Monday, April 18, 2016

Alone Season 2: Selection Episode/ Gear Choices and Intro Recap

The History Channel's series premier of Alone was last Thursday where they revealed several behind the scenes facts and details about the show and provided a first look at the 10 contestants who will be on the show this year. Alone has become one of my favorite survival related shows on television due to its format (a whole lot like another favorite Survivorman) and the fact that each year when the cast has been announced I have known several of the participants from Facebook groups and the self reliance/preparedness community (it's a small community after all). Last year I talked about Alone on the radio show a couple times and wrote three articles where I provided a few lessons learned from the show and I plan to do the same thing throughout this season! This post might be a bit long and I apologize for that, but there is a ton of information about the show below: My notes from the show, Bio information on the participants from the first show and my notes, My bets on the finalists, a list of what the participants brought as a group, what items the group can select from, a list of items prohibited, my selected 10 items and my selected clothing items.
Review my Alone Posts From Season 1: Alone Episode 1 Review & Thoughts; Alone Mid-season Recap; Alone Season 1 Conclusions and Final Thoughts.
My Show Notes From Season 2 Episode 1:
  •  Apparently the show will be on Northern Vancouver Island again this year, Quatsino Sound is where everyone will be actually placed (Eagle Manner was the departure point). looking at the map it appears to be in the upper left hand side of the island closest to the Aleutian Islands (AK). Port Hardy on Vancouver Island is the initial staging area where they gather prior to departing, where final instructions are given, they are able to get their kits back and also where they are blessed by a native tribe.
  • Over 3,500 People applied to be on Alone season 2, Including myself (so if your comment is why don't you go on the show well I'm trying).  The initial process is that you fill out an online application and assessment, if selected from there you are interviewed via Skpe by the casting agency and then 20 finalist were selected to attend a week long testing trip with producers and their survival expert consultants from which 10 were selected to be on the show. 
  • The week long trip with producers is essentially a tryout where they are looking for skills in shelter building, fire starting and ability to find food and water. 
    •  The assessment begins with shelter building as it rains 217 days a year on Vancouver Island. Average temperature on the island is 39 Degrees in the weekend. 
    • Fire Making they make sure you have the ability to make friction fire..... My only question is why is this part of the evaluation as the likelihood of success for a bow drill fire is so minimal it isn't even funny. Using a ferro rod with a variety of tinder sources, building tinder bundles, finding tinder, preparing for the next fire, preparing charred material, transporting fire and restarting a fire from embers.
    • The next leg of the evaluation week is food gathering where the participants must prove their ability to build a wide variety of traps, Figure 4's, bird traps, fish traps, dead falls, snares, and much more were demonstrated.  This is by far the skill that I think should be most the most stressed in the evaluation process along with securing fresh water as these are the two skills that will directly effect the length of time you can survive alone. 
    • They also talked about psychological testing of the participants, I think it should be some kind of stress immersion testing but they didn't go into specifics about the process. 
  • Camera gear proficiency is required and during the evaluation week you must demonstrate your ability to operate all of the camera gear (all 5 of them). 
  • The 10 contestants are on the island at least a week prior to going out alone to learn about the local area, get briefings and legal compliance and hone camera skills. Train on emergency kit 
  • The contestants must abide by all Providential hunting and fishing laws. They each got permits to hunt, fish and trap like residents of the providence but no firearms are allowed to be taken out during the show.  
  • The producers make sure each site has a food source (wild edibles, small game or fish), timber for firewood/shelter building and water source and the contestants pick their site via fortune cookie. Not all sites are created equal as we saw last year but each one must at the minimum have these three elements.  
  • The tarp full of clothing showed just how massive of an amount of clothing is allotted for the trip. With this much clothing plus a winter clothing allotment it makes it really hard to be cold in my opinion. At -22F with a dry bag full of clothing I can generally camp without much shelter beyond a wind break.  
  • Everyone selected sleeping bags, ferro rod, axe, saw and a pot or pan for there 10 piece kit but we will talk about that a little later in the article!  
  • Last year everything from ropes to plastic bottles were easily be found on the beaches so a ton of cordage might not be needed. Remember the trapping and container uses for plastic bottles and also their use for a digging device for clams, bait or even your own personal outhouse.
  • Before launch the crew drops off all of the camera and safety gear cases at the sites. At least you don't have to lug those pelican cases from the plane/chopper/boat onto shore and then to your eventual camp location.  
My Contestant Notes From Season 1 Episode 2
Mary Kate Green- Former Wildland Firefighter (hotshot crew) Age: 36 Homer, AK
-Young daughter and baby at home with her mother and that will probably be her biggest challenge during the show, at least from a mental aspect.
-She is an offgrider in Alaska so that is a large plus for skill immersion
-She selected the Pathfinder bushpot (See My Review HERE) that I'm seeing a ton of this year. I love my Pathfinder bush pot, but the more I use it the more I think something is missing whenever I look at the lid. The lid works great for a pot, but if you want to use the container for multiple purposes a lid that could be easily used as another container or as a frying pan would be extremely useful!
-Why Take a tarp when they already give you two? Just my $.02
-Way too Early Prediction: Bottom 5, leaving a baby behind and that has to weigh on her why she is out there with nothing but survival and family to think about.

