British survival celebrity Bear Grylls makes a comeback to TV this year with his upcoming NBC reality show “Get Out Alive.” Along with the airtime, Grylls approved the launch of a line of namesake camping goods.
The Bear-branded products will be sold under the Bear River International brand, a licensing firm. Grylls adds the camping gear to a portfolio of endorsed products, including those from Gerber Knives, Craghoppers, Bushnell, Coreban, Degree Men, and Dockers.
But from our first look the camping gear line is not just a stock of commodity items with a star’s name slapped on the side.
We had a chance to see all of the Grylls gear at the Outdoor Retailer trade show last week, and we were impressed with the depth of the line — from sleeping bags, tents, dry bags, cups, cutlery, pads, to backpacks.
The whole line — every piece of gear, down to the pads and camp-cooking utensils — are ostensibly tested and approved by the Bear-man himself. He’s quoted all over the catalog endorsing the gear.
At first glance, the line looked well made for the budget-minded camper. It’s not high-end, though not cheap, either. The sleeping bag line, for example, ranges from 30-degree polyester fill bags for $69.99 to a 650-fill down bag rated to 0 degrees ($299.99).
What caught our attention at the trade show were the Easy Up Tents. We had a chance to play with one, the Bear Grylls 2P Easy Up model, and we were impressed by its easy-to-setup design and solid build.
Basically, the tent has a hub-and-spoke piece where the poles come together at the top. You pull it up to help the poles snap into place. The shelter can go from stuff sack to set up in less than a minute.
It costs $130 for the two-man size tent, which struck as a good deal. It’s made for car camping, not backpacking, and it uses fiberglass poles and a taped polyester fly.
For backpackers, the Grylls line has tents that weigh around 5 pounds and cost about $140 and up. We look forward to testing the line out when it comes to market later this year.
Grylls’ company describes him as a “branded expert for survival and outdoor adventure.” This line of gear will use his household name to gain notice and launch a camping line to the mass market, from weekend warriors, to survival wannabes, to serious campers and fans of the Bear the world over.
—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor. GearJunkie caught up with Grylls last year in the post “Interview With a Bear.”