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18 Best Outdoor Adventure Books You Must Read

A list of the best outdoor adventure books to inspire you to travel to far off-lands!

Nothing beats the experience of an exciting outdoor adventure trip. However, sometimes life gets in the way, and the next best alternative is to find inspiration elsewhere.

To extend your adventurous feeling, I created this ultimate list of the best outdoor adventure books you should read.

If you enjoy reading and have a passion for traveling, it’s vital to have a collection of both coffee table books and adventure books to enrich your exploratory experiences.

I am a voracious reader, and today, I share some of the books I’ve read recently, and if you are looking for some great reads.

Here is my list of the best outdoor books to inspire you to travel to far-off lands. 

Looking for great Outdoor Adventure Books? This is the ultimate list with the best Best Outdoor Adventure Books you must read. Inspiring true stories of real people surviving in the great outdoors incl. amazing outdoor photography. #mustread #outdooradventure #outdooradventurebooks #outdoors #outdoortravel #adventuretravel #outdooradventurequotes #outdoorquotes #outdoorphotography
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Pssst…??!! You can’t get enough Book recommendations? Have a look at my other posts:

Overview: Best Outdoor Adventure Books to Read This Year!

  1. The National Parks
  2. Feel the Wild
  3. No Shortcuts to the Top
  4. Deep Survival
  5. Wilderness Ethics

They are also a perfect match with these survival stories books based on true stories or the picks of these gorgeous travel coffee table books.

This outdoor travel adventure book is an inspired tribute to the amazing beauty and priceless cultural treasures of America’s National Parks.

The writer takes you on a magical journey through America’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

This includes stories of the first female park ranger and an amateur scuba expedition that unearthed a submerged Civil War treasure trove.

The full sweep of wonders, from pristine coral reefs to the Gettysburg battlefield to glaciers and every one of the fantastic diversity, offers a wide-ranging tour of the best of America’s national treasures.

National Geographic – The National Parks has the very best of National Geographic’s photographs, combined with an expertly told history.

This book presents a breathtaking panorama of the National Parks.

Feel the Wild book cover with a shot from inside a camping tent with a person outside drinking on a sunset

2. Feel the Wild

by Daniel Fox

Feel the Wild is an intimate and powerful story about nature and our relationship with it told through stunning and delightful photography and through-provoking writing.

This is what happens when a solo wilderness explorer, who happens to be a professional photographer, creates a book about nature. 

I have seen many adventure books for adults filled with nature photography and many wonderful books about exploring nature, but I haven’t quite read a book like Daniel Fox’s Feel the Wild.

This is one of the wilderness adventure books that illustrates the journey of growth told through the lenses of humility, vulnerability, and perspective.

It connects you with nature emotionally, physically, spiritually, and philosophically.

This is one of the best nature adventure books that serves as a road map for experiencing nature and as a framework for personal transformation. 

National Geographic Atlas of the National ParksNational Geographic Atlas of the National ParksFeel the WildFeel the WildTurn Around TimeTurn Around TimeDeep SurvivalDeep SurvivalWilderness EthicsWilderness EthicsThe Expedition:The Expedition:


John Taliaferro, a former senior editor at Newsweek, delivers a powerful, eminently readable biography of the great conservationist George Bird Grinnell (1849–1938).

Taliaferro meticulously draws from 40,000 pages of correspondence, about 50 diaries, and notebooks covering Grinnell’s travels.

The son of a New York merchant, George Bird Grinnell saw a different future for a nation in the thrall of the Industrial Age.

Railroads damaged virgin lands, and the formerly vast buffalo herds were decimated; the country faced a crossroads.

The alarm that Grinnell sounded would spark America’s conservation movement. John Taliaferro’s commanding biography now sets right with historical care and narrative flair.

This book won a National Outdoor Book Award, and I consider it one of the best outdoor books of all time.

Mountaineers Books Turn Around Time: A Walking Poem for the Pacific Northwest, an olive book cover with pine trees graphics

4. Turn Around Time

by David Guterson

Reflections on life and landscape expressed in elegant verse By the New York Times best-selling author, David Guterson. Most outdoor enthusiasts understand the phrase “turnaround time”.

