For fans of the show Man Vs. Wild and Born Survivor, not much is known about its host and resident adventurer, Bear Grylls. You know that he's crazy, at times even certifiably insane but then again, he gets thrown into some insane situations... Or does he? Within several years of the show's airing, the controversy that is the show's basis had been thrown into question with leaks of several accounts contradicting how "wild" Grylls actually is. While it has been confirmed that many of the show's locations and scenarios were set up purely for entertainment value, you have to realize one thing -- No one in their right mind would expose themselves to some of these situations strictly for television. Rather, Grylls is put into somewhat controlled environments in order to demonstrate what you would do, should that ever happen to you. The problem occurs, however, when what you're watching is a bit far from the truth.
Some of his survivalist methods have been debunked as well as the way he goes about them, but if you do look into his background, he is fairly well-versed in living on the edge --- he has even worked his way out of some of the most dangerous scenarios known to man. With a military background and some of his own personal feats, he's more of a survivor than a survivalist, but all the same, he's no stranger to the outdoors. We've rehashed some of his less-than-glorifying moments as a "survivalist" and some of the real-life things he's done as normal Bear Grylls, away from the cameras and microphones. You might be surprised to hear exactly what type of life he's led... It certainly hasn't been easy for this daredevil.
20 Debunked: Motels In Hawaii Are Better Than Rainstorms
On his show Born Survivor, Grylls was not all the survivor that he was cracked up to be, according to the show's advisor, who has spilled the beans -- Or should we say survival pack -- On Gryll's real adventures. One episode that took place on a "desert island", which is a typical scenario you'd expect to see on a survival show, had no typical qualities about it if you were behind-the-scenes during the time of filming. Rather than spend the night outside like fans thought he did, Grylls ended up spending the night at a hotel not too far away... Because the show actually took place on an island in Hawaii. Whoops.
19 True: Find Water First And Be Smart About It
The first rule when you're lost or stranded should always be the same: After you've confirmed that you're not injured and in a safe area, immediately begin to head toward the water. It doesn't matter where you are; common knowledge states that you can only survive a day, maybe a bit more, without water. You can go for days without food, but water is necessary to keep your body running, maintain a normal level of homeostasis, and keep you hydrated enough to keep your energy level from being fully depleted. Hydration is the only way you'll survive if you've become isolated and your first move should always be to find a source of water.
18 Debunked: Not Every Nightfall Was Spent In The Wild
Grylls admitted to the fact that not every sundown was spent in the wide open, except for the episodes where they've shown him setting up camp for the night and actually sleeping there. We can't confirm that there were many of these moments in Born Survivor, but you can catch some glimpses of this actually happening on Man Vs. Wild, for instance, when Grylls set up a mountain climber's paradise off the side of a rock face. By anchoring his parachute to the top of the cliff, he was able to lay suspended in his parachute, which became a makeshift hammock and allowed him to sleep while remaining protected. This isn't something that we'd recommend unless you're experienced, but it is legitimate.
17 True: You Eat What You Can To Get Protein
There's no denying that much of what Grylls ate on both shows were predominantly for the show. While it is cringe-worthy when he cuts the stinger of a scorpion and shoves the whole thing in his mouth (pinchers first, no less), it's not completely invalid, as much as we'd like to think it is. Those tiny insects do provide a bit of protein which your body desperately needs when you're walking, climbing, and in general, burning through thousands of calories. Grylls did a lot to have his flashy moments on-screen and in order to make his treks seem more realistic and dire, did what he needed to -- Including biting a snake's head off and claiming that it was his breakfast for the day.
16 Debunked: He Doesn't Build Rafts, Rides Wild Horses, Or Leap Over Real Lava
As much as we'd love to put stock in the fact that Grylls is every wildlife enthusiasts dream of a co-hiker, that's simply just not the case when it comes to some of the scenarios he seemingly encountered. While television makes him out to be a galavanting wild cowboy, Indiana Jones, and Robinson Crusoe all rolled into one, many of these situations are staged just to demonstrate what to do or not to do. Chances are, you'll never get caught in a lava flow (even that's a bit extreme for us), you probably won't have to wrangle a wild horse or build a raft out of buoyant rainforest materials. Unfortunately, Grylls never truly had to do these things either, and the advisor for Born Survivor admitted that they went as far as having a team come in to construct the raft you see in his "desert island" episode. Additionally, the horses from an episode shot in the Sierra Nevada were actually trained.
