If we’re suffering from anything today, it is a complete glut of programming on TV. With hundreds and hundreds of channels and thousands upon thousands of shows, both new and old, it’s easy to feel like there is nothing new under the sun.
Everything has been done before, seen before, heard before. In a strange way, it can even make your downtime feel more draining, not less. Ugh!
But, if you are a prepper, you are in luck because there have been a surprising amount of prepping-centric and survival tv shows produced over the past few decades that are not only extremely high quality and highly entertaining but also very informative.
The following shows can give you advice on techniques and procedures, or show you some things you might have overlooked about a given environment or situation.
Check out the following 17 prepper shows and you’re bound to find a new favorite…
The past several years have seen something of a downturn in the survival genre. Compared to the 2000s and early 2010s, you might say the sector sort of ran its course.
But it might be time for a comeback with Outlast, Netflix’s new show that drops 16 individual survival experts in the remote and hostile Alaskan wilderness.
It’s basically like a cold weather Survivor but with a twist: if contestants are going to win the $1 million dollar cash prize, they must be part of a team at the end!
Interesting, because this forces teamwork where people might feel better off taking their chances on their own- just like a real survival scenario!
2. Doomsday Preppers
Arguably one of the programs that actually facilitated the resurgence in prepping or survivalism, this program showcases various preppers that are trying to get themselves, their properties and their families ready for different disasters, from the mundane to the truly apocalyptic.
It’s an interesting show because it allows you a peek into the lives and mindsets of real preppers around the country. Though it sometimes borders on the exploitative with the way they contextualize interviews, it’s still definitely entertaining and informative.
If nothing else, it might inspire you to step up your own prepping!
3. Alaska: The Last Frontier
Our second show set in the harsh and final frontier of Alaska, this Discovery Channel program follows the day-to-day existence of a family living in the remote reaches of the state. And that’s it!
There is no crazy or contrived premise, but only the actual day to day reality of living in Alaska, and that is certainly dangerous enough.
You’ll find out how real people live off the land, hunt, farm and protect themselves against the ever-present and ever-clutching cold of this pristine wilderness.
Lots of people have dreams of living on a homestead out in the middle of nowhere, but they might rethink it after watching this show.
4. Dual Survival
If it seems like a lot of these survival programs appeared on the Discovery channel, it isn’t your imagination. Although the network had some flops, it really did have an excellent all-time lineup of survival and prepping-centric programs.
Dual Survival is one of the best, with the flagship seasons pairing up two well-known survival instructors of very different backgrounds: Cody Lundin, primitive skills expert, and Dave Canterbury, founder of the Pathfinder School.
Together they would have to survive a variety of environments and situations, and seeing how they applied their skills and differing ethics to the problems at hand made for some engrossing viewing.
5. Ray Mears’ World of Survival
Ray Mears is a legend in the survival television circuit, and with good reason. This show might be said to have predated all of the modern shows we know and love, but it’s still an excellent one.
In World of Survival, Mears goes around the globe and on location to illustrate how various primitive cultures and even modern indigenous peoples survive.
It’s interesting to see how the fundamentals of survival don’t change no matter the time, place, and culture, but it’s even more interesting to see how localized survival challenges have shaped those cultures.
Great stuff if you’re preparing for austere environments!
Les Stroud is another living legend when it comes to the business of survival. And unlike many of his contemporaries’ shows, Les actually did it all himself on Survivorman.
There was no camera crew and support staff following him on his journeys out into the remote wilderness…
Not only did he actually have to survive, but he also had to film himself doing it, from traveling across raging rivers to demonstrating survival techniques.
He was, quite literally, a one-man show when it came to fieldwork! His down-to-earth, practical style and expert knowledge remains relevant today.
7. The Colony
Yet another Discovery Channel production, The Colony was a reality TV show with an interesting premise.
In it, a group of survivors was dumped into a barely-contained warehouse compound on the outskirts of a North American metropolis in the aftermath of a nebulous cataclysm.
Then, they had to figure out what they needed to survive, scavenge, design and build critical infrastructure, and interact with role players that might be honest, hostile, or have sinister ulterior motives.
Like all reality TV, lots of string-pulling from the producers behind the scenes but still a really compelling show that asked a lot of interesting questions.
8. Bear Grylls’ Escape from Hell
Bear Grylls needs no introductions for most readers, but unlike some of his more over-the-top programs Escape From Hell sees him as narrator, not participant.
In Escape From Hell, Grylls takes viewers through six different real-life accounts from survivors who faced their own trials in real-life survival scenarios.
He breaks down what they were up against, what they had to do, and what the outcomes were in detail, making it a great after-action report, of sorts, from actual events.
It had a short run, but you really can’t miss this one if you are a prepper.
