Bear Grylls Competition Turns Survival Into Sport

Usually, you know if you excelled in a survival situation by not dying. But Bear Grylls wants to make it a sport measured by technology instead of blood loss or hypothermia.

Bear Grylls, the survival expert made famous by his show “Man vs. Wild,” launches a new type of race this spring. Participants will compete in a series of challenges to “test mental, physical, and instinctual skills in controlled, competitive survival situations.”

Competitors will race 4 miles up 1,000 feet of elevation gain through 18 “survival challenges.” And RFID technology with proprietary software will track racers every step of the way.

Obstacles includes “survival environments” like the “post apocalyptic highway,” and “survival challenges” like “dirty armor” and “mystery encounters in a pitch black tunnel.”

Sound fun? Read on.

Bear Grylls Survival Challenge

The event will take place April 28 and 29 at the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif.

You might be familiar with RFID tracking gates if you ski. Many downhill ski resorts use RFID readers to track skiers as they enter chairlifts. Other uses for RFID technology include things like inventory tracking, library systems, kiosks, and interactive marketing.

Racers already use RFID tracking in many types of running, cycling, or other timed events. But this is the first time we’ve seen it used to measure “survival” in the form of strength, endurance, dexterity, and decision making.

The data captured will feed algorithms to determine individual on-course performance. Racers will be scored out of 100 maximum points, with penalties factored into each score. Out of the 100 points, 65 will be awarded for skills-based tasks and 35 for speed.

“This first-of-its-kind challenge will incorporate technology to measure elements like never before. It’s about improving, digging deep, and showing yourself you have what it takes to survive,” Grylls said.

No word if it’ll measure urine consumption. But we must hand it to Grylls: He’s once again pushing his brand into a totally new realm.

You can race alone or as a team, with prices ranging from $95 for an individual to $1,135 for a team of 15. Learn more here.

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.