Top Ten Best Survival Experts

Survival expert show us how to survive in non civilization areas like forests and deserts.

The Top TenXW

1Mykel Hawke

He has real world knowledge and can give practical techniques. Where as some of the other "top rated" suggest you swim through freezing cold water under a mountain not knowing where it comes out or if there is an exit. Or that it's intelligent to walk around barefoot through snow. Just examples of the "other guys" nonsense.
Mykel gives useful, practical, and safe guidance that would actually help in a survival situation. Not to mention his survival gear is better than any out there!
And that is only listing the survival side of my vote. Mykel is someone I would want to have my back in ANY situation. He is a considerate man, a proud father, a fantastic husband, and an individual who strives to make a positive mark in this world. He deserves the top of this list for more reasons than just his survival expertise.

Mykel Hawke is the most noble, honest, intelligent, hard working guy in the business! Not to mention his integrity as a Man & a Veteran of the good ole U.S.A. ! I Pride myself in knowing Men like Mykel would take the call to defend this great nation in a moments notice if the opportunity arose. If all Men put as much effort into being a great person and a role model to all as he does this world would literally be a better place! I cannot imagine the things Mykel has seen nor had to endure while he was an active Green Beret... Yet he is the Man he is today! Mykel is the definition of what a American Male should be... I try to live my life by a code of honor I'm Proud of! Does it mean I'm better anyone reading this post absolutely not! It simply means I strive to be a better Man on a daily basis as 1 should try to instill these values in his day to day life encouraging others to strive to hold there selves to a higher standard... I firmly believe if you pay it forward you will be Blessed in ways you may never know. I hope to be 1/2 the Man Mykel is as a whole! Mykel Hawke you Sir are a true gentleman and a Icon all of us should hold our standards to the level you have set fourth for all Men to follow!
God Bless you for your service, patience in teaching survival skills and being the Man who stands before us all as a True American Idol!

If his background, training, and experience in all types of situations do not speak clearly that he should be number one, he also has a wealth of experience in hands on training and teaching military and combatants around the world down to the smallest Boy Scouts of America and every citizen in between. He isn't for show. He is real and practical and streams his guidance to survival skills we all need in every situation and every climatic disposition. This choice should not even be debatable.

Great guy cheers brother extreme chef

V179 Comments
2David Canterbury

The question of the poll is Who is the Top Survival Expert, and my idea
Of “Top” would be a Worldly Survivalist. There are many great outdoor
Survival elders out there, Mors Kochanski, Larry Dean Olsen, John
McPherson, Christopher Nyerges, Cody, etc. But they are great in their
Environment. Dave has developed a school and system that any student can
Use in their environment wherever in the world they may live. He has an
At Home study course that teaches the student how to survive and build
Their skills in their own environment. That is worldly survival.
I’m voting for Dave Canterbury not because I personally know him, but
Because I have gotten to personally know him. I have gotten to know him
Over the last couple years. He is one of my many Outdoor Skill mentors,
But he is my top mentor. If I need to know a non-BS answer to something
I go to him. He has no ego, and will regularly admit if he found
Something new that works better, even if it goes against his past
Teachings. He is constantly researching, reading, testing, and plan old
Getting dirty. He doesn’t pretend to be the ‘know all, end all” of
Survival, because he knows that ‘learning never stops’ and you can learn
From anybody. I watch how he treats others, friends and foe. I watch how
He analyzes gear, theories, and priorities. I watch how he gives to
Strangers incognito. I’m voting for Dave Canterbury. ~JK~

Having been in real world "survival" conditions and having trained with Dave Canterbury afterward, I can undeniably attest to his knowledge and skill level. Unlike most other survival experts, Dave is training Search And Rescue Teams (the folks who do it day in and day out). He works from a realistic place and his philosophy is based on practicality. The man is without ego and has a humble demeanor. I'm looking forward to training with him again. He doesn't sell any pie-in-the-sky fantasies about turning people into Grizzly Adams types, but rather focuses on teaching a person "how to" fish instead of giving them a fish. He and his instructors teach people how to improvise and how to think for themselves instead of just taking what they are taught verbatim and stopping there. I always feel like he's sharing more than just teaching and sense in the man that he's genuinely trying to impress upon others that they can take control of their circumstances to effect self-rescue and better their chances. The man has dirt under his fingernails and walks it like he talks it.

