Bear Grylls hosts popular reality TV shows where he teaches survival skills. While I appreciate that Bear Grylls has brought the subject of survival to the mainstream, I 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
Grylls doesn’t really make Bear Grylls survival gear. Instead, 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’s name, and Grylls receives a huge cut of the products sold.
Celebrity branding on products is nothing new. 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.
Look at the Bear Grylls Ultimate Knife online; it is basically the Gerber Big Rock with a celebrity name.
The Gerber Big Rock knife costs a whole lot less than the Bear Grylls knife!
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, mainly 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 okay if you 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 from people who 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’d be better off if you chose type 154CM, ATS 34, or S30V.
Bear Grylls does NOT list what 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 that 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 that 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 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 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 (Amazon Link) burns for 96 hours. (New to camping? Read this article for a list of camping gear and supplies)
Read more about rechargeable headlamps.
Bear Grylls Survival Gear is Kitsch
Some of the Bear Grylls’s survival gear has cool things, like how the knives have firestarters built into the sheath and have survival whistles attached. But these are only cool until you realize how impractical they can be.
I don’t want a whistle dangling when I try 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 surefire 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 with 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’s gear is bad quality, and many affordable products are 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.
Have you tried it? How do you like it?
Leave a comment
dude then dont buy them. if you were bear you would do the same
While I do agree with you Bear Grylls is a flamboyant ass and put himself in situations that he really shouldn’t he also has a crew behind him protecting him but as far as the knife I had the first gen and the second gen the second gen is a lot better have not had any problems with it and both of the parangs have turned out great I use them for absolutely everything I’ve quite a floor boards with the knife while yes a lot of the Bear Grylls stuff is crap who knows maybe I just got lucky and found a good one and yes the Firestarter is awesome
Could you give us a short list of the knives that you consider the best for real survival stuff?
Appreciate your insight and opinions. You should edit the section where you say “knives are made in China need I say more”. As to suggest that everything made from China is cheap. Rather you should point to the companies that choose to source to other companies and accept low standards that the company themselves elected. I’m sure the Chinese army doesn’t use cheap materials and there is a reason they are a world power.
I’m American but would say the same for people who go out making it seem like we are a country of war.
If you’re giving facts give facts, if you’re giving an opinion make sure it’s clear that your generalized comments are based on your not so great understanding of how outsourcing works.
It is an opinion only and it is said slightly tongue in cheek! I agree with your general point though and I always encourage my readers to make their own mind up when it comes to these things.
Hi! I’m sure most of Grylls’ equipment made by Gerber is of low quality and I’m sure he gets a hefty commission for using them on the show. Yet, it’s more than likely that Gerber is one of not the only sponsor for the show. Many shows like this have to have sponsors, as you know, to help with costs to premier it. And most of what Grylls shows is for entertainment purposes. I did find your article helpful since I am getting into bushcraft/survival.
If a knife says China leave it on the rack
Well said. It seamed love me the author just wants to knock down someone, in this case, Bear Grylls. We all know self-declared “experts” who are experts at tearing other people down.
John, excellent reply. Ethnocentric comments about Chinese products are plainly wrong. I have some Chinese made knives and they are superb and are even better than some US made knives. Some top production knife co.s in the US sell some of their knives made for them in China. Otherwise, I totally agree with Jacob’s fine article. I became turned off of Grylls when on one survival show he started running over some rocks for, I forgot what reason. I felt that was an insane thing to do, risk a sprained or even broken ankle while in a survival situation. He’s an amateur in my opinion.
The true outdoor person will generally check the marketplace to see what his options are, which specs should be considered and what brands satisfies his or her needs and then makes a budgetary decision.
The grylls line will most likely not appear anyway so no need for this negative post.
Evaluating his outdoor adventures even make this more likely as they are fun to look at but you will very unlikely be in the same position at any given time…
The steels used in bear grylls gerber knives can be found and some are not bad for the money and work perfectly well if youre not trying to destroy them, the steels you are talking about will cost you a couple of hundred dollars for a knife and you can still ruin them if you’re not careful. Yes the better the steel the tougher the knife if properly heat treated, but if you’re truly in survival mode an inexpensive knife can work well even for batoning purposes.
Yes in a true survival situation you will use whatever is available.
I’m sorry, but you didn’t research your subject very well. Although I agree that the equipment isn’t too notch, it is functional and holds up to a lot of abuse. On many of the knifes they made a cheap version and a good heavy duty version that looked almost exactly the same but was completely different
Like I said earlier, this is only an opinion piece and it is said slightly tongue in cheek! If you are happy with the gear then all is good. I would love to hear some more opinions on this so leave your comments here.
