Living off the grid refers to not being connected to the electrical grid but can also include other utilities such as gas and water.
Now, a person can live like this in a couple of different ways.
The first way is by choosing to live without any of these amenities.
For example, think of a person strapping on an outdoor pack and heading out to the woods to live off the land or build a cabin.
Another option is to live on a homestead. Generally, a homestead is not connected to the grid. But this does not necessarily mean a homestead goes without utilities.
It just means they produce or take care of what they need on-site.
For instance, electrical needs can be met through the use of generators that use fuel, solar panels, and wind or water generators.
So, a homestead may have none of the above or if it does it will be in a limited capacity.
Choosing to live off the grid requires careful planning and an assortment of tools to make the lifestyle possible.
To that end, we have put together a list of 66 tools that are essential to this lifestyle. We encourage you to use this list as a checklist to plan for your adventure of living off the grid.
To live off the grid, you can have a combination of hand and power tools depending on the availability of power.
However, since access to power can be limited or nonexistent, most of the tools available should be powerless.
Additionally, any power tools should have manual backups. A chainsaw is an incredibly efficient tool for processing wood. But there should be backup tools to it that include hand saws, axes, and mauls.
66 Essential Tools for Off Grid Living
Shovel and Spade
Holes will need to be dug, materials will need to be moved, and precision landscaping, taken care of. A shovel and spade will help to do all that and more.
This tool makes weeding and turning the soil in a garden easier than crawling on your hands and knees.
Some projects require a person to get down on their hands and knees to work in the dirt. In these situations, a hand trowel is much easier to use than a full-sized shovel.
Plastic and Metal Rake
A plastic rake works great for clearing up light brush and leaves while a metal rake is reserved for heavier duty tasks like spreading rocks and soil.
Post Hole Digger
A post hole digger is one of the most efficient manual ways for digging holes when putting up a fence.
A multitool of sorts, fencing pliers are a must-have for anyone wanting to install or maintain a fence line.
This is a smaller version of an ax used for clearing brush, chopping small pieces of wood, and processing wild game.
When a hatchet won’t cut it, an ax will.
A maul is a must-have if you plan on processing a lot of firewood. It is incredibly efficient at splitting wood.
General Wood Saw
There are many different types of wood saws, but a general hand saw will take care of the average woodworking project.
Speaking of woodworking projects, or any other projects for that matter, a measuring tape is a must-have for any builder.
Level and Square
Along with a measuring tape, these two tools will help to ensure that a building project fits together just as it was planned.
Having two hands is great but many projects require us to have more than that. Clamps will help to secure items when being worked on to make the task easier and safer.
If you have a lot of wood and not a lot of time, then a chainsaw is the way to go when processing trees.
These saws are great for completing a lot of rough cuts on building materials quickly. Plus, they can reach into those nooks and crannies where other saws cannot go.
When a chainsaw is too much and an ax doesn’t work the best, a bow saw works wonders for cutting branches and small saplings. Be sure to always have a few extra replaceable blades in case one becomes damaged.
If you plan on processing logs into building material, you are going to want a good draw knife for removing excess material and shaping.
Sometimes things need to get pulled out of the ground or moved around. A heavy-duty log chain and a vehicle can move many things.
This can be used to rescue vehicles from sticky situations or to move materials on the property.
This list of tools is not ordered by priority but if it were, a good full tang knife would be on the top of the list.
When it comes to building or demolition, a good claw hammer will get a lot of work done.
This is for heavy-duty demolition or pounding when a regular hammer just won’t do.
An array of different kinds and sizes of screwdrivers will be needed for assembling items, adjusting them, or taking them apart.
A good set of wrenches makes working with hardware much easier.
Items will need to be grabbed, twisted, retrieved, and held into place. Make sure to have a few different kinds of pliers.
When power is not available and a hole needs to be made, a hand drill is the best tool for the job.
But when power is available a power drill makes drilling holes and dealing with hardware so much faster.
A cheap all-purpose knife that can be used for opening packages, cutting rope, cardboard, tape, and well, anything that needs to be cut and with precision.
When it is time to cut through metal this is a tool you will want. It is super easy to use and comes with replaceable blades.
Metal and Wood Files
A metal file helps to remove excess metal material in a precise and controlled manner. The same goes for wood files when working on wood. They are also extremely handy for keeping axes and knives sharp.
A pry bar is very helpful for demolition projects and as an aid in moving heavy objects.
When power is available this is a great tool for removing excess material from a surface and polishing.
This takes over when a power sander cannot be used.
When power is available, a grinder makes quick work of cutting and removing excess metal material.
A good sharpening stone is a must for keeping cutting tools sharp and in working order.
Nails, Screws, Nuts, and Bolts
Whether you are building a home, an outbuilding, or repairing some item, hardware like this will be needed to hold everything together.