If I was stranded and could pick just one of these guys to be with me it would be Dave. He has done hundreds of FREE videos on YouTube showing real world practical ways to survive. He teaches a complete mind set to survival that has be time tested and proven. When the professionals like EMT and Firefighters look for someone to teach survival skills they go to Dave. You can apply the skills that he teaches to every day live to improve your way of living and insure your families safety and survive ability in an emergency situation. Dave has created an entire community based off of his skills.

He knows his stuff

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3Les Stroud

Why Les is easily the best survivalist celebrity:

- He and his wife and now children have literally spent years living off the land in the bush
- His home in the Canadian wilderness is totally off grid
- He hunts and grows his own food
- He practices what he preaches and actually lives the survivalist, prepper lifestyle
- He comes up with many of his own survival techniques and doesn't simply just re-do the same old things
- He actually puts himself into critical survival and potentially dangerous situations during his show unlike others who sleep at hotels, do flashy choreographed stunts with crews of safety people around them
- He is not materialistic or in it for the money. Aside from pretty much T Shirts and the odd book you won't find cheesy Survivalman merchandise and survival pants in major stores like some other stars
- He films, edits, directs, hosts and produces the show himself and even writes and plays all the music
- He presents his techniques on the show in a quiet thoughtful way instead of being hyper, always yelling and trying to make everything over dramatic like others
- Peoples lives have actually been saved because they learned his techniques and used them
- And last but not least, he boiled water in a plastic bottle for petes sake!

Les isn't all flash. He is the real deal. He might not have climbed Everest as part of a big well funded expedition but so what? He just goes out into the bush and lives it without looking for all the unnecessary attention. For all these reasons he is easily the best in my humble opinion.

By far the best. Les manages to survive in actual situations while filming it himself. Bear Grylls doesn't survive really, though he of course can and has. But his show involves a camera and safety crew. Les is on his own. Doing it all himself and doing it well. No one better to learn from or to watch.

Les stroud takes a smart and collected look at every survival situation I have ever seen him in. While most others run and jump into scenarios they may not be well suited for or do things out of shear spontaneity. To have bear grylls ranked #1 is a pure joke. His shows are phony and scripted. For example, watching him drink his own urine as a source of "hydration" was ridiculous. Stroud on the other hand teaches you how to use your urine to create clean drinking water. Just a small example, but if half of the people watched half the amount of survival shows and documentaries I have, its clear that les stroud is a knowledgeable survival expert who truly practises what he preaches through out day to day life.

You either live survival or do it as a hobby/job. Les does it as a lifestyle and is strong enough to do it with a family. Nobody else has taken it to that level.

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4Bear Grylls

Bear grylls is the most famous survival expert.
Edward Michael " Bear " Grylls (born 7 June 1974) is an English adventurer, writer and television presenter. He is best known for his television series Man vs. Wild, known as Born Survivor in the United Kingdom. In July 2009, Grylls was appointed the youngest ever Chief Scout at the age of 35. - Chetan

Bear has been in Survival his whole life. With huge achievements in Adventure and exploration, Army and Special Force SAS, and now being the Head of Scouting at an earlier age than anyone in history. He shows people the grittiest and most varied ways of surviving mother nature. There is no one who has shown as many different survival information as Bear.

He is so cool! I watch his show all the time. He shows me I can survive in the wild longer than you think. I think he is the survival king. He will be my hero some day. Oh! Yay I forgot my friend loves him. He wants his knife so badly. I LOVE YOU BEAR. Good survival tips thanks.

He is the best survival expert. I would take him too number one because he know what you need to do in the wilderness.

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5Mors Kochanski

Mors really has a better viewpoint on what "survival" really is. Everyone else seems to just be cashing in on this movement. Not Mors. You'll never see him with a retail store or a special name sake knife. I've trained with Dave, and he does know his stuff, I'm just saying that Mors was doing real world survival and instructing when these boys were popping pimples before dates. Mors will never smear dirt on his face for a photo op, then spend his entire class selling you product. He is a survivalist, not a salesman or sitcom star.

It is insane that this guy is not at or near the top of the list. He has been an inspiration and teacher to thousands and some of the people higher up than him on this list have been taught by him and been on his courses. Being the best at survival is not about looking the coolest it is about inspiring and educating. That is what Mors has been doing for decades.