15 True: He Was the Youngest Brit To Summit Mount Everest
While Grylls might do a lot for television, his personal life is most certainly a testament to his daring methods of survival. He served in the SAS British Special Forces, where he got a taste of what it's like to truly learn to survive in extreme conditions. After crashing several vertebrae during a high-altitude parachute jump, he healed in just eight months -- An injury that normally takes a year or more -- And then went on to summit Everest, the tallest peak in the world. He completed this feat in 1998 and was the youngest British citizen to make it all the way to the top. The tremendous, three-month journey wasn't without its tragedies, though; Grylls lost many climbing mates on the trip and almost lost his own life upon entering the death zone and having to deal with a devastating migraine. It's truly the feat to rule all feats and the fact that he accomplished this makes him a personal survivor and an adventurer in the truest sense of both words.
14 Debunked: The "Isolated Elements" Weren't So Isolated
Many of the things you've seen on television have been staged in order to demonstrate proper tactics and survival methods. Whether it was to save time, avoid injury or at times fatal flaws, or just simply because the resources were available is unclear. When dealing with a survival-type show, it must be remembered that while you as the viewer are focusing on one person, there are many behind them in the form of a film crew, director, advisor, etc. While it appears that one or two people are trekking through a barren landscape, it's actually many more in the form of a team -- Thus driving away credibility, no matter who's taking center stage.
13 True: Think Long And Hard About Your Shelter, When In Doubt Go Up
Grylls would have known this from decades of personal experience in the SAS as well as through his own personal mountain-climbing feats, such as Everest and Mount Ama Dablam, which once dubbed "unclimbable". Although Grylls has avoided actually sleeping in many a dangerous environment on-screen, he's gained many of his own personal throughs through doing the opposite in his personal life. Sleeping on Everest for three months, performing missions through the British Special Forces and hiking in various places around the world have well-prepared him to give solid advice in this case. The higher off the ground you are, the more likely you are to survive until morning.
12 Debunked: He's Not A "Survivalist" In The Traditional Sense Of The Word
This has been argued by many people when Grylls is compared to survivalists such as EJ Snyder, Joe Teti, and Cody Lundin from Dual Survival. The definition of a survivalist is someone who practices survival techniques or ensures the survival of a culture or society, as a sport, hobby, or natural instinct. While the three previously mentioned survivalist has all either made a lifestyle out of living in the wild or made it their job through the military or other means, Grylls hones his own skill through his own personal venture. He was in the military from 1994 to 1997 which gave him a start into the world of survivalism, but there's no denying that he has very different methods of going about it compared to many other well-known survivalists.
11 True: As A Member Of The SAS, He Did Learn Survival
Speaking of which, contrary to his chaotic means of getting around, Grylls is well-versed in surviving, period. During his time spent with the SAS, he learned a basis for surviving in the wild as well as how to fight -- And how to fight well. As far as defending himself goes, Grylls doesn't really have much to worry about, especially when his military training is combined with his black belt in Shotokan karate and he's ready to go. Keep in mind that shows on the Discovery Channel do have rules as mandated by the health and safety board, so regardless of what Grylls is capable of, the show can only push it so far before they hit a realistic wall.
10 Debunked: Room Service In Sierra Nevada
This is a very well-known episode, unfortunately not for the reason you'd like to think. While Grylls put on a fairly impressive display, much of that show was staged for television. including where he spent some of his evenings. It was revealed that he was actually staying at The Pines Resort, which is a luxury hotel near the location that they were filming. While he was busy biting the head off of a snake for television, behind the scenes when no one was filming, he was actually dozing off in a hotel fit for a king... Not so much a survivalist technique.
9 True: Only In An Extreme Situation, Use Your First Aid Kit For Fire Supplies
This is one tip from Grylls that rings true but should not ever be used as a first resort. In many first aid kits, you'll find gel-based antibacterials that can be used to start a fire. Vaseline is key to this chemical equation; if you're able to saturate a bandage or gauze with it, you can then spray it with a (flammable) bug repellent in order to create a steady blaze. This can be used to stay warm, as a signal fire, or even to light the way if you absolutely need to hike in the dark or create shelter. While it's not the first method to turn to, it is one that's viable in the case of an emergency.
