The WORST Bear Grylls Survival Advice

Last Updated: September 30, 2020

Bear Grylls was the host of a popular TV shows Man vs. Wild and also Worst-Case Scenario.

Regardless of what you think about the reality TV show format (hint: I hate it!), you’ve got to give Bear Grylls credit for bringing the subject of survival to the mainstream’s attention.

If it weren’t for him, a lot of people probably wouldn’t even know survival basics like that you’ve got to filter water in the wild.

But for all the good survival advice that Bear Grylls gives, he also gives out a lot of really, really bad advice.

Here are the absolute worst pieces of Bear Grylls survival advice.

Drink Urine

urine sample

This is perhaps one of the worst survival tips that is constantly repeated.

While it might be okay to drink your urine one or two times in a severe dehydration situation, it is a very bad idea.

Urine is one of the ways that your body passes out waste. The more dehydrated you are, the more concentrated waste in your urine will be. By drinking the waste-filled urine, you are forcing your body to process it again.

And guess what your body needs to process waste? Yep – water.

Read More: The Truth about Drinking Urine for Survival

Throw Your Food At a Bear

Bear Grylls comes into contact with bears a few times on his show. And, in multiple situations, he gives some really bad survival advice.

In this video, Grylls sees a black bear. First off, he makes the stupid mistake of staying around to stare at and film the bear.

He could have just slowly backed away and would have been completely safe (black bears aren’t as aggressive as brown bears). Then Grylls gives the even dumber survival advice of throwing your backpack of food towards the bear. The idea is that the bear will go check out the food and lose interest in you.

Throwing food at a bear is a really bad idea. Aside from teaching bears to come to people for food, it might piss off the bear and it could come attack you out of self-defense (you started it, after all!).

Run from a Grizzly

For someone named Bear, Bear Grylls has some really bad advice about bears.

In this video, he encounters a grizzly bear. Again Grylls sticks around to film the bear instead of slowly backing away before he is noticed. As Peregrine Adventures points out, grizzly bears do not like to have their pictures taken!

Now, grizzly bears (aka brown bears) are definitely more aggressive than black bears! You do NOT want to encounter one of these in the wild. But, if you do see a grizzly, don’t follow Bear Grylls advice. He says to back away slowly and then start running. Bad advice!

This is what you should really do if you see a grizzly and it sees you:

  • Talk to the bear in a low, calm voice. Slowly raise your hands in the air to make yourself appear bigger. If you have children with you, bring them close to you so you look like one big animal. You don’t want to look like prey or an easy target.
  • Slowly start walking backwards.
  • Never run! This will make you look like prey and the bear will chase after you. Since grizzlies can run at 34 mph, it isn’t likely that you are going to win the race.
  • If the bear starts attacking you, then you can try playing dead. But note that you don’t want to play dead with black bears – they will see you as a free lunch!

Pull Leeches Off Your Body

By Kristian Pikner (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve swam with leeches numerous times, and had them on my body more times than I can count. So, when I watched Bear Grylls pull leeches off his body, I got angry.

If you have a leech on your body, do NOT just rip it off!

Pulling a leech off your body could cause part of its teeth to be left in the wound, leading to a nasty infection. However, note that folk methods of removing leeches – such as putting salt on them or burning them with a match – aren’t very good either. The leech could regurgitate its stomach contents into the wound and cause infection.

Instead, to remove a leech, you should find something flat (your fingernail will work). Starting with the head, work it under the leech. It will break the suction and the leech will safely come off.

Eat Raw Game

On at least one episode, Bear Grylls has caught an animal and bitten right into the dead animal. This might make for good TV, but it is bad survival advice.

Raw meat can contain all sorts of bacteria and parasites. Eating raw meat in a survival situation is practically a death sentence because you could end up with diarrhea, then severe dehydration.

The only reason that indigenous groups like Eskimos can eat raw fish is because salt water and cold temperatures kill bacteria and parasites. So don’t risk it.

Either cook your game, or find another source of survival food – like eating insects for survival.

Swing Your Way Across Streams, Ravines, Waterfalls…


In countless episodes, Bear Grylls comes across something like a raging river. His response is always something along the lines of,

It would take too much time to go around. Let’s go over it!

In one episode, he lashes poles to his hands and uses them to vault down a mountain!

