6 Podcasts About the Joys and Perils of the Great Outdoors


6 Podcasts About the Joys and Perils of the Great Outdoors

Starter episode: “The Worst Black Bear Attack in History: Part 1”

Matt Pycroft, a filmmaker who specializes in documenting far-flung and hostile outdoor locations, delivers interviews with guests who share his thirst for exploration. One’s definition of an adventure can vary dramatically, and that’s reflected in the broad range of subjects here. Many episodes focus on mountaineering, polar expeditions and base jumping, but there are also closer-to-home options like cold-water swimming and mudlarking, the tradition of hunting for hidden treasures along the banks of the River Thames in London. Interspersed with the inspiring interviews is advice, like the recent “Explore: How To Plan An Expedition” mini-season.

Starter episode: “Mark Agnew, An Adventurous Mind”

Outside magazine has been a go-to source for sophisticated adventure travel writing for more than four decades, and its podcast expands on that tradition, using sound effects and first-person narration to tell immersive, gripping stories about endurance in nature. The podcast, which began in 2016, chronicles stories of survival in the wilderness against extraordinary odds; there’s an episode covering just about any terrifying scenario you can imagine — what it feels like to be buried alive in an avalanche or paralyzed by a scorpion in the Grand Canyon. In recent years the show has expanded its horizons, offering interviews with public figures about their extreme sports of choice — cave diving for the actor Viggo Mortensen, ultramarathons for the musician Ben Gibbard — as well as science-based deep dives into the best training plans and nutrition for athletes.

Starter episode: “Way, Way Too Close to a Whale”

This NPR staple explores stories about the natural world and our interactions with it, hosted by Nate Hegyi, a reporter with New Hampshire Public Radio. One of the show’s regular segments, “This, That, or the Other Thing,” focuses on ways to make more sustainable choices when it comes to eating out, buying clothes and even planning funerals. Other episodes use a pop culture hook, like last summer’s installment pegged to “Oppenheimer.” After the atomic bomb test at Los Alamos in the summer of 1945, the downwind rural town of Carrizozo was blanketed by radioactive fallout, making its water undrinkable and soil barren, and precipitating a spike in radiogenic cancer rates. Hegyi’s on-the-ground interviews with these “downwinders” about their fight for government compensation make for unnerving listening, exemplifying the kind of reporting “Outside/In” does best.

Starter episode: “What’s the most successful species on Earth?”

Hosted by two longtime friends, this amiable show for “morbid outdoor enthusiasts” delves into stories of when things go very, very wrong in the nation’s most picturesque locations. In every episode of “National Park After Dark,” Danielle LaRock and Cassandra Yahnian detail a dramatic incident at national parks across the nation (and beyond), discussing the location’s history as well as its perils. Some are well-known cautionary tales like that of Timothy Treadwell, the bear enthusiast who lived among grizzlies for 13 years before being mauled to death by one of them, while others are pure true crime, like the still-unsolved Crater Lake murders. The warm rapport between the hosts, balanced by inspirational survival stories, makes this a delightful listen no matter how dark the subject.

Starter episode: “A Lightning Strike Rescue, Yosemite National Park”

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