16 Tools You Need When You Live Off the Grid

What goes in your end-of-the-world toolbox.

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Dylan Griffin

The grid is down. Your battery-powered drill is waning. Maybe you can find enough fuel to keep a generator going to power power tools. A better way would be investing the hand tools that were common a century ago, like the classic hand drill that will never run out of juice.

12-gauge shotgun

Use this to scare off potential mischief-makers, or to dispatch rabbits digging up your vegetable patch and eat 'em for dinner.

Long-handle No. 2 round-point shovel

Dig a ditch,put out a brush fire, chop through ice and snow. It's all in a day's work for old No. 2. Get one with a deep socket—the metal cup at the top of the blade into which the handle fits. This will make it nearly indestructible.

Cant hook

If you're gonna be lighting fires, you're gonna be moving logs. Your back will last twice as long if you use to do it.

Chainsaw

to cut firewood, make fence posts, or clear a tree that fell across your quarter-mile-long driveway.

Linesman pliers

Also called for the blades on its jaws, these pliers can make electrical repairs, cut fence wire, and chop through nails and small screws.

Framing hammer

Nails will cower when they see this bigger, heavier version of a standard claw hammer coming. The unbreakable solid-steel model from is a good bet.

A good knife

If you want to buy a multi-tool with a billion accessories, be my guest. But getting a good, long pocketknife could be the tool you need. A single blade like those sold by Opinel can go a long way, especially as they’re designed to be gripped as you do hard cutting work.

Screwdriver

A screwdriver will be an essential home or shelter repair tool. A good one can last a lifetime. There are also some that double as both a screwdriver and chisel, though you may want to keep those separate. Pairs well with a drill. Can be used to stab a zombie in a pinch.

Hand saw

Maybe you need a small set of unpowered saws: a hacksaw for metal, a carpenter saw for wood, a keyhole saw for the finer details. There are modular saws that look a bit like a hacksaw, wherein the blade can be swapped out for other purposes.

Vice grip

A vice grip is a versatile tool. In a pinch, it can be a grip, a clamp, a wrench, pliers, and more. If your bugout bag is getting stuffed quickly, it’s best to pack up tools that can serve multiple purposes. Bonus points: a high quality, heavy one can be put in a sock and wielded as a weapon.

Bow & arrow

A gun may be unpowered, but it requires bullets, gun oil, and other supplies. A good bow will last, and while you might use up your supply of arrows after the fall of civilization, it’s easier to make more of them than it is to forge new gun ammo.

A tarp

This entry on the list would make Ron Swanson proud. The can be a shelter, a blanket, a quick-drying barrier, or even a way to collect water.

Compass

The art of the compass seems nearly lost in the era of GPS, but a compass could be the best way to navigate out of dangerous areas to higher ground if you have a map. It can also be a way to find your way back by memorizing the directions along the way.

Duct tape

has a sort of joking reputation among home repair people, but in a pinch, it’s an incredibly versatile tool, whether it be for temporary water proofing, pipe repair, or any number of household purposes.

Rope

Best paired with a tarp to create a quick and dirty shelter. But is still an essential tool for survival, whether it’s for stringing food away from bears, drying clothes, or binding a pesky scavenger. Best of all, in most cases, it’s reusable, and if rope breaks, a nice square knot can serve as a repair of a rope. Learn your knots if working with different sizes of rope.

Bike

Cars can and will run out of gas or otherwise break down. While plenty can go wrong with a bike, it’s fairly easy to repair several of those problems, as opposed to, say, a late model car that’s more computer than mechanical parts now. It may not seem like a quick getaway, but if everyone else is trying to get away on congested roads, suddenly it seems like a lot more helpful a mode of transportation. Also, it’s faster than the person running after you with a machete.

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