13/01/2014 08:20 GMT | Updated 12/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Book Review: My Outdoor Life by Ray Mears

We all have them don't we; stolen moments of fantasy! Where we imagine doing something out of our comfort zone and turning our lives into one great big adventure! These tend to find me on the London underground, on my depressingly dull way home from work. How many of us rarely step out of that cotton wool world we've created for ourselves?

Perhaps we need a little inspiration?

Environmentalist, humanitarian and adventurer, such words are rarely uttered together when describing a person's character. Certainly this climate craze has caused many of us to detest humanity and its blinded effort in killing the Earth. The reality though; we are the Earth's latest infestation of fleas. But ignorant are we to our hosts awesome power; able to shake us off at a given moment, like any other pest it had suffered before us.

In his book, Mears much like his successful television series' exudes a passion for humanity that extinguishes this negative reality. Humbled by people, his words portray a kind and gentle soul, captivated by the world around him. This observation arrives early in this richly adventurous account of the bushcraft expert's quest to learn all that there is to know about living with nature.


Starting in his younger years, Raymond Mears didn't feel at home unless he was in a forest. Encouraged at a time when leaving such comforts in the depths of the night seemed safer, Mears would track foxes into the early hours under the canapé of his local wood. By day, he would practice Judo, learning its philosophy and meaning of "the gentle way". Judo combined with the teachings of Mears mentor Kingsley Hopkins, would help to shape the young Ray into the calm and intelligent man that narratives us through his book like any wise together guide you'd expect to find on a well funded expedition up Everest. It was however, the abundant fascination with the outdoors that would become his lives work, taking him to every continent and visiting some of the most remote places on Earth.

The book accounts all of his adventures; from protecting an old girlfriend from rapists and thieves as she attempts to walk around the world, to taking the "Mickey" out of wise Aborigines, whose sons are better fishermen then them. Each tale introduces you to more of Mears humbled character and his love affair with nature.

Often confused with the "Born Survivor" There are many parts of the book where Mears attempts to differentiate himself to Bear Grylls. This is understandable, as Grylls and Mears are two totally different types of survival experts; Mears informs on how to live side by side with nature, Grylls on the other hand teaches you how to beat it with various helpings of over the top "goreification" shock inducing TV nonsense.

In Mears we find the pyrotechnic tree climbing boy that came of age, never fascinated with fantasy his admiration for the real world dominates his life's path. Yet somehow expertly manages to avoid the imagination crushing environment of the 9 to 5 which many of us call "life". In his writing you'll find a calm and informative style that's eager for you to be inspired, sharing his vast knowledge.

After finishing the book my favourite part has to be when he was in the Arctic. There, the Inuit's younger members from the tribe asked Mears "why do you want to learn about all of this old stuff? We don't use igloos anymore; we use tents and we've got Colman stoves and petrol lighters." Mears replied, "I'm interested in that too. But it's important to me that we record the knowledge and the skills that the old guys have. When they die, a lot of what they know will die with them and those skills will disappear forever." After explaining this to the younger tribe members, Mears was overcome by how they reacted to what he had just said. I won't ruin any further details of the book for you, you'll just have to read it and find out for yourself.

My Outdoor Life is published by Hodder & Stoughton and available to buy from Amazon.