A Prepper’s Story: Headed To Alaska To Survive Off-grid

Summer 2015. The North Alaskan Wilderness. Isolated from civilization. No electric. No cell phone. No plumbing. For years we have been saying just a couple more years and we will move away. Well, we’ve decided to stop putting off our dream! We have decided to do it!

Moving to Alaska has always been a dream of ours. It was not one person’s idea, and the other person followed along. This idea existed before me and my wife knew each other, we shared the same dream. We dreamed of moving to the Alaskan bush and living in our very own hand built log cabin in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature and wildlife.

We wanted to make a life in the remote wilderness away from civilization years ago, but some things always came up. We kept saying that one day we would go. Finally we decided that we no longer had the patience to wait. We felt like if we continued to wait for the perfect time, it would never happen.

Waiting gets you nowhere. Instead of saying there is so much to do before we can move, we asked each other “what do we need to do to make this happen right now?”

Any Moving Checklist Starts with a Good Location

alaska landscapeIn August 2014 we decided to move to the land we dreamed of, Northern Alaska. To live a simple off the grid life, not only for the beauty of an untouched landscape and the wildlife, but for the peace of the undeveloped wilderness.

There are many things that can lead to failure. Death from hypothermia, starvation from not being able to find food hunting, an injury that you can’t treat because you can’t get help. If a person is heading out away from civilization with doubts, it’s a bad move.

You have to know you can succeed and have the tools as well as knowledge to accomplish that.

We did make a plan, we planned a lot of things. You cannot find yourself in the Northern wilderness of Alaska without a plan, especially when bringing a child to live an off the grid lifestyle.

First the financial aspect. We asked ourselves what could we afford to pay for the land? We had to make sure we would not have to take out a mortgage from a bank, or have huge payments that we could not afford once living off-grid. Also, the expense of a simple boat that would allow us to get to town for supplies a couple times a year.

For us, the hardest thing was finding the land. We knew we wanted somewhere remote, but also somewhere that we would have the things we need for off the grid living. A water source, an area well populated for hunting. Good land to build on. Plenty of trees for heating with a wood stove.

Finding land was not easy, and it took us a few years to actually find what we wanted. We looked at many online sales. Craigslist. Land watches. We wrote emails and letters asking about land, contacted realtors, and any person who would talk to us about land.

We would never decide on land without seeing it first. You can’t simply look at a picture and say I’ll take it! We had to literally stand on the land, walk the land, make sure there was an area safe to build, that would not be flooded during the spring thaw when the river breaks up.

We were able to negotiate with the land because it was being sold through a private sale. The land cost a lot of money. If you consider the price for the amount of land we have it is much cheaper than we would have to pay in a developed area.

It was also important for us to find land where we don’t have to pay taxes on the property every year. Since we are so far from the location that we chose to live this lifestyle, it is a big expense to just get there. We are driving over 4300 miles.

Other expenses for living in the location we chose are a boat, fuel, basic tools for building a cabin, stocking up supplies for our initial relocation. With being in such a remote area it is a lot more work to get what we need on our own. The land is definitely the larger expense.

There are a few things to beware of when looking for land for relocating. You need to find out if the land surrounding your property can be built upon. We did not want to build a cabin off the grid, then over time others start moving into the area and building around us, especially nothing commercialized. We were very lucky to have found a property that is surrounded by a wildlife refuge. That land is protected from developers.

Also beware of the climate. We choose to live about 125 miles south of the Arctic Circle, where temperatures can reach below 60 in winter. You must make sure you know what you are getting into and that you are prepared.

Planning the Journey of a Lifetime

USA mapHaving a boat is also very important: we need it to get to and from town once off the grid. Without a boat, we could not get to our property. If we choose a boat too small we would have a problem hauling stuff to our property.

We had to have a certain type of boat. It had to be a flat bottom boat that was made of aluminum. We needed to make sure it was wide and at least 16 feet long.

We also needed a trailer to bring the boat with us, and also a motor was a necessity. We wanted to purchase the whole package, and that was hard to come by.

We searched for a boat for several months. We looked on Craigslist in Alaska. We did not want the hassle of traveling with a 16 foot boat for over 4,000 miles across the United States and Canada.

After searching with no luck, we decided to look locally. We went to marine dealers, we checked newspaper ads, and viewed boats on E-bay. We looked every day for 5 months. We not only checked in our area but the states surrounding us.

It was an exhausting search. Sometimes we would find the perfect boat but it would not have a motor, or the trailer was not included. We wanted to keep our price below 3,000 dollars. An aluminum flat bottom boat without anything included could range in prices of 2,000-20,000. New motors alone are much more than 3,000, so we knew we had to buy something used.

We actually got a deal on a good used boat. We finally found a boat that was 2,200 dollars. The boat has no holes or leaks, and it came with an almost brand new trailer, and a motor in good running condition. We had to drive over 3 hours one way to buy the boat, but it was definitely worth the 6 + hours of driving to get it. We had to make plans for the cabin, how we would construct it. Then to plan where we would live while building the cabin. We decided to buy a canvas wall tent with a small wood stove.

Next we had to figure out how we would have food. We bought fishing net for catching chum, salmon, white fish and others found in the Yukon River. It’s impossible to have a garden the first summer, so we bought some dehydrated vegetables. Rice, beans, things that we would be able to cook on a wood stove or over a fire.

We decided to buy our beans and such in bulk. The things we purchased were powdered whole milk, powdered eggs, 20 large #10 cans of dehydrated assorted vegetables and 10 large #10 cans of dehydrated fruits, several cases of toddler meats, several cans of dehydrated  potatoes, 25 pounds of sugar, 25 pounds of flour, spices, 2 pounds of chicken bullion, 60 pounds of rice and 25 pounds of beans.

Once the cabin is built, we plan to do plenty of hunting, also restock our dehydrated foods before the river freezes. It will be much nicer to have a garden the following summer, so we can do canning with our vegetables. We only planned for the summer. What we have for food in the summer we need to have 3 times as much stockpiled for the winter.

Without a snow machine, we figure we will be completely cut off from civilization for at least 7 months, maybe 8 months. We know that when the river freezes we are 100 percent isolated. Most people go to the grocery store once a week, but imagine shopping for food and not going back to the grocery store for 32 weeks. We hope that after the first year we can be more dependent on ourselves by growing our own foods. It will make a big difference financially.

