Bedding: Multi-seasonal sleeping bag that fits within the provided backpack; bivi bag; sleeping pad; hammock;
Friday, August 21, 2015
History Channel's ALONE: Conclusions, Updates, & Final Thoughts
So the History Channel put out a full list of what the participants received in their camera gear and also what their clothing options, prohibited items and a few other item lists. Lets dig into these lists and I will add my two cents about what I would likely select given this new information.
If you missed either of my first two ALONE articles be sure to check them out! Here is my initial article covering episode one, what people selected to take on the show and the items I would have taken on the show (LINK-HERE); My second article covered episode 2 through 6 and can be found here (LINK-HERE).
This is the maximum amount of baseline gear allowed for each participant, these items didn’t count towards the ten items the participants selected. -1 Pair of high leg hunting boots; - 2 pairs of outdoor pants (may unzip to shorts); -1 t-shirt; 2 fleece or wool shirts (a hooded fleece is approved); -3 pairs of wool socks; -1 hat; 1 bandanna or shemagh; -1 pair of gloves; -1 light outdoor jacket; -2 pairs of underwear; - 1 rain jacket; - 1 rain pant; 1 thermal underwear (long); -1 pair of gaiters; -1 pair of Crocs or Sandals; -1 toothbrush; -1 pair of prescription eye glasses; -1 personal photograph. There is also a supplemental winter clothing package that each participant received: -1 Woolen Sweater; -1 pair of gloves; 1 trapper’s hat with ear protection or toboggan
So how where does this leave my clothing choices? Here is what I would likely take: 1) Materhorn Boots- they have served me well year round in WV for the last 5+ years so I have to stick with them; 2) Outer layer ripstop water repellent pants possibly of the zip off variety; 3) Fleece Scent Lock Hunting Pants; 4) Moisture wicking t-shirt black; 5) Woolworths ¾ zip pull over (SEE Article Here); 6) Woolworths heavy button up shirt; 7) 1 pair of light knee high wicking socks; 8) 2 pairs of full length wool socks; 9) Green Shemagh; 10) Work gloves; 11) Columbia lightweight rain jacket (that is in all my inclement weather posts; 12) light weight moisture wicking under armor boxers knee length; 13) PSSL poncho; 14) Hunting rain pants; 15) Woolworth thermal underwear; 16) pair of gaiter- never used them but what the heck; 17) pair of sandals you see in all of my camp posts; 18) Travel toothbrush; 19) Timberland prescription glasses: 20) Picture of my family and extended family all in one; WINTER KIT: 21) Lester River Bushcraft Boreal Shirt; 22) Heavy-duty wool gloves; and 23) Toboggan.
These items were provided to each participant and did not count towards their ten selected items: 1 canister of bear spray; air horn; backpack; camera pack; camera equipment; emergency flare; satellite phone; satellite phone; personal flotation device; first aid (military IFAK w/ tourniquet, quickclot, ace bandage, alcohol, plastic bag, etc.) ; small mirror; 20x20 canvas tarp; 10x10 canvas tarp; head lamp; GPS tracking Device; emergency ration to include water and food.
This insight eliminates the need for a tarp in your kit essentially as it includes two tarps. Hopefully these are tentsmiths or deer creek oil skin variety as the tarps on this past season looked a little lacking on the water proofing to say the least. ***I noticed that the 5 gallon plastic water containers that several people had and the dry bags were not on this list for some reason.***
Want To Start Your Alone Self-Reliance Kit? Start Here:
10 Special Items The Participants Can Choose From:
Each participant is allowed to select up to 10 items from the following list:
Shelter: 12x12 ground cloth/tarp; 8 mm climbing rope; 20m of 550 paracord; Hatchet; Saw; Axe;
Bedding: Multi-seasonal sleeping bag that fits within the provided backpack; bivi bag; sleeping pad; hammock;
Bedding: Multi-seasonal sleeping bag that fits within the provided backpack; bivi bag; sleeping pad; hammock;
Cooking: large pot with lid (2 qt. max); steel frying pan; flint/steel or ferro rod; enamel bowl for eating; spoon; disposable lighter; canteen or water bottle; bear barrel.