Randy Champagne- Survival Instructor Age: 28 Bolder, UT
-Full time wilderness survival instructor
-Great Beard, as a bearded man you can tell a lot from someone with a beard and this guy will go far
-Way too Early Prediction: one of first 5 out
-Girlfriend of five years but otherwise nothing major to leave behind
-Way too Early Prediction: Top. Not as many things to worry about at home good skill set from what it seems, but see a lot of last years third place finisher in him. 

David McIntyre- Former Missionary Age: 50 Kentwood, MI
-Spent 15 years in Brazil as a missionary
-Survival instructor as a missionary and as a guide
-Leaving behind 3 kids
-“Haven't lived until you have wiped your butt with moss” great quote man!
-Great Axe selection in the GB Forest Axe, either he is an axe snob or he knows what he is doing with that axe and uses it often!
-“Gonna go other there and get my butt kicked” at least he know it will not be all rainbows and sunshine out there
-Seems like he will be this years Allan in the Bush Philosopher and quotable individual
-Way too Early Prediction: Bottom 5, his family will weigh on his is my guess but just for a sheer entertainment value I hope he sticks it out and becomes that bush philosopher I see in him.

Desmond White: Former U.S. Army Age: 37 Coolidge, AZ
-“If I was gonna die is should have died a long time ago”
-No kids, not married but huge family
-Views fishing as his strongest suit
-“If a bear comes around me I'm going to say hay bear, but if the bear comes after me and wants to fight you better help the bear, I'll come home 20 lbs heavier with a bear skin suit on”
-*My prediction is he taps because of predators, its one thing to be confident when you have a gun in your had but until you wake up surrounded by coyotes or by a bear kicking around your camp int the dark without a gun you will never know how you will react. 
-Way too Early Prediction: Bottom 5, eliminated because of bears (joking of course and then I see the promo and I start thinking he landed in a spot like Josh did last year). 

Larry Roberts: Electrician Age: 44 Rush City, MN
-"When I was a kid I wanted to grow up and be a native American so I could be one with nature"
-Two grown kids and a wife of 26.
-Wants to take a step back and see whats next for him
-Can defiantly see all the pathfinder system in him from saw choice to axe choice.
-Why in the world did you shave the beard brother? That would have kept your nice and warm all winter
-Way too Early Prediction: Top 3 its his time to see where those skills take him, looks like he might suffer a mechanical injury in the promo

Jose Martinez Amoedo: Aboriginal Skills Instructor Age: 45 Yukon, Canada
-Lives in NW CA just south of the arctic circle
-You have to adapt to nature
-80% of their resources came off the ocean
-Great multi-tool modifications for carving I think he will go far in the competition
-Way too Early Prediction: Top 3 and in my opinion the front runner in the competition due to familiarity with the environment