We had to plan the trip there. It’s over 4,000 miles to get there, with everything we own stuffed into the back of our pick-up truck. We had to look at everything we owned and decide what items to keep and what to give away.  There is nothing we can think of that we feel sorry about leaving behind.

The Challenge for Body, Spirit and Soul

Of course we will miss our family, but we do not feel sorry about the life we have chosen. To live such a remote life does take sacrifice. Not just not being able to visit with family or friends but, but we must sacrifice all modern conveniences.

If we run out of bread, we have to make more by hand. When our clothes are dirty, we can’t toss them into a washing machine. Instead we have to haul water from the river in 5 gallon buckets, then wash them by hand on a washing board with a bar of soap.

We can’t pick up a phone to chat with someone. We cannot turn on a light or turn on a heater. Even the convenience of washing dishes will miss. That too includes hauling water from the river, then heating the water, then washing the dishes in a washing tub.

Getting a bath, or using the bathroom is different in the bush. Or having to use the bathroom in a freezing cold outhouse in the dark days of winter. Think about hauling water in buckets then heating it for a bath in a galvanized 20 gallon bucket.

Moving to the wilderness of Alaska we leave behind an easy life, to have a better quality of life. If people imagine a cozy romantic cabin in the wilderness, laying around drinking hot chocolate all day, they are out for quite a shock. Going off-grid will test a person on all levels: your strength, your skills, and your mental status. It’s not an easy sit back kind of life. Hard work keeps a person healthy and also gives us a lot to be proud of.

The biggest milestone of our plan is that we have an exact date to begin our long journey. We are leaving from Delaware on May 1 2015. Having the land cleared will be another milestone. So is getting the cabin complete before the snow starts to fall. After that we can breathe a little easier, knowing we have solid shelter for the long cold dark winter ahead.

This is a tough work to accomplish, and we prepared ourselves trying to stay active. We try to hike as much as possible to keep our bodies in shape.

Rich Johnson with familyMy wife Amber stays busy with an active toddler. She is a stay at home mother, and takes care of the majority of our cooking, baking, canning, gardening in the summer, cleaning our home and making sure the laundry is always done.

I am on my feet 12 hours each day with my job, and after work I come home and always find something to get done.

I keep myself busy with chopping wood for our fireplace or doing mechanical as well as household repairs. Lately I have been updating wires and fuel lines on the boat. We don’t think that there is one certain thing to do to prepare for this lifestyle.

Getting our cabin done in 3 months’ time will be many hours of hard physical work. Creating this off the grid-life will be the hardest work in the shortest amount of time that we have ever had to accomplish in both our lives.

Lessons to Learn 

There are many skills needed for this new life. A big one is problem solving, able to think on your feet. You need some basic engineering and creative thinking to make things work. Some carpentry skills, hunting plus having the know how to safely process and preserve the meat.

Experience fishing along with cutting and cleaning the fish. Knowing how to properly and accurately handle a firearm, gardening skills, canning, survival skills as well as knowing what to do medically if an accident happened.

You have to learn how to operate a chainsaw, hand tools, and even the proper way to use an axe. It may sound ridiculous to say, but some people do not know how to properly use an axe. One mistake while swinging the axe and you could be bleeding to death hours away from civilization with a frozen river in front of you and mountains surrounding you.

We are preparing ourselves discussing different scenarios, what if this happened and talk about how we would respond. We are going into the wild, and we cannot predict what will happen but it would be foolish to think that nothing bad would ever happen. Especially in an area very remote where grizzly and black bear along with wolves are abundant.

We garden now, as well as canning foods, and hunting. A lot of the things we already do, are things that we will face once off the grid. Even knowing how to make a fire with different items is important.

Then there is the aspect of our health. Knowing the signs of dehydration, making sure our water is safe to drink. Learning the most we can for as many situations as we can imagine. For example, Amber was explaining the process of using a sewing needle and fishing line to stitch a deep cut.

These are things that you have to consider when living this life. We are not necessarily afraid of anything in particular, instead I would say, we know the dangers that we could certainly face. Our child becoming sick, or a grizzly bear ripping through our tent in the middle of the night while we sleep. Making sure we are prepared for the winters with enough food and wood to survive. Not only surviving but thriving in long winters with Subzero conditions.

How are we going to live your life one year from now? We want to have the peace of knowing we have created a life that we can be proud of. A completed log cabin and sauna, a completed outhouse. We hope to have a garden that produces well. The satisfaction that we built everything by hand. A feeling of complete freedom.  We set out with the idea of not just changing our life, but starting a new life, a life that would be exactly how we wanted it. Our plans did not happen overnight, they took years.

A lot of people opposed our idea of going off-grid. Some family members thought we were insane. Some people even questioned if we were doing the right thing for our son. Others supported our dream, and have decided to follow our journey online. We had to ignore negativity and do what we thought was right. We are the ones that will be living this life. We refused to give up our dream because of others opinions.

Finding land was tough. We did not just pick a spot and suddenly it was ours. Finding land takes a lot of work. You need patience along with persistence. Living off the grid is not deciding to simply walk into the wilderness. Choosing this life takes a lot of skills, research, knowledge, hard work. Also we leave a lot behind: family, friends, electric, cell phones, and many other modern conveniences.

This journey is years in the making. We are excited for it to finally begin. There are no doubts or regrets of leaving life as we know it behind, and we have no plans of ever turning back.

We are headed to Alaska to survive the Yukon!


This article has been written by Rich Johnson for Survivopedia.

Written by

Rich has been hunting, fishing, hiking, mountaineering for over 20 years. Meeting his wife was a perfect fit. It has been a life long dream of theirs to move away from the east coast, and build a log cabin, to live remote. They intend to live off the land hunting, fishing, gardening, and being self sufficient as much as possible with little need for money. Some people questioned if they were doing the right thing, others support their dream. But Rich and his family is living their dream now, in the freezing Alaska.

