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The 7 worst survival tips from Bear Grylls

With all the good survival advice that Bear Grylls gives, he also gives many bad advice. Here are the 7 worst pieces of advice from Bear Grylls.

from Martin Gebhardt | Survival | no comment yet | reading time 4 Min
Updated on 30 May 2023 68.728 views 89% found this guide helpful
The 7 worst survival tips from Bear Grylls

Martin Gebhardt

From Martin Gebhardt. Check out my “About me” page.


👉 The key facts from this guide

  • Throwing food at a bear: This could anger the bear and lead it to consider humans as a source of food.
  • Removing leeches from your body: This can lead to infection, as parts of the leech may remain in the wound.
  • Eating raw meat: This can lead to serious illnesses, as raw meat may contain bacteria and parasites.
  • Drinking urine: This can lead to dehydration, as urine contains toxins and waste products that the body wants to eliminate.
  • Running away from a grizzly bear: This can lead the bear to consider you as prey and pursue you.
  • Swinging over streams, gorges, and waterfalls: This can lead to serious injuries if you fall.
  • Using a river for transportation: This can be dangerous, as rivers are often unpredictable and can cause you to become wet, leading to hypothermia.

Do you remember the DMAX times when Bear Grylls was totally popular?

Back then, I drooled after every episode. And how he swallowed those fat grubs… unbelievable.

Without him, many people probably wouldn't even know the basics of survival.

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

Here are the 7 absolute worst survival tips from Bear Grylls.

Throwing food at a bear

Bear Grylls encounters bears several times in his shows, and in several situations, he gives some awful survival advice.

In the video shown below, Grylls sees a black bear. First, he makes the mistake of standing still. He stares at the bear and films it.

He could have easily retreated and been safe. But he decides to stay.

Then he makes the dumbest mistake you can make with bears. He throws his backpack with food at the bear.

The idea behind it is that the bear will be distracted by the food and lose interest.

Throwing food at a bear is a terrible idea. It could make them angry.

Moreover, bears learn that humans have food.

And once you don't have any food with you, they will get angry and probably attack you.

Removing leeches from your body

Don't just tear off leeches
Don't just tear off leeches

There are also bloodsuckers in Germany. Recently, I found a giant specimen in a mountain stream.

Bear Grylls has encountered many of these leeches and has ripped them off.

If you have a leech attached to your body, do NOT rip it off!

When tearing off a leech, a part of its teeth can remain in the wound and cause a nasty infection.

Methods such as sprinkling salt on it or burning the leech are just as unreasonable.

The leech is very likely to regurgitate its stomach contents into the wound and cause an infection.

Instead, take a flat object (like your fingernail) and slowly pry at the edge of the leech.

The suction is thus interrupted, and the leech can be removed cleanly.

Eating raw meat

Eating raw meat is not recommended
Eating raw meat is not recommended

In at least one episode, Bear Grylls caught an animal and then bit directly into the dead animal.

While this may be good for ratings, it is a really bad advice in a survival situation.

Because raw meat can contain all kinds of bacteria and parasites.

I once saw this with a fish: The meat was covered in worms and not edible at all. Pretty gross.

Eating raw meat in a survival situation can lead to death. It can cause diarrhea and thus severe dehydration.

Native people, like the Eskimos, can eat raw fish. This is because the salt water and cold temperatures kill bacteria and parasites.

So be sure to cook or grill your meat. Or find other safe options, like eating insects (check out my article).

Drinking urine

Drinking urine is bad survival advice
Drinking urine is bad survival advice

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

In a situation where you are incredibly thirsty, you are dehydrating.

Your body does not excrete urine for no reason. Urine consists of toxins and waste products that your body has filtered and wants to get rid of.

The more dehydrated you are, the more concentrated toxins are in your urine.

By drinking urine with the toxins, you force your body to process them again.

And guess what your body needs to filter out the toxins?

That's right, water.

If you want to know more about it, read my article "Drinking urine to survive - is it safe?".

Running away from a grizzly

Here you can watch another video where Bear Grylls encounters a grizzly (a subspecies of the brown bear).

Instead of slowly backing away before the grizzly notices him, Bear Grylls takes a high risk.

He stops and films the grizzly, alerting it to his presence.

If the grizzly has detected you, Bear Grylls advises to slowly back away and run if necessary. And if needed, throw away your backpack to divert the bear's attention.

Well, grizzlies are much more aggressive than black bears. You would rather not encounter a grizzly. And if you do encounter one, do not follow the advice of Bear Grylls.

This is what you should do if you come across a grizzly, and it has seen you:

  • Talk to the bear in a soft, calm voice
  • Slowly raise your hands in the air to make yourself appear larger
  • If you have children with you, huddle close together to appear as one big animal
  • Do not look like prey or an easy target
  • Slowly back away
  • Never run away - the grizzly will see you as prey (grizzlies can run faster than 50 km/h, you don't stand a chance)
  • If the bear attacks you, play dead (but never do this with black bears, they see you as a free meal)

Swinging over streams, canyons, and waterfalls

In countless episodes, Bear Grylls encounters a raging river.

His response is always something like:

"It would take too much time to go around. Let's go through it!"

In another episode, he slides down a steep slope.

Sliding down a steep slope with rocks is an idiotic idea
Sliding down a steep slope with rocks is an idiotic idea

But in a real survival situation, you do not have the opportunity to explore the terrain in advance (like Bear Grylls does on TV).

This puts you at a high risk. A camera crew is also not with you to take you to the hospital.

So if you come across an obstacle like a big gorge, then take the extra hours to carefully walk around it.

Then you probably won't break any bones.

Using a river for transport

Crossing a river and floating on it means danger and getting wet
Crossing a river and floating on it means danger and getting wet

In an episode, Bear Grylls advises building a raft and riding it down a raging river for survival.

He also recommends Bodysurfing (What is Bodysurfing?) in a canyon on a raging river.

In many other episodes, he does really reckless things on and around rivers.

For example, in one episode, he walks through a river in a canyon and comes across a piece of wood.

His reaction is:

"I think I have to swim through it!"

Additionally, getting wet is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to you in a survival situation.

If you don't have a plan for drying off later, this means hypothermia and death.

Don't follow the advice of Bear Grylls. If you come across a raging river, take the time to find a safe crossing point.

Read also: How to survive a cold water immersion

Taking Risks

I don't like Bear Grylls and his advice for one reason: He constantly takes risks.

Whether it's pole-vaulting over a gorge or swinging over a raging river, these stunts are all extremely risky.

When you're in the wilderness, there's no camera and safety team behind you to airlift you out with a helicopter.

You're on your own. If you're not sure about something, don't do it.

To play it safe is the best advice for survival.


What do you think about Bear Grylls?

Is he just a good TV entertainer? Is all his advice good?

Or does he convey dangerous and bad advice?

Take care, Martin
Martin Gebhardt

Author of the guide


Martin Gebhardt

Hey, I'm Martin. On my blog, you will learn the basics and numerous details about living in the wild. I think survival, bushcraft and the good life in nature are the keys to happiness. Find me here on Instagram or on YouTube. You can find more about my mission on the About Me page.

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