What to pack if you want to live off the grid

By: Peter Quilty

Life off the grid can be easy and enjoyable, as long as you’re prepared.

What to pack if you want to live off the grid
A pair of soaked sandshoes won't cut the mustard when you actually need galoshes

I find nothing more relaxing than being in a free camping environment – seemingly light years from the hustle and bustle of city life. But unless you’re prepared with appropriate attire for all occasions, what is supposed to be a relaxing trip away from it all can quickly become an unpleasant experience.

I recall spending a wintry week on the outskirts of Alpine National Park, Vic, in Arctic winds, with monsoonal-like rains to boot. Unfortunately, I’d left the wet-weather gear at home, including my rubber boots – a mistake you will only make once. Subsequently, a pair of soaked sandshoes didn’t cut the mustard when I actually needed galoshes.

Nowadays, I go into camping ‘climate control’, and adapt my clothing and footwear according to the weather and surroundings. Items (depending on the season) such as shorts, trousers, socks, underwear, shirts, jumpers, raincoats, work boots, sandshoes, hats, sunglasses, fly nets – and yes, rubber boots – are all staple issue. Layers of light clothing and some spares tucked away in case you get wet are also very handy.


Murphy’s Law regularly rears its ugly head while voyaging off the beaten track. In other words, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. One trip out near Dargo, Vic, I was halfway up the steep Billy Goat Bluff Track at Crooked River (no turning back) when a tyre punctured. Basically, I was stuck in the middle of two boulders – caught between a rock and a hard place, if you’ll excuse the pun.

So I know first-hand what Murphy can do and, fortunately, we had recovery gear onboard. But before any trip, I check my toolbox and I don’t leave home without requisite off-grid preservation equipment, such as a hand drill, spanners and screwdrivers, sockets, multigrip pliers, electrical and gaffer tape and, of course, a hi-lift jack and recovery gear. You just never know when rudimentary maintenance or repair will be required.


I’ve never been involved with the Boy Scouts Association, but when it comes to packing for any trip I’m more than happy to employ its motto: be prepared.

While I’m no packing perfectionist, I’ve always been prepared to listen, read and adopt the invaluable advice that’s come my way in relation to arranging my mobile digs for trips out bush. Subsequently, I’ve come across these ‘dos and don’ts’ that would be high on my packing hints list:

  • Separate items susceptible to damage with wadding and label all containers for easy identification.
  • Utilise break-resistant plates and containers wherever possible.
  • Use storage jars with tight or screw-top lids rather than snap-on lids.
  • Don’t allow aluminium cans to rub against each other as they can wear through.
  • Wrap cartons and wine casks as they too can wear through and burst.
  • Thin plastic bottles are prone to splitting, so choose the thicker and smaller bottles when you shop or decant items into stronger containers.
  • Containers predisposed to leakage should be placed upright and in Zip-lock plastic bags.
  • Store eggs in their carton and milk in a screw-topped container while in the fridge.

Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell himself would be impressed with me now!

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The full feature appeared in Caravan World #550 June 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!