Hygiene: Bar of soap; 8 oz tube of toothpaste; face flannel; 40 m. roll of dental floss; small bottle of shower soap; shaving razor and blade; towel- 30”x60”; comb;
Hunting: 300 yard roll of nylon single filament fishing line and 25 assorted hooks; primitive bow with 6 arrows; gill net 1.5m deep x 6m long; slingshot; net foraging bag; 2.5lb roll of trapping wire;
Food: 5 lbs beef jerky; 5 lbs dried pulses/legumes/lentils; 5 lbs of biltong; 5lbs of hardtack military biscuits; 5lbs of chocolate; 5 lbs of pemmican; 5 lbs of gorp (rasins/m&m’s and peanuts); 5lbs of flower; 2 lbs of rice or sugar and 1lb of salt.
Tools: Pocket knife; hunting knife; multi-tool; sharpening stone; roll of duct tape or electrical tape; small shovel; small sewing kit; carabineer; LED flashlight; 1 pair of ice spikes;
So what would I take knowing what I know now? 1) heavy-duty wool blanket (maybe a wool sleeping bag if that’s the only way I can take it); 2) Full Size falling axe; 3) Take Down Saw- bacho saw blade on it; 4) Pathfinder bushpot; 5) ½” X 6” Firesteels.com Ferro Rod; 6) 64 oz Kleen Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle; 7) 300 yards of fishing line and hooks; 8) Gill net; 9) 5lbs of pemmican; 10) Battle Horse Knives PLSK1.
If it were 5lbs of rice instead of 2lbs of rice and 1lb of salt, I would probably drop one cutting tool or the wool blanket/sleeping bag for the added rice. That amount of food alone would last me through the first month even if there was no other food coming in due to poor conditions.
These items were not allowed to be taken by the participants: fuel or matches; bug spray/mosquito repellant; sunscreen/chap stick; sunglasses; beauty products; map; compass; unapproved technology; professional snares; firearm of any kind; ammunition; explosives or gunpowder; animal poison; fishing rods; fishing lures/flies/bait; traps; Food or beverage; decoys; animal calls; tree stand; professional bows or cross bow; scope; tent or shelter; stoves/pressure cookers or other cooking appliances; hydration packs; fire pits; electric or propane lanterns; inflatable boats; filtration/purification devices/ iodine tablets; cooler or food storage boxes.
So this list pretty much puts to rest everyone saying I would take a gun and make a bear rug for my cabin. If this were the 18th and I were a trapper (those most likely to be going into the woods for a long period of time) or even a homesteader or prospector you can be for darn sure they would have a firearm and some commercial traps. If you’re smart anytime since that time period you would have a firearm as well, I know I have one or two on me at all times in when I go out for a long period of time during hunting season. The concept of no gun just doesn’t sit right with me for long-term self reliance in any environment with predators. With a firearm I wouldn’t need to depend on fire anywhere near as much, would have the added comfort of a restful night’s sleep and would be able to secure all size game for food and fur.
Lets now dig into all of the episodes not covered in my initial article (LINK-HERE) or the follow-up article (LINK-HERE) and see if we can garner a few lessons learned from those episodes.
EPISODE 7: DAY 23- 4 MEN REMAIN
It’s finally getting to me my kind of weather on that island! For me the colder the better as I prefer snow and ice any day over rain, but with that said snow and ice also make it very difficult for food gathering in a water based environment. While cold water isn’t so much a problem (everyone says I’m part polar bear after I did a swiftwater rescue in the dead of winter here in WV a few years ago, everyone was freezing in their dry suits and I was wearing swimming trunks and a long sleeve shirt and was the warmest of the group) frozen water breaking your gill nets, freezing over your traps and interfering with your trot lines is no fun. Land based trapping becomes a little easier as you will be able to see sign easier; however in a predator rich environment the value of trapping drops dramatically. For the remaining episodes I will address all of the lessons learned and high points categorized by the remaining contestant.
