Host/Survivalist Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild

Love ’em or hate ’em, reality television shows have come to dominate the cable network offerings and these days there are actually some pretty good ones for outdoor buffs like me. Sure Survivor was perhaps the first outdoor reality show but we’ve really come a long way since then (I promise!). Instead of contrived situations meant to produce conflict between participants, today’s most exciting outdoor television shows pit participants against nature.

In the Alaska Experiment (one of my new favorites) small groups are sent to live in the Alaska wilderness for the winter with little food and only basic supplies and shelter. Most of the participants have little outdoor training and have to figure out things like how to get clean water, how to dispose of human waste, and how to hunt for and store food for the extreme winter months. Weight loss, frustration, and fear grip the participants at times while at other times each marvels at the amazing beauty found in the last frontier.

Man vs. Wild is certainly a popular outdoor reality TV show and in big part it’s due to the show’s host, Bear Grylls. Grylls puts himself into extreme wilderness environments each week and shows viewers how to survive and find a way back to civilization. The show’s premise is very similar to Survivorman (which is, in my opinion, even more extreme since the host doesn’t even have a camera crew to bail him out of potentially dangerous situations) but Bear really makes the show entertaining to watch.

Finally there’s the Eco Challenge which is really just television coverage of an extreme adventure race held in scenic environments around the world each year. The Challenge is grueling, the outdoor environment harsh, and the course unforgiving which makes for great television drama. It seems like few teams actually complete the race within the pre-determined cut-off times and I usually find myself just rooting for anyone who can actually finish the race.

I’m sure there are other outdoor television show’s I’ve forgotten to mention and I’d love to hear any recommendations of other shows I might enjoy. Besides, on rainy or cold days sometimes just watching folks enjoy the outdoors is almost enough 😉

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