Bear Gryllls’ show, Man vs. Wild (Born Survivor in the UK) – Man vs. Wild – Season 1 – is a rare TV hit. What I like most about this show, despite the fact that some of his stunts are staged, is that he demonstrates how to survive in life-threatening situations across all types of terrain. This week has been productive for me in that sense, I learned how to make rope out of roots, how to wrestle an alligator, how to make a water purifier out of natural elements, how to skin a sheep then use the skin as a boat, etc. He is like a real life Macgyver!
Having spent time outdoors and traveling in places where you are literally always in danger of being stranded from civilization, this show has been a real breath of fresh, information-filled air, and he reaffirmed some of my thoughts while on the road last year.
Anyone who spends any amount of time outdoors knows that what kind of travel gear and clothing you have is essential. I had to buy two *&#*!%$ cheap bags before I finally spent the money on a nice REI backpack that will withstand rough use, varied terrain and temperatures, and 70+ pounds of rip and tear 24 hours a day. Lesson learned: don’t skimp on essential equipment! In that vain, its easy to see how Bear carefully chooses his clothing and equipment before heading into the wild. He has all quick-dry clothing and a multiple temperature jacket of gore tex. I had no jacket on the last trip (big mistake) and what was worse, I had flimsy shoes I bought at a market in China before leaving. I did have a few other items, but was missing a great deal, including a water purifier, on this last adventure. Lesson learned again: don’t skimp on essential clothing! Before the next trip (Mongol Rally 2010) I’ll be buying expedition-level shoes that breathe and can stand rough wear and tear, a multi-season jacket and more quick-dry clothing. Ah, a girl’s wish list has no end!
Final thought: on the show Bear has a special knife he had built for himself which retails at $700+ dollars. While I think it is an essential element for life on the road, I’m not about to drop close to a grand on a knife! I’ll stick with my little Cold Steel Voyager, which was a gift from my Kuk Sol Wan coach in 2006. I have only sharpened it twice and it is in amazing condition, plus the 2″ blade means its legal to cross borders with. You could literally back a truck over it and it would be fine! Also, Bear goes out into the wild without a flashlight, I keep my Smith & Wesson LED Flashlight on me at all times (no joke, its in my purse). Paranoid- no. Prepared- hopefully.