The WORST Bear Grylls Survival Advice

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

drinking urine for survival
Drinquemachida Creative CommonsAttribution 3.0 Unported by Machida

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.

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.

As Adventure points out, 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?

I’m Jacob Hunter, founder of Primal Survivor.
I believe in empowering people with the knowledge to prepare and survive in the modern world.

More about Jacob here.

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.

  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.

  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.

  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!

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