What You Never Knew About Bear Grylls

In a world where reality shows are usually a sham, there's still one superstar that actually is sleeping outside and surviving on his own urine. Bear Grylls is the guy to beat.

Grylls is best known for his Discovery series Man vs. Wild (which ran until 2011), where he shared tips each week on how to make it in the middle of nowhere. He's somebody to listen to, as well. Grylls has successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest, was a survival expert in the British Special Forces, and has even conquered the craziest terrain imaginable — the entertainment industry.

While viewers have seen Grylls during his most vulnerable moments while trekking it on television — after all, he's naked quite often out in nature — there are still quite a few facts that fans would be fascinated to know about this celebrity survivalist. If you give him a guitar, he'll sing you the ultimate campfire song. If you challenge him to karate, he'll beat you because he's a black belt. Here are a few other things you never knew about Bear Grylls.

Bear Grylls' first TV appearance was in a deodorant commercial

We all know how Bear Grylls finds himself in many extreme circumstances while on television. Not surprisingly, his big break onto our TV screens put him in the middle of another pretty sweaty situation. It was a starring role in a deodorant commercial.

In 2003, Grylls was approached to appear in the advertisement after his monumental trek up Mount Everest. He was only 23 years old when he became the youngest person ever to reach the top of the mountain five years beforehand (via BearGrylls.com).  

Like his successful climb up the summit, the commercial catapulted his media career. It immediately became campaign of the week and brought attention to the young adventurer. Documentaries were developed about his outdoor encounters, and, eventually, Discovery Channel approached him to star in a series called Man vs. Wild (via AMW). "I always knew what I loved," Grylls explained to Newsday. "It was always about being outside with my dad, climbing or making stuff, and getting in and out of scrapes. That was how it all started."

Spoiler alert: his first name isn't Bear

For a man who enjoys spending time out in the wilderness so much, the Man vs. Wild celeb couldn't have been given a more fitting name than Bear. However, it's not his real name (unlike, surprisingly, Liam Payne's kid).

Born as an Edward, the name was way too fancy for someone who always enjoyed getting their feet dirty — or so his older sister said. Friends and family began shortening his name to Ted and then to the even friendlier nickname Teddy Bear, and finally shortened it to — well, you get the idea. He's been called Bear for quite some time.  

"Everyone always asks, 'Did you wrestle a bear when you were young?'" Grylls laughed as he told ABC News. We've got to admit, that would have been an even more amazing story. Luckily, long before television came calling, he already had this successful stage name. "It's actually more that I had an older, bossy sister who said, 'Edward's such a boring name,'" he added.

Bear Grylls owns an island

Bear Grylls spends a lot of time on deserted islands. So much so that he actually decided to live on one. In 2001, Grylls and his family of five purchased a 20-acre island off the coast of Wales to build their remote home on (via Radio Times). While it may seem like the perfect place to escape the paparazzi and relax after running around in the wild, it's not exactly the oasis most of us would expect. There's no running water, and, unfortunately, Grylls can't watch himself on TV because there's no electricity either. At least it's precisely what he's used to when he's out adventuring?  

To keep their house at a habitable temperature, the Grylls family built it up with limestone walls that are two feet thick. "But when those gales come in, you can still feel it almost shake," he told Vanity Fair, which sounds genuinely terrifying!

He holds the world record for the highest formal dinner party

Setting world records out in the wilderness seems to be Bear Grylls' thing. The sky truly is the limit for what this man can do — except in 2005, when he decided to attempt a new record up in the atmosphere.

Grylls put on a tuxedo, hopped in a hot air balloon, and hosted the world's highest formal dinner party. Along with two other guests, he enjoyed a three-course meal at almost five miles above the earth. The menu consisted of asparagus tips, duck a l'orange, and fruit terrine. When they were done dining, they saluted the Queen and skydived back down to the ground (via The Guardian).

