9 survival secrets from the woman behind Bear Grylls

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Extreme adventurer Megan Hine talks survival and pushing your limits with Marie Claire's Editor in Chief Trish Halpin

    You may not know her name, but you’ll know her work. British adventurer Megan Hine is the phenomenal woman behind the majority of TV’s most treacherous and extreme shows, including Bear Grylls’ Mission Survive and The Island. As an expedition leader, she takes film crews into some of the world’s most dangerous and remote places. From arid deserts to stifling jungles and the highest, coldest mountains, Megan dares to go where many wouldn’t. Hell, she can even start a fire with a tampon.

    As Bear Grylls once said, ‘My best friend Megan, at the back, is the most incredible bushcraft, climbing and mountain guide you’ll ever meet. She’s stronger than 99 per cent of the men I know, she’s incredible.’ Which begs the question, when is Megan Hine going to get her own TV show?

    In the meantime, Megan spoke to Marie Claire UK’s Editor-in-Chief, Trish Halpin at Fortune Most Powerful Women 2016, on June 13. Here she shares her secret survival skills and how you can transfer them from the extreme wilderness to our everyday lives.

    Extreme adventurer Megan Hine talks to Marie Claire’s Editor in Chief at Fortune 500’s Most Powerful Women summit in London

    Push your limits
    ‘I push myself to my physical limits, to be the best that I can be. Stronger, faster. My goal is to inspire others to get out and enjoy nature, to travel, to explore. Expand your horizons and then you can master your environment.’

    Find adventure in the mundane
    ‘I have an inherent need to push boundaries. I’ve learned that you can find adventure anywhere. On childhood holidays when my dad would take us off around mountains in the UK to look for rocks, I might have thought that was boring, but I wish I had appreciated the adventure in it back then. I was fortunate to join the military cadets, which enabled me to do ice climbing in Scotland at 17 and white water kayaking at 15. I never had any female teachers accompanying me but I learned quickly that gender shouldn’t be an issue.’

    Nurture your initiative
    ‘There’s little opportunity in life to introduce activities that spark initiative. There’s something about the wilderness that calls to people, particularly when it comes to bushcraft survival, going off to the wilderness, building your fire and living off your own skills and initiative. That is appealing. There’s a rise in adventure bloggers, which are essentially people escaping the rat race to try something that excites them.’

    Step outside of your comfort zone
    ‘Getting out of your comfort zone pushes you onwards. For example today [at the Fortune 500 Most Powerful Women summit], I don’t feel nervous even though it’s very different to what I usually do because there’s overwhelming support amongst the women here. Although the business dress code was challenging because I knew I couldn’t turn up in my adventuring gear with a machete on my back! Luckily, I’m an adrenaline junkie so taking risks works well for me.’

    Focus on the moment
    ‘My forthcoming book looks at our emotional response to survival. My coping mechanisms in life or death situations can be applied to any area of your life. They’re not necessarily all the best ways of dealing with danger, but they’ve worked for me when facing life or death situations. The most important thing is focusing on what’s going on in that moment rather than being distracted by what’s going on around you.’

    Know your habitat
    ‘Humans are far more terrifying than animals because they’re more unpredictable. I’ve come into contact with bears and been stalked by lions, which is quite terrifying but I put myself into their habitat and I always understand the risk I take. But people are much more unpredictable, particularly in how they react to a female. There are certain areas of the world where I would have disappeared without having male company, which is scary. As I’m travelling more now, the world is becoming less stable and something I’ve noticed is that high profile people at risk of death threats want their children to be trained in escapism for if they become targets for ransom. The focus is on what would the children do in a life or death situation? They need to run.’

    Megan Hine with Bear Grylls

    Embrace being a woman
    ‘Sexism isn’t the word, it’s just a lack of understanding in some areas. People have this misconception that adventurers are gnarly men with beards and they somehow think that having a female doing that job will undermine their manliness. I recently spoke to an executive producer who told me when he first met me he thought I was kind and that perhaps that was a weakness, but he said he’s since realised it most certainly isn’t a weakness, it’s an asset. There’s a difference between how women and men interact with other people in stressful situations and those skills [empathy] are equally important as any physical strength.

    Surround yourself with people you trust
    ‘Bear [Grylls] is really inspiring and what he’s done to encourage young people and adults to get back into the outdoors is incredible. Having that trust and relationship with him and the team is amazing to be a part of and has enabled us to do some incredible things. I also have my amazing dog who comes along to a lot of my jobs in Europe. We’re planning an expedition next year crossing Alaska just the two of us, self supportive, hunting for food and she’s amazing to have along.’

    Listen to your inner voice
    ‘In some of the places we’ve visited I’ve seen de-stablisation and some of the wilderness areas we go to are more dangerous now that ever. Like in Mexico, the drug cartels used to run rife, they are now moving towards kidnappings and making money from that so it’s important to listen to that inner voice that picks up on the vibes around you, to tap into the emotions and react to any situation that might arise.’

    Read Megan’s blog. Her book Mind of a Survivor: Why Most of Us Don’t Make It Out Alive is out in April 2017

    Reading now