Latest comments
  • Cheechako, been there, done that. You do not fish or hunt in Alaska, you “harvest”. Most settlements are along the river for food and transportation. River boats in summer and snow machine or vehicle when the river freezes – it is a transportation system (road). Both are hard to service out there so know how to maintain. Yes, people stock anywhere from 9-15 months of food to make it to the next season. Best done while young and hardy. Don’t let the world pass you by: keep skills up and read in winter. Learn to barter and make friends with any “neighbors”. Oh, and stock up on duct tape! 🙂

    • You are correct. The Yukon River can be a road in winter. Just have to cut a trail in places where jumble ice creates problems. With my initial arrival with supplies and a boat I won’t have a snow machine at first. I hope to get one before next winter. If not we will be limited with our travel during our first winter.


  • Rich, you and your wife have made a good decision Figure out a way to get a snow mobil to your property. It can help you in so many ways. In the winter you can cross the river which will be solid ice. I know your smart enough to have some weapons for the safety for your family and of course hunting.
    I’ll remember you and your family in my prayers. God Bless.

    • Thank you, yes we hope to one day be able to acquire a snow machine. Until then, during winter we are isolated.
      We do have weapons for protection and hunting.

  • Good luck looking forward to reading more about your new life

    • Thank you . Glad to have you following along.

      • hello I just read your story from 2015 my husband nd I re wanting to do the whole sale our business and move off grid to Alaska with our son the will be 2 December 27th any incouragement would be great following your story please write back or emil [email protected]

  • Lived in Alaska 25yrs. Know the Yukon (Eagle to Circle). One thing you don’t mention is the mosquitos, white sox and no seeums. You have no idea how thick the hordes of these biting insects there are. One thing for certain you will come to know and I rank their effect as greater than the bears or moose that you will have to high fence your garden to keep them out. Very few have what it takes to live like this. I’ll be interested in hearing your take on all this after 1-2 years of your experiment. By the way, snow machines are used on the Yukon after freeze up, also dog mushing. They even run them on the river during the Yukon quest race.

    • Oh yeah. I am definitely aware of the mosquitoes in summer. I spent this past summer up there and other visits there as well. They are definitely worse than the bears! This is not an experiment. It is our new life we have chosen. I do plan to get a snow machine. I know you can get up and down river depending how bad the jumble ice is. Thanks and you can follow us on our page

  • I have been out on the Yukon River for over 20 yrs. I hope you enjoy your move to Alaska and the living off grid. A subsistence lifestyle is great and a lot of work. If there are any villages near by make friends and they will look out for you. I have enjoyed my time out in remote Alaska and I hope you and your family are blessed by the experience too.

    • Thank you very much for your positive comment. We look forward to our life ahead!

  • Wow! Rich, I am impressed that you are going to do this. You will be starting from scratch with absolutely everything and creating it yourself, a monumental task as I am sure you know. I could visit Alaska and camp, live off the land partially for a little while, maybe move into someone else’s homestead and improve on it, but the thought of creating all that myself from nothing is too daunting for me. I hope you keep writing of your adventure and I just want you to know that all your effort will be worth it!

    • Starting from scratch is the hard part. We know how hard it will be. Many many many hours and days , weeks of hard work, but for us it WILL be worth it. Hope you follow us on facebook. We will update our progress with pictures and hopefully videos too of building/creating our life when we are able to get to town.

  • Have you seen One Man’s Wilderness? A story about Dick Proenekke who did what you are talking about doing. Fascinating! God Bless you on your adventure.

    • Yes I have watched all three of his movies many times. Very inspiring.

  • I think this is a dream for many people. Most, like me, never do it or seriously think we could. I enjoy watching movies about it and one documentary I found really inspiring. “Alone in the Wilderness,” telling about Dick Proenneke. He did it alone and stayed until in his 80s. The tools he made and his DIY ability sure made it look a lot easier than it is.
    Good luck. Maybe some day you can tell your story in a book or home videos.

    • Thank you. Yes ive watched his movie. One day I would like to write a book or make a little documentary video. Like you said I knowa lot of people dream of something lime this and cant or wont ever do it. So this is why I want to share my story for those people.

  • I worked with Dick Proenneke on Kodiak Island. Any information you can find from him would be helpful. Dick was different, other people can’t do what he did. Dick was shy but he loved people and spent a lot of time reading and writing letters. He thrived on isolation that would wear the rest of us down. Most people only last 2 to 10 years in the wild. I never lived farther north than Talkeetna, that was cold but not remote. I would recommend a snow machine. The above comments on mosquitoes and bugs is so true. Moose can be more dangerous than bears. Remember the best laid plans of mice and men.

    • That is awesome. He is a huge inspiration to us. Snow machine is on our list of wants.
      Also, we are aware of the Moose!!
      Thank you for taking the time to read our story as well as commenting.

  • Rich and Amber – – Am 74 years old, have been prepping/planning remote living conditions since 1960s. Have many good ideas for low cost/no cost *do it in a different way* that will be very helpful to you both. Please send me an email address for you so I can send directly to you. Info too lengthy to post in social media comment boxes.
    Thanks in advance
    Lewis Higinbotham
    Missoula, Montana

    • Here is our email address

      • I would love your insite also. We will be moving to Alaska in 9 months to live the dream of being off the grid

    • We have emailed you. We look forward to your ideas. Thank you

    • Would you mind emailing me as well? We’re hoping in the next 10 years to be up in Alaska living off the land, but know we need to be well prepared. Would love any advice you have to give!!!

      Jennifer Nielson
      Grande Prairie, Alberta

  • I’m sure you weighted out the risk involved and the encouraging words from people from Alaska must bear out your decision.

    I’m from Maine. I work at an orphanage in Mexico.

    If your kid dies, let me promise you I will blame you. K? We good?

    • You are a real jack-ass Tim for a comment like that. If you don`t have anything that is positive to say keep you fat yap shut as Rich and Amber don`t need to here crap like that at the beginning of their odyssey. THE DUKE

  • Wow! I commend you and your wife, Rich. I must confess, I’m a city gal and I do enjoy my amenities! However, with society going the way it is, I wish you all the success in the world. I do hope you have made provisions for medical emergencies and such as well. Best wishes to you and your family! May God bless you and watch over you.

    • Thank you. We appreciate your kind words. Yes we have provisions for medical emergencies.

