I’m a regular YouTube watcher and have a long list of favourite outdoor channels, including big celebs like Jonathan of Lost Lakes, Alexis Outdoors, Joe Robinet, Justin Barbour, Xander Budnick and Jim Baird’s Adventurer channel. Most of my watch time, however, is dedicated to the diamonds in the rough—the ones with limited subscribers but excellent content. The list is endless: MadforMaple, Tents and Timber, Paddleheads, Alec on Adventures, Camping with the Coles, Campology, Cedarhaus Films, Freak of Nature, Kevin Outdoors, Matt Trimble, Ray Goodwin, Ryan’s Routes, Single Malt and Maps, ToshSelfPropelled, Tumblehome…
It baffles me how some vloggers can gather a massive following and others who make solid videos have meagre view counts. Maybe there’s a trick to the mystical YouTube’s analytics and secret logarithms. Or maybe there are just too many paddling personalities filming their time out there. Whatever the reason, here are my top five YouTubers that I think should get more attention—and their best binge-worthy video series to check out.
Jay’s channel is a must-watch. He’s fun and witty (even makes fun of The Happy Camper), the footage is sharp and artsy, canoe route choices are solid, music is captivating, meal menus are unique and homemade—and he has one of the best trained dogs on YouTube. It’s like a newer version of the long-ago video celeb Maddy the Goose. Make sure to binge watch his 15 Day Algonquin – F.A.C.E. TRIP completed in May 2022. Him and his dog Scout explored a 160-kilometre route through the park, something he labelled F.A.C.E. (Fun Algonquin Canoeing Experience), starting at the Source Lake access point and looping through the centre of the Algonquin’s interior.
Imagine being the brother of Xander Budnick, an outdoor YouTube sensation with over half a million subscribers and millions of views. Maxim’s channel has just over 8,000 subscribers with an average of a couple thousand views per video. But his channel is a visual masterpiece! It reminds me of the Canadian band Arrogant Worms’ great song, “Jesus’ Brother Bob.”
Adding to Maxim’s visual splendours, he also uses his own music. I love that. My favourite is 3 Day Solo Backcountry Camping Trip. It’s only a two-night backcountry tarp camping trip but he truly captured the incredible views of the area.
Eze is based in the UK, and the majority of his trip videos are located in Scotland or the Lake District. His six-day trip down Scotland’s Spey River is what got me hooked to his footage, passion and gentle character. One that’s more binge worthy, however, is his recent 10-Day Wilderness Canoe Trip (nine-part series) in Canada’s Algonquin Park. It’s a beautiful journey and refreshing to get a non-Canadian’s view of this iconic park.
Donal only has one video on his channel—so far. But like Ez Adventures’ Algonquin trip this videographer from Ireland gives a fresh view of an even wilder place in Ontario, Canada: Wabakimi Provincial Park. The video An Irishman’s Story – Journey into Wabakimi offers Donal’s own unique Irish perspective on the Canadian wilderness. The Irish music greatly adds to it as well.
Beauty of the Backcountry
Jay and Sherry share the screen while they canoe and backpack northern Ontario’s wild places. The best part of their channel is that they travel in lesser known and rarely used areas of the north. Good story lines are created and there are lots of tips and tricks shared throughout. The best binge-worthy is their very first series Ranger Lake Loop - North Algoma Headwaters Wilderness Canoe Adventure. The trip is a 110-kilometre wild canoe route in Algoma country that has been lost for decades. Over 35 portages and eight days. I’ve done this route a couple of times, and it’s a tough one. They deserve an audience to watch their adventures.