The Incredible Man Who Built a Mech Suit to Fight Bears

When people think about battling bears, they usually imagine laying down and protecting their critical organs in the hopes of avoiding being attacked. Humans aren’t built to outmuscle a bear, and attempting to do so would almost certainly result in a moderately angry beast swatting you like a fly. That didn’t stop one Canadian guy from following his idea of constructing a protective mech-like suit that could fend off bears, and the outcome is an astounding story of invention and risking everything to prove his innovations.

TROY HURTUBISE is a character in the film TROY HURTUBISE, Troy Hurtubise was a one-of-a-kind inventor. Hurtubise, who was born in 1963 in Hamilton, Ontario, was an aspiring inventor with far-fetched ideas. Hurtubise was born into a family of inventors, with his father being an ardent anthropologist and inventor. Troy was somewhat of a local legend, with a long number of sci-fi inventions on his portfolio, ranging from a gadget that could render items invisible to a protective ballistic suit for troops. His Firepaste innovation, which allegedly made whatever it covered flame and heat resistant, might have had major consequences for spaceflight.

The Ursus suit, on the other hand, was Hurtubise’s pride and pleasure. Hurtubise came saw a grizzly bear while wandering in British Columbia, which he eventually dubbed “Old Man,” according to Vice. While Hurtubise survived the bear assault, the incident led him down an unexpected path: he became dedicated to learning more about the animals by designing a suit that could withstand their hostility. He intended to make a bear-fighting costume, that’s true. Hurtubise, a man of conviction, set to work on the first version of his Ursus suit. The costume was put together with duct tape, metals, and other in-house designed materials, and it was time to put it to the test.

GRIZZLY PROJECT, Hurtubise buckled into the suit and put himself directly in the firing line to test its strength, which was shown in a sequence of rather disturbing but incredibly interesting scenes in the Project Grizzly documentary (a favorite of Quentin Tarantino, truly). He flung himself down a steep hill at breakneck speed, was hit by a baseball bat in areas no man would want to be hit, and was even slammed by a vehicle through a brick wall. Hurtubise wanted to put the “Ursus Mark VI,” the version of the suit depicted in the documentary, to the test. The suit was dropped in the Rockies by helicopter (much like a 80s rendition of Pacific Rim), and he was ready to face his last boss, the bear. Unfortunately, no bear appeared.

For his Ursus suit, he received the Ig Nobel Prize for Safety Engineering in 1998. Hurtubise rose to fame as a result of the documentary, appearing on chat programs as the show’s star despite his dissatisfaction with how he was depicted. Hurtubise’s celebrity waned as fast as it grew, and he became extremely sad. According to the National Post, Hurtubise added, “I’m the biggest failure you’ve ever looked at,” referring to the fact that none of his innovations ever made it to market.

Troy Hurtubise was killed in a car accident on June 17, 2018. Though it is hard to know for sure, it is thought that he purposefully steered his car into an approaching truck. Troy’s wife remarked in a moving interview with The Spectator that his death meant he is “no longer suffering.” While the inventor may now be able to rest, his perseverance and unrelenting ingenuity have inspired many others and will continue to do so for as long as the story of the man who constructed mechs to battle bears is told.