  • Good for you and your wife for following your dreams. I hope and pray you find it as fullfilling as you want it to be. One thing that stuck in my mind after reading your initial post was the boat. Since you have to haul it anyway, use it as a storage trailer along with the bed of your truck. Make sure you have backups (medicine, tools =power and hand, truck parts, boat parts etc) Enjoy and may God Bless you and your family.

    • Thank you. We have planned to use the boat for hauling some items. We purchased some back ups! We must always think ahead. Some parts that are easily purchased here with a 5 minute drive in the car, could be hours away from us there Once we are in he bush! Thank you for the advice.

  • Rich,
    All the best to you and your family. I too always wanted to do what your are about to do but God had other ideas. I enjoy watching and listening to others that have done it. Will be waiting for your words on how all is going. God Bless you and your family always.

    • We appreciate your positive comment. Hope you continue to follow us we will try to post updates as best we can, along with pictures and videos us headed to Alaska also of us clearing land, and constructing our cabin. Thanks again!


  • Rich,
    I have a few thoughts. You’ve written about some of your logistical details to get started. That’s great, but there was no mention of how you will generate any type of income. When you go down for supplies a couple times a year, everything costs money. I assume you’ll be canning, making soap, weaving fabric to make new clothing as they wear out? Even the basic elements for living rough cost money. Also, there are psychological factors to consider. Seasonal Affective Disorder from long periods without natural sunlight. Cabin Fever from long periods in isolation, which is a lot for a young couple with a baby to take on. I appreciate your lifelong dream, but I am not convinced it will turn out as you imagine. Best of luck to you, whatever you ultimately do.

    • Thank you for the comment and taking the time to write. We have considered the difficulties we may face ahead. We have some plans for making money in the future. We have knowledge about SAD from isolation. We have researched a lot before making this huge life changing decision of going off grid.

  • There are several things I have noticed. All the people that have lived there mentioned a snow machine, In light of the long hard winter: “is it as important or more important than the boat?” Maybe you have to have it also! A sick baby, wife, or husband with simple medical treatment to survive will be life or death literally without any options. However, a 60 below zero trip to the doctor or to supplies may be just as dangerous. Whether you like it or not, you need to have a good “exit strategy” and a preplanned date and event calender for executing certain parts of your plan. This is because once you are out there, you get caught up in life and can easily loose sight of reality. A log cabin that can stand 60 below winter weather is not easy to build, your wife will be tending an infant. I am not convinced one man working by himself is going to build all the requirements needed in one summer. How many hours does it take to build the cabin? How many hours does it take to cut x number of cords of firewood? Where does the water come from at 60 below? No solar in the winter. What is the latest date on the calender to have the cabin finished? What is the latest date on the calender to have everything finished? The plan is to be successful. To do that you may have to leave and return the next year to finish what you started so you really can live out your dream. You must have this “what if” planned and funded before going up there, or you have already planned to fail. This is about a life long commitment, so plan it right. If you don’t reach specific milestones by specific dates you have no choice but to take certain actions, period.

    • Amen!!!!

    • We do understand all that you have said. We have looked at all risk associated with our new life. We appreciate your concern, and also appreciate you taking the time to not only read our story but to speak straight forward with how you feel. This life we have chosen is not for everyone. There are huge risk involved, but for us, even though to some people it is inconceivable to do so, we want this life. We hope you continue to follow our page, so that you may see the updates of us building and clearing. It’s really much more than surviving, its living the life we always dreamed up.

    • Stated like a a true Project manager. 😉 sounds like you might be as fond of Microsoft Project as myself. And Rich, truly pulling for yall. And hoping that your youth and strength will blend with good sense should unexpected scheduling issues set you on course to an early exit for safety reasons. Better safe than frozen !

  • While I applause your dreams and excitement. And I know it isn’t any of my business, but on behalf of concern for your wife and child, I do have to say something. I don’t think it is very wise. Especially taking a baby. What if something happens to you? Your wife and baby alone against the elements, surely isn’t wise. So much can happen, accidentally, a tree could fall upon you, while cutting them down. A log could drop or roll on you while you are trying to erect your cabin. I’ve seen a crew of men erect log cabin, it wasn’t easy for them, let alone one man and a small woman…. A wild animal could get you while your out hunting. What on earth would your poor little wife and child do, out there all alone??? I’ve been young like you, you feel you are invincible, nothing is going to happen to you….Now I’m old and have more wisdom, to know yes, things do happen, that just are not in the scope our control sometimes. Why don’t you move to Alaska, a rent for a while in a town, or on the outskirts of town to get some skills and your bearings for awhile. Let your son get some older, so he isn’t a baby anymore. Use some wisdom. This is not a wise choice….:( Just to many things can happen. Your boat isn’t going to do you any good in the winter time, do you have a dependable snow machine? A shortwave radio? What if in a emergency, they didn’t work????? I could go on. I just write this out of concern, I know it is glamorous to have your dreams, but it is a harsh, rough, area, not one for a woman and baby!!!!

    • Suez I understand your concerns. I am not taking Amber there. She wants to go. This is both our idea not mine alone. I am not dragging her along. We are doing this together. Believe me we have thought everything through that you have said. This is not an overnight decision, this is years in planning. Yes there are a lot of risks. We both feel you can’t live life in fear of something happening. About 100 people every day in the U.S. die in a car accident. But that doesn’t stop people from driving. What I’m saying is there are risks every day in life no matter what you do or where you are. We believe in fate. If something is going to happen, it’s gonna happen weather I’m driving in the city or cutting a tree down in the woods. The life we have chosen is not for everyone and most will never understand. But we know it is right for us. Thanks, I do appreciate your opinion and concerns.

      • I’ m not talking about fear, I’m talking about common sense. I know your young, and it takes years to acquire that!!! I have kids, I know how they think they can conquer the world. Things happen, that is a fact. At least if your were in a car wreak, your wife and child would have family and friends to look out for them….I do pray the best for you, but I still think it very unwise!!!! 🙁

  • I read the most one ago on the internet that Alaska has the highest rate of rape — not a good place for a woman unless she gets serious about gun shooting skills and self-defense.