At one point, Grylls was hanging upside down from the dinner table and lost his oxygen mask. "This is where it kind of gets a little bit higher stakes, I suppose," he said. At least they were able to enjoy some beautiful weather up there! It was -58 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bear Grylls met his wife while he was skinny dipping

When Bear Grylls met the love of his life, he was doing the last thing any of us want to be during a moment as magical as that. He was skinny dipping. However, maybe it's not that big of a shocker if you're a devoted fan of his shows on Discovery Channel. He's in the nude quite often.

It was a few months before heading to Mount Everest when it happened. Grylls was getting in the water for his regular New Year's tradition when he spotted a woman walking by on the shore. At that point, a wave took his clothes away that were sitting on the sand, and he was scrambling to pick them up when Shara stopped to help him. "It was the worst time in the world to fall in love," he admitted on Piers Morgan's Life Stories, adding, "[She] probably felt sorry for me — this weird man running around."

When Grylls arrived back from Mount Everest, he knew he had to marry her. To make the moment super special, he decided to propose in the same way he met her, so they went skinny dipping. It's kind of like their own rendition of Dating Naked, huh?

His injuries have almost ended his career

It shouldn't come as a shock that Bear Grylls has sustained too many injuries to count while surviving in the craziest places. However, there was one injury that almost ended it all. Before Grylls broke the world record for the youngest man to climb Mount Everest, he broke his back. "I left that hospital with a fire inside to live life boldly and with gratitude," he told The Telegraph. "I had been given a second chance and that doesn't always happen."

He headed out again into the world and has since broken a lot more bones and been bitten by an assortment of animals. In 2019, Grylls knocked on death's door a second time when he was stung by a bee that put him into shock while shooting one of his shows (via Daily Star). Nowhere seems to be safe for him.  

Massive scars are another thing that can be seen all over his body. It's, unfortunately, just part of putting on a show as a survivalist. The one he gets asked about often is on his chest. "People always ask if the unglamorous scar on my chest was from wrestling a crocodile or something crazy," Grylls told Men's Health. After all, we can only assume. "I was taking a hot pizza out of the oven in a hurry while wearing swimming trunks."

Bear Grylls is worth $25 million

After conquering Mount Everest, Bear Grylls wasn't searching for money — only for more mountains to climb. "I might never make any money, but it's going to be an adventure," he explained to ABC News.

For someone known for surviving with very little, Grylls actually has a lot. As of this writing, this celebrity survivalist is worth $25 million (via Celebrity Net Worth). Between the books he's written, television shows he stars in, and merchandise he sells, Grylls has quickly become a millionaire. "It's great not having to worry about paying the bills," he said on Piers Morgan's Life Stories, so there's really no reason he should be spending so much time sleeping outside.

This is exactly what got him in trouble in 2007. He made headlines for staying in a hotel one night while shooting his show. As Grylls explained, his son had just been born, and he was eager to see his family. He booked them all a room and headed back to "set" as soon as the sun came up.

It hardly ever happens, he explained further at a press tour. "Often at nighttime, [the crew] will get helicoptered out, and they might have to recharge camera batteries and hand in footage, and then they leave me a little minicamera for the night stuff, and they come and rejoin me in the morning" (via Reuters). Grylls roughing it is very real. He just makes sure to fit in time with family on occasion.

You'll be surprised by Bear Grylls' biggest fear

With all of the terrifying encounters Bear Grylls has experienced out in the wild, it wouldn't seem like he's scared of anything at all. However, every human has their fair share of fears, and Grylls' may just surprise you. "Cocktail parties," he admitted on an episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls. "I'm not joking. I get, like, the fear of God."

For being both a celebrity and a public speaker, Grylls is still pretty shy. Surprisingly, on his newest television series, he's forced to socialize with other stars as he shares survival tips with them while out in the wilderness. "I've learned that the best way over our fears is right bang through the middle. It really is," Grylls shared during a conference in Dubai (via BBC). "The only way you don't see the fear is when you're right on it." Running Wild with Bear Grylls has featured big names like Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Ben Stiller, and Nick Jonas (via epguides). Obviously, Grylls doesn't easily get starstruck.

