As host of Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls braves some of the nastiest conditions that Mother Nature has to offer, with little more than the shirt on his back. (Searing Saharan heat? Check. Frigid Icelandic cold? Ch-ch-ch-check.) Now the former British Special Forces soldier has put his years of extreme experience to use in print form with the just-released book Man vs. Wild: Survival Techniques From the Most Dangerous Places on Earth.
Asked to boil down his survival savvy into 10 words or less, Grylls says without hesitation, ”Three words: ‘Never give up.’ All of survival comes down to that. The people who really survive — the great stories — are never the people who have all the knowledge. It’s about how much you really want to make it out of there. Ultimately, it’s about heart.” (A willingness to drink your own urine to stave off dehydration can also come in handy.)
Before new episodes of Man vs. Wild debut on May 2 at 9 p.m., check out this special Grylls grilling, in which we give him a series of horrific choices that we hope we’ll never have to make ourselves.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Would you rather eat slimy maggots or crunchy beetles?
BEAR GRYLLS: Probably slimy maggots. Crunchy beetles always have a habit of crapping down my throat as I swallow them. Maggots seem to behave better.
Would you rather eat sheep eyeballs or goat testicles?
Eyeballs are bad. I always thought it would be like a hard-boiled egg, but they explode into gristle and blood. But it’s better than goat testicles, which melt in your mouth into just what you imagine is inside a goat’s testicle. That’s just not my cup of tea, having a mouth full of goat sperm.
Would you rather be stranded in zero-degree cold or in 110-degree heat?
Both killers and both unforgiving. Probably cold. I’m more experienced with cold and there’s more you can do to get warm — snowcaves and fire — than there is in the desert to get cool. You’re just roasting hot. On the show, we’ve lost more crew in extreme heat than extreme cold.
Would you rather be confronted by an angry bear or by an angry shark?
I’ve had both and they both suck. On land, you’ve got more power to get away from something — you’re very vulnerable in the water. I’d probably go for the bear. We’re related and I can try that card: ”I’m family! Don’t!”
NEXT PAGE: More expendable: An arm or a leg?
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Would you rather be cornered by a snake or by a crocodile?
BEAR GRYLLS: Snakes are essentially scared of you. They attack when they’re cornered and frightened or protecting. I’d much prefer to be in a confined space with a big angry snake. I’d have that for dinner quite quickly.
Would you rather lose an arm or a leg out in the wild?
An arm. It’s much harder to walk with one leg.
Would you rather be trapped in a sandstorm or in a snowstorm?
Probably a snowstorm. There’s no shelter in the desert from a sandstorm. You can always get out of a snowstorm — dig down into the snow or get into the trees.
Would you rather have plenty of water but very little food or very little water but plenty of food?
Survival’s all about water. You’ll survive 40 days without food, you’ll survive four days max without water. If you got lots of food but no water, eating food is just going to dehydrate you more. Protein takes a lot of fluids to digest, so you need water.
Would you rather suffer from frostbite or from a severe fungal infection?
Fungal infection. You can cure it. Frostbite’s permanent. I’ve still got damage from years ago in my fingers. And in my toes, very bad feeling.
Would you rather be stranded with only a watch or with only a compass?
Compass. It’s much more useful knowing which way to walk than knowing what time of day it is. I haven’t got a lot of appointments to keep.
Would you rather cross a slow-moving river that contains piranhas and candiru [the tiny, parasitic fish that supposedly swim up your urethra while you’re peeing in the water] or violent rapids that contained no scary fish?
The fast one is probably more dangerous. Only certain piranhas will attack humans, and only when there’s real limited food source. As for those candiru, I’d go through the river and not pee while I’m crossing it. And keep my pants on.