Tracy Wilson: Former Air Force & Law Enforcement Aiken, SC
-Living on the Appalachian Trail
-No husband or kids mentioned but a dog she will miss
-Like the Mors pot she is taking as it has a lid that can be used as a frying pan
-Way too Early Prediction: Bottom, seems like her skill level isn't on par with some of the other participants

Nicole Apelian: Anthropologist Age: 45 Portland OR
-Safari Guide in Africa with Kalahari bushmen
-Prescott college instructor
-Primitive skills instructor who makes all her own medicine
-Two Kids and a husband Boyfriend (sorry I shouldn't have assumed)
-15 years ago MS made it so she couldn't walk
-Good attitude to not be over confident 
-Lost a stepson to drowning a year ago
-Way too Early Prediction: Top 5, her experience in the ecosystem and with wild edible could make her go far. Her MS and family might make her bow out early but seems like she has the skill set to thrive.

Justin Vititoe: Former U.S. Sniper Age: 35 Augusta, GA
-Army for 15 years as a sniper and sniper instructor
-Owns hike to survive that focuses on prevention of retired military suicides
-Wife and 3 step kids and grand child but with deployments they are all used to him being gone on deployments
-Going through a divorce so a great reason to stay away
-Wants to challenge himself
-Love the hammock net, really made me thing but don't
-Way too Early Prediction: Top 5 just so he can avoid  finalizing the divorce and seeing the person who is the source of all that is going wrong right now, I know if I was in that position I would never want to come back. 

Mike Lowe: Survival Instructor Age: 55 Lewis, CO
-Was in an orphanage and was kicked out at 15
-Was a survival instructor in the Air Force
-Full time survival instructor
-Ferro rod with attached scraper via shock cord (the attachments were not allowed last year so this is a change.
-Wife, 3 kids and 3 grand kids
-Way too Early Prediction: Bottom 5, only reason is due to the large family. Easily has top 3 skills but made the guess based on family (prove me wrong brother, I know you can do it).

*** I'm friends on Facebook with over half of you, please don't think this is an attack in anyway. Just me and my wife (PhD in Psychology) taking a guess at who we think will last the longest based on one hour of a show intro. 

Want To Build Your ALONE Survival Kit? Start Here: 

INDIVIDUAL Items Allowed To Be Taken As Part Of Your 10 Piece Kit:
*Each participant must choose TEN total items from the following list. Selections are final. Once chosen, no items may be swapped out or replaced. These will be each participant’s unique tools used to survive in the wilderness on camera.

12×12 ground cloth/tarp (grommets approved)
8 mm climbing rope – 10M
550 parachord – 20m`
1 hatchet
1 saw
1 ax
1 multi-seasonal sleeping bag that fits within provided backpack
1 bivy bag (Gore-Tex sleeping bag cover)
1 sleeping pad
1 hammock
1 large (no more than 2 quart) pot, includes lid
1 steel frying pan
1 flint or ferro rod set
1 enamel bowl for eating
1 spoon
1 canteen or water bottle
1 bear canister
1 bar soap
8 oz tube of toothpaste
1 face flannel
40 m roll of dental floss
small bottle bio shower soap
1 shaving razor (and 1 blade)
1 towel (30” x 60”)
1 comb
300-yard roll of nylon single filament fishing line and 25 assorted hooks (No lures)
primitive bow with 6 Arrows (must be predominately made of wood)
small gauge gill net (8 m x 2 m OR 1.5 m deep x 3.6 m long and 2” [50 mm] mesh)
net foraging bag
3.5 lb roll of trapping wire
5 lbs of beef jerky (protein)
5 lbs of dried pulses/legumes/lentils mix (starch and carbs)
5 lbs of biltong (protein)
5 lbs of hard tack military biscuits (carbs/sugars)
5 lbs of chocolate (Simple/complex sugars)
5 lbs of pemmican (traditional trail food made from fat and proteins)
5 lbs of gorp (raisins, m&m’s and peanuts)
5 lbs of flour (starch/carbs)
2 lbs of rice or sugar and 1 lb of salt
pocket knife
hunting knife
Leatherman multi-tool
sharpening stone
roll of duct tape or roll of electrical tape
small shovel
small sewing kit
LED flashlight
pair of ice spikes

