Living Off-the-Grid: How to Survive in the Woods for a Year

Living Off-the-Grid: How to Survive in the Woods for a Year

Living in a place surrounded by trees and nature has always been the romantics’ idea of a perfect existence. The air is bound to be cleaner, the fruits – if you find them will be fresher, and the serenity and peacefulness of the environment will be one to crave for. But how can a city dweller successfully make a forest their home? I decided to dig deeper and share the best ways to live in the wilderness for one whole year…

How to survive in the woods for a year? The best way to live in the woods for extended periods of time (years) is to properly choose a nesting location for a sturdy, insulated shelter, close to water, roads, and a food source. The location depends on how independent you want to be, and most people prefer to maintain at least a minimum contact with the rest of the world.

Choosing a location and building a shelter is just the tip of the iceberg. Your strategy for long-time woodland survival has barely begun… Keep reading to learn the less obvious but crucial points that you probably didn’t even think of.

How to Survive in the Woods for a Year

All you really need to survive in the wood are the basics: food, shelter, and water. With careful preparation and a plan of what to expect, these should come easily to you and increase your chances of survival up radically. You might even thrive int the woodland if you do it the right way!

Here, we’ll focus on how you can survive in the woods through careful preparation and the selection of necessary items needed for survival in the woods. This article will also cover the basics of how to find the optimum location for setting up your shelter.

Choosing a location: Water and Food

The forest is vast, and there will be enough space for you wherever you look. No real estates, no property taxes; just set up shop and carry on! Unfortunately, you cannot live and thrive in just about any random place in the wood. You’ll need to find a favorable spot.

One definition of ‘favorable spot’ when it comes to surviving in the forest is an area with good water supply.

Water is one of the essential needs of humans. The human body can survive up to 21 days without food but no more than 72 hours without an adequate supply of fluids. As such, on your first day in the wood, you may want to look for a spot that’s close to a good water supply.

Look for lakes and rivers, or listen for the whispering sound of flowing water. It would be best if you planned ahead by researching the geography of the place.

Living close to a water source will save you in the future you a lot of hassle and pointless running around because you will have an adequate amount of water for drinking and cleaning.

Being closer to a source of water also covers your other essential need – food. Fruit-bearing trees tend to be more abundant when they are close to a source of water, and since they provide nourishment for many hungry animals, they naturally attract wild game. No to mention fishing, which is a great way of getting healthy calories outdoors!

So, often, when you discover an excellent source of water, you will have uncovered your food haven as well.

The first thing you should do when you arrive in the woods even before setting up your shelter will be to look for a healthy source of water. Especially one that will be available all year round. Then prepare and plan a shelter blueprint as close to the water as possible. The next step will be the construction of the new home!

Building your Semi-Permanent Woodland Shelter

After finding your ideal location, you might want to start constructing your shelter as soon as possible.

When it comes to building a shelter in the wood, you have a lot of options. Your choice will only be limited by your movement and duration of stay. For instance, you may decide to pack a tent for a couple of nights or build a rudimentary shelter out of branches and leaves.

Constructing a simple shelter like a tent is best for those who are on the move. If you cannot find a clean, round-the-season source of water, then your best bet will be to change location often and pack a light tent. Of course, this is a poor strategy for the winter, when it gets really cold in the woods.

The basic requirement for how to survive in the woods for a year is a log cabin, which you might need to build.

It is recommended that you start building your shelter right away for two reasons: you’ll be stronger and more relaxed when you begin your journey. And secondly, better daytime visibility.

As time passes, you will lose energy, daylight, which are vital at this point. Spend no more than an hour planning your blueprint, and then get on it!

What is the Best Home for Living in the Woods?

The construction of your new home will take some time, maybe a week or two, after all, it needs to last a whole year! In the meantime, you need a safe place to sleep: a tent or an improvised light-weight shelter. Pack a tent and a sleeping bag! Alternatively, you can design a natural tent using branches, leaves, and vines. (Still, you should bring a sleeping bag.)

This is a strategy on how to survive in the woods for a year, not a week, or a day! Sturdy, well-insulated shelters are required because the winter is coming (to paraphrase Ned Stark). You can easily design a make-shift natural tent with twigs and leaves, after all, it only needs to last one night. But this challenging construction is for the long haul, so I hope you brought an axe and a saw!

Log cabins are ideal shelters for the winter wilderness. They are strong, well-built, with thick, insulating walls. Your cabin won’t win any best home prizes, but it will keep you alive when the temperatures plummet. When the sun goes down and the snowstorm litters the grounds with white. When the cold would otherwise penetrate your bones.

The cabin will be as simple as possible: For thick wall, a slanted rooftop. Everything will be insulated with leaves. Use branches and leaves to make a bed of minimal comfort. Alternatively, you can use a hammock with insulating vegetation under it, to protect your backside during the cold nights. Maximum one window and a door, but they should seal tightly – insulate them with vegetation.

Can a Cave Keep You Safe?

Instead of draining your precious resources building a log cabin, look for a cave. There are bound to be some cave in mountainous areas and if you do find one, ensure it has no wild animal prints before settling in for the night.

Caves are better than poorly build cabins, but you will still need to insulate them. Bring in lots of dead leaves, narrow down the entrance and build a door. The downside of staying in a cave is that you will have less of an option in terms of location.

If you can’t find a suitable cavern, then it’s up to you to construct a log cabin. For this, you may want to be well equipped with basic tools (axe, saw, machete) and solid knowledge (building stuff out of scrap).

Essential Items For Living in the Woods for a Year

When it comes to surviving in the wilderness for such a long time, you’ll need a few life-saving, essential items for – cooking, bathing, security, and hunting:

Cooking pot. You probably didn’t think this would be on top of the list! Most outdoor water sources are impure and crawling with bacteria. Drinking it could severely cripple your health for a few days. A cooking pot will allow you to boil the water, prepare your food, and you’ll find it handy for preparing a delicious meal.

Hand-axe, saw, and nails. If you plan to build a log cabin shelter, it makes a lot of sense to be equipped with an axe, a saw and a bag of nails before leaving the city.

An axe or a hatchet is a must-have. In the forest, you are doomed without these essential tools! Building a shelter, gathering woods, digging, setting traps… These are just a few of the highly important tasks that will require a heavy, bladed tool.

Versatile survival knife. The knife is one of those things we rarely use at home, thanks to our modern lifestyle, and everything comes in an easy-to-use package. For lunch, yesterday I order a pepperoni pizza, and the delivery guy brought it to my doorstep, I didn’t even need to rush down the stairs. We no longer set traps, catch, and prepare wild game!

In the wood, however, you’ll do a lot of hunting, cutting, peeling, skinning, and preparing. As such, you’ll need to find a reliable, versatile survival knife that you can use in most edgy situations.

Water bottle. This is just as important as the boiling pot, because your body requires constant hydration, to maintain a healthy balance of fluids. When you follow on a 5-hour tiresome trail to hunt wild prey, you will need fresh water by your side.

Gun. Going into the wood with a gun might not sound like a good idea, but the comfort and peace of mind that comes with carrying a gun in the lone grove might be just what you need to live fearlessly in the forest. Also, the firearm might come handy if your traps fail or if you get attack by predators stronger than you (depending on where you plan on staying).

Blanket. Preserving body heat and preventing exposure should be your top priorities when living the wilderness lifestyle.

Heavy Boots. Long hikes across the muddy forest floor, during the cold winter months. You will travel long distances in pursuit of your prey. Bring thick, insulated boots to preserve body heat from escaping through your contact with the moist, snowy, or frozen soil.

Other items you may want to carry along include: Ferro rods, ropes, books (cure for boredom), headlamps, dried goods (beef jerky, rice, etc.), etc.

Why Would Anyone Live in the Woods for One Whole Year?

Is living in the wood a good idea? Better still, will it be easy to survive in the wood for a whole year without the comfort – clean water, internet, money, security, etc. that modern technology has provided us with? The short answer is No – surviving in the wood for a whole year – especially for someone already used to the comfort of modern life will never be an easy feat. Living in the wood is not all that a bad idea, but surviving can be challenging, especially in the beginning.

People do it for lots of reasons: they are crazy, insane adventures who want to show the world that they don’t give a crap! I remember Bjorn Ironside from the TV saga “Vikings” – he went in the woods a boy and returned a man. He defeated a long, snowy winter in the Scandinavian wilderness – a bear tried to kill him, an assassin went after him, but they failed. Bjorn emerged as a feared and respected Viking warrior, one which others gladly followed in combat.

Don’t get me wrong – Surviving in the wood for a whole year is not altogether an impossible idea. You can survive in the wood for even more than a year and live the rest of your life peacefully in the forest – if that’s what you want if you are careful enough to plan correctly and develop enough foresight of what to expect and how to react.

Related Questions

Can you survive on leaves and tree bark in the forest? Yes – as long as you are eating from the right species of trees. Most leaves and bark contain a large amount of starch, which can be broken down into glucose by the human body, for further metabolic use. Some leaves, however, are poisonous. Common trees with edible bark include pines, yellow birch, black spruce, tamarack, red spruce, balsam fir, etc. You can’t eat only bark for a year, add meat and protein to your diet!

What to eat in the woods to survive? Forests are ripe with food sources, especially during the hot and rainy seasons – berries, nuts, nettles, mushrooms, hares, birds, acorns, pine needles, and lots more. But some delicious looking plants are actually poisonous, so wherever you go, read and learn to correctly identify which plantlife products are edible (and which aren’t).

Can you legally live in the forest? Yes, in most cases. This, however, often depends on the local jurisdiction. Every square mile is owned by the government or by a private entity. If you’re found living on private property (even if uninhabited) you may be charged with trespassing. Additionally, you may need to update the local authority about your sudden change of accommodations! You can’t just disappear from society without notice!

You can safely camp on publicly owned woodland, possibly even for an extended period of time. You may even build a small, make-shift cabin. But don’t design a mansion, because no permanent structures are allowed on public property.

Be aware of hunting legislation. There may be certain protected or endangered animals that you may not go after. This interdiction may apply seasonally based on the species, and it is most likely when they reproduce.

Read and learn about the local legislation, biology, and geography to make it easy on yourself. Don’t come unprepared.

Do people still live in forests? Yes. People still live in forests. There are numerous undiscovered tribes in the Americas, which have zero contact with the outside world. In the US, I found a healthy community of well-balanced individuals who prefer to live off the grid (amazing Youtube video). They chose to end their mundane careers, stop working in cubicles, and live a wild, exciting life.

Surviving in the woods for a whole year is not altogether an impossible idea. All you need to survive are the basics: food, shelter, and water. With careful research, you may find it exhilarating!

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