What do you get the person who wants to get away from everything? We have quite a few suggestions below. 🙂
This is a gardener’s journal. It features full color illustrations, crop growing advice, and writing space for each day of the year. The advice throughout the diary is linked to the seasons.
It is a beautiful thing to get to know the birds around your home. This is a comprehensive guide to the Birds of North America. The illustrations of field marks, birds in flight, and side by side comparisons are extremely helpful. There are also guides available for specific regions. Can be paired with a bird feeder and/or binoculars.
Was that an ermine or a squirrel in the woodpile? Could it be that a lynx passed through in the night? Studying tracks can alert homesteaders to threats. It is also fun and rewarding. Children naturally gravitate to tracks, and this guide will greatly enrich their experience.
This cookbook is by two of my major gardening role models. It has recipes to cook with the harvest seasons.
The gorgeous stonework on every page of this beautiful book is breathtaking. Somehow, French makes cold hard stone into pieces that can move your heart. Anyone who appreciates craftsmanship will love this book.
This handy little tool will get constant use from any baker. It is a great way to de-gunk cast-iron as well.
Homesteaders like chocolate, too! Equal Exchange is dedicated to ensuring farmers and workers are fairly compensated. The chocolate is also exceptionally smooth and delicious. I put my favorite flavor on this list, but there are many more. Also, my address is HC1 Box 103… (just kidding)
This is an exceptionally yummy mix of sprouting seeds. I can’t get enough of it!
No more wet, sticky, crumpled seed packets. No more clumps of wasted seeds. This handy doodad makes it easy to dispense seeds into rows or starter cells. It is helpful for everyone. It is especially helpful for people who have trouble seeing or handling tiny things.
I have given a lot of these out! If I see a friend struggling to lift lids with forks, I give them one of these to keep forever. It is just the easiest and most hygienic way to cap a jar.
Pouring boiling hot food through plastic is not for me. I much prefer the stainless version of the classic canning funnel. These are perfect for getting preserves into jars. They are also great for putting leftovers away.
A simple bird feeder can provide hours of entertainment, especially in the winter. People get to know not just the look, but the personalities, of the birds at their feeder. Pair with Sibley’s Guide to Birds and/or binoculars.
Boy oh boy, we backwoods people sure do talk a LOT about the weather. Of course it isn’t just idle chat. We have things we need to protect from the heat and the cold. There are several products on this list for weather observation. This is the simplest. It may also be the one people use the most.
My hands get chewed up by all the temperatures and tortures I put them through. They get really bad if they are wet all day. This salve works really well and smells great, too.
This is another terrific product from Equal Exchange. The flavor is wonderful and the price is reasonable for high-end coffee. Best of all, farmers will appreciate that the farmers who grew their coffee got a fair price for their work
These are in many small cabins and houses I’ve visited. They keep instruments safe and out of the way, without rendering them inaccessible.This a great tool to help with de-cluttering, and it also encourages people to play their instruments more often.
Whether it’s animal feed, honey, grains, or water, homesteaders are constantly dealing with buckets. Opening buckets is REALLY hard! I hate it!!! It really hurts my hands, especially when the plastic is cold. Thank goodness for these tools. The hammer is also a nifty tool to help close the buckets securely, preventing leaks and spills.
This is a very attractive cribbage board with no plastic. The wood is responsibly sourced. Do you play cribbage? You can gift a lesson in addition to this nice little board.
I drink a lot of tea on chilly evenings. I received this particular pack as a gift a few years ago. I really loved the variety, and looked forward to trying each one. They were all terrifically flavorful. There was also a nice balance of caffeinated and herbal tea.
Homesteaders don’t want to have too much clutter or too many gadgets. But, there are a few useful things that get used all the time. A set of strainers is definitely something that will get constant use. These are also nice because they don’t have any plastic.
This item’s agricultural use is to detect small bugs and eggs on plants, specifically spider mites. However, I use it entirely for curiosity and natural exploration. It is essential to identify certain ferns and mosses. More importantly, it is fun to look at bugs, rocks, and other small things through the loupe. This is a great tool to have on hand with children, who are already fascinated with things on the ground.
This attractive leather scabbard is perfect for someone who does a lot of pruning. Anyone with fruit or berry plants will appreciate this gift. In addition to being nice looking, it will make pruning easier.
I had a friend who would walk half a mile out to his truck every morning to and grind his coffee off the battery. There is no need for that, or to sacrifice the freshness of fresh ground coffee. I use one of these every day. Not only is it easy to use, it also makes a superior coffee compared to electric, bladed grinders.
This is something I take with me everywhere I go. I have to worry more about things freezing than I do about them getting too hot, but the same principle applies. It simplifies transporting things around dramatically because I am not as worried about them freezing right away.
It takes up much less space than a cooler, and is much easier to carry.
There are a lot of projects that make a surprising amount of noise. These earmuffs are more convenient than ear plugs.
I have this exact mug. As a flower lover, I love the design. The mug is nice and big, to fit lots of coffee. I can put it on the stovetop to keep my beverage warm. I also take this mug with me on wilderness trips because it’s unbreakable.