9. Survive This
Every once in a while, you’ll find a show on a network where you would absolutely least expect it. Survive This, another Les Stroud show, was actually on the Cartoon Network if you can believe it!
But it’s easy to see why after you learn that all the contestants were teenagers, not even true adults yet.
The show sees all of the contestants stranded, completely alone in the deep wilderness of a secluded island and there they had to adapt by their own skills and overcome challenges in order to progress.
Again, reality TV drama tends to rear its head a bit too often, but with Stroud at the helm, the show made it a point to demonstrate entirely legitimate survival techniques and situations.
10. Man, Woman, Wild
For those of us with a significant other, day-to-day life can be stressful enough when tempers are running high.
We only need to imagine how much worse it could be in a legitimate life or death scenario if you watch man, woman, wild, you won’t have to imagine.
This show dropped survival expert Mykel Hawke and his wife Ruth England into various survival scenarios set in different environments around the country and force them to get through it together.
The chemistry between the two is obviously apparent, but some of the situations the show stuck them in were too real and legitimate close calls did occur.
An interesting take on the “survive alone” genre, Alone is an aptly named show that sees a group of 10 contestants get dropped off in truly remote and desolate areas around the world with one simple objective: survive, totally alone, for two whole months and document their own experience.
No crews, no contestants, no teammates, no contact. On the line? $500,000!
Let me tell you, you can really see the difference when someone is out there actually, truly alone with not even a film crew to keep them company!
Watching loneliness and paranoia take hold was fascinating, but also a grim warning for our own efforts. It won’t be easy…
12. Lone Target
An entirely different take on survival television, Lone Target sees former Navy SEAL, Joel Lambert, try to escape dedicated teams of military and law enforcement trackers from around the world.
It’s kind of like the Jason Bourne movies: real running man stuff, only this is a sandbox scenario where anything can actually happen.
Much of the time, Lambert’s efforts are further complicated because he’s in wilderness environments asking to get food, shelter, and water while still evading detection.
Something to keep in mind because you might have more than the elements to worry about in your own survival scenario!
13. Surviving Disaster
A show featuring another Navy SEAL, Cade Courtley but one was more of a traditional premise: Courtley and his volunteer team of survivors must negotiate various realistic survival situations, natural or man-made.
This might be anything from surviving in a remote natural environment, a plane or ship hijacking, a robbery and anything else you can think of.
During the show, Courtley attempts to give his volunteers advice and training so they can negotiate the various scenarios and then he himself will demonstrate or participate.
This is one of the few survival shows that actually tackles small-scale threats to personal safety, not just the usual disaster situations.
14. I Shouldn’t Be Alive
Another show that takes a look at true events and tells the stories of the people that lived through them.
I Shouldn’t Be Alive will show you what happened to various poor folks that wound up lost in the desert, stranded in the deep woods far from civilization and other survival situations.
Using a mix of actual survivor interviews, dramatizations, and more it makes for gripping television, but also priceless information for anyone who might find themselves in the same scenario.
I’ll warn you, some of the survivor accounts are very harrowing…
15. Dude, You’re Screwed
A funny name for a serious show with a really interesting twist. This show follows a group of contestants/hosts as they come up with various torturous, but plausible, survival situations that they take turns subjecting each other to.
But the overarching premise is usually the same: they’ll be stranded and in a bad way somewhere far, far from civilization, and then they must find their way back in 4 days with minimal supplies and no support.
Naturally, the stakes get higher and higher, and the challenge ratchets up as the show goes on and the contestants gain experience.
16. Hunting Chris Ryan
Another cat-and-mouse type survival show, Hunting Chris Ryan follows the eponymous host, retired SAS trooper Chris Ryan, as he tries to give the slip to bands of expert trackers and manhunters.
But, this is no simple game: he must also complete one of several objectives while in an area, and still take care of all of his entirely real survival necessities.
The show is famous, or rather infamous, for one episode where Ryan had to be legitimately rescued from his hide site after suffering from severe hypothermia.
Absolutely riveting stuff, and a sobering wakeup call for anyone who thinks they have what it takes to escape from skilled adversaries!
17. Wild Food
Another wonderful show hosted by Ray Mears, this one has a slightly different concept but one that is no less valuable to preppers today. Wild Food follows Mears as he travels around the globe foraging for wild edibles, be it fruit, vegetable, fungi, insect, animal or other!
And aside from being a sort of primitive shopping list, Ray also takes the time to explain in detail various modern and primitive methods for harvesting and preparing these wild edibles.
As always, Mears is a fantastic host, and the techniques he showcases are truly instructive. It’s a great show to help you appreciate the conveniences of modern technology and shelf-stable food, but also one that might teach you some life-saving skills!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.