It is a point in an adventure when you must stop moving forward so that you have enough time to safely return to camp or home, no matter whether you have reached your destination.

For the author, Turn Around Time is a metaphor for where we discover ourselves within the middle of our lives, and his new narrative poem explores this concept through a lyrical journey.

Similar to those in Washington’s mountain ranges which he hiked while growing up.

With a fast-moving, propulsive quality, his writing offers lush language, vivid imagery, and pacing that resonates as a journey on foot.

Outdoor lovers will relate to the hiking represented here, from endless trail switchbacks to pains, as well as observant descriptions of the mountain landscape.

Turn Around Time is truly one of the best books for outdoor enthusiasts.

Random House Inc. No Shortcuts To The Top Book Cover with a person on a red suit on top of the himalayas

5. No Shortcuts To The Top

by Ed Viesturs

This gripping and triumphant description from the author of The Mountain follows a living legend of utmost mountaineering as he assaults history, one 8,000-meter summit at a time.

In the opening scene of No Shortcuts to the Top, the protagonist is on a quest to become the first American to climb the 14 mountains in the world higher than 8,000 meters.

He and his friend nearly get thrown off the face of K2 when caught in an avalanche.

From his earliest climbs on the peaks of the Pacific Northwest to his final climb up the Himalayan mountain of Annapurna, Viesturs testifies to the sacrifices in giving your life over to a dream. 

This is one of the books about outdoor adventure that is truly inspiring and eye-opening.

“When challenged with a life-threatening situation, 90% of individuals freeze or panic”, says Laurence Gonzales in this exploration.

The author has covered many survival stories for National Geographic Explorer, Outside, and Men’s Journal.

This uncovers the biological and psychological reasons why people risk their lives and why some are better at it than others.

The opening scene is about the author talking to dozens of thrill-seekers like mountain climbers, sailors, jet pilots, and they all say the same thing: the danger is a great rush.

This can make you feel more alive because it is an integral part of saving your own life.

In Deep Survival, the author shares some rules for adventure gleaned from the survivors themselves, which are; stay calm, be decisive and never give up!

Remembering these rules when crisis strikes may be tough, but the vivid descriptions of life in the balance will stay with readers.

National Geographic Atlas of the National ParksNational Geographic Atlas of the National ParksFeel the WildFeel the WildTurn Around TimeTurn Around TimeDeep SurvivalDeep SurvivalWilderness EthicsWilderness EthicsThe Expedition:The Expedition:


Wilderness Ethics book cover, footsteps on the snow with a tree at the back

7. Wilderness Ethics

by Laura and Guy Waterman

In this environmental call-to-action book, Laura and Guy Waterman look beyond preserving the ecology of the backcountry to focus on what they call its spiritual dimension, and its fragile, untamed wilderness.

It’s nowadays considered one of the best adventure books and best wilderness books out there.

However, with too much management or the wrong kind of management, we can destroy the spiritual component of wildness in our passion to preserve its physical side.

Technology such as radios, cell phones, global positioning devices, and emergency helicopters, all have an impact on our experience of exploring the pristine beauty of the wild.

With humor and insight, the Watermans explore these difficult Wilderness Ethics and its related management issues.

They ask us to evaluate the impact that even “environmentally-conscious” values have on the wilderness experience, and to ask the question: “What are we trying to preserve?”

The Expedition book cover, a man on a snowy field dragging something

8. The Expedition

by Chris Fagan

The Expedition is an outdoor adventure book about Chris and Marty, a married couple who are working on their careers, raising their only child, and chasing their big adventures.

The Expedition, based on a true story, illustrates their biggest dream, ski 570 miles from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole, with no guide or resupply.

In midlife, they find themselves weighing the responsibility of parenthood against the likelihood of one more grand adventure.

From the luxurious Pacific Northwest to the barren landscape of Antarctica, Chris and Marty take on one of the toughest challenges on the earth.

In this outdoor adventure travel book, experience a boundless white wonderland like no other on Earth.

Know life-threatening dangers lurking in the bitter cold, feel the intensity of 220-pound sleds, relentless wind, 40-below temperatures, and mind-numbing isolation.

