20 of the Best Podcasts for Thru-Hikers

Since podcasts first appeared on the smartphone scene in 2004, they’ve filled a niche for listeners who want to laugh, be inspired, be educated, or all of the above. For long-distance hikers, podcasts can be a serious blessing. Not only can listening to an episode (or five) help the miles fly by, podcasts are arguably more educational and/or entertaining than zoning out to the same playlist for hundreds of miles.

This season, we’ve gathered the best podcasts for thru-hikers as they plow through the miles. Not all of them have to do with thru-hiking, or even backpacking at all. Sometimes that’s the last thing you want to listen to, right? Subscribe to your favorite, download new episodes in town, or try a new show during your next section of trail. 

Did we miss your favorite? The comments section is open for yelling.

Thru-Hiking

Backpacker Radio

The Trek’s newest podcast is hosted by editor-in-chief Zach “Badger” Davis and 2017 PCT hiker Juliana Chauncey.  This podcast is essentially two shows for the price of one. Backpacker Radio’s traditional shows feature an interview with a rotating list of interesting and accomplished guests, as well as advice and general Hiker Trash tomfoolery. The “Trail Correspondents Series” features updates from thru-hikers directly from the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail, akin to Sounds of the Trail. 

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Stories from the Trail

Co-hosted by author and 2014 AT thru-hiker Gary Sizer and fellow 2014 AT thru-hiker Megan Thompson, Stories from the Trail is a biweekly chat touching on all things long-distance backpacking. Whether it’s an interview with other thru-hiking authors, documentarians, or aspiring thru-hikers, Stories from the Trail is a fun and informal way to become indoctrinated into the wonderful world of thru-hiking.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Sounds of the Trail

This is the first podcast to feature thru-hikers’ recordings directly from the trail. After three seasons, it is no longer recording new shows, but if you’re looking to get an intimate look at the life of a thru-hiker, you will find great entertainment from the archives.

Available on iTunes Here  || Available on Stitcher Here

Mighty Blue on the AT

Steve Adams, aka “Mighty Blue,” is a prolific podcaster with a show focusing on all things Appalachian Trail.  This podcast features interviews with an eclectic, interesting group of AT hikers and those who are influential to its culture.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Pox and Puss

The OG Appalachian Trail podcast, Pox and Puss have been churning out AT-themed podcasts since 2012.  Show topics are all over the place and will occasionally stray from backpacking themes, but you are guaranteed to laugh and be entertained all the same.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Outdoor Adventures

Dirtbag Diaries

The campfire tale—it’s ubiquitous in mountain culture. As long as we’ve climbed, skied, boated, or traveled, we’ve been telling stories. In March 2007, Fitz launched The Dirtbag Diaries, a grassroots podcast dedicated to the sometimes serious, often humorous stories from wild places. What began as a solitary experiment has evolved into collaboration between writers, photographers, artists, and listeners to produce the type of stories that rarely find homes in glossy magazine pages.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Outside Podcast

Created by the folks at Outside Magazine, this wide-ranging podcast covers everything you can possibly imagine about the outdoors. Gear, outdoor recreation, current and past events, and up-to-date environmental coverage. Producers employ many of the same storytelling techniques found in the magazine itself, and you won’t be bored by a single episode.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

She Explores

For all women who take on adventures with nothing holding them back. Inspiring and sometimes humorous stories covering women in the outdoors, tales range from extreme risk-takers to the more low-key (but no less inspiring) everywoman. This podcast will make you want to get outside and stay outside.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Outside/In

For outdoors-oriented listeners who also care about the environment and how we relate to it. This well-produced show brings a different topic to light with each episode, employing stories with fascinating, strong narrative arcs as well as environmental lessons and discussions on how we use the outdoors.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here


The First 40 Miles

By the time they get out of the first state, most thru-hikers wouldn’t be considered “beginner backpackers” anymore. However, this podcast (geared at new backpackers) is a fun, educational, and entertaining listen… especially pertinent before you hit the trail. They discuss gear, different trails, tell stories of adventure, and offer tips for backcountry travel.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Entertainment

