9 Survival Skills I Wish I Knew About When I First Started Living Off The Grid

9 Survival Skills I Wish I Knew About When I First Started Living Off The Grid

When people are asked about survival skills, they tend think about the skills that help a person survive an emergency situation — hunting, foraging, finding water, reading tracks, orienteering and so on. 

However, many of these skills are also useful for people living off the grid.  Here are 9 survival skills that I wish I knew when I first started living off the grid.

9) Shelter Construction

Being able to construct a shelter is an essential survival skill.  In a short term survival situation, it can be as simple as pitching a tent, or stringing a tarpaulin between two trees or constructing a dugout shelter.  Doing whatever it takes to keep yourself protected from the elements.

To survive a long-term survival situation, more advanced construction techniques are required.  The structure must be able to remain standing for longer periods and withstand some wild weather.  It is useful to understand some basic construction techniques.

When I first began to live off the grid, my construction skills were pretty limited.  I could nail a few boards together, but I couldn’t construct small buildings.  When I realized I needed a shed for the chickens, my shelter construction skills were put to the test.  I realized how useful shelter building skills are!

8) Hunting and Fishing

When I first started living off the grid, I was still going to the store to buy most of my food.  I had a small garden, but it wasn’t producing enough to feed the entire family.  When a couple of the crops failed, it also resulted in a food shortage.

I realized that hunting and fishing were very important survival skills for gaining food independence and becoming more self-sufficient.  Hunting and fishing for food also allowed me to save some money, which I invested back into my home.

7) How to Sew

Sewing is a useful long-term survival skill which is rarely mentioned by survivalists.  If you find yourself in a survival situation for more than a few days, chances are you will damage your clothing or shelter and need this skill.

Abilities gained from being able to sew include:

Repairing closure points on clothing and objects. 
Zippers, buttons, velcro, and snaps can all break with repeated use.  Learning how to repair items with closure points is a very important survival skill

Patching items
If you tear your tent, tarpaulin or clothing, patching skills will allow you to  substitute another piece of material and increase its longevity

Repairing seams
Have you ever bent over and torn your favorite pair of jeans?  Seams on clothing are a high-stress area that can eventually tear.

Making size adjustments
In a long-term survival situation, you might lose weight and require size adjustments for your clothing.

Having the ability to make these repairs and adjust the size of clothing is incredibly useful when living off the grid.  You can save money and avoid unnecessary trips into town.  Being able to repair clothing instead of dashing to the shops makes you much more self-sufficient.

6) How to Cook Over a Fire

Most people are used to cooking a meal on a gas or electric hotplate.  Once you are in a survival situation it is highly unlikely those modern conveniences will be available!  You will be restricted to cooking over a fire.

At first, you might think cooking over a fire is pretty self-explanatory — you may have done it dozens of times before while camping.  However, was that meal very simple? 

Have you cooked a varied and nutritious meal for the entire family? 

The difficulty ramps up when you are trying to prepare a family meal with five different types of vegetables that have different cooking times.  Some foods also require different temperatures, which can be difficult to manage when using a fire.

5) Working With Tools

Being handy with tools is very useful in both short term and long term survival situations.  In a short-term situations, it can be as simple as whittling a spear from a stick. 

In longer term situations where self-sufficiency is a goal, it can involve using saws, hammers, and a variety of other tools.

If you improve your ability to work with a wide variety of tools, it can improve your self-sufficiency and ability to live off the grid.

4) Foraging for Food and Water

Establishing new sources of food and water wasn’t my first concern when I started living off the grid.  My hunting and fishing skills were a little under-developed and my garden was on the small side.

However, after a few months of visiting the store for supplies I realized how useful it would be to have foraging skills.  Foraging for food and water greatly increases your level of self-sufficiency.  Here’s why:

  • The food that you find is free!
  • You won’t have to visit the store as often, you will save money on fuel
  • You will have an additional food source to supplement what you grow in your garden
  • Foraged food contains a high level of nutrients, it is not genetically modified and it is free of chemicals.  You will be healthier by eating it and less likely to require a doctor.
  • Unlike hunting and fishing, you don’t require any equipment to forage for food

I began using survival skills to create additional pockets of water around my property and in the nearby forest.  Having these additional resources on hand gave me the certainty that if I had a problem with my personal water reserves, I could find enough water nearby to survive.

3) First Aid Skills

Many people who are living off the grid are in locations somewhat removed from civilization.  Being able to treat small injuries by yourself is very useful and avoids a trip into town to see the doctor. 

Not only will you save money, by understanding basic first aid you will be more useful in a survival situation.

2) Food Preservation Skills and Equipment

There are a variety of techniques which can be used to preserve the food you catch or grow.  The methods which you should become familiar with include:

  • Smoking meat and making jerky from meat
  • Food dehydration and sun drying
  • Field dressing the animals you kill
  • Fermenting
  • Pressure canning and caning
  • Freezing and freeze-drying

These survival skills will help you increase the variety and quality of food you enjoy throughout the year.  Food preservation skills are very useful skills for improving your self-sufficiency.

1) Electronics and Mechanics

While the ability to work with mechanical and electrical items might not seem like an obvious survival skill — it can save your life in some survival situations.  When living off the grid, these skills mean you can repair your solar panels, car, refrigerator, pumps and many other items around your property.

These skills can save you money, extend the longevity of your possessions and can be traded with other people for supplies. 

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