In real survival situations, you don’t get to scout out the terrain beforehand (as Bear Grylls does), nor do you get to do a re-shoot if your first attempt doesn’t work out, nor will you have a camera crew ready to whisk you away to a hospital.

So, if you ever come across an obstacle like a big ravine, spend the extra few hours to hike carefully around it instead of ending up with broken bones.

A River Is a Good Form of Transportationman on raft

In one episode, Bear Grylls’s survival advice is to make a raft and use it to go down a raging river. In another episode, he recommends body surfing down a raging river in a canyon (yes, body surfing!!!).

In many other episodes, he does other stupid things with rivers.

For example, in one episode, he is walking through a river in a canyon and comes across a piece of timber. His reaction is, “I guess I will have to swim under it!”

Getting wet is one of the worst things you can do in a survival situation! Unless you have a plan on how to get dry later, this could mean hypothermia and death.

So don’t follow stupid survival advice from Bear Grylls. If you come across a raging river, spend some extra time hiking to a safe crossing spot rather than try to swim your way through it.

Take Risks

Which brings me to the biggest reason why I don’t like Bear Grylls and his survival advice: he is constantly taking risks.

Whether it is pole vaulting across a canyon or swimming across a raging river, these stunts are very risky.

If you break a bone while in the wild, you aren’t going to have an entire camera crew there to fly you out. If you aren’t sure that something is safe to do, then don’t do it!

Playing it safe is the real best survival advice.

What do you think of Bear Grylls — good entertainment or conveyor of dangerously bad advice?

Leave a comment

  1. He is an idiot. Im not a survivalist. Not even close. But I grew up in the hills of East Tennessee. I used to dig and sell Genseng…A LOT.
    In one episode, in Alaska I think, he talks about some kind of plant that is good for ypu because “It has Genaeng in it!”
    It CANNOT have genseng in it! Genseng is a plant, and cannot be in another plant!
    I nevet watched another episode of anything he was in.

    • Bear was probably talking about native medicine using devil’s club, which is not a true ginseng family plant ,named oplopanax horridus.
      American ginseng is panax quinquefolis.

    • Just because there may be something good in it surrounded with stupid advice why try to sort it out when there are so many truly good sources of consistently sound advice available.

  2. Thank you for telling people what I always felt about Bear Grylls’s show . survival is not as simple as he shows it . it can be done , but knowing basic survival skills , common senses , and organize you time as to what needs to be done first . Thank you!

  3. I never took bear very seriously. His show had the feeling of a movie set with him doing his own stunts and with a full-size support crew just beyond the reach of their many cameras. But for me, the worst offender is Hazen Audel from Primal Survivor. He has an even larger support crew yet he goes around acting like he’s Les Stroud, Survivorman, the most ‘real deal’ dude in the game. He tone of voice and manner of speaking practically mimicks Les. Its actually sickening to hear this long-haired prettyboy huff and puff through a five minute physical challenge or wince while eating a meal that he didn’t catch and was cooked on a handy, well-built jungle stove that appeared out of frickin’ nowhere. Beyond ridiculous. Sickening. Really.

    • VReddy, c’mon. Hazen Audel is the real deal. The guy, who is a biology teacher in his spare time, has spent half his life as a guide in the rainforest. Unlike Les Stoud, who basically teaches you how to slowly die of starvation on camera, Audel learns how the local tribes survive and uses that knowledge to not only survive, but thrive. You may characterize him as some ‘pretty boy’ playing in the wild, but the guy has a genuine interest in the tribes he’s learning from, and would prefer the show be about them instead of him. Unfortunately the studio people saw more money in the show being around him due to his marketability, but he is hoping to push the focus back to the tribes.

    • I have worked as a security contractor in three potentially hazardous combat areas. A few of our medics had done previous work for several of these “survival” TV serials. As medics, they took care of the “star” as well as camera and support staffs. After each day’s filming was complete, “survivalists” and staff often had a excellent barbecue while laughing, drinking, admiring bikini-wearing girls if present, etc.

      Our medics realized, of course, the premise of these shows was to appeal to couch-bound commandos in wealthy countries, prompting them to buy the outdoor clothing, tents, cheap knives, books, etc. hawked by the “survival” charlatans.

