Think you could survive the solitude on A&E’s Alone? Survival on Vancouver Island comes down to the participants’ ability to build shelter, start fire, hunt for small game and fish and find safe drinking water. In an environment where it rains 217 days a year and temperatures average less than 4°C in winter, the items that the participants take with them could be the difference between a comfortable stay and an early tap out.
Participants are given a choice of 50 different items from the master list that they could possibly take to the island, but can only take 10 (the complete master list is available here). We asked both the participants and the A&E audience what they would take with them. Unsurprisingly, their lists were a little different!
First, the participants:
#1 – EMERGENCY RATIONS
With some participants taking more than one lot of emergency rations, this item is the most popular item to take to the island and for obvious reasons! With wood everywhere, shelter is a given, but food can be less reliable when you’re relying on fishing and hunting to get your calories.
#2 – FERRO ROD
The season one participants often struggled with starting fire, so in season 2 every participant opted to take a ferro rod to the island. While these little sticks don’t look particularly valuable, their ability to throw off 1600°C sparks when struck makes them one of the best survival tools available.
#3 – SAW
Though their make and model may differ depending on the competitor, every participant also opted to take a saw with them in season 2. With so much wood available, a saw is a valuable tool in shelter building and when collecting fire wood.
#4 – AXE
All ten participants also opted to take an axe with them. The dense undergrowth on parts of Vancouver Island often need clearing before they’re passable and an axe is the best tool around for it. Just don’t be like Mary Kate and almost take your thumb off with it!
#5 – SLEEPING BAG
Who doesn’t need a bit of comfort when they’re roughing it? It’s no surprise that all the contestants also decided to take a sleeping bag with them. Though their temperature ratings and type may vary, a good sleeping bag can mean the difference between getting a good night’s sleep and spending the night awake and cold. Protip: if you’re relying on your sleeping bag keeping you warm, don’t let it get wet.
#6 – A POT OR PAN
With nothing else available to cook your food or boil water with, it’s no surprise that all 10 participants have a pot or pan with them on the island. Though it might be tempting to take a huge pot with you to make the process of heating up water or cooking easier, the participants are limited to just 2 quarts (approx. 1.8L).
#7 – KNIFE
With 101 uses, knives are a really popular choice for the participants this year, though there are only 9 who have chosen to take a knife with them. Most competitors have opted for full tang blades (the blade goes all the way to the end inside the handle, usually with a couple of pieces of wood/bone bolted to either side so the grip is comfortable). The knives may be slightly different depending on what the participant wants to use the blade for, but ingenuity will be key on Vancouver Island!
#8 – FISHING LINE
While commercial fishing rods are on the banned list and can’t be taken to Vancouver Island, fishing line could be the difference between the participants going hungry and having fish for dinner. With the added benefit of having a multitude of other uses, it’s no wonder that 9 of the 10 participants chose fishing line as one of their items.
#9 – GILL NET
The participants arrived on the island just before the annual salmon run so unsurprisingly, nine of the contestants also opted to take a gill net with them. A gill net is able to be strung across streams and beaches, trapping fish who try to swim through. While most of the participants are using the gill net to catch fish, check out the makeshift hammock Justin makes with his!
#10 – BIVVY BAG
Never heard of a bivvy bag? Neither had we! A bivvy bag covers a participant’s sleeping bag to stop it from getting wet. For those participants who decided to take a down sleeping bag, which becomes unusable when wet and is next to impossible to get dry when it does get wet, a bivvy bag is a must.
But what about the A&E audience?
Unsurprisingly, the A&E audience had a few different suggestions as to what they would take to Vancouver Island. Many were very similar to those above but a few extras managed to sneak through. Though they’re not all on the master list of items, we’re going to allow it.
- A battery pack and Pokémon Go
Topical and a great way to pass the time but with a lack of mobile phone reception out on Vancouver Island, your chances of finding a cougar are much higher than your chances of finding a Growlithe.
- A boat/plane/helicopter
While great for getting off the island, not so great in your quest to win US$500,000. Using one of these modes of transportation will result in a tap out!
- A nice, warm woman
Having an extra pair of hands around might be a huge benefit but we’re going to guess that’s not what this A&E viewer was talking about! With the high rainfall and lack of amenities, Vancouver Island probably isn’t the best location for a date but the extra warmth and um “company” would certainly make the stay a little more enjoyable!
An EPIRB or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon would be a lot of help if you were stranded on Vancouver Island, but not much help if you were planning a stay there. Luckily, all participants are given one in case of an emergency, but using it results in an instant tap out.
- Satelite phone
With the ability to help with the solitude and the added benefit of giving the user the ability to phone a friend if they needed something explained, the sat phone would be a brilliant addition to any pack! While it’s not, strictly speaking, allowed in the Alone rules, not letting the producers know you have it with you could mean the difference between tapping out and enjoying a nice, relaxing break away from your family!