Go Away With … Les Stroud


By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
March 4, 2014

Best known as the creator, star and producer of the popular television series “Survivorman,” Les Stroud also is a bestselling author, advanced survival trainer for the Canadian Military Armed Forces and a musician who has written theme songs for his multiple on-air projects. “Everything I’ve ever done has really been about connecting people to the natural world,” says the 52-year-old Canadian. “When I tour later this year, I’ll be trying to bring everything together in a two-hour show with my music, video imagery of stuff that no one else has and some intimate storytelling. I’ll do this while I continue to film my show, of course.”

Besides “Survivorman,” Stroud has “Survivorman Bigfoot” and “Survivorman and Son” (filmed with his 16-year-old child, Logan) in the works. Fans may keep track of Stroud on Twitter.

Q. Have you been to any place where you literally thought, “This is it. I need help or I won’t get out of here alive”?

A. No. There are areas like in the middle of the Amazon jungle that have more than their fair share of dangerous moments. But I’ve done this a long time. I’m careful. I’m prepared and know how to survive.

Q. Because of all the roughing it that you do for your job, do you enjoy luxury trips?

A. Absolutely! That’s the way I do it, if I can. A lot of people think that because of what I do and who I am I would never take a luxury trip. Even when I go camping, I pamper the heck out of myself. I like to be comfortable. I’ll bring fondue sauces and wine. I’m not eating bugs on my non-work trips! If I go to Vegas, I want to go to a nice restaurant and then go see Cirque du Soleil.

Q. Where will you go to next?

A. I’m going to do a personal pleasure trip to the Amazon in a couple months.

Q. Do you travel with insect repellent?

A. Never. Canadian mosquitoes may bite me but I never react to them. I don’t even get a bump. But I’ll get itchy when bitten by mosquitoes in some other areas. Black flies? They’ll take little chunks out of you that are uncomfortable. There is the physiological aspect where I have grown immune to certain things. But there is also a strong element of mind over matter. I know that’s such a cliche, but I’m so comfortable existing in situations where there are a horrendous amount of bugs. That works to my benefit.

Q. Where would you like to get to that you haven’t visited yet?

A. Nepal. I think that’s on a lot of people’s wish lists, to visit the mountains and climb them.

Q. What are some favorite destinations?

A. The Canadian Arctic and the high Andes of Peru. I went down to Costa Rica for five days just to chill.

Q. Given the choice, would you prefer to eat off a street cart or go out for fine dining?

A. I’m always seeking out the best and finest restaurants with the greatest dining experience! I’ve become a total foodie. You can eat all the steak that you want, but sometimes you need a good cheeseburger. But I don’t do street carts. I got traveler’s belly during one trip and never again.

Q. How important is it for people to get things like their Hepatitis A shots and other vaccinations before traveling overseas?

A. I think it’s important, but also overblown. My daughter does trips with school and they want to pump kids up with every inoculation. For instance, some people might think they need to take malaria pills before going to Peru, even though they’re going to be thousands of miles away from where there’s any malaria. You don’t want to put toxic chemicals in your body for no reason. Don’t just go and get shots because someone thought you should. Research where you’re going to be. See what your doctor recommends. Then make an informed decision.

Q. How much did you travel when you were a child?

A. We didn’t take any trips. I grew up on the west end of Toronto. We did have our cottage in (Ontario’s) Lake Country. I’d make my own trips by going out our back door to explore the forest. That was a lot of fun. I was a late bloomer when it came to travel. It wasn’t until I was around 25 that I went on a canoeing trip with a church group to northern Ontario and I fell in love with everything about the trip.

Q. When did you realize you had an affinity for the outdoors?

A. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. Even as a teen, I remember going to party in the bush with my buddies, and half the guys were worried we wouldn’t be able to find our way back home. I’d say, “Let’s keep going and see if we get lost!” I don’t know why. It’s just always been in my DNA.

