Jordan Jonas spent 77 days in the Canadian Arctic to win Alone Season 6.
Jordan Jonas isn’t a stranger to being alone—his life experiences with isolation helped him win The History Channel’s survival show Alone.
On Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, he displayed impressive survival skills, ingenuity and adaptability to take home the $500,000 prize.
“Two things I never thought about at all: quitting and winning. I just went out there to see if I could be sustainable,” Jonas said.
Jonas grew up on a small farm in northern Idaho. He spent his childhood outside, working with animals and exploring the woods. His interest in the outdoors deepened when he was 18 years old and started riding freight trains with his brother. As they travelled across the US, Jonas experienced a new taste of freedom.
He spent most of his 20s in Siberia, Russia, living with traditional nomadic reindeer herders and fur trappers, often unable to contact friends and family for extended periods. These experiences contributed to him winning season 6 of Alone.
Jonas learned about Alone from a friend who suggested he apply. Jonas was surprised that previous Alone contestants didn’t hunt bigger game like bears. He thought the show made it seem like everyone was afraid of the bears—but he’d love the opportunity to hunt one.
Jonas applied for the show and forgot about it. Three years later, producers contacted him.
To prepare, Jonas tried to put on weight and brushed up on his survival skills.
When Jonas arrived in the Northwest Territories, he didn’t find berries, grouse or bear signs like he was expecting. Even fishing proved to be extremely difficult. However, he saw moose tracks and rabbit signs, so he switched focus.
“I’ll admit, that first day, I wasn’t nervous about being left alone, but I felt a lot of food-based pressure. I actually shot a rabbit [about] 30 minutes after they dropped me off, so that was really exciting.”
Loneliness is an obstacle often discussed by contestants on Alone, but Jonas had a different perspective. “The interesting thing about being alone on the show Alone is that never bothered me even a little bit. I think I felt that Russia had been a lot harder on the isolation front, because of the language barrier. I lived with Russians for a year while I learned the language and that was a long time to not be able to communicate with anyone very well. I remember thinking, ‘I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, it really sucks.’ For Alone, three or five months wasn’t that long, relatively. I knew it would end.”
He also enjoyed the self-filming process. “I actually really appreciated having the camera because it didn’t make me feel alone,” Jonas said.
In Russia, Jordan had epic adventures, but he couldn’t share them with others. “This is a really cool opportunity to share what I’m good at and what I do with people . . . honestly, it felt like an advantage having the camera in a way. I guess it’s how you view it.”
Jonas knew his relationships back home were strong, and his family’s history of resilience influenced his sense of gratitude on the show. “Both of my [grandparents] had all their family members killed [in the Armenian genocide]. Their kids were my 11 aunts and uncles. All of [them] and my dad were just joyful, and it always struck me: how did those people [who] went through so much trauma, in one generation, raise an amazing group of people that blessed me with no baggage? It’s a stunning gift. It also gives me a ton of perspective when [I’m] sitting out on some TV show and [I’m] a little hungry… I can face this with joy.”
He added, “On Alone, there’s no complaining. Any screw-ups, it’s just you. There’s no one to blame it on. Nobody cares about your excuses. The only thing that’s rewarded is action. You’ve got a problem—you’re hungry, or cold or wet. You have to figure out a solution and make it happen. You’re literally not going to eat unless you figure out a solution to the problem.”
Jonas found solutions and created opportunities, such as tracking and shooting a moose. “Hunting a moose in a situation like that gives you more of a feeling of satisfaction—more of a serotonin or dopamine hit—than anything I could do in the modern world.”
“I’m a positive person, but I tried to be fairly negative about my situation out there so I wouldn’t get complacent. So that if someone else got a moose, I would still have more food," Jonas explained.
“Worst case scenario, I had 140 days’ worth of food, but I was trying to be really conservative, a little pessimistic, in my estimations. I came out of the show my normal weight, what I weigh today. I had a couple hundred pounds of moose, 10 rabbits, a wolverine and 60 pounds of fish. Mentally, I thought, ‘okay, we’re going to get to day 90, day 100, and we’re going to start.’ I figured it would be me and one or two other people who are sustainable. Somebody surely got a bear, or a moose, or is catching tons of fish. I didn’t think I was going to win via everyone else starving because I was having a lot of success. I figured if I did, surely somebody else did. I figured I had to beat them because it’s so miserable they quit—I have to get through January, a long, dark, northern Canadian winter. Surely they’ll quit by then, even if they have food.”
When Jonas was surprised by the camera crew on day 77, he asked if he could stay with his wife. The crew said no.
A storm had delayed their arrival, and the crew had eaten through their food rations. Luckily, Jonas had enough for everyone. “They fed me back my own little fillets of fish, instead of a big chunk that I would’ve eaten,” he said with a laugh.
“The show does give that, ‘cold, we’re all miserable and suffering’ impression. There are moments of that, but in general it’s interesting how fulfilling a time it is for most people that go out there,” Jonas said.
“I thought when I was out there, ‘I wonder if they're going to be able to make this look hard?’ I thought it would be a cool opportunity to show that it is possible to actually thrive out here.”
To outdoor enthusiasts considering a solo trip, Jonas said, “Just go out. Maybe you’ll be miserable for a night, but you’ll learn. The good will come with the bad—you’ll suffer a little bit, and you’ll have a lot of joy, and you’ll learn a lot and overcome a bunch.”
Jonas said that his experience on Alone was an awesome opportunity to use his skills and share them with his loved ones. Being away from his family was a clear reminder of what really matters in life: the people you love.
Jordan guides people on expeditions of different kinds to tap into the rhythms, values and survival elements of the outdoors. Learn more at jordanjonas.com
Follow Jordan Jonas on Instagram: @hobojordo