I have had the pleasure of being taught by Mors and chatting with him and I found him to be a wealth of knowledge. And never to proud to to listen to what you have to say and give you compliments if he thinks you are doing something that he hasn't or thought of before seen before

Mors was there before it was cool.

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6Ray Mears

I really like all of the other survival experts but Ray Mears I can't say enough about this guy, he actually shows you how to do everything rather than people like Bear grylls who is more like a show man who plays up for the camera bait and does stuff that you wouldn't necessarily do in a survival situation, I do think Bear and everybody else are good but for me its got to be Ray Mears!

He doesn't just parachute into the middle of nowhere and find a way out, he actually visits primitives cultures and shares information, he studies historical survival situations and learns from their mistakes. He's really intune with nature.

Ray mears is the best as he teaches useful techniques down to the last detail and he is respectful to all cultures and the environments he visits his only downside is he isn't as active or exciting during his television programmes but at the end of the day he teaches useful life skills not how to take risks that look great for the T.V.

I agree with the previous comments. Ray Mears is not a showman. What do we really need from a bush-crafts man, a survivalist? Tools that we can apply. And before that comes understanding. He gives it to you with providing plenty of details. He enlightens you, not entertain.

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7EJ "Skullcrusher" Snyder

EJ has mastered the skills and art of survival through his lifelong training. What sets EJ apart from the others is that he also has the gift to motivate and selflessly teach others. This transcends his personal skill set in that imparting this knowledge to others multiplies his expert level. EJ has nothing but my complete respect.

Served alongside this guy in the Army. He was full of survival knowledge then. Time has only made him smarter and more experienced. Hands down my pick!

Survivor of the unexpected, leader of the people, warrior, adventurer, follower of God, big heart, big dreams, vessel of courage. Go EJ! ☆

I can't think of anyone who has survived more extreme survival situations with primitive gear.

V217 Comments
8Cody Lundin

Unlike many survival experts Cody focuses less on fighting nature and more on working with it. He teaches you to rely on the land and creatures in it for the tools you need to survive more than just what you have in your pack, and he actually lives the way he teaches rather than staying in hotel rooms when he isn't being filmed.

To me, the best survival expert is the one whom most effectively passes on life saving knowledge. Cody's work relative to thermal-regulation, fire starting, and shelter building must be among the best in the world. I think he also maintains an edge in physiology, his understanding of how the body works relative to stresses is top shelf in survival instruction circles.

Cody lundin is awesome not just about surviving but aut also making the adventure smoother.

Cody for in city and the wild. He has a great psychological approach also. He doesn't run around hurried/frantic. He has a low risk, long term approach that leads to a chance of living.

V49 Comments
9Tom Brown

I took Tom's basic week long survival course and learned a lot. I learned about their advance winter course which the students are put down in Minnesota winter with just a t shirt, jeans, sneakers and a knife for 30 days and every time the students gain weight when done. What I like was the many of ways of tracking and trapping Tom teaches students to get major game quickly which then provides plenty of food, clothing and tools.

Tom is the true master. He is not concerned with making television shows, being famous, or being adored and admired (which he is anyway). He only wants to stay true "Remember the old ways, and keep them sacred". Enough said.

I have taken numerous courses over the years. His dirt time makes him exceptionally experienced. If you want survival skills with a Native background and respect for Mother Earth - this is the school. Best teacher I have come across, and I have been to many.

THE man whose books got me to learn primitive Survival skills, thanks for that!

V15 Comments
10Ron Hood

Ron Hood has done survival training since long before it was popular and is responsible for making it possible for a lot of the people on this list to even be on this list. You don't own without being the first on the scene.

Ron Hood was my friend and mentor. I never have known a more patient and personable man. I was fortunate to have spent some time with him. He belongs at number one in my opinion.

Ron Hood lived, died and educated many regarding this lifestyle. He is truly - THE MAN!

Ron's excellent video training got me started on this road. The breadth of his knowledge and experience were evident in all that he taught. Practical, no-nonsense and funny.

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The Newcomers

?Darrin Reay

His life style is almost completely off grid. His skills and ability to do more than merely survive in any environment with minimal tools is amazing.

?Jeff "Biddy" Whitfield

He trained most of them!

