We’ve lived in our log cabin for a year now, and have learned so much. As a little background, we live in a place called Tollgate Canyon which sits just above Park City, Utah at 8,000 feet in elevation. Our winters are very harsh, averaging about 300-600 inches of snow a year. This means you really do need the right tools for the job to not only get you through the long winters, but also to utilize the summer months to get all your projects done. Here are just few of the tools that I’d recommend having if you want to live off in the woods in a cabin of your own.
Wood Cutting and Splitting Tools
First off, your cabin life would not be off to a great start without a good chainsaw. You will need to get a chainsaw to not only buck and limb firewood, but also to fell trees, clear downed trees off the roads, or yours land, or a neighbors property. I was pointed towards the Stihl MS250 chainsaw with a 18” bar length. Once your trees are down you’ll need to cut them up. I just picked up a 4 lbs Splitting Maul from Home Depot and then a sledge hammer and wedge/spike from Lowes. Some logs are easier to split than others, but for the stubborn ones, I use the spike and sledge hammer.
And lastly, after manually splitting over 6 cords of wood myself last Fall (a friend did the other 2), while using only a maul and hammer, I broke down and got an 6.5-Ton 15 Amp electric log splitter. Admittedly, I do miss the exercise I got from splitting logs in the early mornings before work and well into most nights, but being able knock out a few logs here and there, without committing to being exhausted for the next few hours has been pretty nice.
Snow Removal Equipment
If you live in a snowy area, like where our cabin is, snow removal takes over our lives from November through May. There are plenty of options out there, which is no surprise to most, but realistically this comes down to how much money do you want to spend. Most of the people who live on our mountain have a combination of a few methods from a plethora of shovels, snow blowers, snow throwers, plows, and even commercial tractors. For us, to clear out our driveway area which is about 150ft long, we rely heavily on our 28″ wide Ariens snow-thrower. A snow blower is different from a snow thrower in that the throwers are able to toss the snow 10-20ft into the air to clear any snowbanks that you might be clearing next to.
In addition to the gasoline powered snow remover, you need to have a plethora of snow shovels. These range from metal to plastic and ergonomic scoopers to the wide plows. And of course, you can’t forget the extendable roof snow rake. You can never have enough shovels to be prepared enough for a huge winter storm, especially if your snow-thrower breaks. A lot of the time we will still have to dig around our vehicles to get them out of the snow, so it’s good to be prepared. And lastly, I’ve really enjoyed using a Ryobi Jet Fan Leaf Blower to blow the powdery Utah snow off our vehicles, entry ways, and stairs for when we just get a dusting (every morning), and it has worked flawlessly.
Not only do you have to be prepared at your house, but most of the time, the road to get to your cabin isn’t going to be an easy drive either. If that is the case, there are a few things you need to always have with you in your vehicle to keep yourself safe, or a neighbor, in the event of an accident, recovery, or issue. First and foremost, tires are the most important thing on a vehicle to keep it safe on snow covered or dirt roads. And that means having proper snow tires in winter and all-terrain tires in summer. But beyond the tires in each of our cars, we have a go-box, filled with the following items. Recovery straps and shackles to get unstuck of the side of the road. A collapsible shovel to dig a vehicle out of snow. Recovery boards that will also help get a vehicle unstuck due to a lack of traction. Additionally, I always keep a blanket, gloves, boots, beanie, and matches to stay warm if I run off the road. Lastly, I have an assortment of bungee cords, tie down straps, NRS straps, and ratchet straps for the miscellaneous uses of securing gear and things.
Clothing & Footwear
I’m not going to pretend that there is a certain way to dress when you own a cabin in the woods, but here are a few items that I have found to be invaluable to a successful year in the woods. First, a pair of steel toed boots are ideal when moving wood, doing heavy projects inside and out, and overall great to keep your feet safe. While on the feet, I cannot recommend getting a quality pair of well fitting winter/snow boots, to which I love my pair of slip-on Boggs. These are great to wear in the rain, snow, and mud that you will undoubtably experience throughout the year. For the hands, I recommend getting a great pair of leather gloves to keep your fingers safe when splitting wood or clearing your property of the deadfall after a long winter’s thaw.
Personally, I love my Carhartt overalls when doing work outside the cabin, because I know that no matter how much abuse I put them through, they will be unaffected. I wear these all year round for that reason. And related to that, you really do need a plethora of jackets, from the rugged ones to the windbreakers, and all the snow jackets you’ll need to get through a deep and cold winter.
Tools & Miscellaneous
Sure, if you have the money, there really isn’t much you can’t hire somebody to fix or do for you. But unfortunately, we don’t have the money to hire someone every time a lightbulb goes out and needs to be replaced, so we end up having to do all our projects, maintenance, and repairs ourselves. So do you need to be a handy person to survive up your Cabin if it is in a remote area? Well, I guess it all depends on how much you want to be involved in and how often you can get a contractor or handyman to your place.
Here are few tools that I’ve acquired over the years and have truly benefitted fixing things around the cabin. A Ryobi Cordless Tripod Stand Light, which is beyond invaluable to do work outside in the early mornings, late nights, and especially when you have the power off to do electrical repairs. Speaking of lights, you cannot go wrong with having a plethora of headlamps and flashlights throughout the year. Beyond lights, I am constantly using my Ryobi Drill/Driver and Ryobi Reciprocating Saw for various projects both inside and out. It’s also good to have on hand various electrical supplies like wire, caps, switches, and plugs to fix anything that breaks, and similarly with plumbing supplies. Winters are harsh at most cabins whether it’s the snow or rain, that tends to do a number on both electrical and plumbing in a house.
Here are some things on the list that we don’t have yet, but see other people on the mountain have and we are very envious of. First would be a side-by-side (UTV), to not only be useful around the cabin to move stuff, but also to have a ton of fun! Just in time for me to post this, we finally got side by side of our own last week! I’m glad we waited a year to know what we were missing, but now I couldn’t be happier we have one. Also, it’d be a blast to have an outdoor sauna to stay warm in the winter months. Snowmobiles are also an amazing addition to your cabin to have a ton of fun in winter, because it can be a long winter when you’re stuck inside a snow-covered cabin in the woods.
Overall, there is realistically an endless list of things that I could recommend that would make your experience in a cabin easier, but in the end, you will need to figure it out for yourself as you go. Because what works best for me, might not work for you. It’ll be best to spend your hard earned money on what will make your life better to truly enjoy your time in your cabin!
Note. This is not a sponsored post. All of these items we purchased with our own money and actually use. Just thought it’d be a helpful place to start for some folks.
Hi there, my name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.