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Extreme Off Grid Living

Updated on June 7, 2014

Over the last 3 or 4 years, I have started to realize that I want to get away from civilization. Period. I'm unable to leave it behind completely because it's not just me anymore, but I can still get close to it. So I take what knowledge and experience I gained over the years and keep adding to it every chance I get.

Dandelion...You'll Come To Love These

One of my favorites, and abundant where I live. The flower, leaves, and roots are all edible. It's considered as a "bitter", but boiling the leaves will help take some of the bitterness out if you don't like them raw.
One of my favorites, and abundant where I live. The flower, leaves, and roots are all edible. It's considered as a "bitter", but boiling the leaves will help take some of the bitterness out if you don't like them raw.

Society sees people like me as strange because we refuse to conform to it. They want to threaten us, put us in jail, call us names, but the truth is...they're just scared and confused. Scared because society has taught them everything they know. They've become comfortable in their boxes and they don't want to leave. The saying is true that people are afraid of what they don't understand. And that's really sad, man. That's really sad...

Confusion circles around the heads of “normal” people because, why would anyone want to live like a savage? Why live without the modern conveniences that are available to us today? Why? Why? Why? So many questions, but few care to look for an answer. Until recently.

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There has been a growing movement among Americans wanting to live a simple life, and the reasons for this are as varied as the people themselves. The definition of what “off grid” also varies from one person to the next, but the basic principle is all the same: to just get away.

These, I believe, are the most common among the off griders:

  • Some of these modern day pioneers live in communities where everyone works together for the benefit of the community.
  • Many folks make use of an RV, camper, or even a house pulled behind their vehicle.
  • Some keep one foot in the modern world while still working their everyday jobs.
  • Others are choosing to live off the grid and live off the land.
  • But then...there are a few who have given up on society all together.

It’s the latter type I’m most interested in. It would be an easy decision for me to drop everything and make a go as our ancestors did, but it’s not just me anymore. And although the better half of me is more than willing to go off grid, she’s not willing to go as far as I am willing to go. But even now, I sometimes question if I have learned and mastered enough survival skills and obtained enough wilderness knowledge to make it on my own with just the bare essentials. The answer to that question will ALWAYS be a resounding NO.

Living primitively isn't easy. And never let anyone tell you it is. There's a lot of hard work to live that way. But it is possible. When you plan for off grid living, you can't just rely on being physically strong, you have to have a certain mindset. If you're not mentally prepared to live as your ancestors did then you will never make it. You have to be willing to do things (and eat things) that you never saw yourself capable of doing before. It's survival. But it's a kind of spiritual journey that you will never experience otherwise. Always keep your wits about you!

Let’s not fail to mention that living like a caveman is comfortable. Well, not always. There’s no tent or insect repellent to keep you from the biting bugs. More than likely you’re going to be using mud. Your shelter probably leaks and is dangerous to live in. Let me remind the wild you are no longer the top of the food chain! Toilet paper (as you know it) doesn't exist where you are. Nor do toilets, sinks, showers, and ready potable water. You have to find other means to replace these common household luxuries.

Cattails Are Edible And Useful

The cattail is an every season plant. Meaning, every season you can either eat or use a part of this plant.
The cattail is an every season plant. Meaning, every season you can either eat or use a part of this plant.

If you get hungry, there is no refrigerator or food pantry to turn to, no microwave around to cook a frozen meal, and no laundry mat. Soap, shampoo, deodorant, and so forth is unheard of. You get thirsty, hungry, and must find these things or you’ll perish. You can go a days without food, but you’re not going to last long without water. By the way, most water you find is either unfit to drink or needs to be purified before you can drink it.

Fire is crucial. Without fire you can’t cook food, purify water, stay warm... But what if it rains? Your ability to start and maintain fire is a survival skill that must be learned and practiced often. Or perhaps there’s more sun and heat than rain; in which case available water is absolutely critical. The location you are in will depend on the rain factor, of course, but weather likes to change; and sometimes rather quickly.