Wood glue, crazy glue, gorilla glue are a quick and easy way of holding materials together when nails and screws are not desired.
You never know what will break or when it can be permanently fixed. Duct Tape has long been the handyman’s go-to tool for temporary and improvised fixes.
A sturdy rope goes a long way in keeping items secured, wrapped up, and to haul objects around.
In the absence of a permanent structure or to be used for sleeping under the stars, a tent will provide minimum protection from the elements.
A tarp is like duct tape in that it can be used in so many ways. It can be a shelter, a bed, waterproofing material, a bag, and on the list goes. Be sure to have at least one if not many good tarps on hand.
Work Clothes and Boots
Regular clothes and footwear are not going to hold up to the abusive lifestyle of living off the grid. Be sure to invest well in these items because you will be depending on them every single moment.
A wool blanket is an incredible insulator even when wet. Additionally, they are quite durable so they can be used as a pillow, blanket, bedroll, seat pad, and improvised poncho.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Living off the grid can require a lot of physical work using an assortment of tools. Keep yourself safe by using protective equipment such as eye and ear protection, work gloves, and joint pads.
If you want to use power tools, charge devices, and have a few lights around, then a source of power is going to be needed.
Having power off the grid will require the use of a fuel generator, solar panels, and wind or water generators. And do not forget the batteries!
Cast Iron Cookware
Living off the grid is a lot of hard work and you must eat sometime. Cast iron cookware is extremely heavy by modern standards but when it is taken care of it can be passed down through generations.
Metal cooking utensils are among the most durable ones around and when taken care of they will last many years.
This is one of the best ways to make a pot of coffee that does not require power.
Canning supplies coupled with a heat source will provide an effective way of preserving food.
Water Containers, Filters, Purifiers, and Bottles
When living off the grid having a source of water is of the utmost importance and being able to clean that water is critical.
Ways in which to filter and purify water will absolutely be needed.
Storing water in larger containers will allow fewer trips to the source and a water bottle can be easily carried around wherever you go.
A firearm levels the playing field when there are threats or dangers present. It is also an incredibly effective hunting tool.
Bow and Arrow
In the absence of a firearm, a bow and arrow are the next best thing. They are not as powerful as a firearm but are still an effective hunting tool.
Often overlooked, slingshots are very affordable and an effective hunting tool when going after small or medium-sized game. It also works well in scaring away unwanted pests.
Lightweight and compact, basic fishing gear can be used over and over to catch the meal of the day.
First Aid Supplies
It does not matter if you live on or off the grid, medical supplies, and the knowledge of how to use them should be available. At a minimum, a basic or general kit should be a part of your gear.
Flashlights, Headlamps, Lanterns, and Candles
“I like being stuck in the dark,” said no one ever.
Flashlights provide a quick and easy to use light source while headlamps do the same but are a hands-free version.
Lanterns are great for when you are wanting to illuminate a larger area and candles are backup to all the above.
Considering the access or lack thereof to power, using lights that are rechargeable, solar, or crank-powered may be a better option over using batteries.
Matches and Lighters
Two very simple but exceedingly important tools that provide a quick means of making fire.
However, if you are worried about the longevity of these items, I would suggest adding in a large ferrocerium rod.
Maps and Compass
We all need to know where we have been, where we are, and where we are going, and everything that lays in between.
A good map of the region you live in partnered with a compass and the knowledge of how to use them are basic navigational tools that will make life easier and safer when living off the grid.
Off Grid Essential Items Checklist
Below is a simplified more streamlined version of the above list that can be used as a checklist. Feel free to add or remove items as needed so that the list is customized to your needs.
- Hand Trowel
- Plastic Rake
- Metal Rake
- Post Hole Digger Fencing Pliers
- Reciprocating Saw
- Bow Saw
- Draw Knife
- Log Chains
- Outdoor Knife
- Wood Saw
- Measuring Tape
- Claw Hammer
- Hand Drill
- Power Drill
- Utility Knife
- Metal Saw
- Metal Files
- Pry Bar
- Power Sander
- Sand Paper
- Sharpening Stone
- Nuts and Bolts
- Duct tape
- Work clothes
- Work boots and shoes
- Work gloves
- Wool blankets
- Eye protection
- Hearing protection
- Joint pads
- Solar panels
- Wind or water generators
- Cast iron cookware
- Metal utensils
- Coffee percolator
- Canning supplies
- Durable water bottles
- Bow and arrow
- Fishing Gear
- First-aid supplies
Living off the grid is hard work, but it can offer a lot of benefits that include not being as dependent on others or an infrastructure that is not well maintained.
But by having the right tools for the job you can work smarter and not harder, thus enjoying an off the grid lifestyle even more.
Thanks for reading and stay prepared!
I am sure there are plenty of tools that did not make it onto our list. Sound off in the comment section below and let us know what essential tools you would want for living off the grid.