Sam- He is starting a mini trap line for rodents using piute deadfalls as his main means for food, as opposed to the others who are using more scavenging or water based trapping/fishing methods for food collection. If you have ever done primitive trapping, I think this was an excellent example of what a pain it is to trap using primitive means only. Setting and resetting primitive traps means beat-up hands and a lot of wasted time dealing with fickle sets. The high winds coming off the inlet are not helping Sam’s odds as the wind keeps blowing over his sets. This leads to little to no luck from his trapping. Sam eventually gets a mouse and when he goes to cook it he states that cooking in your shelter can be frustrating… This is exactly why in previous articles I say that a separate cooking camp is 100% needed in predator country. You can setup the camp close to the water and give it all the conveniences of home (roof, fire, firewood, table, chair, utensils, etc.).
-The roll of fishing line (it says 300’ above) looked like way more than that number; it looked more like a 500’ plus roll of fishing line.
-A huge part of survival is luck! This was evident the first day each person was dropped off; some had a great beach and fresh water close, while others had no beach/water/food source close by. I’m not sure if they pulled numbers out of a hat, threw darts or what the site selection methods were but that would be extremely interesting for me to know.
-There were a few people who moved around a little, but other than Lucus I don’t remember seeing anyone go out on many scouting missions. It makes me wonder if there was a travel restriction as no one ran into other competitors and many were less than 10 miles apart. If I had a decent food and water source I would do a fan out type search daily in different directions just to see what other resources I could come across.
Alan- The woodsman philosopher didn’t get much face time on this episode and that disappoints me. Listening to his random musing truly make the show in my opinion as the show didn’t show an excess of teachable moments or self-reliance skills aside from foraging and trapping. In this episode Alan found a couple plastic bottles and made a nice little minnow trap for bait/food. This is a great little trap to learn and as you can see is quite effective. His primitive fish trap (same style design and concept) looked great and should do pretty well for him. I usually make mine out of vines or young roots and have had decent success in large ponds/lakes.
Mitch- How in the world did he catch a rotten fish? I assume it was floating down the creek and found its self caught in his gill net. While I don’t think I would have thrown that fish away as it would have made excellent bait for a variety of trapping sets. Mitch later on somehow lost his gill net, crappy luck man!
Lucus- He setup a great little trot line this episode in the little channel near him so that canoe he mare is really paying off! I was so glad to see him cooking on the beach and not in his shelter like other have been doing lately. Enter FRYGATE, LOL. Social media exploded about where in the heck he came up with a frying pan since it wasn’t on his gear list. Apparently it was an item he found while scavenging the beaches while he was mobile. He said in a behind the scenes video it was something that he found.
Episode 8: Day 34- Four Men Remain
It’s 28 degrees and everyone is saying it’s so darn cold outside, I just don’t get that with the amount of clothing they were allowed they should be sweating if they need to. I slept in several inches of snow under a tarp on a sleeping pad with just my clothes and a single wool blanket this past winter and it got down to -17 at night several nights and all of those were done without fire due to hunting season. I understand cold sucks at times but that isn’t really that cold for this area.
Mitch-Mitch finally utilizes that fishing kit he selected and builds a trout line. He sets it up well but bait selection was questionable (rotten fish may have worked better) as it likely will not stay on that hook well. I’m still not sure why more are not utilizing the resources of the ocean/bay/inlet. The resources out there are plentiful and those who take advantage of those resources should be on the island the longest.
LUCUS- He has once again changed direction and started building a yurt using what looks like 3 or 4 distinct tarps. I just don’t understand the rationale behind cutting a hole in your tarp, there had to be a way around ruining your long-term resources to build a short-term shelter. I still believe a wikiup would be a much better longer term choice for a shelter in that environment if you don’t want to go to the trouble of building a trapper cabin. The fire/reflector area is great (exactly what I thought he would have tried to make in his cabin idea) but I don’t see it working with without it being centered and having a larger hole in the top of the shelter and then a raised platform one foot or so above the hole to act as a rain cover.
