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The History Channel’s Alone Season 9 winner, Juan Pablo Quiñonez, made it through an incredible 78 days. Although it wasn’t the longest someone has lasted in the wilderness in the reality TV show competition, it was still impressive. So, how did Quiñonez make it that long with minimal food, water, and survival gear?

‘Alone’ Season 9: Juan Pablo Quiñonez is a survival specialist

After reading Juan Pablo Quiñonez’s cast biography from the History Channel, it’s no surprise that he made it 78 days in Alone. The 30-year-old survival specialist is also a wilderness first responder. He had 10 years of experience in outdoor survival before joining the series. Quiñonez backpacked all 2650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 99 days and spent six months living in the wild with his partner, Jennifer. He also spent 100 days foraging in solitude during the boreal winter. Like all of the cast members, he loves adventure. 

How did Juan Pablo Quiñonez survive his worst days in ‘Alone’ Season 9?

Juan Pablo Quiñonez’s secret to survival in Alone was more straightforward than anyone could imagine. He prepared for the show without planning to go on it by collecting survival strategies throughout his life.

“I’ve written a book about survival called Thrive: Long-Term Wilderness Survival Guide, and I have all of these mental strategies,” Quiñonez told TV Insider. “It’s funny, because over the years I’ve been collecting strategies to use in those situations, but I really did not use many of those strategies.”

However, the skill that helped Quiñonez in his worst moments was the most basic one — deep breathing.

“The most simple one was to be thankful for three things every day, and often I would do some deep breathing exercises,” he continued. “That really helped. It’s so simple, but just a few deep breaths. Every time I was feeling anxiousness coming or just too much stress, I would do some deep breathing.”

What gear did Juan Pablo Quiñonez take with him in ‘Alone’ Season 9?

As many viewers know, contestants in Alone choose 10 survival gear items to take with them from a specific list. Juan Pablo Quiñonez chose to bring a Ferro rod for starting fires. He also brought a paracord, a 2-quart pot, an ax, a fishing line with hooks, a saw, a bow and arrows, a sleeping bag, a trapping wire, and a multi-tool. However, in the same interview with TV Insider, he revealed that he felt bringing the Ferro rod was a mistake. Quiñonez didn’t start many fires, so it wasn’t as valuable as he thought it would become.

The most challenging part of ‘Alone’ for Quiñonez

'Alone' Season 9 winner Juan Pablo Quiñonez sitting in the wilderness
‘Alone’ Season 9: Juan Pablo Quiñonez | The History Channel

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Although Quiñonez won Alone Season 9, he was not happy with the location the production assigned him.

“To me, the spot right around the river — the grass is always greener, right? — the other side of the river was the spot to be in,” he explained to TV Insider. “But that was not the spot where I was dropped in. Mentally, just being constrained to my territory was personally very hard, just thinking, ‘Oh, I could just be in a better spot, but I can’t.'” 

Although Quiñonez had plenty of survival experience before becoming a contestant on Alone, the show’s constraints were challenging. However, he persisted and became the winner of the $500,000 cash prize in Alone Season 9.

Alone Season 9 is currently available for streaming on the History Channel app with a cable TV or streaming subscription.