Off Grid Know How For The Win!

Here is bush craft knowledge.

Garmin Etrex 22 Review


Best water is rain water. Streams and rivers are ok too, but they often contain stirred up mud and or pollution from humans up stream. Mud in stream water can be filtered out, but not completely. If you have to drink stream water get it from upstream and get the cleanest least muddy flow in bottles and then run it through a filter such as a kitchen jug filter or a stefanie filter, Berkey etc. It will still be muddy though. Next boil it in a pot on a gas cooker and drink. Alternatively you can distill stream water with a fire or electric powered water distiller.

Rain Water

In a forest and at first attempt at collecting rain water, one can set up a tarp above a tent and and use it to focus rain water into a collection point where one puts a bottle underneath.

The trees drop a huge amount of bird droppings and insects and tree matter on the tarp and the water collected under trees is of Coca-Cola appearance. It also goes off in summer after three days and in cooler months a week or two and that water is stinking and tasting bad. Filtering doesn’t help too much either.

That is the problem, the solution is to set up a clean dedicated water collection tarp under open skies. Little tree matter falls onto the tarp this way and the rain water you do collect is pure. That means it looks completely clear and it tastes excellent like rain water should. Do not set up your water catchment under trees. Also the pure rain water doesn’t go off. One can use rain water for drinking, cooking and for clothes washing and for body washing and teeth cleaning. You can use stream water for these but it might be muddy and not really suitable for clothes washing. Rainwater is superior. Stream water has its place, it can be best used to water your food garden and for your chickens to drink. They love it. When not in use collecting rain, undo one side of the tarp and fold it so that debris from trees and insects and potential bird droppings cannot land on your water catchment. Add clips (carabiner style) to one side of the tarp so it can be quick stowed and quick deployed.

Water Storage:

For drinking water one can use supermarket-bought 1.5 liter water bottles that can be re-used. Have several funnels that you can use to pour water from collection food grade bucket, to the 1.5L bottles. Use any kind of improvised cup to transfer the water, the cup can simply be a 1.5L bottle cut in half. This rudimentary system delivers perfect rain water to your off grid kitchen.

Buy 20L blue plastic Jerry Cans from Bunnings, with the idea to store the water in those. In practice, they are too heavy and cumbersome to keep in the kitchen and to pour a cup of tea worth of water out each time, resulting in big blobs of water shooting out the Jerry and landing on the floor, which then need to be dried up somehow. Its a hassle. So with the 1.5L bottles, you use them one at a time, they are handle able and don’t weight too much. Big food grade buckets are also PERFECT for both catching and storing water water to use in the kitchen. This is because one can simply dip a water transfer cup into the bucket and pour the water into a pot to boil for tea coffee, dinner etc. This is an excellent simple system.

The 20L Jerry refilling process is a bit boring so one could make an improvement to the system to basically grab the big food grade buckets as they fill and carry them to a water tank at the house and fill the tank. The tank will have a pipe with a tap located in the kitchen at a sink for easy of access and also the sink would have a waste water pipe to the garden. With off grid living you can and should start out rudimentary and become more sophisticated as time goes on. Also the 1.5L bottles are ideal size to take in a backpack on short or extended hikes.

You can also use square plastic storage tubs to fill with rain water after collecting your drinking water. The tubs need to be shifted around carefully because they can break also they are of the plastic that goes brittle and snaps in the sun. But once rainwater is collected in the tubs you can use a portion of water at a time to wash clothing and then rinse and hand out to dry on plastic/nylon rope. Some ropes can stain clothes, but most plastic ropes will not stain.

Clean your teeth with the 1.5L bottled rainwater too. For body washing, take a kind of rudimentary shower in the morning. Use something like a plastic bowl and fill it with rain water and use this water to clean teeth, wash face, wash armpits and then wash groin. Transferring water from the bowl to the body by hand. This is a basic and effective rudimentary shower. You can be off grid indefinitely with this system. If the day is cold, go to kitchen, heat some rainwater in a cooking pot and then take the pot outside and pour the heated water into the plastic bowl. This works well. Soap can be used sparingly. You can wear pants and footwear in this scenario. Gumboots are best, but anything is ok including thongs/flipflops.

On hotter days and if one wants to really get drenched, one can leave some 1.5L bottles out in the sun and in the afternoon have a more comprehensive shower with those sun heated bottles, pouring them over head. This is used particularly if one has gotten dirty, say from mud or from digging in the garden and dirt etc. Best to have grass to stand on or a stone pavement. You can wear thongs/flip flops. Because you’re making mud, your shower area will get muddy, which gets on your feet and ankles unless you have put down some flat stones to stand upon. Even a small area with some flat stones on it can serve you well. Keep a dry towel at the shower area and also a bar of soap there too. Add a one square foot mirror.

Have a plastic supermarket bag with toiletries in it and take it outside every morning to do morning routine. The bag can contain tooth brush, tooth paste, hair brush, electric Phillips shaver, some cotton ear cleaners, and also a hair cutting set, use it once a month or so, plugged into electric power system via extension cord.

