The thought of being lost, stranded and alone, forced to rely only on your own survival instincts, is kind of terrifying. That is, for most people, at least. For those who seek adventure, it’s a dream come true; a chance to prove our symbiosis with fierce surroundings.
Our prowess at turning the unimaginable into the manageable fills a dire situation with a soothing calm that allows us to treat even the most dangerous scenarios as mere inconveniences. Some skills, we learn through our own experiences.
Other skills, we learn from men like these. Here are the most notable and accomplished survivalists on the planet. Gents, we salute you. Here’s to being most at home on the brink of life-threatening disaster.
From crossing the North Atlantic and journeying to Antarctica to hosting the World’s highest open-air formal dinner party (a Guinness World Record, at 25,000 feet) and hosting a tremendously successful television series, Man vs. Wild, there’s not a whole lot Bear Grylls hasn’t done.
The crazy part is, he almost didn’t have a chance to accomplish any of it. During the last year of his 36-month stint in the British Army’s Special Air Service, a parachute jump-gone-wrong landed Grylls in the hospital, a hair away from being paralyzed for the rest of his life.
Just 18 months later, at 23-years-old, he became the youngest Briton ever to complete the dangerous ascent, another World Record.
Who says you have to wear shoes and pay your utility bills? Not Cody Lundin, that’s for sure. He’s found a better way. Lundin is a lead instructor at Arizona’s Aboriginal Living Skills School, LLC, instructor in outdoor survival, primitive living and urban preparedness at Yavapai College and host of the television series Dual Survival.
He is famous for almost never wearing shoes and living in a “passive solar earth home” that’s totally off-the-grid and located in the heart of Arizona’s desert wilderness. An internationally renowned survival skills instructor, Lundin’s written two books and made numerous television appearances as a subject matter expert.
Made world-famous by his uniquely formatted television show, Survivorman, wherein he produced and starred in his own survival guide program from deep within the middle of nowhere, Les Stroud has quickly become a household name.
After a brief career in the music industry, this Canadian-born adventurer put himself under the tutelage of wilderness and survival expert, David Arama, director of the Ontario-based WSC Survival School.
Stroud’s a quintessential renaissance man whose accolades have spanned all his varied pursuits, from music, to documentary film making, to television production and hosting. Whether in a studio or on a mountain face, he’s proven time and time again that he’ll come out not just alive, but on top.
Not only is Ray Mears a survival expert and noted British television host, author and speaker, but he’s also a judo expert. Mears is a bushcraft aficionado with expansive knowledge on every wilderness topic, from fashioning your own arrows to foraging for sustenance to building shelters and water transport from things you’re almost guaranteed to find in any forest.
But beyond all that, and perhaps most admirably, Mears is a lifesaver. In the aftermath of a 2005 helicopter accident, he was reportedly instrumental in applying his survival instincts to assist in the rescue of a badly injured member of the flight crew.
Like many of the other extraordinary members of this list, David Canterbury is as multi-faceted as he is skilled. After a tenured career in the US Army where he served as a sniper on the Special Reaction Team and earned the rank of Sergeant, Canterbury worked on a reptile farm, as a commercial fisherman and diver in Florida, and founded the Ontario-based survival emporium, Pathfinder School, LLC, in 2009.
For two seasons, Canterbury co-hosted Dual Survival with fellow adventurer Cody Lundin, famously cutting open his own arm on-air so he could show audience members how to cauterize the wound using only gunpowder. Now that is what we call extreme.