Over the last seven years, History Channel’s minimalist reality program Alone has carved out its own respectable niche in the crowded “man vs. the elements” subgenre. By ditching the camera crew and clashing personalities behind in favor of a quieter, more grounded, and slower experience that is best taken a few episodes at a time.
Every competitor, by requirement, is proficient in the field of survival against the elements. With such a strong lineup overall, it takes a combination of luck, mental fortitude, and adaptability to truly make your mark on the show as a competitor. Here are the ten strongest competitors thus far on Alone.
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Updated on July 7th, 2022 by Tanner Fox: First debuted in 2015, Alone was made to compete with a number of similar reality shows, but it persevered thanks in part to its raw, genuine approach. Alone features very little pageantry and feels far removed from the grandiose grandeur of shows like Survivor or The Challenge.
Airing its ninth season in 2022, Alone has held its own and continues to sate the survivalist urges of viewers everywhere. Still, even dedicated outdoorsmen likely wouldn’t choose to walk in the shoes of some of Alone’s best contestants.
Nathan Donnelly (Season 6)
One of the unavoidable challenges of competing on the show is the sometimes less-than-savory hand that nature deals out to the contestants. Nathan is perhaps one of the most disappointing taps ever on the show because his mixture of positivity and expertise had him poised as a real contender to win the notoriously difficult sixth season, set in the arctic.
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Unfortunately, a gust of wind had other plans and Nathan’s entire shelter went up in flames after 72 days alone. Furthermore, the late hour of the incident forced Nathan to wait out in the open until morning came and he could be rescued. Tough cookie.
Nicole Apelian (Seasons 2 & 5)
Battling both the wilderness and MS, Nicole’s two runs on the show are both testaments to the power of mental willpower and a willingness to consider every option carefully before proceeding.
Her initial appearance was the more successful of the two, due to her second chance showing being cut short by an MS attack. Apelian’s warm and intelligent demeanor made her easy to root for and her survival abilities were clearly a honed passion for the mother of two. Truly one of the most likable and modest contestants the show has ever had.
Larry Roberts (Seasons 2 & 5)
Larry was the ultimate underdog. Initially coming across as a slightly disgruntled average joe who was poised for villainy and self-sabotage, Roberts molded into one of the more dramatic figures of the season he debuted in as he battled loneliness and the mental agony of starvation.
His honest and sometimes-ugly reaction to strokes of bad luck made him one of the more relatable figures in a season chocked full of survival geniuses. When he returned three seasons later in the Redemption season, he once again demonstrated his knowledge and uniquely endearing everydayness.
Dave Nessia (Seasons 3 & 5)
One of the more committed and skilled contestants of both his seasons, Dave Nessia was medically evacuated in season 3 after 73 days alone in the barren wasteland of Patagonia after losing too much weight. The evacuation served as a driving force behind Nessia’s impressive performance in the fifth season.
Particularly memorable from Nessia’s second go-around was when he built and hunted with various different tools, proving his knowledge and skill in executing bold strategies. Nessia gracefully tapped out after 36 days in season 5 after feeling he had ‘done what he came to do.’
Carleigh Fairchild (Seasons 3 & 5)
In season 3, Carliegh Fairchild made it 86 days. No doubt one of the most impressive runs on the show, Fairchild demonstrated a keen sense of intuition and a thorough understanding of how to use the landscape to her advantage. Her forced evacuation was seemingly the only thing that could have stopped Fairchild from withering away until she won.
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Her dedication and onscreen know-how made her one of the fiercest competitors ever on the show. Unfortunately, her second chance was cut short by a fish hook to the hand.
Sam Larson (Seasons 1 & 5)
The winner of Alone: Redemption was also the only cast member from the inaugural season of Alone to return. Sam’s infectious optimism and subsequent self-filmed adventures made his season 5 arc one of the most rewarding to follow.
Having tasted failure before, Larson’s surprise when he wins is palpable and genuinely earned. Larson looked as though he might tap out a handful of difficult stretches in the season, particularly once his food supplies ran dangerously low, but his perseverance carried him to the win.
Woniya Thibeault (Season 6)
What a fun and truly uplifting presence Woniya demonstrated in her very impressive 76-day run in the sixth season of the series. Instead of using brute strength and a high BMI to stave off starvation, Thibeault utilized a more spiritual-based approach that actually took her all the way to the runner-up position.
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In the end, the lack of food did serve as the catalyst for her tap out, but there is no denying her performance throughout the season was one of the best and least stressful to behold.
Jordan Jonas (Season 6)
Season 6 had the show’s coldest location to date. With temperatures well below zero, the contestants who made it far in this season were particularly formidable survivalists.
The season’s winner, Jordan Jonas, appeared to be well prepared to keep going past his winning 77 days. Jonas’s victorious appearance on the show was marked by a blend of smooth southern charm and undeniable talent in the ways of the wilderness. One of the funniest and more laid-back winners the show has had, it was never hard to understand why Jonas did so well.
Roland Welker (Season 7)
The producers of Alone always seem poised to introduce a new twist, a shakeup in the show’s simple enough formula. Season 4, the weakest of the show’s seasons, featured teams of two, 5 was an all-star season, 6 with the allure of the Arctic, and now season 7 with the requirement that the winner must survive 100 days.
Naturally, anyone who was able to complete this, the longest run on the show by quite a few days, would be one of the strongest contestants the show has seen yet. Indeed, Roland Welker’s journey was a long and inspiring one that saw him surviving and struggling against the elements for well over three months.
Jose Martinez Amoedo (Season 2)
The strongest contestant thus far was outdone after 59 days due to one of the best innovations the show has seen, the man built a kayak. Jose represents the perfect candidate for the show—a likable, organically gifted risk-taker that is never not saying or doing something of interest in the footage viewers are presented with.
His abilities to craft and construct weapons and a whole kayak from scratch made him the obvious choice to win until his kayak was flipped by a current. The best contestant and the worst upset the show has seen.
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About The Author
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John Wells is a writer, poet, and filmbuff from Asheville, NC. He is currently pursuing a degree in Film Studies from Western Carolina University. Oftentimes John can be found perched behind his laptop screen arguing about movies (when he isn’t watching them, that is). His other interests include performing with his poetry-band, reading super out there books, and arguing philosophy with his dog.
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