Having lived in the woods, and houseless, for quite a few years before I had offspring, I know what you DO need and what you DON’T need to live happily in an off-grid, houseless situation. This would apply to a homeless situation, too.
Here is what you NEED for living in a homeless situation:
- Bandanas — Use as a washcloth, napkin, snot rag, TP, easy bag for berries or herbs, a quick shirt (two knotted together), loincloth, head cover, mask, to tie things together, slingshot. Here’s a longer list of bandana uses and a link to some of the cheapest ones I’ve found online, about a buck a piece.
- Paracord /rope — Because there is never a lack of use for either one. Paracord has multiple uses and can actually be split with a knife, carefully, down the side and allow you to use the individual, inner strands for different uses. This is a product I recommend and you get a lot of paracord for your money.
- Mid-Sized pocket knife — This one can be used for food prep, splinter removal, fishing , making fishing lures (from twigs) balance, boredom relief.
- Tarp — This will come in handy as a blanket, shelter, cover, rug, backpack (roll up all your gear in it), and for water collection. A heavy-duty tarp can be used for all this and more and will last a long time.
- Wide mouth metal water bottle/cup/bowl (Preferably w/ sealable top) – You’ll obviously use this for water but also for herb/fruit gathering, holding bait, transporting small animals, food prep. Be sure to get stainless steel and military quality.
- Sewing kit — Clothing, tent, tarp, or even human repair. A few pieces of duct tape wrapped around the case can come in handy as well.
- Magnesium carbide fire starter — With this and your pocket knife, you will always have a fire source. A very simple set is really all you need.
- 6 Carabiners — The real ones not the pocket ones. These are invaluable and will handle rough usage, air cacheing, dog leashing, shelter construction. You could do with 5, but 6 is better. They also can be used for fishing (to hold the line) and creating a hanging bed from tarp and rope/cord.
- Tea Tree Oil — Stinks to high heaven, but it keeps critters away. Mosquitoes, parasites, disinfects, etc. Edens Garden is a reasonably priced brand.
- A sturdy hand-sized candle — Because you never know when you will need to go answer nature’s call in the middle of the night.
- A pouch of tobacco — You would be amazed by how much a person is willing to trade for a cigarette. Even if you don’t smoke, this is valuable.
- A salt shaker/bottle of hot sauce — You never know what your gonna have to eat, but be prepared for it. It’s also of great barter value. Here are instructions for making your own hot sauce.
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