The footage of Troy Hurtubise’s work almost speaks for itself. There he is, being filmed in the Canadian wilderness on a 1980s camcorder, wearing what appears to be a blend of hockey pads and police riot gear, readying himself before a colleague bludgeons him in the head with a large wooden beam. He gets back up, apparently ok. In later videos, he is found wearing something more like a Robocop suit as he is seen being bludgeoned with more beams, run into and sent flying across a meadow by a full-size pickup truck, throwing himself down a steep hillside as his limbs flail helplessly, and absorbing the full contact of a large log swung down from a pendulum like the booby trap used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Predator.

Bear Suit hit by bats - Adsum
The Bear Suit's rigorous testing

Ostensibly, these videos are objective documentation of Hurtubise’s sincere development of an armored suit to protect the wearer from a grizzly bear attack, after Hurtubise had a scary run-in with a bear during a 1984 camping trip. But naturally, the videos are also just simply and undeniably funny –– Jackass-style footage of a man being absolutely worked and then cheerily popping back up, over and over again.

Project Grizzly Outdoor Canada Article - Adsum
Outdoor Canada's 1990 article about the Troy Hurtubise

In the 1990s, a filmmaker named Peter Lynch turned Hurtubise’s life and work into the subject of a feature-length documentary film called Project Grizzly, which received critical acclaim, developed a cult following, and is said to be a personal favorite of Quentin Tarantino. The film explores some of the space between Hurtubise’s complete sincerity and the raw slapstick comedy, sketching a more human portrait about what it means to spend a life building a grizzly-proof suit.

Bear Suit hit by car - Adsum
Testing included getting hit by a truck at 30 mph

Obviously, Hurtubise’s life’s work is scientifically dubious. Carrying something the size of an astronaut suit on a camping trip is as impractical and ridiculous as the idea of a test for the suit that assumes a grizzly bear might be driving a 1980s Ford full-size pickup. But present in the footage, in between the insanity and the comedy, is the purity of a man in his element, exemplifying genuine purpose, dedication, and courage, right before a comically oversized log sends him sprawling down a ravine.