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Les Stroud with his 2011 Dodge Ram.

Laura Bombier/The Globe and Mail

Les Stroud

Profession: Adventurer, filmmaker and musician

Age: 49

Hometown: Mimico, Ont.

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Notable achievements

  • Nominated for six Gemini awards for Survivorman, one of the highest-ranked TV shows on OLN Canada and the Science Channel US
  • Received seventh Gemini nomination in 2010 as executive producer/host of the TV series Survive This (YTV, Cartoon Network)
  • Author of best-selling books: Survive! Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive! and Will to Live
  • As a musician, has shared the stage with Alice Cooper, Tommy Shaw, and Robby Krieger


  • Developing new adventure shows
  • New adventure cookbook comes out next spring
  • Acoustic concerts this summer in Ontario

He's a survivor who takes wilderness adventures to the extreme.

Les Stroud is best known as the creator, producer, star, and cameraman of the hit reality TV series, Survivorman. His battle to stay alive has taken him from the frigid, frozen Arctic to the thick jungles of Central America.

When filming his escapades, he often rents Jeeps and Land Rovers. But when he's back on home turf in northern Ontario, Stroud drives a 2011 Ram 1500 truck.

Why did you buy a Ram?

When it comes to the pickup trucks for me, the Dodges always seem to pay more attention to aesthetics and style. I always liked that.

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I've been driving them for a long time and I've never experienced any issues with them. I don't haul tractor trailers with it. But if I got to go through rough roads, rough mud I've never been stuck.

What does a Ram say about you?

It says I'm a realist.

We all lead lives of conflict, environmentally. Obviously I'm very concerned environmentally yet at the same token I drive a Dodge Ram 1500 Hemi. What does that say? It says there's a lot of conflict here.

Part of the conflict is that I get myself into pretty thick places sometimes where I need a vehicle that can handle it. The reality is it's not going to be a Prius or a cute little car. It's going to be a vehicle that can handle the kind of lifestyle I live.

I accept that life of conflict as we all have to. I do whatever I can. I utilize my truck minimally as much as possible. I don't use it for superfluous driving here or there or in the city. I use it when I'm in the bush. It says I accept the life of conflict and I'm a realist.

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Are you a truck guy?

Yeah. I am. I love it. I love having a pickup truck.

I started having pickup trucks about six-seven years ago. I had the suspicion I would like it and once I had it, it was oh, this is good.

I started out with used trucks - the first one was a GMC Dually diesel. The next truck was a Dodge Ram. I've been a Dodge Ram three vehicles strong now.

This time around, I got the shorter box - it's the first time I've had it. I have teenagers so I opted for the bigger room in the cab and the lesser room in the box. I'm not a carpenter so I'm not using it on the job site.

It's doing me just fine. I've never felt for a loss that I need that extra nine inches in the tailgate.

Why didn't you go for the diesel instead of a Hemi?

I decided I didn't like diesel.

I know everybody says they're great now, there's no problem with them now. All I know is the one I had gave me problems at minus 30 so that scared me off of them.

It used to be diesel was the more economical route - that's all changed.

Are you mechanically inclined?

No. No.

I'm not oriented that way. I'm a driver.

I realized many years ago; I concentrate at what I'm very good at. I'm a very good producer, musician, writer, performer, educator and adventurer. When it comes to changing the oil and knowing what's under the hood I leave that to guys who live and breathe that stuff.

What's the most extreme place you've driven the Ram?

It doesn't go overseas with me. So the most extreme would be those little trails that someone tells you about that will get you into a spot in the river for a canoe trip.

You're driving and before you know it the branches are scratching against the sides, you can hardly see the road ahead and the ruts are getting bigger. I would say the deep, dark access trails in Northern Ontario.

I don't go off-roading. I don't drive to drive. I don't purposely go out - let's go spend a day mudding it with the truck. But I go off road to get me to adventurous places.

I'm going somewhere and I end up mudding the truck because that's how I have to get in there.

What's the most extreme place you've driven while filming?

We drove up the side of a mountain in the Amazon jungle in Ecuador - that's probably the most remote and craziest driving we ever did.

That was like nine guys getting out and pushing the vehicles through mud. And then when we were driving on the roads you're looking down 2,000-3,000 feet, driving by the edge within a foot.

You're looking and you go, my God if you were driving this at night and go over no one would even know that you went over. There would be no marks - you'd be into the thick green of the jungle. You know there are probably lots of vehicles down there that will never be seen. It was just crazy and spooky.

What do you drive when filming overseas?

Usually some kind of Jeep or Land Rover SUV.

If I'm filming in a place like Madagascar you can not drive a regular car there. It took us nine hours to go 50 kilometres. That's what the roads are like.

The roads in Madagascar were built by the Japanese and abandoned. They don't have potholes; they have car-eating holes - craters. Overseas, we tend to rent vehicles that are Jeep style and strong.

Any major mishaps?

We've blown a lot of tires, but we've never run out of gas.

We blew tires in the middle of Africa. So in the middle of the night we were out trying to repair tires. It sounds crazy, but it's an adventure. It's part of who I am and what I do.

What was your first vehicle?

It was a $100 little yellow 1969 Volvo with no heating and a vent that was constantly open. I used to have blankets around my legs to drive to Ottawa and visit a girlfriend.

Then I landed in vans for a while because that was great for travelling. I had some pretty ugly ones.

The best vehicle I had was my first Dodge Ram. I had troubles with Ford. I had troubles with GMC for whatever reason, but I never had any problems with Dodge.

If I can bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?

It would be a new convertible Jaguar with all the trimmings.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

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About the Author

Petrina Gentile is an award-winning automotive journalist - one of the few women who cover cars in Canada. Her life revolves around wheels. She has been writing for the Drive section since 2004. Besides auto reviews, she also interviews celebrities like Norman Jewison, Patrick Dempsey, Rick Hansen, Dean McDermott, Russell Peters, and Ron MacLean for her My Car column. More

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