  4. I completely agree that Bear Grylls shows are not really very good at giving the average person good sound survival advice. Most of the things that Bear does on t.v. would drastically increase your chances of becoming seriously injured. Although, I do like his shows but they are really more showcasing what a highly trained Special Forces soldier is capable of doing in an extreme situation and therefore are quite impractical. What I take away from Bear Grylls survival shows are that a person can do some really amazing things in a survival situation if their will to survive is strong enough and they have the proper training.

  5. Repeatedly, I watched Bear Grylls BURN his food over the fire. He’d ruin much of the meat of a squirrel or other meats. I believe it was an episode with Kate Winslet and she told him that he needed to learn how to cook. He’s an idiot. I’m not an expert by any means. I’ve enjoyed watching Cody Lundin (although I don’t condone going barefoot 100% of the time). I’d much rather watch Ray Mears. I often look at Bear as a great example of “WTF were you thinking?”

  6. I always loved watching Bear do stupid things. It’s because he has people there to help him that he can take risks. Just remember that. But he can do things like jump in quicksand and show you how to get out. Better to stay out of it but accidents happen. Better to know what to do if it does. Temper it with some survivor man and you’ll be fine.

  7. I dont hate bear grylls, he has provided some basic how to make fire type of crap. I think Hazen Audel in Primal Survivor is the real deal. He actually shows as traditionally proven techniques used by tribes to survive. That is 1000x better than some white guy teaching you something while he has half learnt it.

    • Hazen Audel is part Native American, and has a tremendous amount of respect for the indigenous cultures he encounters. He expressed disappointment that the show became focused around him instead of the tribes he genuinely seems to want to celebrate.

  8. I watched an episode where he made the actor get the beaver out of the river,then decided it had been dead to long. Then threw it back in the river. Number one, I don’t believe it is a good idea to eat any thing in the wild, that you didn’t kill yourself. Who knows what killed it. Second, total disrespect for an animal, even though it was dead. Third and final comment, throwing it back into the river can pollute the water downstream, where hopefully you would be heading. And you may need to drink some of the water. And I always have taken these reality shows at face value. They are TV shows. For entertainment and to make money.

  9. I feel any type of “Reality” shows are not entertaining. They all have scripts they need to follow. A man “walking bare foot” is a great way of ruining your feet, this is your only means of transportation. Really! They are making these shows for nothing but entertainment, but are they really entertaining?

  10. Yes, Bear grylls is a fake guy like his name. He is a Showman who lives in the hotels in a survival situation. I want to become a Survival expert but I will rather follow Les Stroud, Matt Graham, Cody Lundin than Bear Grylls. I dont want to strand in the wilderness with broken bones by following Bear’s advice. He is a Fake Survival expert who have no experience in living off the land. Less Stroud is a real one. He knows his stuff and I admire him of his surviving off the land alone in the wilderness.

  11. I’ve read a lot of SAS books on survival, and Bear Grylls is the only one I’ve encountered who does things like eat raw meat and drink his own urine.

    Sure, his shows are entertaining, and there is some practical advice here and there… but NEVER use him as your sole source. You won’t survive!

  12. One can know it’s bull – (a) he never wears a hat, no matter how how the day gets, (b) he eats any insect or creature, alive or dead

    • I watched the episode where he is with an actor and it’s 20 below zero. No hats the whole time. Actor wasn’t even allowed to pull his hood up! But the fact they walked around with ice axes holding the pick forward shows stupidity and guaranteed injury if used to arrest in that position.

  13. He’s great to watch for entertainment, but that’s it, he’s more of a show case guy I do like ed Stafford he’s cool, but do enjoy watching these programs don’t take them seriously then you will live to reply to this message ha .

    • Mostly it is entertainment, with camera-ready “worst case” survival scenarios “suddenly” arising in each episode. The show is a total package, with cheap to mid-quality pocketknives, para-cord, hatchets, etc. offered for sale (online or retail) to interested viewers.

  14. You go have a look at urine therapy and the drinking of it,, you will be surprised old chap.
    Its natures medicine and dont harm you. Its just kept away from us again.

    • I disagree with this, the general consensus is that this is a bad idea and the science is pretty solid. We have done an in-depth piece on it here.