99% Invisible

99% Invisible is great to listen to while hiking! Not trail related, but they cover really interesting topics and have a TON of episodes so you never run out of anything to listen to. – Colleen Goldhorn

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Joe Rogan Experience

In normal life, Joe Rogan’s three-hour podcasts can be daunting, but they’re perfect for the trail and the interesting guests and laid-back atmosphere are really entertaining.  -Tess Mullaney

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

How I Built This

Hosted by NPR’s Guy Raz, this fascinating show delves into the minds of entrepreneurs who started their own businesses—everything from Clif Bar to Starbucks to Zumba—plus the trials and tribulations along the way. It shows that bumps in the road are par for the course on the way to success, and will inspire you to nurture your adventurous, entrepreneurial spirit. -Maggie Slepian

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Hardcore History

Hardcore History might as well be a free audiobook. The best history podcast ever. Only a select few episodes are available for free, but there’s not a boring subject in the bunch and Dan Carlin is a master storyteller. -Zach Davis

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

My Favorite Murder

I found myself getting sucked into My Favorite Murder. I didn’t think I’d like it, and it took me a few episodes, but it made for some hilarious listening. Their banter makes time go quickly, and the stories they tell definitely suck you in. I was spooked a few times on trail from listening to stories about murder at the same time that someone hiked up from behind. -Tess Mullaney

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me

The weekly NPR news quiz show is a fan favorite. Different guests each week play the hosts in a series of fast-paced quizzes, games, and challenges. You’ll get caught up on the news while laughing out loud.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

S-Town

This is a riveting seven-episode series from the producers of Serial. What starts as a straightforward phone call from a man who wants the producers to investigate a murder in his hometown takes so many twists and turns you won’t have any idea where it’s going until the end. Don’t read any spoilers. Just listen to this marvelously produced show.  -Maggie Slepian

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Education

Radiolab

Radiolab definitely took the cake for best on-trail podcast. It was informative and had great topics.  Often the people I was hiking near would happen to listen to a Radiolab episode as well that day, so it always made for good camp and lunch discussions. Sometimes on trail you’ve gotta talk about more than just poop, mileage, and food.  -Brooke Eller

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Stuff You Should Know

Educational and surprisingly entertaining. Each show is a 20-30 minute delve into a singular topic, ranging from tornadoes and mosquitoes, to bitcoin and murder. The hosts get somewhat tangential, but if conversational, informational podcasts are your jam, Stuff You Should Know will be up your alley. -Zach Davis

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

Ted Talks

An expert delves into his or her area of expertise for a solid hour. This straight-shooting podcast packs so much information into each episode, you’ll finish the episode feeling like you could give a well-informed lecture on the subject.

Available on iTunes Here || Available on Stitcher Here

 

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Comments 7

  • Paul Trulove : Apr 30th

    You missed the best Pod Cast of All, The Trail Show!!! This is the ultimate mashup of trails, beer, and nonsense. It highlights the best trails in the world and provides insights and intel. Best of all it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    Reply
    • Jeff Heston : Jun 28th

      Absolutely the best hiking podcast out there! Have you heard of The Terrestrial Nomad Podcast?

      Reply
  • Katie brown : May 2nd

    You also missed the Routes podcast!!

    Reply
  • David Longley : May 3rd

    What? No love for All Who Wander? 😉

    http://www.allwhowander.us

    Reply
  • Rachel : May 3rd

    This American Life is also a longtime favorite!

    Reply
  • Clementine : May 11th

    Things You Missed In History Class is really good as well!

    Reply
  • John Smith : Jun 28th

    The Terrestrial Nomad Podcast is my new favorite. Jafar Hiked the pacific crest trail and made 60 episodes in 2015. He also hiked the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand and made 35 episodes on that. He has a great mix of thru hiking and traveling. Also… The Trail Show…

    Reply

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