Looks like a decent knife and is well reviewed on Amazon.
You can check it out here
Gerber has put their name on many excellent products. Unfortunately they’ve also branded some garbage, simply because it’s a hot selling item, sadly of embarrassing quality.
“Made in China” when I was a kid, long ago, “Made in Japan” meant it was cheap crap. They’ve evolved, as China is doing now. Chinese manufacturers will fabricate whatever you spec. Or you can buy off the shelf cheap stuff, knock offs, even reverse engineered quality stuff. You can write a very strict specification and have a Made in China 5star product. Same as Made in USA, but with much less expensive labor pool!
I have almost everything Gerber put Bear Grylls name on from the belt to the full size parang (machete) have not had any issues with any of there products like you said everyone has their own opinion some times you just can’t pick what you have in a survival situation
For sure – if you’re happy with your gear then all good.
You can bash his equipment but I wouldn’t bash the man, he has been in the special forces, French foreign legion, SERE school etc, he can back what was he says and does, it’s TV of course it’s going to be over dramatic but Bear is a good man and knows his stuff..
Can be difficult for newcomers to filter out some of his bad advice but yeah he does raise awareness which can only be a good thing.
gerber equipment is decent stuff the artical is bitchy at best keep bitchin till you put a bunch of people out of work
Bear was not in Special Special Forces or the Foreign Legion! He was in military but was I hired on parachute accident. His Foreign Legion time was for a reality t.v. show and was kind of a crybaby, but that was probably per the script. Not saying hes not tough or knowledgable, but he ain’t no super soldier. Check facts.
Actually he was in the SAS as a survival and climbing expert. just like every person in the regiment he had to pass selection and then pass his training to go on to become a specialist operator. To even be allowed a shot at selection means you must have a min 2yrs combat experience.
I think it’s greay that someone is speacking out all these people that are ripping us of just because they are on tv and the these companys getting on the band wagon to do just that rip us OFF
The good thing is that someone has bought one as bling for the glove box and has it when the balloon goes up. It is one heck of “a lot better than nothing”. I have seen a dude with a Rolex “got something cheaper ” go for one when he should have bought the best.
Torch and multi tool first. I have seen kids get their first interest in survival from that pack and collect kit for a big pack.
As for the rest of the comments – you should get as good as as you can afford.
Yeah definitely something to be said for just getting started. Very easy to over analyze and get nothing done.
When it comes to tools I have always been an “early adopter”, result being that when something new & different came along a year later i bought that one too even tho I already had something. I have always passed my old stuff on to people who didn’t have anything of the sort. (Unless it was real junk, then i sent it to landfill.) As a result i have stuff in house, cottage & two vehicles when i decided to prep. Only the worst goes to waste. I own leatherman & gerber, as well as some no name but good quality multitools & two real machetes (from cave shepherd dept store in barbados) altho no sugarcane to cut here in southern ontario
What about the steel type 9Cr19MoV? Is that real soft? The ultimate pro BG / Gerber is full tang is it not?
Yes someone mentioned the Ultimate Pro in the comments and I believe it is full tang. (gets good reviews also). You can see it here on Amazon.
9Cr19MoV steel is well regarded, pretty hard and holds an edge well.
Unfortunately, I’m sure he doesn’t touch every individual item that has his name on it. I’m sure he has people that are there just to make deals on products, and or companies coming to him asking to use his name on such and such products. Being a survival specialist doesn’t mean you can engineer or know about engineering. That being said as a tv personality maybe he should be more careful what he puts his name on. Snap on is one of the best tool makers around that doesn’t mean no one should buy craftsman.
His show is rediculous. We all know that. His knives are not what you’d really want in any situation. However … his brand stepped it up with the hachet and machete. They are both super sharp and can hold an edge. Way better than anything for that price. I hate the name but I use those two tools often and they do work
Good to know Vinny, can’t beat hands on testing.
Always something to complain about someone or something.
Why? And why not buy anything from Bear Grylls? And yes every TV show is fake? But I enjoy it … and if you do not like it, do not look ….
And his clothing is just the brand Craghoppers, great outdoor clothing, I wear the pants and shirts with pleasure and sit delicious and go really long.
The shoes, from Merrell, great brand shoes.
The knives, Gerber, fine brand knife.
Know worse quality outdoor clothing, knives and other.
And expensive ??? Really not, buy a trousers from Fjallraven or I know a lot, you pay double.
I am a fan of Bear and wear his clothes with great pleasure.
All about opinions and we respect yours! If you like and use the gear then that is all that matters, irrelevant what anyone else thinks.
