The first thing that you need to realize is that off-the-grid (OTG) living won’t be comfortable or easy — unless you have a BIG checking account.
So for this article, I’m just going to talk about off-the-grid living for the average citizen.
Less Is More
You will be giving up many of the comforts we take for granted: Heat and AC at the touch of a button… warm and cold potable (sanitary) water at the turn of a faucet… a refrigerator filled with fresh food… OTG living is all about minimization and conservation. And it depends on how long you want (or need) to be off the grid.
If you have the desire to be TOTALLY self-sustainable, you need to make sure you have the following:
When it comes to food, you can store it, grow it or hunt it.
There are a dozen companies out there that make dehydrated food with 25-plus-year shelf lives. Just add water. Personally, I’m a big fan of Wise.
That said, for OTG living you are going to have to think LONG TERM, which means growing, fishing and hunting. Try going a week without eating anything but freeze-dried rations and jackrabbit stew will taste like a 20 oz. ribeye steak.
You might be able to go two–three weeks without food, but two–three days without water and you are done. So you need to think about the duration of your “off the grid” goal.
If it’s for only a few weeks, using stackable water storage bricks is a great solution. But there are limitations to this option. Realistically, you can only store so many of these, and if you are in a climate that drops below freezing, you will be stuck with big blocks of ice.
Which means for prolonged OTG living, you need to consider sustainable water sources like drilling a well or drawing from a nearby stream, pond or lake.
But here’s a word of caution from someone who has experienced the joys of giardiasis — twice. Giardiasis is an intestinal infection marked by abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and bouts of watery diarrhea.
Giardia infection is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in the United States, but it can also be transmitted through food and person-to-person contact. These microscopic parasites are found in the soil, undercooked foods, backcountry streams and lakes — even municipal water supplies, swimming pools, whirlpool spas and wells.
The first time I got it, the brilliant doctors at the VA thought I had leukemia. Make sure you add several rounds of the antibiotic Flagyl to your emergency supplies as well as a high-quality survival water filter.
Again, this is a question of duration. For this example, let’s go with 12 months. Without power, your water pump can’t pump and your lights won’t light. And forget using your refrigerator, electric stove and furnace.
But there are several options when it comes to power in the OTG world, like…
- Propane Generator: Why propane? It burns clean and quiet. You don’t want to advertise that you have power to someone who doesn’t. Now we’re back to the budget question, but you can get a propane generator for less than $700 that will give you minimum electricity for the basic necessities. Remember that OTG living is all about conservation. ONLY THE NECESSITIES!
- Solar/Wind: These options have become very affordable in recent years and will provide minimum power to sustain your OTG living. However, these options are also very high profile, so put some thought into their placement.
If you have it, desperate people are going to want it, which means you need to protect it.
This is a great time to discuss secure storage. When I was in the SEAL teams, we would pre-ship most of our large gear in Milvan containers (also known as Conex boxes) when we deployed around the world.
Since we have all but pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan, there are a ton of these containers available for civilian purchase. There’s no better way to store your supplies — especially if you bury one and build a hatch in the top for entry. This will make your storage unit virtually undetectable — and it will insulate the contents.
I also highly recommend placing outdoor motion sensors around your OTG compound. If someone is coming for me, all I need is a few seconds of warning to make things right.
Now, when it comes to protecting your OTG environment — MORE IS BETTER. If the SHTF a $100 bill will be as worthless as a fistful of mud. Ammunition will become the new currency. So stock up NOW.