What Would You Choose?
The contestants on the History Channel’s new survival show Alone were allowed to choose 10 items from a supposed secret list of 40 items. What isn’t a secret however, were the banned items such as matches, lighters, along with water filtration and purification systems.
Firearms were not allowed of course, and the metal pot size could not exceed Two Quarts. The maximum amount of Paracord/cordage was 20 meters (66 feet), and they were only allowed five pounds of emergency rations if they chose to carry rations. The contestants could also carry a “Gillnet” but the size was restricted to 6 meters (19 feet).
What Gear Made It to the Woods?
First, call it coincidence, fate, a mistake, or call it what you will, but the one contestant who did not choose a survival knife rang the bell during the first episode. What is troubling is that all of the contestants were chosen because of their so-called survival skills, and yet one decided a knife was not essential for survival.
The One who called it quits The First Episode Carried:
- A 12×12 ground sheet
- 550 Paracord – 20m
- A Saw
- An Ax
- A Sleeping bag
- A Bivi bag (gortex sleeping bag cover)
- A 2-quart pot
- A Ferro rod
- 300 yards of single filament line with 25 assorted hooks
- Bow and 6 arrows
List Courtesy Of (History Channel, 2015)
It Was Determined:
- All 10 of the participants choose an axe
- All 10 choose a sleeping bag
- All carried a 2 Qt pot
- Everyone carried a Ferro rod
- All choose a 25 piece fishing kit
- Nine of the contestants choose a survival knife
- Six carried a 12×12 tarp
- Six choose to carry a Saw
- Surprisingly only five choose to carry Paracord
- Four carried a Long Bow with arrows
- Four chose to carry the Gillnet
- Three choose to carry 5lbs of emergency rations
- Three carried a canteen or water bottle
- Two carried a multi-tool (Leatherman)
- Two carried a Bivy Bag
- A Slingshot was chosen by two contestants
- Two packed a Sharpening Stone
- Only one participant chose to carry wire
- One chose to carry an extra tarp
The participants were also allowed clothing, and to what extent cannot be determined. Items not counted as part of the 10 allowed items included bear spray, a pack, and an emergency flare (s) (History Channel, 2015).
When you get to choose what to carry, but are limited on the number of items you can carry, you have to pick wisely. Shelter, fire, water, and food are your priorities. When you can carry a shelter with you, you probably should, because it can save time and energy, both of which are always in short supply in the wilds. You can add forest debris to harden the shelter, but having a tarp on hand means you have a quick shelter for that first night that can be improved upon with your time.
Fire starting materials are important, as well as a metal pot to boil water in and in which to prepare food. A sleeping bag for cold weather, while heavy to carry, would be considered an essential item in cold weather, if you had the choice.
Only three carried a canteen/water bottle. Not carrying a canteen would only make sense if you know you would be near a water source and did not plan on ever leaving that source. If you had to explore the area or break camp for whatever reason, you would not have any means of transporting water other than the two quart pot. A canteen probably should have been chosen by all participants.
A Bivy bag may not be essential because the contestants could have chosen a ground cloth, or extra tarp that could act as a cover and the tarp/ground cloth would have multiple uses.
A sharpening stone is a good idea, and it takes up little space and no appreciable weight is added.
The wire supposedly for snares, shelter building, and gear repair could be essential if you have the experience and time to set snares and planned on sheltering in one location, otherwise Paracord is an ideal choice if you had to choose between the two.
All participants were near water so a fishing kit would be a must have, and all contestants chose the 25 piece kit. The kit included 25 assorted hooks, and fishing line, which has more than one use in a survival situation.
A slingshot was carried by two, and if experienced with one it is a valuable tool for hunting small game and birds.
Only two carried a multi tool, which is surprising, and let’s hope the one that carried the wire chose the Leatherman. A multi-tool would be an essential tool in a survival situation.
An ax is a wise choice, but it does not replace a quality survival knife. All of them carried an ax and nine carried a survival knife, so when you have a choice carry both, and when you do not, then a survival knife may be the better of the two choices.
Four carried a bow with arrows and this is a logical choice if you have the experience, because if game is available and you have the skill you will not go hungry.
A saw is essential but if you have an ax and knife a saw may be extra baggage, and in this case, not choosing it allowed contestants to pick something else. A saw is one of those items that would be nice to have, but you can overcome not having one if you have other tools.
A saw makes clean cuts, and a quality one will make some cutting jobs easier. Hacking through a limb with an ax or machete is hard work, but a cheap saw would make the job just as hard, and a wood saw really only has one job in the woods.
The Gillnet is a good idea if you happen to be by a large body of water. The contestants had some idea of the terrain, so they could to some extent, decide what to bring based on geography and weather.
Spear fishing is a way to catch fish that requires very little skill and materials, and practically anyone can bait a hook and drop a line in the water. A Gillnet however, is a very effective way of catching fish and it was a wise choice given the location.
It would seem that if someone had survival skills as the contestants claimed to have, and you were able to choose your survival gear then surviving for an extended period would be feasible. Being mentally prepared is important, and you never know how well prepared you are until you are in a situation, as some of the contestants have already figured out.
History Channel. (2015). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.history.com/shows/alone/cast/josh-chavez
History Channel. (2015). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.history.com/shows/alone/cast