This journal can really go anywhere without being destroyed. These products were developed for forestry, but they have great uses for anyone who spends a lot of time outside.
There is no such thing as too many socks. Warm, comfy socks can make a huge difference to morale. Backwoods folks can also go a long time without doing laundry so it’s nice to have a bunch of pairs.
This is probably the least useful item on this list. However, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of a set for myself any day now! Bring some cheer to the dark days, no grid required.
Most homestead kitchens are on the small side. Every tool that serves more than one purpose helps. This tool works great for opening all of those preserves!
People do use any old thing for their compost. However, the vents and the charcoal filter on this one prevent bad smells. It is also nice to have something attractive on the counter.
People who like to make things appreciate things that are beautifully made. This beautiful handmade serving tool will add pleasure to sharing dishes at the table. Obviously it is also a nice choice for use with non stick pans because it won’t scratch the finish.
These storage containers never seem to change. Perhaps it is because they are already perfect. Great for coffee, and anything else that it is important to keep really fresh.
No homestead kitchen is complete without at least one of these. This is the essential, all around, every day, indispensable pan. This one has a secondary handle and side spouts for easy pouring, which is nice.
Who doesn’t love waffles? This waffle maker requires no electricity and doesn’t have any teflon or plastic. It is designed to be used on the stovetop.
This tiny little churn whips up 1/4 pound of fresh butter in just a few minutes. It is hand-crank operated
I received this kit as a gift at a remote kitchen where we only had powdered milk. We were actually able to make some of the cheeses, to our great surprise. This kit looks like it’s just a toy, but it can really help someone get into making cheese. The instructions are awesome. The tools are simple. The booklet also has tips on how to get serious about making more cheese in the future.
There is something about this lifestyle. We like to make special things, even if they take some more effort. This mat provides a guide for making beautiful braided breads. It was developed by the King Arthur Flour test chefs.
This is a nice gift for bakers who would like to explore sourdough. The crock is a perfect little home for the sourdough culture. And, of course the culture will get them started!
This is a great gift for someone who needs to take notes outside. It was developed as a forestry product but has since been adopted by everyone who spends time outdoors. The paper is truly waterproof.
I know you can make a sprouter out of a jar. I am adamant that I get better quality sprouts using this style of sprouter. I also get more sprouts from less seeds. The trays can sprout varieties that don’t take well to jars. These include sunflower seeds, which are my favorites.
This is an extremely multi-purpose item. It can be used for baking and on the stovetop. The depth also helps to make frying less messy.
This is an essential tool for processing fruits and berries, be they wild or domestic. It is also great for making home made baby food. The design hasn’t changed much in a long time. It is just a simple hand crank.
Got a messy project? Why not wear an apron you can literally hose off when you are done? Grundens is known for its excellent commercial fishing gear. The Herkules material is its most heavyweight rubber.
When I first moved onto my property, I hauled things around on a kiddie sled. That was a horrible idea! Upgrading to a proper hauling sled was essential. No more spilled loads!
These lovely signs feature farm-related designs of your choosing. The farm name is beautifully engraved onto stained wood.
There are a lot of products meant to keep people from slipping on the ice. These are hands down the best. They are really easy to put on and they do not slide off. They also have the most traction. These are pretty much essential for doing chores in icy conditions.
I carry this a lot because I live in bear country. At night, I keep it by the door. It can also be used if a dog fight gets out of hand, or to ward off any other aggressive animals.
These coffeemakers go on the stovetop, so there is no need for electricity. They make the best coffee in the world. It tastes like espresso. There are aluminum versions of this coffeemaker, but I prefer stainless.
As I mentioned earlier, we backwoods people love to talk about the weather. The weather is also really important to our plants and projects. This is a nice, reliable tool that gives the temperature and humidity.
This is another item in constant use in any kitchen.
There are a million uses for dehydrated foods. They are easy to store for long periods of time, and great to take on camping trips. Dehydrated fruit is like healthy candy. You pretty much need electricity for these. They have to run all night, so using a generator is not practical.
This is a really easy to use and nicely made hoe. The hinged mechanism makes it easy to get around plants.
This jacket is really nice for chores on rainy days. It does not get torn up as easily as a typical rain jacket, but it is waterproof. It was originally developed for commercial fishing.
These pants are made of the same material as the jacket described above- waterproof and durable. They were originally developed for commercial fishing.
This is yet another weather tool. This one has a few additional features. It comes with an anemometer (wind speed measurement) in addition to a thermometer and hygrometer. Most importantly, it can give you a chart of the past 12 hours.
These fans are extremely common in households with woodstoves. The heat from the stove powers the fan. This moves air around the room, distributing heat from the stove. It saves wood and makes the space much more comfortable. The fan is almost completely silent.
Headlamps are easier to use than flashlights because they keep your hands free. I just got a USB rechargeable headlamp and I’m so glad I did. I used to go through a lot of AAA batteries for my headlamp. My new headlamp charges easily off of my single solar panel.
Pancakes, eggs to order, and more are easy to make on the griddle! My stove is very small; I had to move things around constantly if I wanted to make eggs and pancakes for two. Now that we have a griddle, it is much easier.
