Ray Mears

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Ray Mears
Ray Mears 2021.jpg
Mears in 2021
Born (1964-02-07) 7 February 1964 (age 58)
Occupation(s)Television presenter, author
Years active1994–present
Known forBushcraft
Spouse(s)Rachel Mears
(m. 2005; her death 2006)
Ruth Mears
(m. 2009—2010)

Raymond Paul Mears (born 7 February 1964) is a British woodsman, instructor, businessman, author and TV presenter. His TV appearances cover bushcraft and survival techniques. He is best known for the TV series Ray Mears' Bushcraft, Ray Mears' World of Survival, Extreme Survival, Survival with Ray Mears, Wild Britain with Ray Mears and Ray Mears Goes Walkabout.

Life and work[edit]

Early life[edit]

Mears grew up on the North Downs, in Southern England. He attended Downside Preparatory School in Purley and then Reigate Grammar School, where he was a member of the Royal Navy section of the Combined Cadet Force.

Mears' ambition was to join the Royal Marines, but he could not meet the eyesight requirements for entry. After taking A-levels, Mears briefly worked in an office in the City of London.[1]


In 1983, Mears founded Woodlore, a company that offers bushcraft-related courses and paraphernalia.[2] It became so successful that it soon led to the trademarking of the name "Ray Mears". Mears first appeared on television in 1994 presenting the BBC series Tracks and then, in 1997, Ray Mears' World of Survival. In 2003, he presented the BBC documentary Ray Mears' Real Heroes of Telemark about the Norwegian heavy water sabotage mission during World War II.

In 2003 Mears won The Ness Award.

While filming a documentary in Wyoming, US in 2005, Mears was involved in a serious accident. The helicopter in which he and his camera crew were travelling hit the ground during a steep low level turn, and broke apart, rolling to a stop. The fuel tank was ruptured in the accident and escaping fuel covered Mears and the crew. No fire occurred, and Mears was able to escape the wreckage uninjured and assist in the rescue and administer first aid to one of the crew who was badly hurt.[3]

On 29 May 2008, Mears appeared on The Graham Norton Show where he attempted unsuccessfully to light a fire using a bow drill. Unbeknownst to Mears, the entire set had been sprayed with fire-retardant.

In 2009, Mears was approached by ITV to present a planned revival of the nature documentary series Survival.[4] The resulting three-part series was rebranded Survival with Ray Mears and broadcast on ITV1 in 2010. Each episode followed Mears as he used his tracking skills to locate bears, wolves and leopards.

In a Radio Times interview to promote the series, Mears complained of being typecast by the BBC with the result that he was not offered the opportunity to present wildlife programmes.[5] Mears was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in January 2014.[6] His choices were "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones, "English Rose" by the Jam, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by the Beatles, "Annie's Song" by John Denver, "Maria" by Blondie, "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall, "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" by Elton John and "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone.[6]

In 2009 he was awarded the prestigious Mungo Park Medal.[7]

In July 2010, Mears was asked by Northumbria Police to help them track fugitive killer Raoul Moat, after he fled his temporary tent-based shelter in the village of Rothbury.[8]

Between 2010 and 2013 he presented three series of Wild Britain on ITV.[9] The first series consisted of six 45 minute episodes, while series two and three had ten episodes of programmes lasting half an hour. Each programme would see Mears visit a different habitat in a different part of the country. The programme was a rating success, regularly featuring in the top 30 watched programmes of the week.

2013 also saw Mears write My Outdoor Life, which was a Sunday Times' Bestseller.

In 2014 he presented Wilderness Walks, where he visited six areas of natural beauty across the United Kingdom.[10] Each episode would see Mears spend day in a location exploring the local wildlife and offering advice on how to find wild food and make the most of natural resources. In 2015 he presented Wild River, a one-off episode where he explores the wildlife around the River Wye.

