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5 Best Survival Shows to Prepare You for Camping Season

We enjoy the primal feeling we get watching the best survival shows. It’s a great way to get your fix while waiting for your next outdoor adventure.

And unlike reality TV about dating, you can actually learn something useful for your upcoming camping trips. You never know when you’ll need to put survival skills to the test.

Today we’ll share our favorite picks to prepare you for your next trek into the wilderness.

Let’s binge!

The Scoop on Survival Shows

Survival shows are a type of reality TV where people have to live off the land in various ways. While some stars have a lot of training, others have limited experience outside the comforts of modern life. 

Contestants are left without access to potable water, food, or shelter and must fend for themselves. Like most reality shows, the final feature uses footage from before and after the events to create drama.

Reality TV became popular in the 90s with shows like Big Brother and The Real World. But the format really exploded in the 2000s. Between a writer’s strike and the cheap production value, networks could create must-see TV with big profits. 

While they aren’t working from a script, the final product may not reflect the full story of what happened. 

FYI: The 7 Deadly Sins of Hiking

Are TV Survival Shows Real?

It’s important to remember that most reality shows are designed for entertainment first. While some on-screen elements may be genuine, producers are always behind the scenes to manipulate situations. They may also direct the participants and create a dramatic experience for the audience through careful editing.

Contestants might receive coaching or assistance off-camera, and situations may be staged or exaggerated.

Additionally, the crew will sometimes control factors such as food and water supplies, weather conditions, and the timing of events for more drama.

However, not all the best survival shows are entirely staged or scripted. Some strive for authenticity and may use skilled experts as hosts or consultants to provide accurate information and guidance.

It’s essential to approach these shows critically and understand they aren’t a substitute for real-world survival training.

Who Is the World’s Best Survival Expert?

There’s no one definitive best survival expert in the world. The necessary skills can vary depending on the environment and the specific challenges faced in a given situation.

However, many well-known and respected survival specialists have extensive experience and knowledge in their respective fields. But we can think of a few people we wouldn’t mind having with us in the bush. 

Dave Canterbury is a former US Army Special Forces soldier and founder of the Pathfinder School. He’s an expert in wilderness survival and bushcraft skills, teaching about the five Cs of survivability. 

Cody Lundin is a minimalist survival professional and founder of the Aboriginal Living Skills School. He writes widely about primitive living and survival techniques and has even worked with Canterbury.

Laura Zerra has made a name for herself, living off the land in various ecosystems. She’s an author and specializes in foraging mushrooms, making knives, and fishing. In addition, she’s studied survival techniques across the US and even spent some time in the jungles of Mexico. 

5 of the Best Survival Shows on TV

There’s something comforting about watching people make do without modern conveniences while you sit on your couch and eat junk food. These survival shows will help educate you while you’re binge-watching. 

#1 Survivorman

Survivorman is perhaps the most intense version of the format. Star Les Stroud finds himself in a different remote location for each episode. Not only does he have to secure food, water, and shelter, but he also operates all the cameras. 

He arrives at each spot with a few basic tools and some clothes. The essentials he brings vary depending on the location. Because he’s stranded in different regions for each episode, he talks with local experts about safe food sources and dangerous animals.

Some of the most intense situations involved wildlife like lions and polar bears. 

This is an excellent show for learning how to forage, make drinking water safe, and start a fire. And the drama gets very real. While he always had a rescue crew nearby, he was truly alone during the week-long stretches. 

#2 Naked and Afraid

Naked and Afraid isn’t worried about stirring a little controversy to get viewers. The whole premise behind the show pushes the envelope. 

Contestants are paired with a stranger they meet on camera for the first time. They come from different backgrounds but have promising skills to help them survive.

Then, the show’s crew drops them off in the middle of nowhere without any clothes or supplies except a single item they choose.

The show uses a camera crew, but they don’t intervene unless absolutely necessary. And nudity isn’t the only controversial aspect of the show. Former contestants claimed they aren’t as isolated as they appear. They also aren’t afraid to leave out some details, like how one person needed treatment with IV fluids off-screen. 

Still, it’s one of the more interesting premises, and the show gets top ratings. So you can pick up quite a few exciting ideas while safely on the couch. 

#3 Man vs. Wild

Man vs. Wild follows host Bear Grylls as he travels to some of the most inhospitable places on Earth. He’s dropped into the wild with minimal supplies and relies on his experience to make it out alive.

The show has featured various cast members over the years, but Bear Grylls remains the most prominent and recognizable host. While the various camera angles and techniques make it look like Bear’s alone in the wilderness, he often has a production team with him.

Viewers learn specific survival skills, such as how to build a fire, find clean water, and navigate through harsh terrain. It also emphasizes the importance of staying calm and composed in life-threatening situations and using available resources to survive.

You can’t help but feel inspired to explore the great outdoors and appreciate what nature offers.

#4 Dual Survival

Dual Survival pairs two experts in different scenarios for each episode. They may be marooned on an island, stranded in a desert, or isolated in the jungle. 

This show started off as a way to demonstrate Cody Lunkin’s and Dave Canerbury’s different survival philosophies. Subsequent seasons featured other experts in the field to show off their skills. 

Part of the show’s drama comes from disagreements on how to survive each situation best. The dueling philosophies allow the viewers to learn varying approaches to living off the land.

In addition, you’ll get inspiration for what you may need to bring to survive, depending on where you’re headed. 

You’ll learn several ways to make shelter and find safe water and tips for finding food in the wild. 

#5 Alone

Alone puts ten survival experts in remote locations with minimal equipment. Whoever manages to stay the longest wins a prize. The show’s premise focuses on self-reliance.

The show’s stars come from various backgrounds and possess different skill sets, ranging from bushcraft experts to military veterans.

Other than routine medical check-ins, they remain alone throughout the contest. The production uses remote-operated cameras, allowing a more intimate look at the contestant’s daily struggles. 

Viewers can learn various ways to build a shelter, make a fire, and identify edible plants and animals. The show also emphasizes the importance of mental fortitude and adapting to changing circumstances. 

TV Shows Aimed to Educate and Entertain

Many people learn by doing. But the best survival shows can introduce you to essential concepts you could use to stay alive and unharmed in an emergency.

Still, taking some wilderness survival classes could be worth the time and expense. Starting a fire by hand is more complicated than it looks. And packing an emergency bag rather than forcing yourself to forage might be a good idea. 

However, the best reason to enjoy these shows over other reality options is their celebration of human fortitude. They show the best of us rather than people at their worst.

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