-Being mobile really seems to help him and I have said since the beginning that a packraft (now we know they are not allowed) would have made survival there much easier! While on the island Lucas has found the following items (atleast this is what I’ve seen on video): barrel, plywood, two milk cartons, frying pan and several plastic water bottles. If he didn’t get out and explore those items would never have been available to him to help effect his survivability. Mobility= the key to survival!
-For being a vegetarian he seems to like meat!
- Near the end of the episode his trout line is being taken out to see and birds are eating the fish, hopefully he makes a meal out of the birds and the fish. Make an example of those birds and keep others off your stuff J
-Stringed instrument, umbrella, sauna and crab pot are some of his new project. I have to say he likes to keep busy and I honestly believe that the second he can’t be busy all the time he will leave as he seems to have very high and low moods. On a lighter note, the instrument doesn’t sound too bad actually, but I don’t think he is going to make it on to American Idol or The Voice!
Alan- LUCKY MAN! Getting a fish and a duck in your net all in one day is great luck! Surf and turf cooked low and slow, what more can a man ask for in the woods? My only question about this episode is what in the world happened to his cooking camp? I saw it once and then it was no more! His shelter looks quite beefed up and has a decent supply of wood in his shelter so it’s good to see he is at least thinking about the long term. Keep up the great stuff man, love the woodsman philosopher vibe you’re going with, great attitude man.
Sam- He has only caught one fish by hand (haven’t seen him try to fish at all on camera) and is oonly getting one mouse a night which is not enough to self sustain. If he is going to stick it out to the end he will have to set up some fish trapping or at least go get some wild edibles (The only person I have even heard mention eating pine bark is Alan, I think pine needle tea and pine bark would be my daily breakfast). Seems like he is ready to tap to see his wife and keeps saying he is ready to go home, no happy-go-lucky attitude anymore…. Not in much of a routine other than trapping mice, which seems like a waste of resources and time for the most part.
Episode 9: Day 37- 4 Men Remain
Weather Conditions: 31 Degrees w/ Roughly 60 MPH Winds
Alan- He hasn’t filmed for a few days and hasn’t done anything but lay there. He says he feels very dizzy when he stands (dehydration and lack of caloric intake likely causing these feelings). It looks like he is thinning a good bit (I would say 30 lbs or so). Apparently all of the low tides are at night time so he is not able to check fish traps, gill net or shore line for food (I know movement at night isn’t the easiest but everyone else seems to be using those headlamps for this exact same task). At the very least he could be drinking pine needle tea and eating bark to keep his nutrients up. Keeps saying he has done everything he wants to do (hopefully this isn’t true because I know many of us will miss his random woods wisdom and thoughts). I still don’t understand why he will not go check his gill net when it is half exposed in the water. I would have been making a nice big fire on the shore (as this is probably where my cooking camp would be located) stripping down and going in there to check my net then dry off/cook what’s in there and head back to camp.
-Apparently they each have a gallon of fresh water because three people have gallon containers or have mentioned them. If this is true that is excellent and there honestly isn’t any reason anyone shouldn’t have enough water to drink every day as rain water collection could be achieved continually with that container and your pot.
-Bull kelp and bladderwreck appear to be quite tasty the way he is gobbling it down, or he is extremely hungry.
-Got to love the amount of fish the gill nets are bringing in, knew it was going to be the most valuable part of a kit when it comes to food collection. Alan seems to be the best bush cook making a wide variety of stews that look pretty decent.
Mitch- I still don’t understand the logic of taking a dead animal back to your sleeping camp. Mitch seems to be using that head lamp more than anyone. He did a great job of processing that hide in the woods, good stuff! Misses his mom who found out she had brain cancer before he left with a 1 year prognosis. I don’t know if I could/would have left knowing that think it would have weighed on me way too much. Taps out so he can go see his momma.
Sam- Wow someone is actually going to use one of those bows that they took, only took 37 days. He shot one time and was a miss. If there are so many bears out there why is no one trying out a tree based hunt of a bear? He doesn’t seem good in the head right now and just wants to talk to his wife.