2016 saw him present Wild Australia where he explored the wildlife of several locations both on land and in the sea, coming across several iconic Australian species, such as the Red Kangaroo and Platypus. He then presented six episodes of Wild France,[11] travelling around the country and looking at its wildlife. Following the same format as his previous series, each programme focused on a different environment. He returned to Australia in 2017, presenting the seven part-series Australian Wilderness with Ray Mears.[12]

In 2021 he presented Wild China, a seven part series, where he visited a range of habitats and looked at several iconic animals, including Snow Leopards and Giants Pandas.[13][14]

Personal life[edit]

Mears met his first wife, Rachel, in 1992 when she attended one of his five-day survival courses. The couple lived in Eastbourne, East Sussex with her two adult children and married in 2005, after Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rachel died in 2006, aged 50, and her ashes are scattered in Ashdown Forest near their home.[15]

Mears currently lives in Sussex with his second wife Ruth and his stepson.[16]

In 2019 he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of York's archaeology department for "...his excellent representation of craft, the wilderness and public outreach".[17]



  • The Survival Handbook (1990)
  • The Outdoor Survival Handbook (1992)
  • Ray Mears' World of Survival (1997)
  • Bushcraft (2002)
  • Essential Bushcraft (2003)
  • The Real Heroes of Telemark: The True Story of the Secret Mission to Stop Hitler's Atomic Bomb (2003)
  • Ray Mears' Bushcraft Survival (2005)
  • Wild Food by Ray Mears & Professor Gordon Hillman (2007)
  • Ray Mears Goes Walkabout (2008)
  • Vanishing World - A Life of Bushcraft (2008)
  • Northern Wilderness (2009)
  • My Outdoor Life (2013)
  • Out on the Land: Bushcraft Skills from the Northern Forest (2016)
  • Wilderness Chef: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Outdoors (2020)
  • We Are Nature: How to reconnect with the wild (2021)[19]


  1. ^ Ray Mears (12 September 2013). My Outdoor Life. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-1444778199.
  2. ^ "Ray Mears – Personally Speaking Bureau". Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  3. ^ Danziger, Danny (1 June 2008). "Best of times worst of times Ray Mears". The Times. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.(subscription required)
  4. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (2 April 2009). "Survival of the fittest as ITV wildlife show returns". The Guardian. London.
  5. ^ Wightman, Catriona (16 April 2010). "Ray Mears: 'I was typecast by the BBC'". Digital Spy.
  6. ^ a b "Ray Mears". Desert Island Discs. 10 January 2014.
  7. ^ Bannerman, Gordon (25 October 2010). "Survival expert Ray Mears to visit Perth". Daily Record. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  8. ^ Jackson, Chris (6 October 2013). "Ray Mears reveals role in manhunt for killer Raoul Moat" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  9. ^ "TV review: Wild Britain with Ray Mears". the Guardian. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  10. ^ "ray mears wilderness walks - Bing". www.bing.com. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  11. ^ Wallis, Sara (11 July 2016). "Admire the dramatic scenery as we're taken to Wild France With Ray Mears". mirror. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  12. ^ "Australian Wilderness with Ray Mears (TV Series)". Radio Times. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  13. ^ "TV tonight: Ray Mears leaves Britain for a forage around China". the Guardian. 13 July 2021. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  14. ^ "TV tonight: Ray Mears leaves Britain for a forage around China". the Guardian. 13 July 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  15. ^ Thorne, Frank (9 July 2008). "TV survival guru Ray Mears on death of his wife". Daily Mirror. London.
  16. ^ "Interview: Ray Mears on his survival skills". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 21 September 2013.
  17. ^ York, Department of Archaeology University of; Manor, King's. "Ray Mears to Receive Honorary Degree from York". University of York. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  18. ^ Katsoulis, Melissa (25 April 2008). "Ray Mears discusses bushcraft and his new book about the Australian outback". The Times. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.(subscription required)
  19. ^ We Are Nature: How to reconnect with the wild. ASIN 1529107989.

External links[edit]