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The Contenders

11Lofty Wiseman

How the hell is Lofty not in the top three if not number 1? This is the guy that wrote the SAS survival handbook after having served with them for 26 years and been in just about every survival situation and climate on the planet! This is the survival instructor that the likes of Bear and The Hawkes wish they were! Come on guys so your homework instead of just voting for who's currently on T.V. A lot or has the most YouTube videos! Lofty Wiseman is the real deal and deserves to be at the top of the list

Lofty was a hard man and unstoppable in his SAS days. He gained his knowledge from actually living it. Real situations behind enemy lines bringing the hot steel to the evil people of the world. For that alone he gets extra credit. He wrote the book on survival and others have been copying his teachings for the last 40 years. Also got a hug from the guy a couple of months ago. Was like hugging me old granddad :-) the guy is a legend!

What a guy. I bought Lofty's original book back in 1983 I think and still have the copy. He should be top of the list. I went on one of his weekender courses recently which was top notch for the beginner. My pal who also attended is going on the advanced five day course. Hope it goes well. My choice would be Lofty first then Cody for keeping it real.

Sas survival guide is the best book for survival knowledge

V18 Comments
12Kellie Nightlinger

Kellie has lived off the grid since 2012. No running water. No electricity. No indoor plumbing. She camps somewhere different in Alaska every night spring summer and fall. In late fall early winter, she lives off the grid at her remote mountain log cabin she is building on the Contintental divide. She is one of a kind. She hunts, fishes, gathers, traps, snares her wild food. She eats wild every day. She lives alone and works alone to accomplish her daily off grid chores. She never complains and thrives in harsh, wild environments. Check her out at the first woman on Naked and Afraid-Terror in Tanzania Discovery Network, TLC's Strange Love-Popeye and the Wild Woman where she takes a city guy to her mountain cabin for two days in the winter, and as a survival T.V. show host on two episodes of World Wonder X only available on Tokyo Broadcasting Network where she taught a famous Japanese comedian how to survive for 72 hours on a remote South Pacific isolated island. She lives it breaths it and she is best in the wild living wild. She should be hosting her own survival T.V. show.

Kellie is the best at what she does. She has been put to the test many times and always survived.If I was lost anywhere in the world I would want Kellie with me. I know that with Kellie, we would survive! Thank you all for your time!

Kellie needs to be in the top as she is very compassionate and is very good at what she does and what she believes in.
Kellie has a vast store of knowledge of what it would take to survive in good times or bad.
Kellie is in such great physical shape that she and can swim the 6.75 mile mackinaw straits in Michigan.
Who else in the survival world that could do that or even attempt to swim the 6.75 miles in the frigid lake waters of lake Michigan and she done it over 5 times.

Her knowledge of piloting all types of boating crafts from kayaks to luxury 65 ft plus yachts gives her a heads up on everyone else plus she getting her 100 ton pilot license. There is no survival expert that can do what Kellie is able to do.

Kellie is an expert making with all types of primitive weapons from making atlatls for throwing arrows/spears to making handmade longbows and shooting compound bows as well.
She is a top shooter that is able to hit a wild Guinea fowl with one shot.
She knows how to survive with nothing in the wild and yet can make a wild gourmet meal that will melt your taste buds.
She has excellent tracking skills as well as hunting and fishing that is second to none in her ability to bring home any wild game.

She has built a log cabin off grid in Montana and is living off grid in Alaska and knows how to make primitive shelters and is able to take advantage of any thing in the wilderness for a shelter for survival.
Kellie is capable of surviving the toughest challenge anywhere in the world and she has proven that she has what it takes to survive.

Kellie is Number 1 in my book.
I would trust in her knowledge and vast experience that I would rather be with Kellie Nightlinger in any survival situation. I would trust and put my life to her hands in any situation good or bad.

If I got lost or stranded in the wild, I want Kellie to be my sidekick. No question she is a survivalist, but she is also a compassionate team player who puts others first. I know, having worked with her on and off for three years, I have seen her in action and know she would never leave me behind unless she knew it was the only option for US to survive. I can go on and on, but no need to as others have said it all.

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13Matt Graham

It's rare you can find a man go anywhere in the world and feel like he's on vacation. Cool, relaxed, & always informational. Guy brings a brand new aspect to television survival shows and the things he teaches aren't new techniques but forgotten. Plus being able to spit water in a cup, have Joe Teti drink it, then explain the water extraction process was funny. Between Matt and Les in my books.

Loved dual survival with cody and dave. wish it could be cody and matt now! I was gonna stop watching the show once joe replaced dave but I love matt! He is so happy and carefree we could all learn to ne happier if we lived more like him!