Bear Grylls is the world's youngest Chief Scout

There's no denying that Bear Grylls is seriously the ultimate Boy Scout. Aside from teaching the world how to survive the wilderness on television, it only makes sense that he mentors young men as a scout leader. In 2009, Grylls broke yet another world record when he was named the youngest Chief Scout at 34 years old (via Guinness World Records).

While his world records are astounding, the ultimate honor was appointed to him by the Queen of England. Grylls was officially named an OBE — Officer of the Order of the British Empire — for his work with young people (via The Telegraph). The title is so important to this outdoor enthusiast that he even has it listed on his Instagram profile.

There's a real reason why he volunteers with adolescent expeditionists. Even as Grylls goes all over the world sharing his survival tips, there's a simple something he wants to hit home with them. "Get out there and live life a bit and live it boldly. Don't be scared to take some risks and push the boundaries a bit," he explained to LAist. "This is a message I'm trying to get to the Scouts."

He offers in-person survival classes to the public

Aside from watching any of his successful television shows, "so many people have asked me over the years where they can learn extreme, practical survival," Bear Grylls once revealed. In order to gain firsthand experience for anyone who aspires to rough it in the wilderness, he created the Bear Grylls Survival Academy in 2012 (via Bear Grylls Survival Academy).

Though none of the classes are taught specifically by Grylls himself — after all, he has a pretty strenuous schedule between shooting his show and, you know, surviving in the middle of nowhere — all of the lessons were laid out by Grylls himself. His experience as a part of the British Special Forces influenced much of the content. Anybody, from the experienced outdoor enthusiast to your average air conditioning loving family, is able to master what it takes to make it in the wild.

The program is now available in the United Kingdom, the United States, and China.

Bear Grylls never wanted to be a TV host

Bear Grylls has been popping up on our television screens for nearly two decades. His shows are what has given him his successful career — that and cold, hard cash — so it's a bit shocking to hear that he originally wanted no part in being broadcast to the world. "I never knew anything about TV, and I certainly never wanted to be a TV host," he admitted to ABC News.

It was after speaking with other nature enthusiasts that he knew he was doing a good deed. Many fans felt inspired and empowered after seeing him survive in the wild. It wasn't just because he taught them how to manage in the middle of nowhere, either. In the wild, like in life, Grylls was being tested and always triumphed.

Aside from receiving inspiring words from all over the world, Grylls also gets asked some crazy questions. "People come up to me and go, 'You're the dude who slept in that camel.' Or, 'You're the dude who drank your own urine,'" he told The New York Times. "And I keep thinking, at the end of my life, do I want to be known as the person who slept in a camel and drank my own urine?" The answer to that has always been yes. "Maybe there are worse things to be known for," he added.

There's one line Bear Grylls wouldn't cross

Though Bear Grylls is up for any adventure that's thrown his way, he understands that not everybody else is up for a treacherous task — even those celebrities who volunteer to be on Running Wild with Bear Grylls.

In 2015, Barack Obama happened to be the one starring alongside the excursionist. Apparently, he's a big fan of the show and was ready to embark on an adventure. Yet, just behind-the-scenes, producers were set on getting him to do something pretty unenjoyable. It's something that Grylls has had to do time and time again — drink his own urine. Yikes.

Grylls, of course, isn't from the states, but it seems he has the utmost respect for the former president. "I jumped in and said 'Guys, we're done,'" Grylls admitted to The Sun. "I'm not asking him to do that. We're moving on.'" In fact, Obama had to have many precautions in place in order to be a part of the production in the first place. Secret Service had to be present, and a large "black crate" was even kept nearby for him to crawl into, ready to be airlifted out by helicopter in the event that "everything goes wrong" (via The Jonathan Ross Show).

While they may be out in the wild where dangerous things are likely to happen, these celebrity guests still can't show up to their other expensive projects with broken bones. "My job is always to listen and to look after them on the journey," Grylls said.