*The following items are PROHIBITED. This list is not exhaustive. Any item not listed above is also prohibited.
Fuel or matches
Bug spray/mosquito repellant.
Sunscreen/chap stick
Beauty products
Map (detailed topographical)
Unapproved technology (anything with a battery or an engine, eg. cell phones, computers, watches, etc.)
Professional snares
Firearms of any kind
Explosives or gunpowder
Animal poison
Professional fishing rods
Fishing lures, flies, bait kits
Fishing traps
Food or beverage (except the options from the selection list)
Animal calls
Tree stands
Professional bows or crossbows
Scopes of any kind
Tents or shelters
Stoves, pressure cookers or other cooking appliances
Hydration packs
Fire pits
Electric or propane lanterns
Inflatable boats
Filtration, purification devices, iodine tablets
Coolers or food storage boxes (except optional bear canister)

Participant Selections For 10 Piece Kit:

Emergency Rations- 13 (Some participants selected 2 of this item)
Sleeping Bag-10
Bow/Buck Saw- 10
Ferro Rod-10
Axe- 10
Belt Knife- 9
Fishing Line And Hooks- 9
Gill Net-9
2 Qt. Pot-8
Bivy Bag-2
Frying Pan- 2
Bow & 6 Arrows- 1
Trapping Wire- 1
Tarp- 1
8MM Climbing Rope- 1

My Selections And Rational:
  1. Belt Knife- I'm still debating which one as I love so many but it's down to an Lt. Wright Bushcrafter or Genesis, BHK Scout, or BHK PLSK2. All are easily sharpened on river stone and honed with my leather belt, but the bushcrafter or Genesis would probably win out due to the versatility of the design in my opinion. This item can be used as a replacment for the next two items to some extent, will clean any game, can be used for self defense and also to craft any other materials I may need.
  1. Buck Saw- I use my Bacho Laplander 99% of the time in the woods as it is always on my hip, but when you're going off grid for what could be months and a quasi permanent shelter is needed then bigger is better and I would go with one of my 26” bucksaws.
  1. Axe- I keep debating this item over and over as I can get away with my belt knife and a buck saw and I know building a very large structure probably just isn't going to happen but would end up being more of a yurt. The need for firewood for predator protection and ability to get a good nights sleep without much worry is worth having this tool alone!
  1. Ferro Rod- No brainier for me! Granted if there is ever any sun I could use my glasses as a magnification lens, but that isn't worth betting my life on. 6” x 1/2” or bigger, whatever the largest rod with a high magnesium content they allow me to bring that's what I would take!
  1. 2 Qt. Pot- I love my Pathfinder bushpot with nesting stove, but for this trip I believe I would be on the look out for a bushpot with a lid that goes on the outside of the pot so it could be used as a frying pan as well. The nesting stove makes a good shovel/sifter for digging clams as a bonus!
  1. 64 Oz. Water Bottle: I get thirsty A LOT and I hydrate like it's my job! So I wanted to have a water bottle to take with me when out foraging, trapping, fishing or collecting fire wood. I also wanted a second container in case of potential container failure and to allow for the cooking of both food and a beverage or food and medicine.
  1. 300 yards of fishing line and 25 assorted hooks: The vast majority of your nutrition will be coming from the ocean or streams so fishing equipment is of critical importance.... Granted I could probably find plenty of fishing gear along a beach but that is never a guarantee. It also offers a great deal of ready to deeply cordage. Critical for making a backup gill net, trout lines, shore based fishing and much more.
  1. Gill Net: I said this last year and it turned out to be correct, but this is the best passive means to obtain a very important food source. Granted this can be made with a few net needles and some of the fishing line above, but who is to say I don't end up deploying two gill nets and a few trout lines.
  1. 3.5 lbs trapping wire: I'm not a huge fan of snares as they are generally a one shot deal, but I believe the success rate of a snare for small game would be much higher than that of a few dead falls on a trap line. Couple this with a few primitive bird traps, the gill net trout line and fish traps and there should be a fairly decent trap line to work daily in addition to looking for edibles, collection of water and gathering firewood.
  1. 5lbs Pemmican: If rice and beans were an option I would drop something and add that as well as those two rationed would get me through a few weeks of bad luck, not to mention the rations in the kit provided). Pemmican is a no brainier and this amount will sustain me for almost a week without in taking other supplemental calories. This will be critical for maintaining energy in the first week while I acclimate to the micro climate (get the hang of tides and learn where plants/water/resources are located), build a longer term shelter and start to build my trap line.

