Lost: 365 Days of Adventure, Big and Small by Brendan Leonard

Hilarious, witty and always inspiring, Brendan Leonard brings his classic candor to the pages of The Art of Getting Lost with pages and pages of adventures. He details each trip, provides logistics and advice as if you were trading stories with a seasoned outdoor adventurer. Check out his other writing, particularly, Sixty Meter Anywhere, for another one of the best adventure books out there.

The Art of Getting Lost // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Jimmy Bluefeather: A Novel by Kim Heacox 

A fictional story about the healing power of nature and our innate resilience when faced with trials—both indoors and out. Jimmy Bluefeather tells the tale of Old Keb, a native Alaskan who brings his grandson out of a deep depression by building a canoe to transport them to their ancestral homeland. Another winner of the National Outdoor Book Awards, it’s an inspiring and gripping book about the outdoors.

Jimmy Bluefeather // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

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Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

Desert Solitaire is the perfect companion book to read while on a Utah roadtrip. For three seasons, Abbey lived in the desert near Moab, Utah and this book weaves his personal narratives of watching the land change over time through various essays. A quiet ode to the desert instead of a heavy-filled plot, Desert Solitaire makes you remember why the desert is so unutterably fragile, beautiful, and worth protecting.

Price Check: Amazon

Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote

While on a boating camping trip in his native Wyoming, author Ted Kerasote comes across a wild dog and their lives are bonded together in an instant. The premise of Merle’s Door is on living life of your own accord and the inimitable bond between dogs and people. It’s a touching and poignant read for dog lovers and outdoor enthusiasts and fittingly won the National Outdoor Book Award.

Merle's Door // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

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The Nature Fix by Florence Henderson

A fascinating compilation of science, real-life experiences, and stories about why we’re built to be outside makes The Nature Fix one of the best books about the outdoors. Don’t get scared off by the science, it’s an enjoyable and quick read that’ll leave you wanting to go find some green space stat.

The Nature Fix // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

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Best Female Adventure Books

Swell by Captain Liz Clark

Live vicariously through Captain Liz’s first book, Swell, as she tells stories of her life as a sailing surfer out at sea. What makes this one of the best adventure books is her perspective on staying connected to nature, yourself, and the world around you one tidal cycle at a time.

Swell // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

She Explores by Gale Straub

Combining travel photography with compelling personal narratives, She Explores shares the stories of 40 diverse women on journeys in the outdoors: women hiking, women living on the road, backpacking with their children, or biking through the country. This is one of our personal favorites for sharing the many stories of outdoor women.

She Explores // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman

At the brink of divorce at 48, Rita left her comfortable life in LA to follow her dream of traveling the world, connecting with people in cultures all over the globe, and telling their stories. In Tales of a Female Nomad, she shares stories about living with a Zapotec village in Mexico, observing orangutans in Borneo, and sharing meals with women all over the world. Bucking the trend for women her age, Rita’s journey is inspiring to reconnect to self, discover the power of human resiliency, and see that living out your dreams has no age limit.

Tales of a Female Nomad // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

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Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman

As if Blair’s name didn’t inspire you enough, her coming-of-age story, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, is about a California girl achieving her dream of becoming a dogsled racer in the Arctic will convince you. Add this funny, relatable and motivating read to your list of books about the outdoors—and, of course, dogs.

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

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Unbound by Steph Jagger

Unhappy with her life at home, Steph took a second mortgage on her house, sold everything except her ski equipment and her laptop, and bought plane tickets. For the next year, she followed winter up and down the mountains of North and South America, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand on a mission to ski four million vertical feet in a year. For snow enthusiasts, Unbound is a book you can’t miss.

Unbound // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Best International Adventure Books

To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins

Approaching his 30th birthday and scared of being funneled into a life he didn’t choose, Jedidiah Jenkins quit his dream job and spent sixteen months cycling from Oregon to Patagonia, with no formal biking experience. To Shake the Sleeping Self is a book about travel, but so much more. Jedidiah is an amazing storyteller and you will find yourself relating to your own life experiences as he grapples with questions like what it means to be an adult, his struggle to reconcile his sexual identity with his conservative Christian upbringing, and his belief in travel as a way to wake us up to life back home.

To Shake the Sleeping Self // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

This read is a rite of passage for any outdoor enthusiast. Into Thin Air tells the doomed true story of one fateful day at Mt. Everest that keeps you on the edge of your seat all throughout. This iconic book is hailed as one of the best adventure books of all time and deserves all the hype. It’s a must-read for all those who know what it means to love and respect the outdoors.

Heading to Everest? Check out our comprehensive Everest Base Camp planning guide here.

Into Thin Air // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson’s memoir, Three Cups of Tea, tells the amazing story of how he went from a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s harrowing K2 mountain, dedicated his life to building schools in the region. Over the next decade, he built over 55 schools, mostly for women, in one of the most isolated, impoverished regions of the world. This is a book that will quench your sense of adventure with admiration for his humanitarian spirit.

Check Price: Amazon

Best Outdoor Adventure Books

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild tells the true story of Christopher McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp), who, after graduating summa cum laude from Emory University, burned all his money, abandoned his family, and hit the road as a wanderer. His travels eventually lead him to Alaska, where he spends 4 months living off the land in an abandoned bus before a series of unfortunate events lead to his death. This is a profound and heartbreaking story that is beautifully written to showcase the complexity of Chris’ life and ultimate demise.

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The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko 

In 1983 after one of the most catastrophic dam failures in history, as the Colorado River flooded and the waters rose higher, becoming more dangerous, Kenton Grua picked this exact moment to attempt to break a record for the fastest boat ever sent through the Grand Canyon. The Emerald Mile is a book about the outdoors that inquires why we love to find adventures in the wilderness.

The Emerald Mile // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Champion ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek also earned the title of New York Times Bestselling Author by penning this piece on the connection between food and running. In Eat & Run, Jurek shares some of his bests stories on endurance and willpower alongside the vegan recipes he uses as high-performance fuel. Kim, BFT’s Community Manager, cooked tons of the recipes while training for her first triathlon and give them two thumbs-up. This is the perfect read for anyone looking to find a deeper connection to their food and push themselves to reach their higher potential. Check out Scott’s book Born to Run as well which shares his epic adventure of running with the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico.

Eat & Run // A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Check Price: Amazon

What are your favorite adventure books? Have you read any of these? What would you add to our list?

A list of the best adventure & inspirational books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Written by
Katherine Oakes

Katherine Oakes is an outdoor travel, sustainability writer and yoga teacher. As an avid hiker, skier, yogi (namaste) and aspiring environmentalist, her best days are spent getting a little dirt under her fingernails and fresh air in her lungs.

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