    • My wife has been handling guns for years. She is very accurate with several different models and caliber guns. From .44 mag to rifles . We do go regularly to the range and each time she is consistent with her shooting accuracy and capabilities.

  • Hello,
    Can you possibly lead me where in Alaska. Like to go there to look and move there.
    God help us.

  • These people are out of their minds. I have been in Alaska for 35 years and been in temperatures of minis 80 below. To take a child out in the wilderness and attempt to do what they are trying without living here for a good while is insane. I have a friend who was caught with a broken snow machine over night. It broke down at minis 50. He lost both his hands. You should live here with people a while before trying what they are attempting to do.
    I caution them but also wish them well. Rely on God not on man’s wisdom to survive where ever you live. I have been doing that for 53 years when I first met Christ.

    In His Service

    • We understand your concern. We feel as though we do have the capabilities to survive his harsh environment. I have mountaineered every winter for years in very cold situations. My wife lived in Northern Maine for 4 years, where she too experienced below zero temperatures. I also have made many trips to Alaska, and know exactly what is ahead of us. We have not only the knowledge and skills but also the correct clothing/gear for our life ahead. We know the dangers we face, but we feel as though we can have a good off the grid life. Thank you for your comment and concern.

    • AMEN Rick,,, Plus, Poor baby has no choice….taking a child into that, is truly crazy…It would be different if they didn’t have the baby. I’m half sick to my stomach thinking about it, I can’t imagine how their parents are taking it. It would just sicken me. My the Lord be merciful to them, inspite of their choice….:-(

    • This guy Rick is off his rocker if he thinks god is going to appear a get you out of the predicament that you find yourself in. The only thing that will save your ass is to be prepared and have a c.b. radio to call in a copter for a ride to the hospital, that you can power by a pedal generator that you can build yourself. Mega success on your adventure Rich and Amber, THE DUKE

  • Not sure where this craze about living “off-grid” in Alaska came from…other than the rugged beauty, relative “pristine-ness”, and remoteness of the land which might appeal to some more than others.

    One can live off-grid, in isolation, and a LOT easier, cheaper, and without the -60 degree climate in many other parts of the nation…eg, desert southwest, semitropical southeast, and the cold/rainy/snowy northern states…and all without paying the huge cost in housing, land, transportation, and materials/supplies. The sunny, windy climates will provide more than ample electricity, while also being abundant in wild food sources YEAR-ROUND.

    Even in the cold, snowy north: Just look at the real estate (house + land) listings in the New England states for example. You can buy a huge farm house with a ton of land for the price of a tiny house in Alaska…and all without the issues that come with simply trying to survive. Plus they often come with huge barns and other outbuildings, orchards, forests, rivers, lakes, etc. So lots of opportunity to live off-grid without all the stress.

    So living off-grid doesn’t mean having to live on an ice cube in the middle of nowhere. This can be done anywhere…and for far less cost and far less risk than in Alaska. We’re not Eskimos/Inuits. We did not grow up armed with the knowledge, skills, traditions, rugged physique, tribal support, and familiarity of the land to withstand such a harsh environment with no modern equipment (which is TRUE off-grid). Of course I’m aware that indigenous groups pretty much no longer live this way and have adopted a dependence on modern conveniences.

    But if you feel you have something to prove to yourself, or feel you must challenge yourself for whatever reason…then go for it. I just don’t know what you will do if the Feds/FEMA decide to remove your access to parts, materials, and petroleum to power all those transportation lifelines…so it may be wise to always have enough food to last at least a couple of years just in case.

    By the way, I believe this is the best vehicle for escape, emergency, or just daily transportation over virtually any terrain & in any weather…and it’s not expensive. It’s called the “Hoverwing”…a hovercraft that uses ground effect to launch several feet off the ground to fly like an airplane.


    • There is no other place that we wish to be . Alaska is for us the only option we want. Thank you for the comment though. We appreciate your thoughts and opinions.

      • Can’t argue with that. Some places just call us. Stay safe, and best wishes to you and your family, Rich.

        • Thanks Jason, will do. People who don’t understand never will because it’s not something they could do or want to do.

  • Its going to be tough to build a cabin in one summer. You may find volunteers (not locals) that would like to go to Alaska and help you construct a log house for the experience. A crew would make it a lot more fun and safe. The midnight sun will permit you to work long hours and make for unsafe working conditions. The trees that far north grow with a lot of taper making them hard to work with. Sometimes it really rains a lot. Everything you do will be a challenge because of the weather and conditions. Just using an outhouse in the winter makes it difficult to find where to put the paper if you stay longer than several minutes.
    Alaska is a wonderful place. As you can see a lot of people find it hard to accept that you would do it. Its very peaceful at 40 below with no sound except the trees creaking and the ice cracking in the lakes and streams.

    • Roy I dont need or want anyone’s acceptance for us doing this. I know it can rain a lot. It did this past summer when I was there. There are a lot of nice straight trees there. The silence and solitude will be nice. Thanks for reading

  • What religion were you as you were growing up, and is belonging to a church a desire of yours? I’m a life ins. agent. Could I ask you what your thoughts are on that subject? I wish you the best on this exciting adventure! It’s awesome!

    • We do not practice any form of organized religion. We have not and do not plan on belonging to a church. Thank you for wishing us the best. It is very exciting

      • You certainly do not have to go to a church building to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Heavenly Father. I’d would say, most in those places of social gathering,,, are not really! But, to have a personally relationship with the creator of the Universe is a must!!! If you are, or are not, a believer,,,please do yourself a your family a huge favor, and take along a 1600 or 1700’s King James Bible. I’m so very sure if you get into any king of big trouble, it is him you will be crying out too!! Read his letter to you, and get to know him. You will never be the same if you do!! 🙂

        • OH, p.s. Jesus Christ has nothing to do with organized religion, but rather, he offers a personal relationship with the Son of the living God!!!

