Survival programs and reality television seemingly go hand in hand. Since Survivor first aired in 2000, there have been countless programs in which people battle the elements and put their survival skills to the test – two of the most popular being Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls and Survivorman starring Les Stroud. Both shows follow their respective host as they attempt to survive in brutal environments while totally isolated from society. But while the shows appear similar, they actually couldn't be more different.
A lot of real survivalists think Les Stroud is better than Bear Grylls, and they have every right to believe that. Even though they both have survival training, only Stroud has made a show that actually puts him in real survival situations. Stroud himself views Man vs. Wild as a hokey reality show that shouldn't be taken seriously.
Is Stroud right, or does Bear Grylls deserve more credit?
During a Reddit AMA, user YlleJumper asked Stroud what his opinion of Bear Grylls was. While many people in the entertainment industry tend to hold back when it comes to criticizing their peers, Stroud put Grylls on blast.
Stroud constantly refers to Grylls as an actor and TV host rather than a survival instructor, and says that some of his "tips" might actually worsen a survival scenario. His advice is to take everything you see on Man vs. Wild with a grain of salt and treat the program as a reality show rather than an educational one.
While you'd might think that a guy who goes by the nickname "survivorman" would have spent his entire training for survival situations, that simply isn't the case. Stroud didn't start studying survivalism until he was in college, where he took courses from expert survivalists Gino Ferri and David Arama.
Many of his skills are self-taught, and he credits much of his growth to a year he and his wife spent alone in the rugged wilderness of Northern Ontario. They managed to survive without the use of matches or metal on what is probably the most badass honeymoon ever.
Unlike Stroud, Bear Grylls has an extensive background when it comes to survival training. He joined the cub scouts at a young age and has always had a love for climbing and sailing.
Grylls eventually became an elite member of the UK Special Forces Reserve, where he underwent rigorous training in field survivalism. He also received rigorous combat training while serving with the 21st Regiment.
It may seem ridiculous that a former special forces trooper and professional survival expert would ever be accused of faking survival situations, but that's exactly what happened when rumors started to surface questioning the authenticity Bear Grylls's show.
As it turns out, many of the survival situations on Man vs. Wild were completely fabricated by the film crew. While claiming to be taking on nature, Grylls would regularly return to camp at nightfall to sleep in a comfortable bed.