Clothing You Get To Pack Initially:
1 pair high leg Hunting boots
2 pairs of Outdoor Pants (can unzip into shorts)
1 t-shirt
2 fleece or wool shirts (hooded or unhooded)
3 pairs wool socks
1 hat (brimmed, wool or baseball)
1 bandana or shemagh
1 pair gloves
1 light outdoor jacket
2 pairs underwear
1 rain jacket and rain trousers
1 thermal underwear (long)
1 pair of gaiters
1 pair of Crocs, Teva sandals or Keen sandals
1 toothbrush
1 pair of prescription eye glasses
1 personal photograph

*These items were provided to each participant and did not count towards the 10 special items.
1 wool sweater (heavy)
1 pair of gloves (wool/Dachsteins)
1 trapper’s hat with ear protection or toboggan

So What Would I wear?
****You may notice I unlike everyone on the show didn't select a sleeping bag. Well the low temperature there is right around freezing which If I put all of that clothing on at that temperature they will have to life flight me out as I will have a heat stroke! In that temperature level I should easily be able to curl up in my Lester River Bushcraft Boreal Jacket and go to sleep much like I have on countless occasions here during many WV nights.
  1. Matterhorn Full Size Boots
  1. Fleece/wool Scentlock 4 Season Pants
  1. Pair of water resistant BDU's that unzip into shorts
  1. Moisture wicking heat gear t-shirt
  1. Fleece/Wool Scent Lock 4 Season 3/4 Zip top
  1. Lester River Bushcraft Wool Boreal Coat
  1. Heat Gear tall wool socks
  1. Mid-weight tall wool socks
  1. Expidetion weight wool socks
  1. Columbia bonnie (purpose built for fishing in wet buggy places)
  1. Full Sized Shemagh
  1. Leather Technical Rescue/Work Glove
  1. Columbia Gortex Jacket (Pack able)
  1. New brand I'm testing from a newer fishing clothing company
  1. 100% wool Base layer (i.e. Long johns)
  1. Gaiter, I never use them, but when you get a resource take it!P
  1. Pair of sandles for around camp and working in the water, who am I kidding I wear them all winter
  1. Travel toothbrush
  1. My current eye glasses w/ case and some kind of device to secure them to my head
  1. Picture- Large family photo from my wedding most likely.
  1. Winter Sweater- Wither Boreal Mountain Annorak or my favorite Woolrich sweater
  1. Winter Gloves- Heavy duty wool unsure of brand
  1. Woolrich trappers hat
*We will provide the following items to each participant. These items do not count towards the 10 special items.
  1. 2 safety tools (may consist of a canister of wild animal repellent, an air horn and/or 1 flare)
  1. rules and regulations guide
  1. backpack
  1. Camera equipment
  1. emergency flare
  1. satellite phone
  1. emergency personal flotation device
  1. first aid kit (military type – tourniquet, wadding, ace bandage, alcohol, plastic bag, etc)
  1. small mirror
  1. 20×20 canvas tarp-(That will come in handy as a shelter platform!)
  1. 10×10 tarp for protecting camera and equipment
  1. GPS tracking device
  1. head lamp-(You probably remember everyone saying Mitch brought this item onto the show last year  and how it started everyone questioning what all the producers actually gave people. 
  1. emergency rations pack to include water and food- Add this to the rations above and you should be set for your heavy work load the first couple days!)
If you are like me then you have been waiting for Thursday April 21st 2016 since the Alone finale last fall. I obviously cant wait for the show to really get started and maybe, just maybe season 3 will be my year (fingers crossed, P.S. I'm talking to you producers give me a call :)). This will be just one of many posts on the show and I'm sure you will be hearing me talk about it on my live radio show at least one week coming very soon!
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  1. I think you are crazy with no sleeping bag/swag - you would loose so much heat energy on cold story days where you are shelter bound!! I would like some comment on why no sleeping bag!! Thanks

