History Channel’s Alone (Season One)
So I enjoy puttering around the internet at night and looking at reality shows that might have some prepping value. I did a little binge watching of History Channel’s Alone Season 1 last night. First of all, hats off to the contestants – they were the men in the arena and I am just a critic in this instance1.
First the set up: They were going to survive (in season one) in the Pacific Northwest (a temperate rain forest) so imagine cold and wet most of the time. Contestants are given certain cold weather and safety gear and then pick ten more items (from a list). You can see the gear list here https://morethanjustsurviving.com/alone-season-1-survival-gear/ Almost all chose tarps, sleeping bags, a knife, an axe, a saw, a ferro rod, a cooking pot, cordage, and a fishing kit. There were also some prohibited items which I think are instructive to review particularly when you watch the show and hear them lament what they wished they had (like a gun when bears came into their camp!)
Ok, A couple of take aways for preppers (since the show is several years old I hope no one gets moopy about spoilers):
One – Humans are hard-wired as social animals. Being alone is HARD. In the Army we usually had a battle buddy (in Ranger School you went everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE with your Ranger buddy). But in Special Forces Qualification Course (and later on in the real world), we were sometimes put out by ourselves. That can be difficult for many. As a society we have benefited from teamwork and specialization. Even something as simple as being able to rotate on and off security so some members of the team can get rest is a distinct advantage. I know that Preppers like to romanticize the image of strapping on your Bug Out Bag and heading to the hills but in reality, while it is great if you can go it alone, it is better if you have more than one other person with you on your team.
Two – Given time and a lack of others to interact with, your own mind can be your own worst enemy. While there is a lot to do if you have to survive after the SHTF, you are going to have a lot of time to think. Without the distractions of modern life or a buddy to converse with, solitude can lead you to over-think things. And there is a distinct chance you might go stark raving mad (see studies like Haney, Craig (2017-11-03). "Restricting the Use of Solitary Confinement". Annual Review of Criminology.) It is a form of senory deprivation. As you watch “Alone” you can see these guys get emotional and sometimes loopy. Almost all of them tapped out when they decided in their own mind that they were done (as opposed to having a physical ailment). You have to “lock it down” before it [your mind] defeats you. There are several ways to do this – you can set short term, mid term and long term goals or milestones. Even a daily routine keeps your mind occupied. Stay busy instead of brooding on your circumstances. Contemplative planning is important but put that extra time to good use. And sometimes, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and never quit. Worst case – preppers should plan for things they can do in spare time (like read a book…)
Over half the contestants tapped out in the first week, their own minds beat them. The remainder (including Lucas who I thought was going to win for sure – oh, spoiler alert, Lucas didn’t win…) tapped out when they started missing their family. Between the final two I was never sure who was going to tap out next. Over time, the $500K prize faded into background as they contemplated their situation.
Three – their equipment list was tailored for that environment. When you are building your Bug Out Bag, you should be considering where you might end up. If you have to carry it on your back, you certainly want to employ it. For more on this, just Google videos on through hikers and they talk about dropping things they don’t need off in the hiker boxes along the trail or sometimes finding something that someone else dropped off that they can put to use. Likewise, the show doesn’t cover it but I believe they all spent time learning about local flora and fauna to better enhance their ability to live off the land. How familiar are you will the local flora and fauna in your area?
Four – redundancy. As Fernando Aguirre said in his book “Surviving the Economic Collapse”: Two is One, One is None. One contestant lost his ferro rod and had no other way to (easily) make fire. Since fire is so important to survival, you should have redundant methods of making fire but if you are down to one item, you need to be very conscientious of protecting and perserving that item. So if you think that a certain piece of equipment is critical to your survival, you should be thinking about your back up if that item fails or gets lost. But see the paragraph above, if you are limited in what you can carry, you might have to sacrifce redundancy.
Five – basic water sanitation. One contestant took a short cut when it came to purifying water. He ended up with an intestinal ailment that took him out of the show. There are so many water bourne diseases that plagued humankind since antiquity until we learned the importance of treating water. This is one area you don’t want to take a short cut. Check out some of our partners Life Savers great water purification devices at https://prepper-skills.myhelcimstore.com/category/water-filters/
Finally, I am going to emphasize again that living outdoors is hard on your body. My mom said I looked like a concentration camp victim when I graduated Ranger School. You have to pay attention to things like frost nip, trench foot, and any issue where your skin begins to break down. Even in the cold, you might need to strip down to put dry socks and underwear on or take a cold water basin bath. Check out our article https://www.prepper-skills.com/blogs/Hot_Water_Without_Power_-_What_I_Wouldn%27t_Give_for_a_Warm_Shower
1Excerpt from Teddy Roosevelt’s Citizenship In A Republic speech delivered at Sorbonne, Paris, France on 23 April 1910: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
De Oppresso Liber