  • Rich and Family, have been reading your story and also the comments, it’s all up to you now. Everything that you have read and been told, read it again. You may not be a follower of God, so make sure you have some fortitude in reserve. This is a positive and understandable goal that you have and I wish you and yours the best. Be more prepared mentally, find your strength in each other for those times when you and your wife may hate each other ( but not really mean it) I, like many of the commenters here have lived all over Alaska, The North Slope, Brooks Range and even in town for a bit. This is going to be a different kind of hard, but we can’t really tell you, you will have to find that out for yourself. In regards to your baby; you and your wife are adults and you are making these decisions for your child. Get the satellite phone, know where your nearest village is and stop in and meet the Health aid. Nothing will hurt you more that having a sick or hurt child in the Bush that you can’t help, but so many children have been raised in these conditions and loved life to the fullest. You will figure it out. I wish you the best, you are starting a brand new life, maybe we will read your book one day.

    • Thanks Mark. I believe in what you say. Especially with our son. Many people think what were doing is wrong taking him. I think that is funny because there are many kids who grow up like this all over Alaska. People act like he is the first one. He surely wont be the last either. We believe it is a much better quality of life and he will be able to do for himself when he gets older. The generation of people today dont have a clue how to do for themselves. Most pay somebody to do something for them because they are either to lazy, uneducated, or unskilled to do things for themselves. If something major ever happened most people would never make it on their own.

  • While I haven’t read all the responses I have read that you are planning to buy supplies periodically. I am wondering where you are intending to generate income to purchase supplies? One option is trapping. Is that something that you have experience in or have considered?

  • Oh, I also wanted to include this thought… Spring breakup on the Yukon can result in ice-dams choking up the river resulting in flooding way beyond the typical high water mark. With so much on your mind trying to establish a home site and build a shelter I just wanted to mention that in case it was something you may have overlooked.

  • greenhouse heated by rocket stove and black water barrels for heat storage ? rocket mass heater for the cabin ? big logs can be moved by see sawing ..that’s how stonehenge and the pyramids were constructed ..keep moving the fulcrum..i saw this done on youtube a while ago ..

    when you are off grid you will probably be in the best position to survive the “special period” when our currency crashes because of the 18 trillion debt ..cuba had 2 ..when the usa first imposed the embargo and when russia pulled out .. cubans make the unbelievable cars still run ..they microfarm..true, they are subtropical and can grow year ’round without heating needs … gazans grow food on their roofs ..
    good luck and good success ! luck that nothing does you harm and success that you prepare extensively against things that could do you harm and to thrive

  • I know gas fuel will be very precious, but you are probably planning some limited electrical use. If you plan an outhouse away from the main cabin there could be times you or the young ones just shouldn’t venture out. I know that weight going in could be an issue too. But you might want look at taking an INCINOLET. It requires no plumbing, but would take electricity (when needed.) You can read about them on the website of the same name.

  • Excellent comment R.J., that`s something that I`ll have to file away for future use as it is something that I don`t think that I would have thought about. THE DUKE

  • Hello Rich and Amber, just thought that I would float a couple of ideas that think may help you out. I just saw on tv. an item that a young man made that will generate heat and fire. He took a satalite dish and lined it with small mirrors about 5/16-3/8 of an inch wide which gave him a focal point of about 1 1/2-2 1/2 feet in front of the dish and generates about 6000 degrees heat (will even cut steel) which I am certain that you could find many uses for ( even welding maybe). As for transportation in the winter, get a toboggan and make a sail(8×10 or 10×15) that you can let out in front to pull you along down the river when it ices up. Bye the way I really like the looks of your property, I think that your family is going to build a great life with lots of great memories. One thing that I wanted to ask you Rich is, are those rock slides on either side of the photo, and if so where do you plan on building your cabin in relation to them as I am wondering about possible avalanche conditions and which type of face poses the least amount of risk for your home. As for all of these nay sayers that are writing to you three, they just don`t have the guts or the intestinal fortitude to do what you guys are going to do. It is a good thing that our forefathers were not the bunch of pussies that most of the population has become or this continent would still be empty. One more thing that might help you out is to bring some varsol with you as if you cut yourself fairly bad you can submerge the cut in the varsol and it will sterilize and cauterize the cut (just keep submerged till bleeding stops, absolutely no pain or burning just a nice cool feeling). The best of luck, THE DUKE

    • Those are rock but not rock slides. More like rock ridges. Believe it or not that picture is very decieving. The pines below on the river is where I will build the cabin. The pines from rivers edge to the rock ridge going up is about a quarter mile deep. Those spruce trees below are also over 100 feet tall and is an area of about 40 acres.

  • enjoyed reading this and the comments. we live off grid in the desert. came from the midwest and knew nothing about desert life. its a fast learning curve. we have a saying we use a great deal, have a back up for every back up. i do recommend solar even if just a small panel or two. they connect easily to a couple batteries and running a solar powered lite will be your best investment. a very small efficient generator can keep you in light thru all the dark days and nights of winter. my advice is make it as easy on yourself as you can, it saves your energy for the millions of things you cant control. have lotsa tips if you want them send a text.

  • It is an idyllic fantasy that many of us share. Most of us who have lived in Alaska for a long time have realized that the safest and most comfortable way to enjoy the wilds of our great State (and stay healthy) is to stick one foot in the wilderness and keep a foot in town/village. In other words, find some happy compromise between the “call of the wild” and your responsibility to your family and society.

    You are not the first people to show up here with the dream of living in the bush. And you will not be the first to get slapped in the face by reality. There is no shame in taking refuge and comfort in one of our quaint little towns. But following through with your plan as described could very well end up with you and your family needing a very expensive rescue and medical care. No doubt this would be at public expense unless you’ve found a way to barter mosquito pelts for such services.

    I dont mean to torpedo your dream. Believe me, I have the same dream and have tried to pull it off for decades. But I do feel compelled (for your benefit) to inject a bit of reality. I built a cabin with my dad as a young man and lived for a few years in the bush without electric, phone and running water. I am glad to have had the experience but can speak from experience when I say it is not the paradise you and others have in your heads.

    People need to stop watching those so-called reality shows about Alaska and taking them as factual. They re not.

  • God bless you all! This is the way life is supposed to be. Not depended soley on money, but what you can do for yourself with sweat equity. No modern distractions, bed early up early. Don’t forget your bible. God bless from west Kentucky

    • Thank you Warren, I have a lot of family back there in KY!