  15. Bear Grylls is an idiot. He takes every opportunity to get wet, when this is the worst thing to do in a survival situation. He also takes every opportunity to climb cliffs, when you could just walk round them. Climbing or descending a cliff when you could just go around them is a waste of time and energy, and a very unnecessary risk. I also don’t like how he goes to wild places and kills the local wildlife, such as alligators. What’s the point of doing that? A man with a knife can easily kill a lot of animals, but if he doesn’t need to, then it’s just cruel and wrong. I’ve never learnt anything useful from Bear Grylls. I watch Ray Mears instead.

    • ray has some great videos and some good advise as well , bear on the other hand is about tv ratings . and good tv ratings will not keep you alive, . survival is 90% between your ears and 10% skills and equipment . never take risks, dont panic about food , water is way more important. only take from nature what you need and nature will look after you.

  16. I agree with the previous comment regarding Ed Stafford. I have just watched First Man Out and it was interesting and enjoyable. I would like to see Bear Grylls take up one of these challenges. Ed went up against some well-known opponents and held his ground. If Bear was put in one of these situations with the clothes he is stood up in and a knife I would expect a catastrophic failure. Bear Grylls is supposedly keen to get naked. We know Ed survived naked in a variety of environments, that would be another interesting challenge. Sadly I can’t see this ever happening, It is a situation Bear would run away, very quickly.

  17. While I agree that Les Stroud is better than bear Grylls even Les studies what is good and bad about the areas that he is traveling to and that is how he has all the knowledge. So don’t think without years of experience or massive amounts of knowledge that you are going to walk into a survival situation and be completely safe. Even things that seem easy to do at home can be hard to do when the conditions outside are far from perfect. I guess all I’m saying is practice practice practice. Don’t expect that cause you saw Les, bear, or Cody do it on a TV show that you will be able to do it the first time. I enjoyed this piece and agreed with a lot of the comments left here.

  18. I just watched the interactive series with Bear, and ‘survived’ all the challenges, but often I thought, ‘go across an old rope or rappel down into a ravine? Why don’t we just look for an easier way?’ Like all these things, it’s entertainment with a mixture of good and bad ideas, not a how to manual.
    One good tip was how to travel safely across a frozen pond, given the choice of run or crawl, but again, why were we crossing the lake instead of going around?
    Getting wet, and not wearing a hat most of the time did bug me too. Also, I would like to know what clothing he is wearing that keeps him warm enough to belly crawl across a bug lake, walk around in the desert, and through lakes and jungles.

  19. having spent most of my life im now 55 in the great outdoors as often as possible , i can tell you now that most of what that man says is very bad advise , never take risks you can go for a good week or more with no food so dont eat things that can cause you to dehydrate either through puking or severe rear end explosions , my first camping trip was when i was 5 i survived on dandelions for several days , since then i have learned much , so always be safe never take risks stay dry and hydrated . i find the biggest threat that affects peoples ability to survive is over confidence , they watch a tv show and hey presto they are ray mears or les stroud in half an hour, it takes many years to learn stuff i have been learning my whole life and i discover new things all the time.

  20. There’s also the fact that, whether he’s staggering across a glacier, or slogging under the desert Sun, THE FOOL NEVER WEARS A HAT! I don’t know why this hasn’t been brought up more often. Like Discovery Communications in general, he is far more concerned with good television than with actually presenting good information.

    But for me, the ABSOLUTE STUPIDEST ADVICE he ever gave was this. He’d made himself a torch and was following an underground stream into a mountain, hoping to go through the mountain rather than around it. He came to a section where the stream filled the passage. He told us that it must come up somewhere, so he took a breath and followed it.

    When he got to the other side, he looked into the camera and said that it seemed very likely that the stream would come up somewhere, and sometimes in survival, you have to take a risk.

    Yes, but not stupid risks! Sure, chances were excellent that the stream would come up somewhere. But what were the chances that it would do so IN A DISTANCE THAT YOU COULD HOLD YOUR BREATH WHILE STRUGGLING THROUGH?? Pretty remote, I’d say. (Of course, they’d already scouted this one out.)

    FURTHERMORE, he came out where the river came up–still in the passageway–and looked into the camera to tell us how smart he was. Camera crew and lights waiting! In reality, he’d have been without a lit torch as soon as he went underwater. And he would have had to navigate the rest of the passage in absolute darkness (but for his camera crew).

