While watching the show Could You Survive? the immediate answer that leaps to mind is almost without fail, “No”. Hosted by survival expert Creek Stewart, Could You Survive? re-enacts two genuinely life-threatening incidents per episode, with the survivors telling their frequently amazing stories. Amazing because they barely survived, and amazing because the line between a pleasant hike and near-death seems a very thin one indeed.
The landing page of Creek’s website states bluntly, “Remember, it’s not if but when.” After a few episodes, you’ll get the hang of how most of the stories start: someone goes for a walk in the woods or other remote location without supplies, map, or telling anyone where they were going. Some are experienced hikers. Some are just people having a little explore. Yet once they wander off the barely beaten track it doesn’t take much to be stranded, starving, dehydrated, and utterly lost.
These re-enactments are intercut by the subjects recounting those fateful days, but also with host Creek Stewart doing bits to camera to give added context, such as how the effects of dehydration would be seriously impairing judgement. The selling point of his parts though is his collection of survival tips. These range from rather ‘perfect storm’ solutions (by gum you better have a backpack full of cordage whenever you leave the house), through to ‘get the pad out and take notes’ hacks that work well with the bare minimum of items required. Building a seat when you are sinking in quicksand? Not likely. Making a fire using a water bottle or plastic bag? Yes!
The thigh-slapping stupidity of some of the people can be a bit annoying. Of course you don’t go potholing in the ice cave and squeeze through tiny gaps! Of course you don’t do that! However, Could You Survive? keeps things snappy with well-paced editing and direction. Plus, there are some truly nail-biting scenarios including: a couple stuck up a mountain with barely enough room to sleep; a car crash victim who breaks tons of bones and is stranded for days on end; some actual proper quicksand; and a young woman who breaks her back and has to crawl across a river bed.
It’s a shame that the eventual rescues are often not that interesting. This is hardly Touching The Void or 127 Hours and rather than an exhausting trek to safety or desperate severing of a limb, most scenarios just end with ‘and then I was found’. Regardless, Could You Survive? is clearly angled towards showcasing Creek’s survival techniques.
Creek is an affable and engaging host that is neither overly technical nor high energy irritating. He presents a multitude of wilderness tools, foods, and shelter abilities that are fascinating to watch. If he used a gung ho approach then Could You Survive? would have come across as overly brash or even exploitative. Instead, the show is perfect wind-down TV to get lost in. Just make sure you tell people where you are going, ok?
Words by Mike Record
It bothers me that while every survival skill is great, the individuals who are having to survive didn’t expect their situations so have no tools.