I can’t think of how many times I’ve seen fellow survival enthusiasts online post something like, “When TEOTWAWKI rolls around, I’m going to be ready because I spent all these years prepping—not like my neighbor so-and-so who sits around on the couch watching TV all day.”
It’s a fine sentiment, and generally speaking, I agree. But TV isn’t all a mindless distraction. In fact, you can actually learn quite a bit about survival by watching some of the best survival shows on Netflix! Just be sure you double check anything you pick up while watching TV. Not everything is accurate. I’ve picked up a lot of great information watching survival shows, but some misinformation too.
Without further a do, here is the list:
1. Man vs. Wild
This show follows ex-British Special Forces soldier Bear Grylls for five seasons as he fights to survive in brutal environments. Every episode features a different scenario in a different environment—everything ranging from frozen lakes to inhospitable deserts. On the upside, you learn a lot of useful basic skills such as how to build a fire and forage. But you also learn how to make a lot of really bad decisions, so just remember—this show is entertainment.
This fascinating series is a thought experiment based on the question, “What would happen if every person on the planet disappeared?” Each episode examines the fate of buildings, infrastructure, plants, animals, and objects left to grow or decay without human interference. TEOTWAWKI could very well involve a huge die-off of the human population. This show gives a preview of what some environments might be like.
This show is a gem in more than one way. Husband and wife Mykel Hawke and Ruth England team up in various survival situations, again in inhospitable settings with limited supplies. But whereas Bear Grylls in Man vs. Wild will often take the foolhardy or absurdly challenging route to solve a problem to show off, Mykel and Ruth usually take the more realistic approach. The other great thing about this show is that the two often squabble just as you would expect—but still manage to make their relationship work under tough conditions. That is something else all preppers need to learn!
Nine city-dwelling survival enthusiasts are dumped off in the Alaskan wilderness and must find their way back to civilization. Along the way, they will need to come up with solutions to the problems of shelter and food while battling Alaska’s harsh climate. Not everyone will make it—some team members will give up along the way. Basically, picture Survivor without the drama and nonsense. It’s a more authentic show and the scenery is breathtaking.
5. Combat Zone
This series originally aired on the Military Channel. Watching it, you hear real-life stories about various combat situations from the perspective of their participants. Some of the operations covered include the invasion of Grenada in 1983, Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and a rescue mission in a patrol boat in 1969 in Vietnam. While this show isn’t about surviving in the wilderness, it covers yet another area that all preppers need to be ready for—survival amongst our fellow human beings!
This is a fictional series developed by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski. It takes place in a fictional near future where a virus has killed the majority of the adult population. Ten years later, Jeremiah and his sidekick Kurdy must travel across a post-apocalyptic country to seek out Jeremiah’s father, a viral researcher who may be able to offer hope. Yeah, you aren’t going to learn much here in terms of real-world survival, but it’s a great show to inspire you.
This is a reality competition series that originally premiered on National Geographic. Experts Cliff Hodges and Alex Coker guide competitors who must begin at a drop point and make it to an extraction point while trying out different survival skills and techniques. Like Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment, this show features normal, everyday people taken out of city lives. It isn’t as great a watch as the Alaska show, but still worth checking out.
Looking to arm up for survival? Lock N’ Load is hosted by R. Lee Ermey, a retired U.S. marine and film star best known for his role in Full Metal Jacket. Watching this show, you will learn all about how different combat weapons were developed as well as how they work—everything from swords to rocket launchers. Watch it in any order and enjoy an entertaining and informative exploration of the world of military weapons history.
This show, hosted by Les Stroud, is a favorite among many survival enthusiasts. What sets this series apart? For one thing, there is no production crew present. It really is just Les Stroud out on his own in the wilderness filming his own journey. Harsh environments that Stroud battles his way through include everything from the Sonora Desert to the Arctic Circle. A show like this has authenticity and grit that most other survival shows lack. The survival tips and techniques are far more viable when it comes to real life. While Bear Grylls is entertaining, most of us would much rather have Les Stroud in our corner if it came down to a real-life survival situation!
10. Top Sniper
Anyone who is training up to be a marksman needs to see this show. It is a documentary which follows the annual International Sniper Competition which is held at Fort Benning in Georgia. This isn’t just any sniper competition—these guys are subjected to harsh situations which simulate combat. The competitors aren’t your average Joes either—these are highly trained military and law enforcement professionals. Watch this show and you’ll learn about shooting technique as well as tactical survival skills like camouflage and urban combat. This show gets extra kudos because it’s a true documentary. Everything you learn here is useful!