I have bought Bears products and had no problems with any of the gear so far, but websites like this are crucial for people to make informative choices. Love the Primal Survivor series by the way. Thanks for the info Jacob.
Bear is a good guy I guess (don’t know him
personally) but we all must agree that the instinct of self preservation is the most basic and strongest instinct we have (humans) .
In saying that it’s the man or woman behind the tool that makes the difference my opinion only mine . Knowledge is power .
TN live free and wild
While I do agree that Bear Grylls is a celebrity and a lot of what he does on his shows is simply showing off in order to get people more interested. If you want to learn real survival skills I would suggest Les Stroud. But we are not comparing Survival TV shows. We’re talking about the gear. I would have to disagree with you on so many points especially when it comes to the knives. Yes I have heard a lot of bad reviews about the original tools and knives that Gerber came out with early on in the franchising and there were a lot of failures no doubt about it. But seeing as you updated just last year you should know by now that they have gone in and made the adjustments and repairs as needed. And I have to say that the survival Pro is by far the best knife I’ve ever owned in my life. It is Full Tang unlike its predecessor and all the metal parts are either welded together extremely well because you cannot see any depressions that welding would cause or they’re made entirely from one single piece of Steel. I’ve used my knife while camping multiple times and it has never failed me I’ve even carried it as a work knife from time to time and I have managed to use it as a pry bar. It has never failed me. The only complaint I have about the knives is the low quality rubber that they use in the grips. Overtime the rubber tends to melt on its own leaving a sticky residue on your hand. But obviously those grips can be changed out. Therefore it’s not much of a complaint. the parang machete got many complaints because it had a tendency to break. I have to say that after chopping through entire tree limbs that were still growing out of the tree and never having a break on me whoever had theirs brake clearly just had a bad batch. considering the price it really isn’t that bad. You would pay the same for a machete made by Cold Steel or some other Big Brand.
Hi Shane – interesting to hear that the quality issues have been addressed, has anyone else noticed this?
I came to the same conclusion after examining only a few pieces of BG kit. The Gerber products are fine on the whole.
Also, do you really want to have to drink your own pee?
Bear Grylls was in the SAS (the british special forces) and because of that he knows more about survival then most people. while what you said about getting a huge pay-cut. I have a hard time beliveing the Bear Grylls would support a componie that had bad survival gear.
How many people can honestly afford to travel to the places you see him go to? let alone would want to do the stuff you see him do in his shows.
The British S.A.S. NEVER reveals the names of it’s members. That’s one of the first things they teach you after you survive their basic training . So how can you verify that he was actually in that unit?
Half of this is not true!
Bear grylls knives are made by gerber which are great quality knives and a typical high end brand like mora/victorinox etc, i understand that they may not be the same price but then just get it from gerber
And his clothes are made by craghoppers which are again another Great hiking brand equivalent to companies like bergaus etc. So just his name does make them a bit more expensive but like the trousers for example are his own design, so enjoy your life mate
Entirely agree, sticking a fancy name, or even more absurdly some para cord on a knife doesn’t make it better. High carbon blades are fine enough and keep a keen edge but they will chip or even snap if pushed especially in very cold conditions. 440c stainless is your best all rounder in my opinion. Besides a knife is of limited use when it comes to survival. You are far better off getting hold of a decent hand axe with a proper hollow ground blade. Plus maybe a bow saw and a whole load of para cord. Then you might be able to make a shelter rather than whittle twigs.
Personally I prefer vintage gear the quality is nearly unquestionable 9 times out of ten but as said above buy what you can afford. But if you really want to buy bear grylls gear dont forget the one thing he never forgets thats remember to book a 5 star hotel for when the camera gets switched off.
Everyone likes to hate Bear Grylls because they aren’t him he does a good job at what he does the products that Gerber produces for him are typically good quality you just have to decide which ones are best for you and if they’ll do what you want other than that stop hating on somebody simply because they’re more popular than you the man does a good job deal with it
Bear Grylls is a former Royal Marines Green Beret, And a Captain to boot. I.e. one of the best survivalist’s in the world. So Ask him to test his own gear??
Yes its true, not all things that carry a “Name” carry quality. We all must remember the Latin “Crevette Emptor” (Sorry if I didn’t spell it right) meaning “Let the buyer beware”.
My personal favorites are a Case Western 2 blade Hunter/Skinner… For heavy work I have an original USMC 1917 Bolo… Neither one has ever failed me. Need I mention that I carry both in the field?…
As to his other gear… I find that the equivalent is frequently available from other sources for less money..