OK. Just for fun…What’s your type? The dashing, risk-taking Brit, or the unassuming, steadfast Canadian? Personally, I love to watch both, as either one has a lot of good stuff to offer.
From Les Stroud, I’ve learned a lot of really cool and useful skills. From Bear Grylls, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to shriek, “YOU’RE FREAKING KIDDING ME!”
Bear’s show is certainly entertaining, but from the first I’ve always been horrified by the choices he’s made on his program. In most survival situations, it’s best to stay put when you’re lost, or at least stay put where you find a safe spot near a good water source. If you have reasonable confidence that civilization is downstream from that water, then go for it…carefully. But leave sign of your direction.
In the first “Man vs. Wild” episode I ever saw, as soon as he found water he jumped right into it, risking serious injury, hypothermia and drowning in order to save time descending to lower elevations. I believe he was in the Sierra Nevadas, an area with which I’m familiar. Having traveled downriver in even the most commonly rafted Sierra rivers, even I know better than to risk unknown whitewater without a PFD. And jumping in without even testing the water? No way. A jump from a high rock, like the one Bear made, risks that involuntary intake of breath one takes when hitting ice-cold water.
Taking unnecessary risks in a survival situation is a bad idea. Even a scratch can become your downfall, as you have little means of staving off infection.
Running off in the middle of the night because you MAY have heard a bear in the area was another move I found laughable. Especially in an area with lots of cliffs. Bears rarely attack people, but hikers frequently kill themselves falling off cliffs or breaking their legs when no help is in reach. Do the math.
Maybe I’m of a certain age when I’ve learned my lesson about rash bad boys. Les Stroud’s approach–slow and steady–doesn’t make for the best entertainment, but pound for pound (or frame for frame) I put more value on the lessons he imparts. Sure, it’s great to know that you can drink the water squeezed from the dung of a Savannah ungulate, but I’d prefer to learn the more likely–and safe–alternatives.
Plus, there’s something sexy about bald guys.
One thing I do cluck my tongue at when watching either show is the lesson that both boys have repeatedly ignored: Never leave home without a basic survival kit that will provide you with (or provide the means to obtain) fire, food, water and shelter. The TSA may not allow us to carry our Becker BK7 aboard our flight to New York’s Fashion Week, but the rest of the time we can carry a small kit that would include the basics.
What I do find interesting is that both Bear and Les seem to always have their knives with them, and little else but improvised tools. That improvisation is exactly why both shows are so great, and valuable, but they present less-than likely scenarios for the average Jane.
Doesn’t matter who’s better, more realistic, more of a showman, which one pronounces “glacier” in a manner that makes me want to shoot the widescreen, or who looks the best wearing his pee-soaked tighty-whiteys on his head. What really makes me happy is that these two shows are on Discovery Channel, and both have a good following. The more people who are interested in self-reliance, survival and preparedness, the better we’ll all be when the excrement hits the oscillator!