ByJenna Cyprus

Jan 4, 2017

The environment is collapsing under the weight of human inhabitation. The average human’s habits are raising CO2 levels and warming the earth, putting us in a very bad place. As a result of climate change, the earth is reacting accordingly. Recent winters have seen some of the worst snowstorms and temperatures in decades. Hurricanes and earthquakes are devastating entire states and countries, and people are left scrambling for shelter and ways to feed their families.

With disaster potentially coming your way, it wouldn’t be out of line to focus on ways to live sustainably if the grid goes down. In this society, we rely on electricity a lot more than we should, and if a disaster hit, most people would struggle to stay afloat. If you don’t want to be caught unprepared in a catastrophe, you’ll want to use this guide for living off the land for at least a week.

Practice and Get in Shape

The very first step in preparing to live off the land is making sure you’re cut out for it. Some people have a great desire to be sufficient in the wild, but their lifestyle and physical state affect their ability to do so.

Prepare yourself by getting in shape. Run a couple of miles a day and lift some weights. You’ll have a very difficult time chopping wood and constructing shelters if you don’t have adequate arm and core strength.

Get used to nature and dealing with severe situations. Try your hand at some extreme sports like white-water rafting or snowshoeing to get a feel for what it’s like to survive in the wild. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn from this experience, even in a controlled environment.

Obtain Land

Find areas where you’ll be allowed to live off the land. If you have the financial means, you might purchase some property where you can hone your survival efforts. If not, look for places owned by the government that are free for use. You can’t worry about trespassing when you’re trying to survive.

You might also look for areas that are ideal for living off the land while respecting the environment. Some of the best places in the United States include Three Rivers Recreation Area in Oregon, Earthaven Ecovillage in the mountains of North Carolina and the Twin Oaks Community in Virginia. Here, you’ll find groups of people interested in protecting the land and living sustainably with only the resources provided.

Learn Basic Survival Skills

To live off the land, you’ll need to know how to build a shelter. Photo:

Living off the land is a lot different than living in a home with electricity. You’ll need some basic survival skills to both survive the week and live more responsibly. Some of the basic survival skills you’ll need include:

  • Constructing a shelter without damaging the environment. You might find a rock or cave formation that will shelter you without needing to cut down trees.
  • Building a fire using the resources found naturally in the environment, like discarded twigs or two stones.
  • Finding fresh-water sources in the wild. Once the water has been found, you’ll also need to know how to purify it.
  • Identify safe and eco-friendly foods. You can usually find all the nutrients you need through berries and greenery without needing to kill animals. Just make sure you know which plants are poisonous and which are safe to eat and where to find them.

Learn to Grow Food

You’re probably aware that fresh foods don’t magically appear in the produce aisles at the grocery store, but you might not know everything involved in growing your own food. Doing some research on proper soil cultivation techniques, sustainable gardening initiatives and efficient methods of organic farming will equip you with the knowledge necessary to grow your own food.

But don’t forget that growing food takes weeks. You can’t decide one day that you’re going to live off the land and magically have a garden full of food the next. It’s best to plan for more-sustainable living and disaster preparedness by keeping a fresh garden growing all year long.

Want to learn more about getting outside? Read our article “10 Camping Hacks to Help You Brave the Wilderness.”

Feature photo courtesy of

By Jenna Cyprus

Jenna is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities and worked with more than 100 businesses over the course of the past 15 years. She's a mother of two kids, and loves to go camping, hiking and skiing with her family.