Lucus- Seems like he is happy on his beach playing a ukulele. Says he is having a mid life crisis at 32 and then he proceeds to have a mini breakdown. Guy with the best setup just tapped out; I guess that goes to show you that if you’re not in the right survival mindset then it doesn’t matter for one second what your skill level is
As of day 42 two men remain!
Episode 10: Day 45 -2 Men Remain
Sam- It looks like 60+ MPH winds blowing his tarp/tent around. Info-graphic says that storms can last for up to 20 days (that would make for a very crappy stay on the island paradise). His shelter looks like it is going to fall apart. I still can’t understand why he never beefed up his shelter or thought about moving away from the water where he is always going to take the abuse of the weather coming in off the water.
His bad mental state is just getting worse and is driving him into the ground. This is only compounded by no sleep due to the wind and rain shaking the tarp and rain coming into his shelter. Would have been nice to see how a few better shelters worked out in this environment but not many worked on shelter after the first week or so. I still can’t understand why there wasn’t constant work being done on shelter. I know it’s raining but man it can save you a ton of grief in the storms. Same thing with food collection, eating is defiantly worth getting cold and wet if you have a fire source.
Only 4.4 miles separate Sam and Alan it’s hard to believe that these guys never ran into each other or even say each other’s camp while out there.
Day 50- He seems very zoned out and an inch from quitting, Alan may win by attrition soon.
Day 54- Says he is getting sea sick from his tarp hitting him and the sound of the wind. Says he is completely depleted of energy
Day 55- Tapped out!
When he reflects on his experience he says it made him grow up, become a better father, a better husband, etc. All is not lost though as he will get his weekly pay checks and also a lifetime supply of pizza rolls from a local grocery store!
Alan- Being away from the ocean sheltered him from the winds a good bit. Not going out of his shelter and not into getting wet or cold or leaving his shelter. Hasn’t taped or done anything but hang in his shelter. Another great quote “You adapt to mother nature or she will take you!” It seems like so many on the show are just sitting around surviving, the only two who got in a long-term self-reliance mindset were Alan and Lucus but the latter just couldn’t stay centered mentally.
This process is defiantly a good way to lose some weight. He lost a ton of weight (I believe they said 60 lbs) and 10” off his waist it looks like.
His diet has evolved to a few slugs, which is disappointing. No pine trees being used, no gill net being checked and no beach scavenging.
Day 56- Apparently they don’t go get the guy who wins…. What the heck
-Says the best part about being out there is knowing more about yourself.
-Views this experience as a rite of passage- this doesn’t exist in today’s culture and we lack self awareness and self examination. I really think he is on to something here. In my opinion our culture as a whole has degraded as we entered the digital age and lost touch with nature.
-Safety crew advises that they are coming out for a routine medical examination on day 56 (apparently this was something that was done on a regular basis).
-Once they tell him he wins, his reaction is priceless: “Alright lets burn this place (his shelter) down!” -I thought that it was priceless that he was getting cabin fever in a shelter in the woods.
-It was a nice touch bringing his wife to see him as he won! I think that was well worth the extra day in the woods. Wife brought his $500,000.00 check and he is planning to get his kids eye fixed (blind in one eye) and help his dad retire.
The wilderness poet left us with one more pearl of wisdom: We are survival machines; You’re not meant to me isolated or alone for a long period of time. In the end it comes down to love, that carries on and lasts throughout eternity.
Apparently they made it out to the island on October 26 so they ended the show just before Christmas. So this was without a doubt the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest! The show was a breath of fresh air in the survival TV genre and I have to say that this was one of my favorite shows since SurvivorMan came on the air (not that stupid big foot show) .While I didn’t see the level of shelter I expected and I thought there would be more trapping, fishing and foraging involved I was still pleased with the show regardless of how much I may have yelled at the TV, but remember it is easy to judge from afar when you are not in the actual situation. I really hope that those who are selected for season two dig a little deeper into shelter development and also some additional food sources. Overall I believe this is a great new show and I hope the keep it going for years to come!
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