Q. To people who fear going anywhere without a GPS or map, what do you recommend?

A. Do not rely on anyone else. Rely on yourself. In outdoor situations, I see a lot of spouses where the husband has the backpack with all the supplies and the wife has nothing. Or where the parents have everything with them and the kids have nothing. No one thinks they’ll get lost going to the bathroom, but it happens. Let’s say you move away from your group to relieve yourself in privacy and when you come out, you’re turned around and can’t find your group. If your partner has everything, you’re in danger. People want to let me do everything and I have no problem taking the lead. But it’s irresponsible to go out into the wilderness without having your own survival supplies with you.

Q. What is a romantic trip for you?

A. You mean something that doesn’t involve scorpions or catching bugs? (Laughs) It’s not just the destination, but what you make of it. I think it would be fascinating to go to Thailand and spend 10 days in a yoga retreat and get couples massages. I’m an excellent dancer and would love to take a trip where we could dance into the evening. Even a camping trip can be romantic if you do it right. I’m prone to making sure that a woman is as comfortable as can be on a canoe trip. And that when we reach our destination, there’ll be some nice wine and fondue or whatever she likes waiting for her.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. Cheesecake, Guinness (beer) and often a pack of Sweet Tarts (candy). Also, the big, special effects fantasy movies! Last week, my son and I watched a lot of them together. We re-watched the second and third parts of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Q. What are some memorable trips you’ve taken with your children?

A. I’d have to say for sure a trip to the west coast of Vancouver. It was a phenomenal trip. I’ve been fortunate enough to take them many places because of the show. I took my son diving in Fiji. I took both kids to Africa. They were young and adorable and those trips were a lot of fun.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. Best trip memory would be taking part in the ceremonies I did in Peru with all the high priests and shamans. That’s a highlight. The worst would revolve around something I mentioned earlier, when I suffered from traveler’s belly. I was in Sri Lanka curled up in the bathroom in agony in the middle of the night. I’ve broken bones before playing hockey and that was nothing compared to what I went through that night.

© 2014 JAE-HA KIM


Stroud’s team posted the link to this column on his Facebook Page:

Les Stroud screencap

Comments (16)

  1. Lois Olds Hains says:

    amazing guy

  2. A.t. Hiker says:

    how about a trip on one of his survival tests

    • Chris Cullum says:

      I would LOVE that ^^^^ . A real chance to learn from the master. I’m available Les, whenever you are.

  3. Bobby Scruggs says:

    definetly one of my ourdoor heros and seems like such a cool guy to talk to! wish he’d come out to southern california! id love to meet him, and at least hike with him!

  4. Lazaro Posada says:

    When is the bigfoot episode going to air les?

  5. Terrie Lynn says:

    Looking forward to survivorman Bigfoot & survivorman & son!

  6. Don Woodson says:

    Les, ever considered making your shows a little more instructional? As in proper snare construction and placement? Various fish traps? Or even a floating duck blind and actually using it to swim up underneath ducks and pulling them under?

  7. Glenda Miller says:

    I honestly would like to hear Les’ thoughts on that new, “out there” survival series, “Naked And Afraid.”

  8. Lynne Castaldo says:


  9. Karen Lape says:

    Have you ever considered taking a fan with you?

    • Nate Butler says:

      I even asked about that idea, BUT he would definitely have to go through a special screening process, because this is not a fun time vacation, it’s not for everyone, and there are real dangers from animals, parasites, bugs, diseases, physical injury and more. I am sure the producers and Les himself don’t want to be liable for someones death or serious injury. I would Seriously want to go with, but I have some experience in the woods, and such. I might not be as ready to eat some of the critters, but I know a good fair amount of the wild edibles.

  10. Colleen Durkin says:

    Packed and ready…lol

  11. Laura Appelbaum says:

    I’m surprised you don’t use bug spray for ticks; how do you deal with these ubiquitous and often dangerous little critters?

  12. Diann Heroneme says:

    Thank you for sharing this interview Web Girl. I liked Les’ statement ‘Do not rely on anyone else. Rely on yourself.’

  13. Sean Woods says:

    (LES)- Surviorman and Friend in the Great Smoky Mountains!! LETS DO THIS!!! lol

  14. Scott Sellars says:

    Les Stroud is the KING of his domain, very talented.. Hello from Maryville, TN. I’ve been a fan since the beginning!! Wishing you and yours “safe travels and God bless” !!

Join the Discussion

Psssst! Your E-mail address will not be published.

Name *

E-mail *