This well crafted shirt includes fabric and mesh panels. A mesh panel protects your face. You can zip it off as needed. Waist and wrist cinches keep the little jerks from sneaking inside through those routes.
MSR Shower Kit Attachment + MSR 10L Dromedary
Fill up the dromedary with water and leave it out in the sun. The water gets surprisingly warm!
The instructions on this device tell you to put it in the freezer. When the world is your freezer, you can make delicious ice cream anywhere! It is a hand-crank mechanism, no electricity required. This model also does not require salt.
Milling grains at home is much more frugal than buying different flours. It also creates flours that are much more fresh and flavorful. This hand crank grain mill mounts with a clamp to a counter. It is ideal for household use. An electric motor is sold separately.
A nice addition to this gift is the excellent cookbook Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. The recipes are all based on various fresh milled flours.
This is a warm work coat that is made for working. Adjustable vents prevent it from becoming too warm. There is great mobility in the elbows and back. The external material resists scratches and tears. There are also lots of good pockets.
I have used these in conjunction with big piles I turned with a fork. In my experience, the tumblers make compost much faster than a pile.
No homestead should be without at least one big pressure canner and cooker. It is the only safe way to preserve anything but fruit or pickles. There are many other foods that can be made efficiently in big batches with one of these.
Many off-grid homes are small. Nice wooden chairs that can be tucked away are great for having company.
My partner’s father is a fine carpenter and contractor. He swears by this vest. It is much more comfortable than a tool belt. These vests are made in Sweden. Every stitch and button is high quality.
This is an attractive gift for anyone who likes to make krauts and kim chis.
For every minute of homestead creativity in my life, there are hours of hauling things around. A garden cart is an essential tool for the endless schlepping.
This is a nice toasty coat that can withstand the rigors of hard work.
These stoves are designed to create a whole lot of heat with a tiny bit of fuel. With just kindling or tiny carpentry scraps, you can boil water. The most use I have gotten from this style of stove has been for dishwater and for making coffee for lots of people. There are many other uses, of course.
This hoodie is made of moisture wicking, water-resistant, windproof material. It is a great hoodie for working outside all day. It was originally developed for commercial fishing.
This item is designed for group white water rafting trips. It is set up in camp, so that everyone can wash their hands after going to the bathroom. It is a nice thing to have on an off grid property, for the same purpose. I have also seen people set these up to wash their dishes. You provide the bucket for the pump and spigot to attach to.
I dispense my drinking water out of a blue plastic jug. I wish I had one of these instead.
This is a small seat on wheels. It is designed for gardeners who can not tolerate kneeling.
Sometimes summer is too busy (and too buggy!) for carpentry. This is the go-to outfit to work on projects on cold days.
These waterproof, insulated, durable boots keep feet warm and dry all day long. They will get a lot of use by anyone who spends time in rain, mud, and muck.
A good boot brush keeps the mess under control in the entryway.
I am go in and out all day long for some reason or another. This skirt is so easy to just throw on to stay warm and dry. I wear it more than anything else in my wardrobe. An added bonus is that it unzips all the way to make a small insulated blanket.
Xtratuffs are waterproof boots with excellent foot support and non-slip soles. The Salmon Sisters version adds a little bit of fun to these utilitarian boots.
This provides a perfect environment for bread to rise in. It can also be used for other functions such as yogurt making. It folds away for storage when not in use. It does require electricity, sustained over several hours. Since it has a heating element, solar will probably not do the trick unless someone has a pretty substantial array.
My mother has had a big, cherry wood salad bowl since before I was born. It has taken on a rich seasoning over all those years. The salads that she makes taste better than others made with the exact same ingredients. This beautiful handmade bowl will be an heirloom that gets better and better with age.
A vacuum sealer is essential to storing meats, fish, and vegetables in the freezer. It prevents freezer burn and preserves flavor.
It is great to have a pair of binoculars by the window for birds and other wildlife. Of course they are an essential tool for ranches and other operations like that.
I practically live in my screen tent in the summertime. It’s great to have space to stretch or have company that is out of the bugs.
Snowshoes are a fun way to explore the winter world.
Next to a drill and a chainsaw, this is the power tool I use the most.
This is a terrific processing tool for anyone who raises meat animals or hunts.
Water is really really heavy! This pump helps you move a lot of water with a teeny tiny amount of fuel. I am amazed at how far this pump can move water as well.
This is a serious weather station with precise instruments. It can be used to make reasonably accurate weather forecasts. This is important for planning planting and other farm activities.
This list is certainly biased towards colder places. I’m sure I’ve missed items that make life more comfortable in places like Florida. What are some of the little things that make a homestead more comfortable in a hot climate?
Allison Sayer lives in a schoolbus on an off-grid property in the Alaskan Copper Valley. She has been part of many amazing projects. These include cooking at a remote nature center, managing a multi-family hoop house, volunteering at a chicken sanctuary, and WWOOFing on a small farm. Through her deep friendships throughout the Alaskan wilderness, she has helped many friends develop their homes and dreams. Allison is currently building up her property with the goal of starting her own microgreen farm.