Water Torture (also known as Shoulder the Load) is a recurring endurance challenge that originated in Survivor: Borneo and was modified and reused in later seasons.


In Borneo, one man from each tribe would hold weight on poles until they could no longer do so. Due to the challenge going unaired, it currently unknown if the polebearers had to simply hold a set weight for as long as they could or if their was a method for increasing the weight of the poles similar to later seasons.

When used in The Australian Outback, one man from each tribe was chosen to be the designated water bearer who would hold weight in water from the other tribe until the weight became too much to bear.

Starting in Pearl Islands and since, three members from each tribe will have a pole across their shoulders. Each round, weight (20 lbs.) will be added to that pole. The decision about which tribe member gets the weight will be made by the other tribe. When the weight becomes too much to bear, the tribe member will drop the pole and be out of the challenge. Last person left standing wins reward or immunity for their tribe.

Starting in Tocantins, a requirement was added that two men and one woman must compete in this challenge. This requirement was kept for South Pacific.


This challenge would first appear as an unaired Reward Challenge in Survivor: Borneo that occurred on either Day 4 or 5. Richard Hatch and Joel Klug bore the poles for Tagi and Pagong respectively. Joel managed to endure longer than Richard, earning the Pagong tribe a map to a closer water source.

In its on-screen debut during Survivor: The Australian Outback, Michael and Colby were the two designated water bearers. After time elapsed they were both carrying approximately 400 lbs. of water, where soon Michael's pole snapped in half. The two went into a timed tiebreaker in which Colby won for his tribe, Ogakor.

Andrew and Ryan O. won this challenge for Morgan when it reappeared in Survivor: Pearl Islands.

Taj won this challenge for Jalapao for reward in Survivor: Tocantins.

Dawn won this challenge for Savaii most recently in Survivor: South Pacific, where the challenge was for reward and immunity.

Total weight when dropped Who held this weight
240 lbs. S23 jim tS23 brandon t
220 lbs. S7 rupert tS18 jt tS18 brendan t
180 lbs. S23 keith tS23 albert t
160 lbs. S7 osten tS7 christa tS7 andrew t
140 lbs. S7 shawn tS7 ryano tS18 joe t
S18 tyson tS23 stacey tS23 dawn t
100 lbs. S18 taj tS18 debbie t


Episode Challenge Type Winner
"The Generation Gap"
Tribal Reward S1 bb tS1 colleen tS1 gervase tS1 greg t
S1 gretchen tS1 jenna tS1 joel tS1 ramona t
The Australian Outback
"Trust No One"
Tribal Reward S2 amber tS2 colby tS2 jerri t
S2 keith tS2 maralyn tS2 mitchell tS2 tina t
Pearl Islands
"Me and My Snake"
Tribal Immunity S7 andrew tS7 darrah t
S7 osten tS7 ryano tS7 tijuana t
"The Strongest Man Alive"
Tribal Reward S18 joe tS18 jt tS18 sandy t
S18 spencer tS18 stephen tS18 sydney tS18 taj t
South Pacific
Tribal Reward/Immunity S23 cochran tS23 dawn tS23 elyse t
S23 jim tS23 keith tS23 ozzy tS23 whitney t




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