You love the great outdoors and are thinking of taking your own backpacking or hiking trip in 2023. It is that time of year to take in all the beautiful scenery the world has to offer, and to prepare for your upcoming trip, I have a list of the best movies for the occasion. Some are tales of true stories about the great outdoors based on a best-selling book, and others are just fun stories to get you excited for your big trip. Check out this list of 35+ of the best hiking and backpacking movies in 2023.
If you enjoyed this list of hiking and backpacking movies in 2023, check out these other articles: best drum movies, best movies about moonshine, Slavery movies on Netflix, Surround Sound movies, Barbie movies online.
Hiking and Backpacking Movies 2023
Plot: Driven to the edge by the death of her mother, the dissolution of her marriage and a headlong dive into self-destructive behavior, Cheryl Strayed makes a decision to halt her downward spiral and put her life back together again. With no outdoors experience, a heavy backpack and little else to go on but her own will, Cheryl sets out alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail — one of the country’s longest and toughest through-trails. Based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir.
Star Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Cheryl Strayed
A Walk In The Woods (2015)
Plot: After years of living in Britain, celebrated travel writer Bill Bryson returns to New Hampshire, United States. But instead of retiring, the 60-year-old announces he’s going to hike over two thousand miles along the Appalachian Trail.
Star Cast: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Bill Bryson, Emma Thompson
127 Hours (2010)
Plot: While exploring a remote canyon in Utah, a young man, mountaineer, and adventurer Aron Ralston becomes trapped when a boulder falls on his arm. Over the next five days, Ralston examines his life and considers his options, leading him to an agonizing choice: to amputate his arm so that he can extricate himself and try to make his way back to civilization or remain pinned to the canyon wall and likely die. Based true events and on Ralston’s book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.”
Star Cast: James Franco, Aron Ralston, Kate Mara
The Way (2010)
Plot: A grieving father travels to France to retrieve the body of his estranged son, who died while attempting the pilgrimage to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela. He resolves to take the journey himself, in an effort to understand both himself and his son.
Star Cast: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Renee Estevez
Plot: An elderly woman decides to follow her dreams after the death of her husband. She makes plans to fulfil her dream of climbing a mountain in the Scottish Highlands.
Star Cast: Sheila Hancock, Paul Brannigan, Rachael Keiller
Travel Light (2016)
Plot: A small team of American filmmakers backpack across Spain’s Camino de Santiago in an attempt to capture the stories of the international pilgrims who make this sacred walk.
Star Cast: Lindsay Thompson
Plot: Accompanied only by her faithful dog and four camels, an Australian satisfies her craving for solitude by embarking on a solo trip across the desert from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. Based on thetrue story of Robyn Davidson.
Star Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Emma Booth
Valley Uprising (2014)
Plot: Generations of beatniks and madmen drop out of society and take up a life of rock climbing on the massive granite walls of Yosemite National Park.
Star Cast: Alex Honnold, Peter Sarsgaard, Lynn Hill
Touching The Void (2003)
Plot: In 1985, two young climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, set out to be the first to reach the summit of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. They succeed, and the two embark on the treacherous descent down the mountain — only to meet with disaster when Simpson breaks his leg in a fall, leaving Yates to lower him the rest of the way with ropes. When a storm threatens both their lives, Yates must decide whether to cut the rope and risk Simpson’s likely death.
Star Cast: Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron, Joe Simpson
Into The Wild (2007)
Plot: Christopher McCandless, son of wealthy parents, graduates from Emory University as a top student and athlete. However, instead of embarking on a prestigious and profitable career, he chooses to give his savings to charity, rid himself of his material possessions, and set out on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness. Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless and written by Sean Penn and Jon Krakauer.
Star Cast: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt
Mile… Mile And A Half (2013)
Plot: A group of friends set out to long hike California’s 211-mile John Muir Trail in 25 days. Inspired by the group’s bond and dedication, others join them along the way.
Star Cast: Laura Obiols
Tell It On The Mountain (2013)
Plot: Follow a handful of diverse hikers as they walk 2,663 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail through North America. They begin in April at the U.S. Mexico border and battle their way through bone-dry deserts in Southern California, icy mountain passes in the High Sierra and the torrential rains of the Pacific Northwest. 5 months later, they may reach their final destination in Canada. Equipped with cameras to record their video journals, they give us an insider’s view into what it takes to spend half a year living in the wild. From Billygoat (chronic hiker and John Muir look-alike) to Scott Williamson (the world’s greatest endurance athlete that no one’s ever heard of), their collective tales illustrate the power of wilderness to transform, renew and inspire.
Star Cast: Paul Winfield, Rosalind Cash, Giancarlo Esposito
The Art of Travel (2008)
Plot: Conner Layne is about to embark on the adventure of his life to take in the natural beauty. But when he finds out that his fiancée is having an affair with his best friend, he will make his honeymoon alone.
Star Cast: Christopher Masterson, Brian LaBelle, Angelika Baran
The Outwaters (2022)
Plot: An excursion to the Mojave Desert turns creepy when a group of campers starts to experience unexplained sounds, vibrations, and unnatural animal behaviour. Then one night everything changes, sending the foursome on a mind-bending trip through terror.
Star Cast: Robbie Banfitch, Leslie Ann Banfitch, Scott Schamell
Plot: A gruff backpacker helps a troubled teenage girl trek through the Alaskan wilderness to make her way back home to Seattle.