I mention these unexciting things in detail, because this system works and keeps you clean and happy off grid and is good for physical contentedness, morale and mood. Again this is a basic working system. You could improve it to include an enclosed shower room with stone floor and a water tank with tap and the ability to fire heat the water.

If you are in less than ideal circumstance and you need to drink some sketchy water you can also put small amount of plain bleach in it to kill germs in the water for drinking. You might already know that occasionally tap water at home from the city can smell and taste like chlorine. This is because municipal drinking water supplies are treated with chlorine to keep bacteria germ contents low. Bleach contains chlorine. The same principle applies albeit in more concentrated amounts of chlorine to swimming pools. For context, know that army 24 hour individual ration packs – food packs, also contain sachets with small chlorine tablets in them which a soldier in the field can drop into his water bottle to make sketchy water less sketchy and drinkable with less chance of disease. You can use a search engine to find out recommended bleach amounts to add to water. We are talking about very small amounts, such as a half a teaspoon of bleach per 10 litres of water. I have drunk bleached water to no apparent negative results, but it tasted gross. I have heard GREAT things about Chlorine Dioxide as a water purifier and as a medicine.

If you want to distill some dirty water in a improvised way, look at your kitchen cooking pots and see if one has a lid that is curved. If so flip it upside down on the pot and prior to that place a bowl in the center of the pot. You will need a fire under the pot. The boiling dirty water evaporates, forms into running droplets on the underside of the lid and rolls down to the center of the curved lid where it condenses becomes heavy and drops into the bowl. Ive done this and my impression is that it takes a lot of time (hours) and requires a good source of heat to gain a meaningful amount of distilled water. It wasn’t very effective, you would be better off just boiling the water for 5 – 10 minutes and then drink it ‘dirty’ You could also buy a proper water still that runs on open flame, such as a camp fire. There are also solar methods to distill water, you can buy an inflatable maritime solar still on Ebay that has a proven reputation, but it does not work if there is no sun. I have an electric still that runs at 800 Watts and can run for 2 or 3 hours on my electric solar system and produce around two liters of water. I rarely use it, instead favouring rain water.

If you want to make your own big water filter, some good Youtube videos show water filter systems containing rocks, gravel, sand, charcoal, and cloth. These things are found in nature, so if you need to improvise a water filter you don’t need to visit a shop to buy everything, if you really are in an emergency.

Huge canvas tents, are very comfortable, but even better is a log cabin. The log cabin will want to have a shower/bath room with a stone floor and a heat able rainwater tank and a bath tub. Point is, with off grid living there are levels of sophistication. Each level is competent in its own right and even rudimentary and basic systems are still tried and true and work well, but as you establish yourself off grid you can and should work to build more luxurious systems. You should study and practice to be competent in all levels of off grid living, from nomadic wanderer to living in a off grid cabin or house the likes of a Thomas Kincaid painting.

Rain coats

Soon Ill get a raincoat. Im looking at different options. If you walk outdoors, in the non-urban areas, where there is NO SHELTER, then you need a system to cope with the rain.

Currently I have as follows: When walking I have my pack. In the pack two outer quick access pockets are a folded up umbrella and a plastic poncho. This works well in light to medium rain. But in prolonged heavy rain ones lower legs and ones arms get soaked.

I believe the solution is to get a raincoat. Being tall I need one that is long enough to extend down to the ankles. That would replace the poncho and coupled with usage of the umbrella, I would stay nice and dry in rain.

Another aspect why a ponch is not good enough, is because one walks through forest and EVERY shrub is laden with rain droplets and after you brush past shrubs and tree leaves you are already soaked on legs and arms from that. A nice fairly light weight plastic raincoat would prevent this saturation of water.

The design I like best is the WW2 Wehrmacht coat. Keep in mind you dont always use a raincoat and storage size is a huge factor. If your raincoat is made of leather, for example, it wont store well, being much too bulky.

I know of several raincoats from my own experience. There is the old model Australian Army raincoat, olive drab in colour and of a distinctive smelling plastic “Smells like spew”. It has no pockets and is button front. It works ok in the rain, provided its long enough to fit properly.

Next is the latest model Australian Army rain coats called ‘Japara’. Japaras are basically AusCam pattern plastic cloth material raincoats, usually extending down to above the knee. They have external pockets and dont smell like vomit. They also have a hood. They are waterproof and really excellent rain coats. However Id personally like one that went down to the ankles, which unfortunately they dont make.

Australian Army Older Model Rain Coat “Smells Like Spew”

Swiaa Army Rain Coat 6 Euros, sizes for up to 195cm height.

Wehrmacht field coat – looks cool.

DrizaBone – A classic Australian farmer’s outdoor coat, made of ‘oil skin’ Too heavy to pack away though. Also expensive.

Japara Current Model Australian Army Rain Coat. – Pricey, but really high quality and comfortable and waterproof. Also has pockets (more important than you’d think).

Dakota Fire Pit – Off Grid Know How

A pretty good fire stove system.
Start with small dry kindling and paper or cardboard and dry leaves. then pile on thicker kindling and when you have a bed of coals and some flame, place some logs (like 2 inch diameter logs). great for cooking.