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Forget Bear Grylls: Hacking the Wild shows how to survive using only gadgets

30 May 2017

“I would literally die if I didn’t have my phone.” We all know someone who lives by this sentiment. But they never actually mean literally.

Andy Quitmeyer literally WOULD die without his gadgets. In his new series, Hacking the Wild, Quitmeyer ventures into some of the most remote and hostile locations in the world armed with nothing but everyday pieces of technology in order to survive.

There are no food rations, water purifiers, or even insect repellent. Quitmeyer, who calls himself a "digital survivalist" is equipped with laptops, phones and other devices.

In the very first episode of the series, Quitmeyer is dropped into the jungle for four days, during which he creates his own mosquito trap using metal coil and a digital camera. And this is only the start of his survival technology.

In the same episode, he also makes his own hydroelectric generator, using a nearby river to power a lightbulb and he constructs his own compass using parts from a laptop.

The show sees Quitmeyer travelling to the jungle, a desert island, an Alaskan ice forest and more. He receives no food or other resources. Rather, he feeds himself on anything he gets his hands on, from plants to exotic fruit. And sometimes he even uses his food to generate electricity.

According to Quitmeyer, he first got into exploring when he starting fixing equipment for field biologists.

Before the show, Quitmeyer ran his own YouTube channel, where he records his tech repairs and creations in the wild. The channel gave him the exposure that resulted in him being approached to make a TV series.

"One of the key challenges is deciding what equipment to bring with me ... that takes me so much time," Quitmeyer explains.

"Once I was carrying 90 pounds on my backpack of just electronics ... so now I try not to overburden myself. Because that's going to be more dangerous than even a lot of natural encounters."

His previous adventures, he explains, definitely prepared him for Hacking the Wild.

"All my previous hiking trips in Panama or Madagascar and the Philippines, they really trained me in figuring out ways to actually do the electronics in the wild," Quitmeyer says.

"Like in Panama, I had to repair a laptop ... and then a bunch of army ants started going to our electronics and chewing stuff up. So it taught me to be really prepared — even the craziest things will happen."

But despite the extreme scenarios Quitmeyer finds himself in, he says the goal for the show is not to frighten or intimidate the viewers, but for people to get to know and understand nature better. The gadgets are a fun twist on an old survival format.

"The idea for the show is like, how can we use something to show that with a couple of quick, easy tips, you can actually survive in the wilderness ... you can play with electronics, you can build cool stuff," said Quitmeyer.

"So that's my real secret motivation ... to get people to love nature more."

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