The second season of Alone starts tonight on the History Channel. The show disperses ten contestants into remote areas of Vancouver Island with only ten items of their choosing at their disposal. Each must then film themselves “surviving” for as long as they can, with the last one standing earning a big cash prize.
I enjoyed season one of the show. It is one of the few “survival” oriented TV shows that I feel is worth a damn. The environment itself is a worthy opponent for one thing. The area is frequented by heavy rain storms, and bears and mountain lions, but the biggest struggle in any survival situation is maintaining a positive mental attitude. By the time the field had been narrowed down to a small handful, watching the mental progression of the contenders was fascinating. Since they are on their own, and filming themselves, this is as close as we can reasonably come to documenting “true survival.”
I’m certainly guilty of the following, but we knife nuts/gear hounds can be rather gear-list centric, often focusing on the minutiae of what we or others are carrying. This is understandable, as it is one of the things we can really plan for. Most of us have no experience with how our minds would actually hold up in a survival scenario, but that is the most important aspect. The final two standing on the last season were carrying a a small carbon steel butcher knife and a Condor kukri. A lot can be done with minimal tools if the will to survive is strong.
With that in mind, lets meet the contestants and their knives. Photos are courtesy of History.com. If you want to see their full gear lists, check them out here.
TRACY WILSON / BECKER BK7: Tracy Wilson comes from a military/LEO background. The BK7 may not be high on the list for most buschrafty-types as it is more of a tactical knife, but seeing some of the close calls with wildlife in the last season has me thinking that is not a bad thing. The fact that it can still handle things like carving and batoning quite well make it a worthy survival knife. Astute readers may recall I picked the BK7 for my zombie apocalypse knife for these very same reasons!
LARRY ROBERTS / L.T. WRIGHT GENESIS: An electrician by trade, Larry Roberts has chosen the Genesis from L.T. Wright Knives. Horace Kephart’s philosophy on knives has stood the test of time. The Kephart blade style – a four to five inch spear point blade with small finger guard and broomstick handle – hits a lot of points for versatility and the LTWK is my favorite modern interpretation of the style. The thumb scallops are a nice touch and I’ve found L.T.’s products to be extremely sturdy.
DESMOND WHITE / FäLLKNIVEN A1: Desmond is former US Army and has loved the outdoors from his Boy Scouting days in Souther Arizona. He is carrying what looks like a Fällkniven A1 to me. The VG10 stainless blade should shrug off the terminally damp conditions with ease. I’m not the biggest fan of rubber handles, but they can definitely be an advantage in the wet and the cold.
RANDY CHAMPAGNE / CONDOR PRIMITIVE BUSH KNIFE: Survival instructor Randy Champagne from Boulder, UT also went the stainless route with the Matt Graham designed Condor Primitive Bush Knife. Measuring 8-inches of 420HC steel, this is a fairly long, but not too thick piece of kit. The sharpened swedge should help in defensive scenarios and the tubes in the handle can facilitate lashing if the scenario calls for it.
NICOLE APELIAN / CUSTOM KUKRI: Nicole Apelian worked as a game warden for the Peace Corps and is a safari guide and anthropoligist. She has brought along a whopper – a custom kukri-inspired blade, designed with and made by Ron Macy out of 5160 steel. There is a lot of versatility in this style of blade, and not just for combat applications. Here is Nicole’s explanation of everything this knife can do:
The knife is very forward heavy and great for batoning wood. Its shape also allows me to use it as a draw knife and it has a pointed end for just-in-case needed protection and for gutting. Squared-off spine for the ferro rod strike and toward the handle it is edged for finer work. I had to ask a lot from one knife and this one delivered. I also really like the sheath design – I can quickly draw the knife out and it doesn’t bounce on my leg with the side-draw design.
MIKE LOWE/ L.T. WRIGHT JESSMUK: SERE Instructor/Rescue Training Instructor Mike Lowe is carrying the scandi-ground Jessmuk by LTWK. The blade shape is vaguely Nessmuk inspired with a few twists. The 1/8″ O1 steel is classic bushcrafting fare and the clip point and finger guard may also help in potential defensive encounters.
MARY KATE GREEN / MORAKNIV COMPANION HD: Mary Kate is a former wildland firefighter and spent 12 years as a child living off the grid with her family. She has gone with a solid low-budget knife, the Morakniv Companion. Although I am not certain, it appears to be the HD version with a 3mm thick carbon steel blade. Mora’s certainly punch above their price point, and they have the advantage of being very lightweight as well.
JOSE MARTINEZ AMOEDO / TRAILING POINT CUSTOM: Jose Martinez Amoedo is an aboriginal skills instructor hailing from Spain. He brought with him a customized Leatherman geared toward woodworking and a custom knife he designed himself. With the trailing point it ought to skin and slice very well.
DAVID MCINTYRE / DIVING SPARROW KNIFE WORKS CUSTOM: McIntyre is a writer of post-apocalyptic fiction who has established a survival school in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. According to him, he never feels comfortable in a new area until he has survived in that area’s wilderness. He has chosen a custom by Abe Elias of Diving Sparrow Knife Works, and the blade itself is very Woodlore-esque. Dave had this to say about the knife.
It is a scandi grind in ATS34 stainless. He did a fantastic job on the knife and dangler sheath which he impregnated with a beeswax secret sauce to weatherproof the leather. I normally use carbon steel knives but for saltwater environments stainless is the way to go IMO. On a short trip, sure carry what you want and care for your blade. When planning to live and work in saltwater with no way to care for the knife… I chose stainless and have no regrets.
JUSTIN VITITOE / LEATHERMAN SURGE: Former US Army sniper Justin Vititoe has instructed numerous outfits in marksmanship, camouflage, tracking, and other skills. Joe is the only competitor who is not bringing a fixed blade knife, but rather a black coated Leatherman Surge. He does have an axe and a saw, so he is not exactly hurting for edged tools, but an interesting choice nonetheless. In his own words, “Hopefully it was a wise decision and I don’t end up regretting it later.”
So that is it! Personally, being a fan of Beckers and LTWKs, I know who I am rooting for. What about you? What do you think of the blades they picked?
Update 4/27/2016: David McIntyre has commented and let us know a few details about his knife. I have updated his section of the article accordingly.
Update 5/17/2016: Nicole Apelian’s section updated with more details, taken from her response in the comments.