    I have very wild ideas on equipment.
    To me beer canister and shovel is the go, as it is very long term, might have to forgo the axe...

  2. Several people would agree with you I wear shorts and a t-shirt in the winter and all my Irish blood seems to boil until it gets down to the teens when I will think about long sleeves and pants (other than heat gear or vented fishing shirts). I have spent many nights out below 0 with no sleeping bag and at -22 with just a wool blanket. If I have four wool layers (let alone the 4 or 5 your essentially allowed to take) I would be on fire not just comfortable to sleep. With a merino wool base layer, woolrich sweater, lester river bushcraft boreal coat and a canvas anorak I have slept comfortably under a pine tree at -17 with heavy snow during deer season. If I were to take anything sleeping wise it would be a wool sleeping bag just because of the wet environment but there are so many other things that would take priority over that, especially when I'm able to dress for the weather and have 1000's of pine trees at my disposal for shelter/bedding material.

    Here are a few of my videos that might give you a little more insight to my thought process: 1) 2)

  3. Weight is not an issue is this scenario as moving is not required. Maximised for shelter, fishing – 5 pounds of food is like one big fish – I think it is crazy to waste it as an item
    1. Saw - Large one man cross cut lumber jack saw
    2. sleeping bag with -25c
    3. quart pot with lid, lid is useful
    4. Ferro rod
    5. Hunting knife ESEE-5, something that can last
    6. small Shovel - digging traps and shelter building
    7. 300y nylon fishing line and hooks, all the cordage one would need, take max thickness gut allowed
    8. gill net
    9. 3.5pd wire
    10. axe full tree felling axe

  4. Thanks for the speedy reply,
    yeah I also have a natural high body temp and when very cold my body gives off an oil that helps a bit. I used to walk around at -35 to -40 in Mongolia with just a light jacket.
    You might just have a good internal heating system and acclimatization helps - but you body still burns calories much faster - you just not aware of it.
    Long term you might come unstuck. Woman have low body heat, get cold very quickly but do better with much less calories.
    Thanks again for the reply, I suppose the old mountain men of yesteryear just had a wool blanket. - I will check the links.

  5. I have read many blogs in the net but have never come across such a well written blog. Good work keep it up
    Best Survival Gear

  6. I like your idea and rationale about foregoing the sleeping bag. It is a one-use item in the kit and clothing (and bivy bag) should be able to provide most of the insulation and moisture protection required if that person is cold weather acclimatized. Some people just sleep cold (like me) so having the sleeping bag to augment your clothes can be good. But it is a trade off - if you have enough GOOD clothing, you could forego the bag and choose another item for your 10.

    However, it is a wet cold and the temps can easily go to -10C in that area. 2ndly if for some reason your clothes do get wet (Dave and Jose), having the bag to warm up in while your clothes dry is a good backup.

    3rdly, with the lack of calories they were getting, they body was converting fat to energy over the extended period. That means your body is losing both insulation and the ability to generate heat like you would in a normal camping situation where you have adequate food.

    4th, as Mors Kochanski often preaches, the more comfortable your sleeping situation is, the more you retain your mental capabilities and can survive longer; never underestimate the power that comfortable sleeping conditions provide.

    I noticed that a couple of people (including David) had the same LR boreal coat but still wore additional insulated clothing over top of this.