So the title’s a play on a 2016 post I called Survivor Bear Naked about the plethora of semi-dodgy sources of wilderness survival information available on the wwwebz. Though my wild days are less frequent now due to (insert excuses here), nevertheless, I remain a bushwalker first and foremost, and it’s something which I hope to do for the rest of my life, though not necessarily at the end of my life! Which means I have two solid excuses for continuing my YouTube voyeurism, and that is: (1) to learn something that might prevent me from getting killed prematurely; and (2) to vicariously satiate my unabated wanderlust. Mostly the latter, because my immersion in the former has left me thinking — woe betide the newb whose outdoor education begins and ends with a hypertext transfer protocol.
‘Dude, You’re Screwed’ (2013-14) finally persuaded me that having friends (as I suspected) is a liability, because it is totally possible that those conniving assbags might be planning to kidnap and dump me semi-naked on the side of a Norwegian glacier. Giving you 100 hours to (a) not die and (b) escape to civilisation apparently turns this horrorshow into ‘infotainment’. Luckily Jake Zweig, former US Navy Seal (and here please excuse the segue, but, you know, pleonasm: how many former Seals aren’t US Navy…?) walks around with a toolkit up his left nostril, just in case. If my friends were these guys I’d be hooping a pound of salami and a tent while I’m at it. I’m sure with enough advance warning Jake could’ve assembled together the basic essentials of a totally comprehensive bug-out bag that would completely eliminate any emergency situation. And if you don’t see what I just did there, please stop reading now and go away.
‘Fat Guys in the Woods‘ (2014-15) hooks because of the irresistable premise: three chubby lads out in the frosty woods get taught to make a bow drill out of a discarded condom and a bendy stick. Would they survive? Hell no. At no point does ‘survival expert’ Creek Stewart say to his hapless victims: “Forget this shit. You boys just stay dry and don’t move. Luckily you’re so fat a rescue chopper could spot you from the moon.” This show is about us sniggering at the “can I haz cheezburger now?” faces of three cold, hungry fatties while we inhale a box of Doritos on the couch at home. While Creek Stewart has a haircut only an American survival expert could get away with, he probably grows it long so he can plait it into an emergency survival blanket. If you worship at the altar of McDonalds and one day decide a leisurely stroll in the park is a good idea: don’t prep with this show.
‘Lost Survivors‘ (2013) was a last ditch attempt by married couple Ruth England and Mykel Hawke Pierce to profit from the survivor-bra phenomenon I forensically examined in my 2016 essay on ‘Man, Woman, Wild‘ (2010). You could not call this a survival show unless you believe wrasslin’ crocidilians and harrassin’ serpents somehow increases your likelihood of not getting bit by something profoundly killier than the spindly stick you’re goading them with. Ruth does not showcase her bewbs as much in this series, which is a shame because instead she decides a useful survival tactic is to aggravate her surprisingly snowflakey husband, former US Army Special Forces (wtf), with emasculating wifely barbs. He could spitroast this lady in a heartbeat, but us survivalists wouldn’t want to see that, nuh-uh … no sir, uh-umm… uh, what was I talking about again? Oh right, survival.
Three quick examples of YouTubery that will mostly get you killed unless like Jake Zweig you have two-hundred yards of 550 paracord and a multitool stashed in your ass. So, how about learnin’ something useful? You can’t go wrong with MCQ Bushcraft. When Mike showed me how to rig a baitline on a tidal mudflat I knew I’d just learned a technique that could actually save my ass. Being English he is polite, sef-effacing, funny and thoughtful, and a consummate woodsman — shooting, fishing, wild edibles, campcraft, master of knots — he made me want to slingshot a wild pigeon for its plump breast meat, cooked slowly over a birchwood fire beneath a dripping tarp in a slumping coastal woodland. Think I had a toasted sandwich instead, but you get the idea. His videos make you hungry for genuine wilderness experiences; plus he now has a dog, a new truck and lives in Sweden! He is so cool, we must be practically related!
Survival Lilly is a female Austrian version of the guy I’ve always wanted to be. Except she has boobs, and I don’t have boobs, although let’s face it at 51 anything’s possible — but let’s stop talking about boobs — she is an extraordinary success story, with a channel I’ve followed since 2011. I watched a goofy chick metamophose into a goofy swan, consistently producing YT content that just effing works. She is legit: she hunts, she builds, she chats amiably to an international audience of 857,000 subscribers: the only thing she does that annoys me is endorse stuff. So-called ‘gear testing’ unquote. Nothing diminishes hard-won authenticity faster than a singlet top in frosty weather or clumsy product placement. Okay she wears singlet tops occasionally too, but we forgive you Lilly! We forgive you!
Joe Robinet. Poor Joe, do you wish you could roll back time to that cold beach in Vancouver and NOT lose your ferro rod? I was gutted when this tiny Canadian self-destructed on day three of ‘Alone’ (season one – free to air here). Luckily, he made amends with an awesome channel where things often go humorously awry. Joe demonstrates proper skills, but also grit, resourcefulness, good humour and the resilience that makes for a true survivor. Plus, he’s a midget so that’s always funny. Plus, he does dumb shit all the time, and watching unusually short Canadians hurt themselves is quality entertainment. There’s nothing I don’t like about the guy except for the occasional endorsement-y post, but like Lilly even survivors gotta survive.
So. How fair was that? Super fair, I’d say: three shit examples (ie. don’t do this at home kids, and if you still do, then don’t blame me when you lose some bits) and three that will save our bacon all day, every day. I don’t hike in the Australian summer because you can’t outrun a bushfire coming up the ridge at 200kph, nor am I keen to test the toecap of my Salomon Quest 4D 3GTS hikers against the fangs of an atrax robustus. But fires and fangs are less common in the winter, my favourite bushwalking season, and so (coronavirus willing) I want to get out there for some bushwalking + prospecting + photography adventures. Hopefully, soon. You’ll be the first to know, I promise.