Extreme survival

Apr 15, 2009 at 12:00 am

With foreclosure rates and unemployment rates reaching highs we haven't seen since acid-wash jeans were in style (the first time), most people have given up on just living life and have turned to simply surviving it. But don't cancel your electric service and rush off the grid just yet; your best teachers might just be the two ultimate survivors of cable television fame: Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild and Les Stroud of Survivorman.

But which guy would you rather turn to in an all-around do-or-die situation? These two have seen their fare share of sticky situations and have, on more than one occasion, had epic failures of their own. We wanted to unearth the stories behind the key to survival to find out who we'd turn to? Who really is the alpha male of facing the elements? Who is the true badass?

After sifting through the garbage heap of facts, stories and downright bizarre truths about these two survival junkies, we bring you this chart comparing the best they have to offer. Let's just hope the parachute doesn't end up being a knapsack.

Badass names

Edward "Bear" Grylls: Who would you rather have on your side? Someone called Bear or someone called Les?
Les Stroud: This is his real name, and it's still not that exciting


Grylls: Isle of Wight, England
Stroud: Mimico, Ontario … eh

Professional training

Grylls: Unarmed combat, desert and winter warfare, combat survival, medics, parachuting, signals, evasive driving, climbing and explosives
Stroud: He took classes from trainers at the Blackfeather Wilderness Adventures … specially qualified to tie a reef knot, build a birdhouse and do evasive canoeing.

Absurd celebrity kids' names

Grylls: Three sons Jesse, Marmaduke, and Huckleberry
Stroud: Son Logan and daughter Raylan

Survival training or training to survive?

Grylls: Three years in the British Special Forces … basically the toughest guy alive.
Stroud: Degree in music industry arts, music video assistant director, singer-songwriter. Hey, the entertainment field is tough too!

Preparation for show

Grylls: "… thorough briefings when I arrive in country on all the dangerous and non-dangerous local wildlife and seasonal plants."
Stroud: "For each location I went down for three or four days of intensive on-the-land training … along with my flora and fauna researcher."

Occupational mishaps

Grylls: Broke his back in three places during a free-fall parachuting accident, crushed his clavicle and shoulder while kite-skiing .
Stroud: Year-long mouth parasite, cut his thumb with his own machete … aww, poor guy …

Strange dwellings

Grylls: A converted barge on the river Thames.
Stroud: Spent one year in the Canadian Wilderness — big surprise — in a teepee built using technology from 1495.

Weaponless hunting skills

Grylls: He can catch a snake, kill it with his mouth, and skin it with his bare hands.
Stroud: Not the best, although he can boil water like nobody's business.

Animal consumption

Grylls: Will bite the head off of almost anything … the Ozzy Osbourne approach to dining. (Must be a British thing.)
Stroud: He seems to take a much more "Frugal Gourmet" approach to eating wildlife, without the lace doilies.

Monumental (and unbelievable) achievements

Grylls: A surplus of world records, including youngest Briton to summit Mt. Everest and first to hold a dinner party at nearly 25,000 feet … don't drop your fork.
Stroud: No world records, but props for getting married on a dogsled.

Published works

Grylls: Seven books so far, two more scheduled fore release this year.
Stroud: One book, one self-titled solo album, and a group album by Les Stroud & the Pikes.


Grylls: Teddy Bear: Follows in the footsteps of President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, the original full-on tough guy.
Stroud: Self-given nickname "Survivorman" was intended to play off of the hit show Survivor, but it never really took on the same popularity … swing and a miss.

Effort-to-success ratio

Grylls: Nothing succeeds like success.
Stroud: If at first you don't succeed, make a show about it.

Camera caddy

Grylls: Surrounded by cameramen, sound techs, and a plethora of other technical supports. Bear has his hands free to, say, jump into a pit of quicksand.
Stroud: No glitz, no glam, just Les and the land. That production background doesn't seem so pointless now.

Body effect

Grylls: Featured in People magazine's Decemeber issue in the "Sexy A-Z" article as the sexiest adventurer.
Stroud: He takes his shirt off a lot during the show. This however, will not win him any awards.

Smack talk

Grylls: Doesn't talk much about any other survivor or adventurer; most of his time is spent defending his own survival techniques.
Stroud: "To make a TV show about survival is to have a crew with you all day and go home at night. To make a real show about survival means being alone, running three to five cameras with all the setups and teardowns … along with finding enough food and water to survive, building a shelter to protect from hypothermia, building a fire without matches."

The blogging truth

Grylls: The average blogger considers Bear a fraud because he can be a slippery devil when it comes to admitting to his typical lodging while on-site.
Stroud: Attention bloggers: To those who haven't figured out the big mystery, although it is considered a reality show, it is a landslide away from being real.


Grylls: "Bear Grylls and the crew receive support when they are in potentially life threatening situations, as required by health and safety regulations. On some occasions, situations are presented to Bear so he can demonstrate survival techniques."
Stroud: No disclaimer could be found for Stroud's show. Now, about that folk album …

Kelly Trevino and Nathan Michael Stemen are editorial interns for Metro Times Send comments to [email protected]