Even if you don’t plan on watching TV as a survival tool, it can help you learn about what works in real-life situations. TV shows about living off the grid or surviving in harsh environments range from science fiction to reality shows that put people in these kinds of situations in the real world. I’ll highlight some of the best survival and off-grid TV shows for those who already spend their free time thinking about survival situations. These shows can even help you be more prepared by allowing you to imagine hypothetical survival scenarios and see how others react in them. Enjoy!
1. Building Off the Grid (IMDb 7.5/10)
Various construction teams have discovered methods for constructing massive off-the-grid residences in off-the-beaten-path locations. My favorite part of extreme landscapes is when the houses all come together at the end! The teams frequently find themselves rushing to complete tasks before the weather changes and construction becomes impossible. If you’re interested in off-the-grid dwellings in far-flung areas, take a look.
2. Jericho (IMDb 8.0/10.0)
As all power and communication lines fail in the town of Jericho, a mushroom cloud erupts into the sky, heading toward Denver. Jericho is a fictional drama set in Kansas. Before communication was cut off, messages received indicate that the nuclear explosion was part of a coordinated attack on cities across the United States. To learn more about what’s going on, the show follows the town’s residents as they try to adapt to their new post-nuclear apocalypse world by gathering food and water supplies and re-establishing contact with the outside world. After a disagreement over trading supplies and assigning blame for disaster-related issues, the town also forms a partnership with its neighboring city of New Bern, which ends in war. During the second season, the people of Jericho come face to face with the newly formed regional government, and they decide to rise up in revolt. For a fictional show, this is excellent material!
3. Survivorman (IMDb 8.3/10.0)
An all-time favourite of preppers, Survivalist follows Canadian survival expert Les Stroud on seven- to ten-day expeditions to some of the world’s most remote locations. On these expeditions, Stroud brings only the bare necessities – like food, water, and a place to sleep – and films the vast majority of the footage himself, as there is no production crew waiting in the wings just beyond the reach of the camera. There are a lot of different environments and challenges that Stroud encounters as he travels around the world, so the “everyday” items he brings with him vary depending on what is common among the locals in that location. In addition, survivalists will benefit from this show because Stroud analyzes for himself which survival techniques work and which do not, and why.
4. Mountain Men (IMDb 7.3/10.0)
Many other survival TV shows don’t focus on surviving the harsh winters of North America, but Mountain Men does. It follows a group of outdoorsmen who are experts at surviving off the grid by hunting and trapping for food, using natural resources for winter shelters and other necessities, and safely navigating natural hazards such as avalanches, mudslides, and flooded rivers. The show follows these outdoorsmen. Mountain Men has a good reputation for being a realistic depiction of life in the mountains, but the places where the show’s main cast lives are in particularly difficult topography.
5. Alaska: The Last Frontier (IMDb 7.8/10.0)
The Kilcher family’s life on their Alaskan homestead, 11 miles outside of Homer, is the focus of Alaska: The Last Frontier. There is a lot of drama in the show, but it also shows what life off the grid looks like on an Alaskan homestead. This includes cold-weather hunting trips, ice-fishing, and preparing for winter by battening down the homestead’s doors and windows. Seasons two and three provide more in-depth looks at how to run an off-grid farming operation during the productive spring and summer months, such as moving cattle to pasture and fixing structures around the homestead as necessary.
6. The Colony (IMDb 7.8/10.0)
A post-apocalyptic experiment, The Colony pits ten people against each other in an environment designed to mimic the aftermath of the end of the world as we know it. Because of this, it was necessary for the ten strangers to band together for survival, while also fending off attacks from the production crew’s band of bandits. To keep things fresh, each episode has a different set of challenges for the survivors to overcome, from finding a reliable source of energy to trying to make contact with the outside world. After two seasons, the show featured two new sets of ten characters, each with their own unique storylines.
7. Dual Survival (IMDb 7.6/10.0)
When compared to other survival reality shows like Survivorman, Dual Survival has some similarities but also some significant differences. It includes two survival experts who work together, each with a distinct style that complements the other when necessary but clashes when it does not. For the most part, the pairs of survival experts on the show remained the same throughout the run, with only six different people appearing across the seven seasons. Similar to Survivorman, Dual Survival has an expert team with them, which takes away from the authenticity of the survival situation while also making the show more visually appealing to watch.
8. Naked and Afraid (IMDb 6.6/10.0)
During each episode of Naked and Afraid, a man and woman meet for the first time, and are then taken to a remote location without any clothing. The show is based on true events. Everyone is allowed to bring one useful item with them at the beginning of the episode, such as a fire starter, a hatchet, or another item of their choice. To get to a designated extraction point, they’ll have to travel across the landscape for at least 21 days while collecting supplies like food, water, and shelter. However, they can decide to give up earlier and request extraction. This survival show is less authentic than others because of the option to opt out and the presence of a production crew all around them.
9. Alone in the Wild (IMDb 7.3/10.0)
In Alone in the Wild, extreme photographer and survivalist Ed Wardle spends three months in the Yukon Territory of northern Canada on his own. The show is a one-season documentary. Even though he had a few essentials with him, Ed was forced to rely on hunting, fishing, and gathering food from the natural environment, as well as building a shelter for himself. The three episodes are centered on his often-futile attempts to keep up with his own food requirements while also moving camps in search of more food. Backcountry loneliness is a major theme on this show, so Ed had to spend more time alone than in most comparable survival shows. Finally, Ed asks for his extraction 50 days into the show to bring the proceedings to a close.
10. Survivor (IMDb 7.1/10.0)
Survivor is a well-known reality television show that is currently in its 37th season and has been renewed for a 38th. On the show, contestants live in the wilderness for 39 days in order to compete for a $1 million grand prize. In each new season of Survivor, a new group of strangers is split into two tribes and forced to cooperate within each tribe in order to build shelter and find food and water. Physical and mental challenges pit the two tribes against one another, and tribal council meetings ask the survivors to vote one of their own off the show, frequently interrupting the survival aspect of the show. So that no single dominant strategy can emerge, the show’s rules have been tweaked slightly each season.
11. Life Below Zero (IMDb 8.1/10.0)
It’s now the eleventh season of Life Below Zero, which examines the daily lives of a diverse group of people and families living in various remote field camps throughout northern Alaska. Subsistence hunting and gathering is the primary mode of subsistence for these people, who must find food throughout the year to keep them alive during the harsh Arctic winters. A sled dog team owner, a hunter, a Native American woman and her family, and several others who came to the Alaskan tundra from the continental US and never left make up the cast. While these people aren’t “survivalists” in the sense of many other reality survival shows, they do live off the grid and are almost entirely reliant on their own resources to stay alive in such a harsh environment as this.