  21. the fact is if you listen to anything that bear grills says or does you are going to die or wish you were dead.
    there are people who have been on the discovery channel like CPT mykle Hawke man-woman wild/ Cody Lunden dave Canterberry and Les stroud and matt gram all had film crews except Les stroud but he still had safety crew they know what they are doing bear grills has no clue and will get somebody killed that’s a fact

  22. As soon As I started watching Bear’s shows I saw right away his advice was usually something that would get a person injured or killed. Survivorman was one of the best. Bear tales you to climb down cliff faces jump into raging rivers go deep into caves you know nothing about eat insects that can give you parasites without cooking eat raw meat that could make you deathly ill from bacteria oh and climb down slippery raging waterfall or jump into water from a perch high above without knowing what’s below the surface or how deep it is.

  23. If you look closely at the first bear, the one called a “black bear”, you might notice a hump on that one’s shoulders also. And yes Bear Grylls’ show is just as assinine as all the other “reality shows.”

  24. Didn’t Bear actually get caught going back to a motel, via helicopter, rather than actually stay out over night? I don’t know if it is true but I would not put it past him. And Drinking Elephant dung fluids? Does he get treated for parasitic worms after each episode? I have much more respect for Les Stroud or Cody Lunden. I caught my first salmon at seven by sitting on it thinking it was a rock and then kicking it onshore. I also killed my first deer at nine. I have lived in and around the woods my entire life and still do not consider myself a survivalist. It takes years of practice practice practice to become a survival expert. One of the first things to know is to take Bear Grylls advice with a huge amount of skepticism and have very little respect for him.

    • I’ve also heard rumors of him staying hotels. Regardless of whether or not it is true, the guy gives some seriously dangerous advice. As for “expert”, it sure sounds like you are one. Being an “expert” in every climate, terrain, situation though (such as jungle vs. forest survival) isn’t something that is realistically going to happen, even after a lifetime.

  25. Unless you live in a place like rural Alaska; the odds of encountering a bear are extremely unlikely. You can remove leeches by pouring salt on them.But where in the U.S. can you find them? other than possibly the Everglades?

    • I live in Calgary, Alberta. In my last five days hiking in the Foothills and Rocky Mountains I have encountered/seen 11 bears: 4 grizzlies and 7 black bears. These sightings/encounters were between late May and early July 2020.

    • I don’t know very much about leaches, but I have encountered bears in places like Yosemite, Yellowstone and Kings Canyon National Park in California. In and around all of these parks bears routinely raid human camps and forage in home and business trash for food.
      The Rangers have been forced to build permanent food storage devices in many of the campsites and wilderness camping areas because the bears have gone as far as to destroy parked cars to get food.
      In Southern California where I live we are seeing more bears in the neighborhoods.

    • I’ve encountered bears (especially black bears — brown ones not so much) in many parts of Upstate New York. I once saw a bear in my parents backyard in PA too. It’s a bad idea to remove leeches by pouring salt on them; pissing them off might mean they vomit into your body, increasing the likelihood that you get some infection. *The same applies to tick removal methods.

    • Leeches are in most of the U.S. if not all. I’ve seen multiple people come out of creeks or ponds with leeches in Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky but they are all over, even Alaska has leeches.

  26. This was a delight to read. Bear Grylls is from the same area as me and he is totally feted around here, it boils my blood! Slightly amusing story, he was mentioned in conversation once by a guy and I declared him to be a total less-polite-word-for-idiot. Said guy was ramping up to boast that Bear Grylls was his cousin. I stand by my remarks, then and now!

  27. It’s make good awareness to me.
    I think Byer is actor, he is more intrested in acting. He will get a chance for cinema use the show man vs wild.

  28. Most people feel revulsion at leeches, but I brought home three monsters from Warwick, Queensland about six inches long. I named them Gary, Larry and Harry, but never determined which was which. I kept them in an aquarium and grew quite fond of them. If I stirred the water, they would come out of the weeds and do three vigorous laps of the pool before going back into snooze mode. I know they can go long periods between feeds, but couldn`t persuade any of my mates to dangle an arm in there to feed them. Cowards. Eventually, someone left the cover lid off the aquarium and they escaped, probably back to Warwick. What tales they must have told their rellies of their big city holiday.

  29. At the end of the day, the film crew wraps everything up, and Bear Grylls spends the night in a hotel. He’s no more a survival expert than the guys on Pawn Stars are knowledgeable antique appraisers.


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