Star Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Ella Purnell
Significant Other (2022)
Plot: While on a remote backpacking trip through the Pacific Northwest, a young couple sense they may not be alone. As things take a dark turn, they find there is no one to trust — not even each other.
Star Cast: Maika, Monroe, Jake Lacy, Youssef Kerkour
The Beckoning Silence (2007)
Plot: After a near-death mountain climbing accident, Joe Simpson’s injuries were so severe he was told he’d never climb again. He explores what motivated him to continue climbing, and travels to the Eiger to tell the story of one of mountaineering’s most epic tragedies.
Star Cast: Joe Simpson, Andreas Abegglen, Steven Mackintosh
Free Solo (2018)
Plot: Professional rock climber Alex Honnold attempts to conquer the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan’s 900-metre vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park.
Star Cast: Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin, Sanni McCandless
Redwood Highway (2013)
Plot: An elderly woman and retiree decide to walk 80 mile journey to the Oregon coast to see the ocean and attend her granddaughter’s wedding.
Star Cast: Shirley Knight, Tom Skerritt, James Le Gros
Blue Jay (2016)
Plot: A couple hiking Mount Whitney runs into a group of men who develop a dark obsession with the young woman.
Star Cast: Sara Lindsey, James Landry Hebert, Travis Aaron Wade
Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Plot: The story of Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer, whose attempt to scale a Himalayan peak is interrupted by the Second World War. After many adventures, he finds himself in Tibet where he befriends the Dalai Lama, gaining maturity and humility. However, turbulent times lie ahead.
Star Cast: Brad Pitt, Lhakpa Tsamchoe, Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk
Plot: On the morning of May 10, 1996, climbers from two expeditions start their final ascent toward the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. With little warning, a violent storm strikes the mountain, engulfing the adventurers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man. Challenged by the harshest conditions imaginable, the teams must endure blistering winds and freezing temperatures in an epic battle to survive against nearly impossible odds.
Star Cast: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal
The Loneliest Planet (2011)
Plot: An incident on the trail tests two lovers’ relationship as they take a guided hiking tour through the Caucasus Mountains.
Star Cast: Gael García Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, Bidzina Gujabidze
The Ritual (2017)
Plot: Reuniting after the tragic death of their friend, four college pals set out to hike through the Scandinavian wilderness. A wrong turn leads them into the mysterious forests of Norse legend, where an ancient evil exists and stalks them at every turn.
Star Cast: Rafe Spall, Sam Troughton, Rob James-Collier
The High Sierra Trail (2018)
Plot: Join Chris as he drives his friend John to insanity over six days in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Together they have some close calls with lightning, climb the highest mountain in the United States, and discover the history of the trail.
Star Cast: John Awe-Shum, Chris Smead, William Tweed
Plot: A man stranded in the Arctic after a plane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive.
Star Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smaradottir, Tintrinal Thikhasuk
A Lonely Place To Die (2011)
Plot: While hiking and climbing in the Scottish Highlands, a group of five mountaineers discover a young Serbian girl buried in a small chamber. In the attempt to get the girl to safety, they become caught up in a terrifying game of cat and mouse with the kidnappers.
Star Cast: Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Alec Newman
The Revenant (2015)
Plot: While exploring the uncharted wilderness in 1823, frontiersman Hugh Glass sustains life-threatening injuries from a brutal bear attack. When a member of his hunting team kills his young son and leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back to civilization. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, the legendary fur trapper treks through the snowy terrain to track down the man who betrayed him.
Star Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Forrest Goodluck
Alone Across Australia (2004)
Plot: Jon Muir is an adventurer who has traveled to both the North and South Poles, and scaled Mt. Everest. For his latest project, he returns to his native Australia with the goal of walking across the entire country from north to south. Not only that, he plans on making the journey with no navigational technology and no supplies, bringing only a camera and his loyal dog with him. Along the way he must overcome personal tragedies, dangerous weather, and many health problems to reach his goal.
Star Cast: Jon Muir
Plot: Friends Gerry and Gerry hike into Death Valley, but they stray so far from the trail that they have no idea how to get back. Initially, they maintain morale by rehashing old stories and reciting inside jokes, but the gravity of their situation sinks in as a return to civilization becomes more unlikely. As the sheer scope, hypnotic pull and spirit-crushing mirages of the desert affect the men, their will to live and sense of identity is challenged and transformed.
Star Cast: Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, Allison Tolman
The Way Back (2010)
Plot: Denounced by his wife as a possible spy in 1939, Janusz finds himself in a remote Siberian labor camp. Faced with brutal conditions inside and out, Janusz is determined to escape. A blizzard provides him with the perfect opportunity, and he and a small group of fellow prisoners make a break for it. Escape, however, is the easy part, for Janusz and his companions face a 4,000 mile trek on foot through the frozen Himalayas before they can truly be free.
Star Cast: Jim Sturgess, Peter Weir, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell
Plot: Alex and Jenn have left the city to go camping in the country. After setting off in the woods, they realise they’ve forgotten their phone and they become lost. The trip turns into a fight for survival when they are stalked by a man-eating bear.
Star Cast: Jeff Roop, Missy Peregrym, Nicholas Campbell
The Lost City of Z (2016)
Plot: At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon, where he discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment, which views indigenous populations as savages, the determined Fawcett, supported by his devoted wife, son, and aide-de-camp, returns to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case.
Star Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson