What is an off grid base camp?
An off grid base camp is a secure, stationary camp which has been developed to provide emergency shelter and supplies in times of improvisation. Off grid base camps can also be created when working in remote locations or while a new home is being built. Off grid base camps can vary in sophistication in terms of luxury and living standards.
Base camps can range from large tents or yurts to dens and cabins created from salvaged or natural materials. Ultimately a base camp allows you to live without modern infrastructural services for any length of time. This could be due to the location being remote or a crisis within modern civilisation has led to it becoming a life or death necessity.
Why would you need an off grid base camp?
There are many reasons why you may need to live off grid for either a short period of time or indefinitely. Whatever the reason for living off grid learning how to implement ideal facilities for self sufficient living is extremely important. Although a base camp may not be the most perfect of living situations it can be the difference between life and death in some scenarios.
Building your own home
A very common scenario when having to prepare an off grid base camp is when building your own home at a specific location. This could be because you do not have the funds to stay elsewhere or employ tradesmen to do the work for you. Sometimes caravans or robust canvas tents can be erected to create an ideal base camp whilst you build your home. Usually you will need a site toilet, petrol generator or at the very least a wood burning stove for this scenario.
Unfortunately mankind has always managed to fall into conflict systematically every few decades. In the past 70 years since the Second World War nuclear weapons have meant a general stalemate in global power battles. This does look likely to continue for at least for a while.
It has been theorised however that a steady decline in natural resources will bring large scale wars back. In the event of a major conflict survival could depend on setting up an off grid base camp within a rural location. A self sufficient lifestyle may have to persist until the troubles have past.
One of the biggest scientific advances of the last 100 years has been a greater understanding of disease. This has enabled us to develop vaccines and antibiotics to fight deadly diseases and bacterial infections. This has led to much of the population being able to live long lives and repel sickness. Due to the high breeding rates of bacteria some are becoming resistant to anti bacterial medication.
This could see us slip back to a state where a great percentage of the human population dies out systematically. This would alone lead to a collapse of every day services and the need to move off grid. An off grid base camp could buy you time in isolation to survive a major pandemic.
In the past few decades it has become clear that many species around the globe are under thread of imminent extinction. A mass reduction in biodiversity is sometimes understated in its relevance to human survival. Even though people have separated their direct survival from local ecosystems we still depend on them for survival. Mass extinctions combined with deforestation and biodiversity destruction could lead to a collapse of civilisation sooner than we think.
Many leading scientific bodies believe we are now forcing massive climatic changes across the planet. Studies from ancient ice sheets show there is more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than at any point in recordable history.
Year on year more climatic extremes are being recorded and temperature records are being broken. A sudden and sharp change in our climate can cause huge crop failures and a collapse of modern supply chains. An off grid base camp could provide the safety you need to survive such an event.
Most people think that governments and the powers at be could save us from a massive economic collapse. Events in recent history however have clearly shown that economies can walk blindly into near turmoil. This can happen without any sign until it is simply too late. The rise of corporatism has allowed greedy people in positions of power to work within their own interests.
Many believe the crash of 2008 was the beginning of more major economic shocks yet to come. This could lead to a dramatic collapse causing a break down in infrastructural services. This would make living within a remote, off grid base camp the only certain way to survive.
Most modern services and infrastructure are heavily reliant on the digitalised economy. Countless models show that a sudden break down in modern communications would lead to certain collapse. This would mean no electrical, water or supply services could be accessed by especially urban people.
It is predicted that 90% percent of urban people would die within the first three weeks of this happening. Cyber attacks can be devastating and stated by only a hand full of corrupt individuals or hackers. For more information on the scenarios discussed above why not read our article on how to survive the collapse of civilisation here.
One of the most important elements when considering building an off grid base camp is location. If you wish to be self sufficient finding a fertile but remote location will be preferable. A base camp location should be sheltered from extreme weather conditions and have enough useful natural resources around to be utilised for survival.
If there is a possibility you will be living at a base camp for a number of years your location should allow future development. A location should be chosen where there are opportunities to expand. This includes building materials and the correct environment for advanced self reliant practices such as farming.
Most of the time your choice of location will be somewhat limited. A full assessment of all the pros and cons should always be carried out. You should consider where you will get food, water and other basic needs. If your base camp is to counteract the effects of collapse fortification should also be considered.
Most of the time off grid base camps will be built with natural materials such as timber and earth. Subsequent construction of fences and buildings will rely on sustainable practices such as forestry coppice.
Whatever option you choose for your camp a reflection of what the future may hold will help you decide the very best location. The fundamental elements determining this will be; water, food production, fuel, shelter and security. If all of these are in good supply you will not just carve out a living but thrive and could even grow a community.
The range of shelters and buildings for an off grid base camp varies greatly. Portable cabins, caravans and structures built of timber, stone, hay bales or even earth are a possibility. These types of dwellings are fantastic for long term living off of the grid but are expensive or take much effort to build. These are fine if you are aiming to live there full time or in preparation for a SHTF scenario.
Cabins and mobile homes have the advantage of being quick to install but difficult to build in extra functions. Most peppers prefer the idea of building a custom made off grid base camp with natural materials.
These can be built with a variety of materials like timber but the most permanent are made of earth and stone. Good examples of these are earth ships or hay bale constructed homes which are extremely ecological. Using only natural, local materials have a low environmental impact but may also be a necessity.
If a collapse in civilisation occurs this type of construction will be many survivors only option. There are many great examples of these we will leave a useful link here. The benefit with these types of dwellings is cooking and heating facilities can be built in their structure.
They can be designed for maximum sustainable function between the building and the surrounding landscape. For instance coppiced woodland can provide fuel for rocket stoves which heat the water system. Cooking and heating for the home can be also delivered by this multi use system.
Whatever method of shelter you use for your off grid shelter the aim is to make your existence as comfortable as possible. Most living in this way should have the time at their finger tips to continuously improve and refine their of grid lifestyle.
Not always a first thought of people planning an off grid residence but defensive fortification can be very important! This is relevant if you are escaping infrastructural collapse and considering the likely hood of encountering hungry mobs. This becomes less of an issue the more remote your location is but always at least be prepared. Sometimes this simply requires some basic drills and general adjustments to the area to make unwanted visitors think twice.
Water is the most vital element for basic survival! Most do not realise even in a temporary shutdown of modern infrastructure dehydration would be a primary killer. The first consideration of every off grid base camp is will you have a safe and reliable source of water.
This should be an important factor when considering where to situate your camp. Bear in mind the closer your water source is to other people, industry and lowland areas the more chance it has of being contaminated. Chemicals, sewage and bacteria can all be an issue when extracting water from the landscape.
Whether you have enough food to sustain yourself will depend on the specific reason you have set up camp. If it is a temporary situation and there has been no deterioration of civilisation supplies will be easy to obtain. Supplies can be brought in via typical markets and transportation networks.
If on the other hand a major collapse has occurred you will need to become self sufficient in food. This is more difficult than most people realise and successful survival will depend on knowledge and preparation. In order to find food from the surrounding landscape there should be opportunities for foraging, hunting, fishing and farming. This means a preferable position is a semi wild landscape with watercourses and small farming activities.
Depending on where you are located on the planet heating will vary in importance for a sustainable survival situation. Wherever you are however combustible material for fire will be crucial for the basic functions of boiling water and cooking food. If you have had time to prepare a bug out location you could have installed a rocket burning stove.
This can heat up a base camp and also boil water and cook food. In a cooler climate having a plentiful supply of fire wood will be beneficial. This can be provided for by implementing efficient forestry practices such as coppicing. The best option is to build an off grid base camp with a rocket stove system which heats both the shelter and water system.
Very much the same as heating if you have the correct off grid base camp set up you can achieve almost anything. The very minimum requirement for this would be a rocket stove or fire pit grill. The best options here could be an aga oven with a central camp fire which both cooks food and heats water.
Other great options include outside wood burning ovens. These are typical in the Mediterranean and can stay warm for very long periods. These types of ovens are great for cooking stews, curries and breads.
Having a an effective toilet solution for your off grid base camp is of utmost importance. When living off grid the luxury of being able to flush material away is no longer an option. It is important that toilet material does not soil any ground water sources that may flow into your drinking supplies. The best way to avoid this is using landform or hollows to concentrate sewage decomposition.
In the Victorian era toilets emptied into a garden pit which was covered with kitchen scraps and dusted with fire ashes. These were basically early forms of composting toilets which helped to fertilise the garden. The ultimate system to purify sewage water is by using reed bed filtration systems. These can be set up with some landscape manipulation and planting flooded beds of reed grass ‘Phragmites Australis’. I have linked to a comprehensive book on this subject here.
Hygiene is going to be of the utmost importance when planning for your off grid based camp. Ideally your hygiene regiment will be daily but one that does not consume too much water. The best solution for this will be a bucket shower with a basin that collects water at the bottom. This excess water can be recycled to water crops at a later date. The perfect scenario would be having a fresh water lake or river nearby for washing and cleaning clothes.
Having a power supply can be a luxury when living on an off grid base camp. The level of power you have will depend on how much preparation you have had in setting up the camp. Most of the time burning firewood will be the primary source of power in a basic set up. For most sophisticated camps the option of harnessing wind or solar power for electricity is a real possibility.
If you have an exposed, windy site then perhaps a wind propeller turbine is a viable option. These systems come with a raised pole, generator and storage battery and can be viewed on Amazon here. Solar panels are an ever improving method of electrical production and can produce a good amount of power. These can make living in an off grid base camp much more advanced than most could imagine.
Solar energy can power kettles, phone chargers, radios, lighting and cooking facilities. It has to be noted however that electricity in these camps would still be a rationed luxury.
One of the most common methods of acquiring electricity will be by an electric generator. This is assuming of course you have access to petroleum. If you do so fine but in a collapse of civilisation this may not be an option. I have put a link to a good petroleum generator on Amazon here.
When making an off grid base camp it is important to plan as much as possible for a method of energy production. This will make your day to day life much easier and raise you general standard of living greatly.
The level of communication you require will depend on the current state of civilisation. If there is a catastrophic collapse your options are somewhat restricted. In this situation mobile networks and internet connection will no longer exist.
Your only option here would probably be a radio transmitter and receiver system. If your base camp location is for the sole purpose of surviving a collapse then at first being alone will be the safest option. In time you will probably develop alliances and working relationships with neighbouring tribes.
A base camp should ideally house a family unit for companionship some may find themselves living alone. If a cataclysmic event happens eventually off grid base campers can lend out a hand of friendship to others. Social interactions between people will go back to the old social structures of the past.
Working together and helping your fellow man will be a large part of social interactions. If your base camp is constructed within current times of civilisation you may enjoy social isolation. If not a power supply and access to mobile connection and internet is all you will need.
Whatever motive or intention you have when planning you’re off grid base camp your ambition is clear. Being self sufficient as much as possible not having to rely on modern infrastructure. This is a wise choice as nobody can guarantee the shops will always be full and the taps will always run. One of the most crucial elements of this is to be able to feed yourself without going to the store.
What options available to you will depend on your location but it is certain your food will have to come from the landscape. Wild locations can provide the opportunities for hunting and fishing if you have the correct tools, skill and knowledge.
Most of the time traditional or medieval farming techniques will be the best option. This will depend of course on your conditions. Extremely cold places or places with shallow soil could create problems. Having said this however, most locations will give you the opportunity for small scale farming.
Growing crops as well as keeping livestock will give you a supply of vegetables, milk, eggs and meat. Many skills will have to be learned if you are to execute this effectively. Small scale farming is best implemented before any collapse as accessing necessary stock will be troublesome.
Another solution for producing food off grid is by installing permanent food systems. These can be installed using the methods of agro forestry and permaculture. These systems rely upon harvesting the suns light on many canopies to create a rich ecosystem.
Permanent crops such as perennial vegetables, fruit bushes and nut trees can supply food for you and nature. This creates an abundant environment where you can harvest plants, livestock, fish and hunt wildlife for food. To learn more about permaculture and agro forestry I have left links to some excellent books on the subject here. Creating a forest garden. Earth Care Manual.
Whatever location, shelter or circumstance you have for building you’re off grid base camp planning is everything. By thinking about all the elements discussed here you can build a comfortable and productive camp that will last the test of time. Thank you for reading our article on how to build an off grid base camp, did it help you in your search? If so why not share it with your friends?
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