Bear Grylls is the host of the popular reality TV shows where he teaches survival skills. While I appreciate the fact that Bear Grylls has brought the subject of survival to the mainstream, I personally think he is ridiculous and promotes reckless behavior. Considering that he is foremost a celebrity figure, it shouldn’t be surprising that he has capitalized on the success of his TV shows with a line of “Bear Grylls Survival Gear.” Regardless of what you think of him, I don’t recommend buying Bear Grylls survival gear for these 7 reasons.
You Are Paying for the Bear Grylls Name, Not the Gear
Bear Grylls survival gear isn’t really made by Grylls. Rather, it is made by a company called Gerber which has been around for 70 years. When the Gerber brand needed a boost, they knew that one of the best things they could do for themselves was strike a deal with Bear Grylls. They get the power of Grylls name, and Grylls gets a huge cut of the products sold.
Celebrity branding on products is nothing new. In fact, it is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book. Now, there is nothing wrong with celebrity branding – but you’ve got to keep in mind that you are paying extra for the celebrity name.
The Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife costs $80 on their website.
The Gerber Big Rock knife costs $37.
Both knives are Fine Edge and Drop Point. They are the same length. They are the same quality. So why does the Bear Grylls knife cost twice as much? Because you are paying for his name.
Bear Grylls Survival Gear is Poor Quality
The survival gear by Bear Grylls isn’t bad quality. But it definitely isn’t good quality. I’ve read a lot of complaints about the products, particularly the Bear Grylls knives. The cheaply-made pommels tend to break off. The blade chips and cracks. The rubber handle causes blisters…
Bear Grylls products are an okay choice if you just want something cheap for simple tasks. But here’s the problem with the Bear Grylls products: they are marketed for SURVIVAL.
The bad reviews I’ve read are all from people who actually tried to use the gear for survival tasks (such as batoning wood or clearing a campsite). When they tried these tasks, the Bear Grylls gear failed them.
This is your SURVIVAL we are talking about, so buy the best quality gear you can afford!
Bear Grylls Survival Gear is Made in China
Need I say more?
The Type of Steel is Not Listed
When choosing a survival knife, one of the most important things to consider is the type of steel. In general, all survival knives are made from either stainless steel or carbon steel. But there are many different sub-types of these steels – and they are not the same!
For example, 440A is one of the most common types of stainless steel. Yet, it is too soft for most survival uses. Instead, you’ve be better off if you chose type 154CM, ATS 34, or S30V.
Bear Grylls does NOT list what type of steel his knives are made from. This is always a bad sign! Learn more about how to choose a survival knife here, including the best types of steel.
Bear Grylls Knives Are Not Full Tang
Tang is the part of a knife which extends into the handle. Very cheap knives just solder or bolt the blade onto the handle, so it can easily break off if you hit it with any amount of pressure. By contrast, full tang knives have blades which go all the way into the handle. These are the sturdiest. Even if the handle breaks off, you can still use a full tang knife.
Even though Bear Grylls knives advertise themselves as “full tang,” some are actually not a true full tang. The tang gets smaller in the handle, which means it isn’t as strong. It is something between a partial tang and a full tang where the handle is molded around the tang (the proper term for this is an encapsulated tang).
The Bear Grylls Headlamp Has a Really Low Battery Life
After my knife, my headlamp is my favorite piece of survival gear. They are so much more practical than handheld flashlights. If you’ve ever tried to pee in the dark while holding a flashlight, then you know why a headlamp is great.
I was really disappointed with the Bear Grylls headlamp. It has just 2 brightness settings (8 lumens and 25 lumens). At the low lumens, it lasts 15 hours. At high lumens, it lasts just 8.75 hours. That is why the stupid headlamp includes a replacement battery pouch. Might I mention how uncomfortable it is to carry a spare battery around the head strap!
You can easily find better quality headlamps in the same price range. Take the Black Diamond Storm headlamp. At 25 lumens, it lasts for 125 hours (compared to just 15 with the Bear Grylls headlamp!). Even the super-cheap Princeton Tec headlamp burns for 96 hours. (New to camping? Read this article for a list of camping gear and supplies)
Bear Grylls Survival Gear is Kitsch
Some of the Bear Grylls survival gear has cool things, like how the knives have firestarters built into the sheath, and have survival whistles attached to them. But these are only cool until you realize how impractical they can be. I don’t want a whistle dangling when I am trying to cut, chop or baton (safety hazard, anyone!). Oh, and the whistle isn’t even that loud. You could buy a better one for just a few dollars (though I will admit that the firestarter works great).
Never buy survival gear because it comes with some “cool” extra. This is almost always a sure-fire sign that the gear is bad quality. Good quality gear doesn’t have to add cheesy extras to get people to buy it! I also would find it rather embarrassing to wear/use survival products which have the name of a guy who once gave himself a tactical enema on TV to boost his ratings…
So What Survival Gear Should You Buy?
Not all of Bear Grylls gear is bad quality, and there are definitely many affordable products in the line. If you are an amateur camper who needs some basic equipment, then choosing Bear Grylls survival gear is fine. But you shouldn’t choose survival gear because some reality TV show host has endorsed it.
You can find much better gear for a much lower price. Do yourself a favor and take some time to research trusted brands of survival gear.