Aimee Trudeau, Mai-Yan Kwan, and Emily Nielson began blogging about their passion for the outdoors in 2009, complete with delicious provisions.

Their Dirty Gourmet showcases the Southern California landscape and some attractive and mouth-watering fine food in stunning color photos.

This is one of the outdoors books that highlights their philosophy that food is not just fuel for outdoor adventures but is also a significant part of a journey and a memory.

The book is divided into three sections: On the Trail, Car Camping, and Backcountry Camping. Each section covers useful meal-planning advice, cooking tips, a list of essential gear, and recipes.

The reader gets clear instructions and motivation to enjoy the outdoors.

Whether you are considering a simple day hike with a backpack filled with fun picnic foods or launching a week-long backwoods getaway capped with end-of-trail cocktails and desserts.

a book cover of A Walk in the Woods with a brown bear peaking and a the woods on the backgroun

10. A Walk in the Woods

by Bill Bryson

Walking the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail becomes captivating in Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.

This book about outdoor adventures earns a spot among the finest, not just for its humor but also for its powerful portrayal of nature’s unspoiled beauty.

Bryson skillfully weaves personal stories with important environmental discussions, leaving me laughing while subtly urging me to be more mindful of nature.

His vibrant storytelling whisked me away into the wilderness and ignited a desire for eco-conscious exploration.

But don’t just take my word for it; lace up your boots, dive into this treasure, and let it inspire you to tread lightly on your next outdoor escapade!

Dirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor AdventuresDirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor AdventuresDirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor AdventuresA Walk in the WoodsA Walk in the WoodsA Walk in the WoodsEdge of the MapEdge of the MapEdge of the MapThe Sharp End of Life: A Mother's StoryThe Sharp End of Life: A Mother’s StoryThe Sharp End of Life: A Mother's StoryRising: Becoming the First North American Woman on EverestRising: Becoming the First North American Woman on EverestRising: Becoming the First North American Woman on EverestMoms Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring AdventurersMoms Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring AdventurersMoms Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring Adventurers


I have to admit, when it comes to survival stories books based on true stories, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air is definitely one of the top contenders.

It’s a gripping account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster chronicling the harrowing experiences of climbers caught in a deadly blizzard.

Krakauer’s masterful storytelling and unflinching honesty make this a must-read for anyone interested in mountaineering or survival stories.

Many general outdoor books explore the ethics of climbing the world’s tallest mountain and the dangers that lurk even at the summit, but I really love it.

As I finished reading it, I was struck by the gripping intensity and unfiltered honesty woven into the story. No wonder it’s also one of National Geographic best adventure books.

The personal stories shared throughout add depth and humanity to the narrative, reminding us of both the beauty and the formidable power of nature.

For readers craving stories that blend the excitement of survival with profound moments of self-discovery, Into Thin Air stands as a towering peak.

Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, has left an indelible mark on my soul, rightfully securing its position among the finest wilderness adventure reads.

Desert Solitaire, one of the best wilderness adventure books, is a collection of essays by Edward Abbey.

With each page turn, Abbey skillfully transports readers into the rugged and untamed beauty of the American Southwest, evoking a profound respect for nature’s silent majesty.

Compelling and thought-provoking, this book serves as a poignant reminder to safeguard the remaining wild spaces.

Abbey’s seminal masterpiece is a must-have addition to your book collection if you seek to be both enthralled and motivated to advocate for our planet.

a book cover with a hatchet in the middle with green forest background and a wolf silhouette on the corner

13. Hatchet

by Gary Paulsen

Diving into Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet was like learning survival skills through a story from the cozy spot where I read.

This fiction survival book is about a 13-year-old boy named Brian Robeson who survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness and must learn to live off the land with only a hatchet.

The story is gripping because it’s straightforward – just a boy trying to stay alive using his instincts.
Paulsen’s detailed writing makes you feel the cold, hunger, and fear that Brian faces.

It’s a journey of emotions as you watch Brian change from a scared kid to a tough survivor.

Hatchet is a classic story that will keep you hooked from start to finish if you like adventurous tales with grown-up characters.

Dirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor AdventuresDirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor AdventuresDirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor AdventuresA Walk in the WoodsA Walk in the WoodsA Walk in the WoodsEdge of the MapEdge of the MapEdge of the MapThe Sharp End of Life: A Mother's StoryThe Sharp End of Life: A Mother’s StoryThe Sharp End of Life: A Mother's StoryRising: Becoming the First North American Woman on EverestRising: Becoming the First North American Woman on EverestRising: Becoming the First North American Woman on EverestMoms Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring AdventurersMoms Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring AdventurersMoms Who Hike: Walking with America’s Most Inspiring Adventurers


Best Outdoor Adventure Books for Women

Women Who Hike book cover featuring a woman hiking and a mountain at the back

14. Women Who Hike

by Heather Balogh Rochfort

A celebration of athleticism, wisdom, and skill!

The Women Who Hike features profiles of over twenty of America’s most inspiring women adventurers, ranging from legends to the rising stars of today.

Being an avid hiker, I liked this book a lot, and I consider it one of the best books about the outdoors.

It is inspirational and aspirational as each adventurer tells her story featuring their favorite hike, highlighting personal challenges and accomplishments.

It also provides readers with practical how-to suggestions on hiking.  

Rising is a memoir of an elite alpinist Authentic story of rising above limitations to realize your potential. Written by Sharon Wood about her expedition to Mount Everest, this book is inspiring.

Sharon Wood was part of a self-supported Canadian team with big ambitions.

In 1986, they were attempting to reach the summit of Everest through a variation on the dangerous West Ridge and envisioned that Wood would be the first North American woman to reach the summit.

However, at the same time, there was an American team on the mountain with a plan to make Annie Whitehouse the first North American woman.

This book is fast-paced, with twists and turns, relatable characters, and dialogue to keep you glued. It’s a must-read when looking for outdoor adventure books.

The wife, mother, teacher, musician, marathoner, and rock climber Dierdre Wolownick became, at age 66, the oldest woman to climb El Capitan in Yosemite.

In The Sharp End of Life, she shares her journey, revealing how her climbing achievements reflect a broader story of courage and persistence. 

She struggled in her marriage and after divorce, found inspiration in her now-adult children’s passions as well as new depths within herself.

She took up running at age 54 and completed several marathons, and at age 58, she took to rock climbing.

The author proves that age is just a number, and that determination is all that you need to pursue your dreams, and take you to unexpected heights.

The story of her drive to push her body beyond her mental limits serves as a stimulant for those yearning to do more with their lives.

The Sharp End of Life: A Mother’s Story, one of the best outdoor recreation books, is a motivational tale of a woman who overcame her biggest critics to achieve one dream after another. 

Edge of the Map book cover with a mountain background

17. Edge of the Map

by Johanna Garton

The Edge of the Map is an inspiring and dramatic adventure story based on the lives of trailblazing mountaineer Christine Boskoff and her partner Charlie Fowler.

Edge of the Map written by Johanna Garton traces Christine’s life as a high-altitude climber and mountain guide.

From a two-day climbing course to her remarkable leadership of Seattle’s Mountain Madness guiding company. 

Despite challenges both on the personal and professional level, Christine finally found freedom and balance with nature on the earth’s wildest peaks. 

It’s one of the most intriguing outdoor adventure books you can read.

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild has firmly ingrained itself in my heart as one of the finest non-fiction survival books available.

You might have heard of it from the movie of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon.

This moving memoir transcends mere survival; it’s a powerful saga of conquering adversity that has reshaped my notion of bravery.

Strayed’s vivid storytelling whisked me alongside her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 1,100-mile trek from Mexico to Canada.

Each obstacle she encountered showcased the unwavering strength of her resolve.

For those captivated by stories entwining self-discovery with the untamed wilderness, Wild is an essential read and the best outdoor adventure books of all time.


FAQs on the best Outdoor Adventure Books

What are the best outdoor adventure books for adults?

Some of the outdoor books about adventure for adults include “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, and “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson.

What are the best outdoor adventure books for young adults?

Some of the best outdoors books about adventure for young adults include “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen, “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and “The Maze Runner” series by James Dashner.

What are the best best outdoorsman books?

The best outdoorsman books often include classics like “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, “Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness” by Edward Abbey, and “Wilderness and the American Mind” by Roderick Frazier Nash.