Bear Grylls is known around the world for his outdoor adventure and survival knowledge, as well as from hosting several hit TV shows, most notably Man vs. Wild. Having served three years in the British SAS Special Forces, overcome a free-fall parachute accident, climbed Mount Everest at age 22, and embarked on many other adventures, Bear knows a thing or two about outdoor gear. It seems only natural that he start his own extreme outdoor gear product line with Bear River International (BRI).
Matthew Bush has been integrally involved in the Bear Grylls product line, from initial design and testing to sales and marketing. With almost two decades of experience in the outdoor industry, spending much of that time as a gear tester for outdoor companies such as MSR, Sierra Designs, The North Face, Gregory, Princeton Tec, and Montrail, and having gone on many adventures across the globe, he was the perfect match for BRI and the new Bear Grylls camping line.
Tripleblaze had a chance to sit down with Matthew and get the inside scoop on this exciting product line.
Tripleblaze: How did the idea for this new collection of outdoor gear come about?
Matt: As Bear continued to gain popularity worldwide and had a growing success with his top selling knife and clothing line, we approached him to develop a line of camping gear that would really get his fans off the couch and into the outdoors where they belong. Bear was a dream to work with. He had great ideas, was open to new opportunities, and was, of course, the best gear tester we could dream of!
TB: Who has been key in the development, testing, etc?
Matt: Jessica Zarin Kessin (VP of design) and myself (technical specialist) developed the initial design and specs. Bear came back after every design & prototyping stage with feedback on everything from design to field-testing. Bear Grylls himself, as well as many of his ex-special ops crew members, have thoroughly tested (more like punished) our gear to the extremes. I must say that I’ve been gear testing for years, and if I ever put the gear through half of what Bear and his team did, I would probably never be asked to test again. It has also been fully tested by all the crew instructors and participants of the Bear Grylls Survival Academies, all of which have given fantastic feedback of our gear.
TB: Who is this line geared toward?
Matt: Our BG Camping line was designed for anyone who wants a feature-packed, quality-built, good-looking piece of equipment, all for an amazing value. In other words, we have designed this line to be what we consider the “Beginning of the Good Stuff,” which is why we put a lifetime warranty on most of our products. As a leader for Boy Scouts worldwide, Bear wanted his camping line/kit to not only satisfy your hard-core camper but also be affordable enough that Scouts could save and get their hands on it. We are not aiming for the super high-end gear junkies who are willing to pay for the newest and lightest materials; we wanted this line to be more accessible than that. We are confident that our product will hold its own against the competition and that everyone from your most hard-core Bear Grylls fan, to the weekend warrior, and your occasional family camper, will be able to take their next adventure up a notch with any of our camping products. We have gotten some criticism for doing car camping gear in addition to backpacking gear, but we feel that if it gets people outside at any level, we are doing our job.
TB: I understand that Bear Grylls has personally tested each product, what qualities does he look for in his gear?
Matt: In Bears words “ROBUST!” Bear has always leaned toward dependable products that can take a beating and keep on performing. As Bear always says, “being prepared and having the right kit/gear could mean the difference between life or death”. He likes a no-nonsense design with clean lines and “not so much fluff on the outside to get caught on.” You can see what his contestants put the gear through on NBC’s Get Out Alive this past season… that is nothing compared to what he has done to it!
TB: What is your personal favorite product from this new collection?
Matt: That, of course, is not an easy question to answer because I’m a fan of all of our products, and they all serve a very specific purpose. If I were to be forced to choose some favorites, they would be the Cascade tents for backpacking, and [the] Easy Up Hub on the Rapid Series tents for car camping will blow your mind. I’m also a personal fan of the Dream Weaver sleeping pad with its unique design and function. Lastly, the Patrol 45 backpack is probably my favorite of the packs. It has a great fit as well as a ton of great hidden features.
Stay Tuned for More on Bear Grylls Gear
If you are as excited as we are and want more info on the BG camping line, keep your eyes on the Tripleblaze.com blog for our gear reviews, or head over to the Bear Grylls online store to see the whole product line.
A special thanks to Matthew at Bear River International for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us.