I assume some of you following this blog found us because you’d like to go off grid some day too. So I thought I’d put together a list of things we use all the time out here, as well as things to think about before jumping in to the off grid life. I know Kyle and I wrote a dozen lists before moving out here and we still missed things!
- Books – I did do a whole other post on this, but read all the off grid books you can before jumping into it! And don’t forget specialty books, like ones on how to set up your power systems or for cooking on wood stoves.
Update: I wrote my own Wood Stove Cookbook, you can find it here!
- Cooking Items – I’m partial to cast iron for cooking in myself, and I use these wood utensils. Maybe it’s in my head, but I think you can taste the plastic when using it to stir hot foods. Are you planing to bake things? Don’t forget some kind of propane oven! This Colman Camp Oven works great on propane stoves or on a wood stove top! Pick things that will last, and that will work for how you’ll be cooking. Non-stick does not seem to like wood stoves for me!
- Rechargeable Everything – Seriously. If you can buy battery operated or rechargeable, get rechargeable. We have multiple flashlights but we use this Dorcy lantern the most. It charges by USB or hand winding. Win win! We also have a Tzumi external battery pack for our phone, and it will charge our phone 0-100% twice on one charge. Get radio’s, head lamps and walkie talkies in rechargeable or wind up versions if they are available. And if you do need batteries, buy rechargeable in those too!
Rechargeable is the way to go when going off grid!
- Emergency/Safety Gear – Whatever you need to keep safe in your off grid dream land. Alaska is bear country, so we carry bear spray (like this). We also have harsh winters so we have a heater and generator (that we love) in case something goes wrong with the stove or we run out of wood. It’s a good thing we can DIY since we don’t have running water and get our water from the creek! We made our own water filters, but for hunting and exploring we carry Life Straws. Carrying guns loaded with self defense slugs are a safety must too, and we always take dogs on our excursions around the area.
- Bulk Food Items – Think of staple meals in your house and buy items for that in bulk. For us, we do potatoes and pancakes almost every morning so we buy a lot of items related to that, like syrup and pancake mix (we loooove Kodiak Cakes!). I also bake a lot of bread, so we bulk buy flour, and I cook nearly everything in coconut oil. It can be purchase in 5 lb buckets, which I love, and it’s good for you too! Coupon those things and stock up when you can. We have our “right now” shopping list when we go to town for things like meat and cheese since we don’t have a fridge, and our “long term” shopping list for food storage that includes canned fruits and items that store well un-refrigerated, like summer sausage.
Remember to think logistics for getting bulk purchases home as well. We don’t have a road to our property, so we have to make multiple trips on the 4 wheeler or drive our truck on the beach or winter trail.
- Specialty Items – Are you heating with wood? You’ll need a great ax to chop wood every day! How are you going to cook? Where are you getting your power? Do you want to take a hot shower at home (we have this set up for our showers), or do you plan on bathing some other way? What tools do you need to make your back woods life easier?
- The Fun Things – What can you not live without? What do you need to be happy while living off grid? For me, I knew I needed my phone/the internet. I wanted to be able to keep everyone up with what we were doing, and stay in regular contact with my family. So we needed a booster to get cell service at our place. We chose this WeBoost phone booster because it gave us phone and internet, which is great because we have unlimited data on our plan! It also covered way more area than we needed, because the lower the original signal strength, the less likely it would able to amplify and broadcast a huge distance. Our starting signal is so weak that this booster covers about 200 sq ft and that’s it. But that’s also all we need, and we get a few bars of 4g LTE signal using it. Kyle needed a 3DS. Something to do while I was online that used minimal power and had a battery. I know, it’s weird to live in the woods with internet and video games, but we use our solar panels (found here) to power those needs.
Homesteads are a lot of work, but you need time to relax too. Life can’t be all work and no play!
- Animals – Are you going to be keeping animals? What do they need to be safe, dry, warm, fed, watered and producing what you want from them (eggs, meat, milk, etc.). For us we knew we’d be getting chickens, so we brought metal feeders that we already had. We use metal garbage cans to keep our feed dry and safe from pests. Properly storing feed is a big deal when it could attract top predators like bears if not done correctly.
- Odds And Ends – Paper and writing utensils are always a good idea. And personally I don’t think you can have to many sheets and blankets or hand towels, especially if there isn’t a washing machine close by.
This is the biggest category we should have added more things in. Especially blankets when we lived in a tent while building!
- Money – Starting a homestead takes way more money than Kyle and I thought it would, or budgeted for. We’ve spent about 4 times what we purchased the property for just getting ourselves off the ground and settled in time for winter. We definitely have a list of things we brought from Washington, or purchased here, that we don’t need, and things that we can’t believe we gave away because we would have used them every day. Money is a little (okay, a lot) tight as we have better figured out managing our funds and deciding what we really need out here. One of our goals for 2017 (post here) is to cut a large portion of our grocery bill by producing most of our food here. We are also going to work more on getting our business up and running and gaining income from our homestead. Because we live off grid and off road, any work that isn’t done remotely requires one of us staying here while the other stays in town. It’s doable, but it is definitely not fun, and not something we want to be stuck doing forever. Look into job markets and how you will be supporting your homestead dream very carefully before launching into it.