  • Lots of good advice I see here to you. I see you have what it takes to live in the bush mentally. I also see that you are prolly using this as a way to bounce your ideas off of even the most negative people.
    I don’t know if the area your land is has good trapping prospects, but if it does you can make a little money doing that. Snow machine is a must, listen to that. You can get one for about $1500. Buy an extra motor for it and belts. Build a smaller cabin first like this one https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MjWE1j9R4xM but don’t build a loft ,it’ll be cramped but it’ll be warm and you can do it in less than a month by your self with less risk of injury. Then build a larger one later. You can use the first cabin as storage and indoor work shop later. You will need most of the summer to learn food gathering skills and if you build a smaller cabin first you can start your garden early. Not to mention it’ll take you your first year to get into “bush Shape”. Build a cache to store your supplies. For a hot water shower get a few solar shower bags and heat them close to the stove stand in a galvanized tub indoors with bag over head and stay clean. A shot gun with 2″ sabbots shells and buck shot shells best bush gun. Learn how to snare small game, let them work for you while you do other things. Sprouting indoors can happen year round and full of nutrients. Good water filter is a must 80% of illness is water born. Take your gas out of the boat motor when not in use. Neoprene face mask gloves and Mickey/ bunny boots also a pair of extreme muck boots will keep your skin hands and feet on your body. Figure on repairing evening thing you own , and in some cases get two. Get 4 deep cycle batteries a solar panel and a 800 watt induction burner from camping world and cook indoors without a fire in the summer. Cooking out side brings bears and Mosquitos. You will start to feel warm when it gets above 30 degrees and you won’t want to start a fire inside to cook on in the summer, you might feel tempted to open a window but don’t. If you live on the yuk one make a smoke shack indestructible and smoke tons of fish. Don’t get dogs a try mushing for transportation. Get a snow machine. Dogs are too much work and eat too much. But do get a dog to protect your family. Forget husky or malamutes get a big lab or German Shepard. Get a 1000 watt Honda generator and put a few large flood lights around your place. It’ll keep you safer In the winter and make it easier to get some things done in the dark winter, it’ll charge your batteries, and run your communication device, not to mention power up an apple laptop so you can watch movies in those winter days that keep you in doors. I know ,you might like to do other things for entertainment , but movies are one of an Alaskans best friends. After you are settled and have your cabin built go back to a near by community and work for a week, while your woman and child are alone at the cabin doing nothing but hanging out in doors. You can stay in your tent while working somewhere replenishing your cash. You will find that you haven’t bought everything you need and the extra work will come in handy.
    After you have lived out there for about five years you might be close to where you want to be with your dream. Things always come up and the unexpected will happen. I fell off my roof and broke my ankle , I set it my self and couldnt move for a month or two , prepare for that. You will need about ten chords of wood your first year at least. Fishing the Yukon isn’t like fishing anywhere else , get a heavy rodsand reals with spider line, in addition to your nets and such. And get a light rig for grayling and other smaller fish. Make lots of noise while walking around. And make an indoor composting toilet. Bears like to catch you with your pants down. Don’t let your boy fall in the water by a capsized boat or other. Don’t take chances, wait a few days and go slow. Can all the fish/ meat/you are able. Get lots of sleep and don’t over do it. When you are tired or Ina hurry you will make mistakes. Keep your food and cache away from your cabin. Plan a once a year vacation to a big city Fairbanks / anchorage and have fun and something to look forward to. Be careful about who knows where you live and when you will be gone. Cps are alive a looking for folks with kids in the bush and their idea of how you should raise your kids is not in line with the bush life. Relatives will sometimes have a trooper drop by to see on your welfare, so prep them and keep in contact with them regularly. I can see no one is going to be able to dissuade you from doing this and that is a characteristic of those who will make it or die trying best to you and yours. I’m going up there in the spring to maybe we will run into each other some day.

    • Nick, Thank you for that detailed message. We appreciate your comment. Very good advice you have given. A lot of the things you talked about, we already have or have considered.
      Arriving here to Alaska in May we made our way to the town of Eagle. We expected to finalize our paperwork in person and begin clearing the land so that we could build our cabin.
      Unfortunately things did not go to plan, and what we thought was a done deal fell apart. We were saddened, disappointed. We tried to purchase another land parcel on the Yukon, yet that too became impossible.
      Of course we have not given up on our dream, instead we are slightly delayed. Being delayed has allowed us the opportunity of seeing different parts of Alaska this summer and searching for land in other areas we had not previously considered to begin our off grid life.
      You can continue to follow our story on our blog https://www.facebook.com/SurvivingtheYukon

      Thank you again for the great info you provided us!

      • Amber, I have found your original article on the survivopedia website. I was sad learning that your original land plan didn’t work out. Stay positive and you will find YOUR piece of land. I will read your updates regularly. Good luck and God bless.


        • Thank you again Joe!!

  • you are living my dream !!! keep us informed i am retiring soon as a firefighter medic from florida am wanting to do the same you give some great advice have been a hunter all my life and want to get out of the lower 48 i know it might be extreme to go from florida to alaska but you know if your going to jump jump with both feet . i will pray for your success and who know maybe one day we could be distant neighbors bless you all [email protected]


  • I’m lost
    Looking to find a purpose
    You have every challenge a human could need
    Is there any chance I could join you ?
    Rich. Amber
    I just retired
    Now what
    I really physically fit no significant other and I want the most challenge life has to offer
    Just don’t know how

  • Wow
    Show was on tv and posts went crazy

  • I was a facility engineer so I have experience
    Engine. pumps. electrical.motors. Boilers. Hydrolic. water treatment . circuit. Integrate
    Maintenance. Repair.
    And wilderness lifstyle
    Camping. Fire. Hiking. Arms. Etc
    Also rigging

  • I’ve been doing research with moving off grid. The only thought that keeps popping in my head is it will only be me. And it’s a little hesitating as of right now. but to the point, I actually took some notes with what you and your wife did regarding property and tax free property. I wish you all the best of luck!

  • well.. im planing on going to the gates of arctic… any advice what to bring with me? i would like to get lost there for like a week or two… any advice? should i fear bears or wolves? do i need a repellent in june? thanx for the answers!

    • Hey man if your in southern ak there will be bears. More so than repellant you need to use bear sense and be loud. Talk to your self loudy, sing, really anything. If you see see a mom wth cubs do your best to just leave the area it belongs to her.