8 Debunked: This Desert Island Was Actually Vacation Destination Hawaii
We touched on this briefly when discussing how Grylls has stayed in numerous hotels when it was implied that he was taking shelter on-location. The slip-up was revealed when the survival consultant for the show Born Survivor, Mark Weinert, admitted to Grylls staying overnight in a motel on-location during their desert island episode, complete with a normal bed, four walls and a ceiling, and an indoor bathroom. Upon admitting this, Weinert also said that viewers are "naive" if they're to believe that everything they watch on television is the truth because, as stated by a spokesperson of the show, they're designed to demonstrate real-life situations and techniques -- Not to live them out.
7 True: Keep Calm Because You Have To
One extraordinary talent that Grylls has in every single episode, as well as in his personal life, is the ability to remain calm through any type of circumstance. Whether it comes from years of practice in daring and often life-threatening situations or just from his formal training, he maintains an incredible amount of zen. This is something that should always be practiced in a survival situation because extreme emotions can often cloud your judgment and how clearly you're able to think and process a situation. Panicking is the worst thing you can do and often make your situation much drier than it was in the first place.
6 Debunked: Please Don't Squeeze Elephant Dung, You Can't Get Water From It
This has been debunked for some time now but just for fun, we decided to add it to the list as a lighthearted nod to all the crazy things Grylls is known for. Contrary to popular belief, there is no H2O to be found in animal feces... Not to mention, it's absolutely a bizarre attempt to get anything out of a pile of animal waste. Scientifically speaking, this fecal matter has already made its way through the animal's intestines, been cleaned of all nutrients, and contains, literally, a waste matter that serves no purpose whatsoever, whether it be nutritional or hydrating. Human beings are not flies and we do not function with the need to use feces for anything unless it's a trip to the hospital. Don't do this.
5 True: Your Backpack Is A Floating Device
Similarly to how an airplane seat is also a floatation device if your backpack is waterproof, chances are that there's a waterproof liner in here. Grylls has demonstrated that if you can get this liner out or something make your backpack airtight, it can be used as a makeshift floatation device when it comes to wading across rivers, streams, or floating around in the deeper water. While this is a valid method of survival, it's also dicey -- If you do happen to get water inside your pack or can't find a way to trap air inside of it, your chance of floating above water is that much more minimal.
4 Debunked: In Addition, Don't Drink Your Own Urine Either
We know this is highly debatable. The same technique was demonstrated on an episode of Dual Survival by experienced vet Joe Teti, who also argued with his co-survivor at the time, Cody Lundin. They debated whether there was any true benefit or whether it was more harmful to drink your own urine and whilst in the desert, Teti eventually succumbed to his own thirst. Lundin, on the other hand, flat-out refused to drink his own urine (or anyone else's, for that matter) because when it comes down to it, urine is still waste and has already been cycled through your body once. Obviously, it can be done, but there's not much of a reason to resort to it other than for a mental gain.
3 True: A Seal-Suit Will Keep You Warm
In another episode where Grylls was fighting for survival off the coast of Scotland, he encountered a seal that was (conveniently) dead on the shore. In order to swim in the frigid waters, he decided his average clothing wasn't cutting it and needed some sort of makeshift wetsuit. I've taken it upon myself to nickname this the "seal-suit" because it's something that has always stuck with me as incredibly clever and also incredibly barbaric, dating back to times where Vikings roamed Europe. Grylls was able to skin the seal and somehow wiggle his way into its skin, which effectively formed an insulated shirt. Extremely intelligent? Yes. Comfortable and not weird? No.
2 Debunked: It's Unnecessary To Constantly Get Soaked And It's Not "Survival"
There have been many comments made about the number of times Grylls just seems to love jumping into lakes, streams, rivers, oceans, puddles, etc. He really has no qualms whatsoever about getting soaked and jumping into murky water, which can be construed in a less-than-safe way when viewers are watching it at home. It should be common sense to never jump into any deep or cloudy water, for many reasons. One, you have no idea what's hiding underneath the surface and two, in the very real event that you ingest some of this water, you have no idea what microseisms are swimming around in it that could potentially make you very ill.
1 True: Most Important Lesson: Alert People Of Your Location
Another life lesson in survival that Grylls nailed right on the head is to always, always alert people of where you'll be. While it's difficult not to have your whereabouts known while you're filming a show in the wild, if you're just traveling, always give someone the heads up. Even if you're not going anywhere far and are just engaging in a seemingly average hike or camping trip, leave a note, send a text, or make a phone call. It's a total of two minutes that could save your life and those of the people you're with, and in the event that something does happen, you'll have peace of mind that someone is looking for you.