Cob...Old Reliable

Everyone has their picks, but here are some basic tools and gear you’ll want to have in the bush:

  • A GOOD knife (your best friend of best friends)
  • Sharpening stone (nice to have)
  • Fishing kit (line/lures/hooks/weights)
  • Means to make fire (your choice here)
  • Rope (always a good idea)
  • Sturdy bag or backpack to store and carry gear
  • Wool clothing for winter (wool is great for many reasons)
  • Water container (and water, of course)
  • Tarp (many uses)
  • Metal cup or pot (to boil water)
  • Snares/bow (used for hunting and easy to make)
  • On hand food (you never know when you'll find it again)

First aid kits, hiking boots, rain gear, compass, whistle, mirror, etc. are good to have. But if you're looking to stay out in the wild for an extended period of time, your best gear is whatever you can use and carry. These are simple no nonsense items, but they are the necessities to help get you started to survive on your own. Otherwise, NEVER go into a situation you are not prepared to endure for more than 2 or 3 days.

You must figure out how to take care of yourself when you become ill. Dysentery can and will weaken you and even kill you if you can’t provide for yourself. The cold will make you sleepy; a nasty trick of hypothermia. You’ll find yourself putting off going out in the cold to look for food. This, too, will end you. But you must also learn the difference between when you CAN and can NOT go out in the cold. Sometimes, it IS better to stay by your fire; provided you have one.; and you better have one, too.

Simple cuts at home is a matter of washing the area, use of iodine or the like, antibacterial ointment perhaps, and a band aid. The same cut in the bush can become infected and also make your days short. You need to be able to recover from fever. Hint: willow bark contains aspirin. Brushing your teeth should not be overlooked. Scientists say early man lived short lives mostly due to bad oral hygiene; this caused all sorts of medical problems. Daily bathing is preferred, but I know that’s not always a luxury in the woods. But in any case, you need to be keep yourself as clean as you can; even if it’s a smoke bath.

NEVER EVER eat a plant just because you see an animal eating it! They can digest things you can’t. Some foods are toxic with a single bite. Some are edible but toxic in quantity. But there are oodles of things you can eat. Some plants you eat only eat parts of, others you can eat the whole thing. Some are edible, but only if you boil them first. Hint: when in doubt, cooking your edibles is always a good idea in the wild. Also, besides a food source, you should be able to identify how you can use different parts of plants as medicinal aids.

I know I’m not giving any examples because, if I did I’d be writing a book and not an article. But I will give you some sources to look into:

  • How To Stay Alive In The Woods By Bradford Angier
  • Outdoor Survival Skills By Larry Dean Olsen

There are those of you that are reading this and thinking this is all very basic information. But I’m writing this because there are many people who don’t consider the little things because they don’t know they should. Folks have become too dependent on modern conveniences and technology these days. But I’m happy to see that because of this very reason more and more people are looking to go back to a more simple, and perhaps, primitive, lifestyle.

The shame is is that it seems the American Dream has become illegal. Many people going off grid find themselves harassed, threatened, and even arrested for living the lifestyle they find ideal. This truly saddens my heart. For those of us that know, there are ways to get around this (such as areas without zoning codes), but even that sometimes isn't enough.

However, if you have been considering a move away from society, please don’t let such things keep you from freeing your spirit. It is your choice how to live; make the best of it. And whenever you can... always be willing to share your knowledge with others.


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    • Gypsy Scribe profile image

      Anthony Davis 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Hey! Thanks for posting! I agree with you. Even the most basic skills have been lost over the years. It is possible, but I would suggest for some to do some research and planning first.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country

      Interesting and informative hub. Everybody should know how to live off grid, and have the skills that would be required.

      We live in the "woods" . I am sure our former suburban neighbors would think that we have a pioneer lifestyle but that is far from true. We do have a woodstove ,which will use mostly for heat, and when necessary we can cook on it.

      Yes, we do use electricity-- but we could survive without it.