      If I was you I’d go to Glenn Allen and check out McCarthy. Get a ahtna permit and camo your heart out. It’s gorgeous down around there

  • I hope you all the best my wife and I were going to do the same but I had a car wreck and shatters my left leg and broke my neck and back I’m walking again so I’m trying to find work so we can start saving so we can join your quest hope fully within five years

  • Did you guys make it to alaska? I came across this in searching something non relevant however I live a good portion of the year off grid in northern alaska. My wife and I are on yukon men the tv show this last year. Anyways

    If you have any questions and are near service drop a line I’ve been here my whole life

    • That’s awesome. We plan on moving April 1 2017. We are excited. I’m just nervous because it is such a big change and a huge move. I’m just hoping we are prepared enough. Plus finding a place and I will have to have a job to help us along for the first year or 2

    • Yes were here in Alaska. You can email me at [email protected]. We can talk there.

  • Hi !
    I ,m getting close to my 70they and before I go I have to see the wild life in Alaska my last Frontier in the world. I got all surviving knowledge, but I never apply it in the real world. Please help and light my way to dream land.Appreaiciated

  • I have lived in Alaska for 35 years and I would venture to guess than 99% of the people that would try an experiment like this would fail miserably within the first year or two. The winters are horrendous, the snowfall unpredictable, the growing season is short, and nature just works against you 24/7. It takes a special ruggedness and determination to do something like this. I don’t want to discourage you but I would love to see how you are doing 3 years from now. Good luck.

  • Follow our progress on Facebook . https://m.facebook.com/SurvivingtheYukon/

  • Hi . My name is Scott. My dream is to move to the Alaska Bush. I have been a trapper , hunter and fisherman all my life.Iam 44 years old. I retired from being a Organic dairy farmer. I live for trapping and hunting. Love the outdoors. I tell everyone that I was born in the wrong time era. Looking for some help to point me in the right direction .. Thank u ..

  • Keep writing as I am going to do the same thing. I hang on every word you write so please write more and often. Best of luck and I hope to see you sooner rather than later.

    Bruce from Australia

  • Found it a little ironic that you wanted this dangerous off the grid life, but had no qualms about a gofundme set up to help you with that, ya know, using the grid.
    Seriously, if you think this is the best for your kid, you really have another thing coming, but I digress. Curiosity has me, did you ever make it to Alaska? The way you talked was like you just knew you could do it, and it would be a snap. It’s not. If you kid catches an illness, you’ll be fucked. You can’t rely on good nutrition and herbs in some cases.
    To me, it’s not worth it. Once my kids are grown–totally. But I won’t risk them because of some selfish want on my end.

    • The only way to get off the “grid” is by using the “grid.” If you have a job, vehicle, house with electricity and plumbing, or anything such as the like, you’re on the grid. They were all born on the grid. So that was the first stupid thing you said.
      He never said it was the best thing for his kid. If he wants to raise his child in the wilderness, that’s his decision. Short or illness (which actually can be treated), the child will grow up with skills that probably half of the world doesn’t have.
      You speak as though you know for a fact exactly how difficult it is to move to Alaska, although you said you haven’t moved there yourself. What’s more, he never said it would be a snap. He said there was a lot going into it. Maybe you misinterpreted his tone, or maybe you just like conflict.
      Lastly, it’s obviously worth it to him, for whatever reason that may be.

  • How are you living financially living off the grid. To be able to pay for the land, taxes, etc.? I’ve been wanting to do this most of my young adult to middle age life.

  • Wish there was an actual link to their continued story.

    • Jodi, Rich and his family is living in Alaska as they planned. We hope to have a follow up for their story soon.

      • Any update? They do not seem to have any websites active.

  • My sentiments are of the “catch-22″, type. For the most part, your article discusses how you/your wife’s…”dreams”,…are to be self-sufficient; free from modern “conveniences” and the modern way of life, (ie; minimally dependent upon $$$) and THEN,…in your VERY (FIRST, sorta’) SECOND COMMENT, you solicit your readers for MONEY, so that you can [potentially] purchase a snow machine…??!? *smdh*

    In GENERAL,… overall,… I am “envious” of your…living your dream-life. HOWEVER,…the solicitation of $$$ (no matter how direct/indirect,… serious/casual the asking may be), at least in MY opinion… [at least]tarnishes much of your hard work, and [perhaps] compromises some of your sincerity & integrity.

    This said, in the end,… I sure hope that you & your family succeed in living out your dream-life! I’ve LONG been desirous of this lifestyle, and humbly,…have a STRONG HUNCH that I would be able to “make it” out there in the bush, as I have a lifetime of outdoor/survival experience(s), in addition to my military experiences. (note: I’m from 7A on the TP!) The SINGLE, “hindrance” of my headed up north; my warm-weather, sun loving… beach frolicking wife! She’s more or less told me that I’m “off my rocker”, if I think that she’s EVER headed to a place where 70-or-so degrees is “HOT”!!…lol

    Good luck!

  • Would love to here any follow up stories from this couple and there life changing move!!!

  • I have lived here in Alaska for 2 years to the date, I love it here and my family has been thinking about be coming more self reliant. I would love to do exactly what you are doing, but do to my wife’s health can’t go fully off grid. I hope to still find a small patch of land and go as close as I can. I’m excited for you and wish you the best.

  • Absolutely inspiring. I’m a hard worker (mentally speaking as I’m in IT) and never stop pushing forward. I’ve realized it’s a large part of where I am in life (successful) but – I want more. Meaning of life stuff. Why are we here? I’d love to put my hard work into myself/my family. Forget about everyone else, and things that don’t matter.

    I feel like moving to Alaska in a remote location would be the ultimate goal for me. I want to live AND die in Alaska.

    I’ll admit. This is all pretty new to me. Alone in the wilderness blew my mind. I tell everyone about it. After watching the last Alaskans I’ve thought it through a bit more. I’m sure it’s rough, I’m sure it’s painful, but – life is painful when your trying to survive. Why not have it be for ME….

    Just poking around the web, starting my info research.

    I’d love to find a mentor to learn from (maybe help) visit the area, get a taste of it. This is living guys….

  • Any updates to this story?