This list is a popularity contest, not who is truly the best survivalist. Take all 50 people above Matt on the list and put them in the Utah desert for years on end and see how they fare.

Matt is great and should be number 1

V14 Comments
14Horace Kephart

Horace deserves to be in the top 5.

Horace is great at his craft.

An old school legend.

15Thomas Coyne

Thomas isn't a T.V. personality, but he does get out and live the life. I would put him against any of the rockstar survival experts and my money would be on him to come out on top in most every situation.

You've got my vote thomas!

Thomas is the real deal because he not only knows how to survive in a diverse range of wilderness environments, but he's able to effectively instruct others in the survival skills he's developed and used for decades. And his methods work and make sense. His goal is to teach the practical and useful real-world survival skills that can save your life, not offer a watered down experience that a lot of other survival schools market to city folk. I trust him and I'd highly recommend his courses to anyone interested in actually living through a critical situation in the wilderness.

Thomas, is the best! He looks out for your best interest, making sure you understand. And knows what needs to be done. Now that's a leader! Thank you!

Thomas is the all weather Top Survival Man!

V14 Comments
16George W. Sears

Dave canterbury can read?

17Mike Pewtherer

He does what he teaches - totally humble and willing to learn from anyone and share what he knows. I have one of his books and is really very good.

The guy knows his stuff - the details in his book are where it becomes very clear!

Totally versatile and EXPERIENCED, he puts in the time doing what he writes about

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18Micheal James Patrick

I've watched him use rocks to shape a bow drill with hemlock root cordage as he casually explained the tracks, edible pants, and even the bird behavior. He got a fire without a knife from "nothing" for our school group in a little over forty minutes. Since then I learned from him and his instructors at the Maine Primitive Skills School and have been passionate about the skills ever since. Check out what he produces on the web at to get a sense of how in-depth the knowledge base is!

Words can't express what this man has to offer. He shared with me a connection to nature that no one owns. I now share that same connection with my students. I've met other people on this list as well. I have few doubts that he belongs at, or near, the top.

His approach is very well-rounded. Extremely knowledgeable. Teaches using hands-on experience. It's all about the dirt time. Incredible community of skilled individuals.

The Maine Primitive Skills School has an incredible amount of knowledge to offer for everyone. Mike has so much to offer this world!

V11 Comments
19Creek Stewart

I've known Creek for a couple of years now and am convinced that he thoroughly knows his stuff! He is so down to earth, both in his demeanor and In his survival philosophy, that he can reach and train any one person In this world with practical, real life application of survival skills. He is very approachable and I have worked with him in the past with a public health television project and is by far one of the most energetic and knowledgable topic experts that I have had the privilege to film.

Creek is a great hands-on instructor and, as an Eagle Scout, preaches that we all BE PREPARED. Information you can use and being very active on social media brings his message to the forefront.

He's also a great guy who is very approachable and takes the time to talk and teach anyone who shows interest.

Down to earth common sense approach to survival with a twist that helps people to clearly understand the necessities necessary for wilderness survival. Good tips and simple explanations. Great show to learn the basics from. He also adds in the psychological demands that survival requires.

This is a man full of knowledge and skills and experience and wisdom beyond his years!

V23 Comments
20Dave "Mitch" Mitchell

I loved the video when he camped out in the winter in a wool blanket lean-to. It was snowing hard, and turned into a full blown blizzard. The snow weight sagged his lame shelter to about a foot off the ground. What did our young Canterbury castoff survival expert do? He went back in the house! He was camped in his backyard! Lol. Total poser. Like his former mentor, he videos survival topics AS HE LEARNS THEM, and passes it off as things he's known since way back. His fanboys scamper to protect him, too. Pathetic phony.

This gentleman puts out top notch YouTube videos. His expertise is plainly evident, and his instructional technique is without reproach.

Great YouTube channel, very knowledgable and underrated. Teaching skills surpass most others out there. This guy needs his own show. Support Mitch

He's doing pretty good on Vancouver Island!

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List StatsUpdated 5 Oct 2015

3,000 votes
89 listings
3 years, 120 days old

Top Remixes (52)

1. Mykel Hawke
2. Mors Kochanski
3. Les Stroud
1. David Canterbury
2. Ron Hood
3. Mykel Hawke
1. Matt Graham
2. EJ "Skullcrusher" Snyder
3. David Canterbury

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