A yellowish book with green text and an illustration of the frame of a bike

Dwelling Portably: 1980-1989

by Bert Davis Author

Dwelling Portably has been crammed full of information about living without a permanent residence for nearly 30 years! Super helpful and informative tips for biking, tents, showering, cooking, and living. Written by folks who have lived the lifestyle far outside of cities and bereft of technology. According to many readers, '80-89 was their best material and here it is reprinted again in entirety (sans things that have become obsolete).


Comments & Reviews


Q: Do you offer an electronic version of this publication that I can buy? It sounds awesome, but I literally hate how much paper is used to print stuff. Digitally, I read it and delete it. Poof, gone and not in a pile hoping to be recycled, but ultimately landing up in some landfill.

[A: Yes, it's available on this page now... though our research shows that paper books are more ecologically friendly than electronic ones, which are especially destructive to the third world.]


"Dwelling Portably 1980-89; it is a collection of zines known as The Message Post written on a typewriter, in incredibly small type (in order to save paper) in a yurt in an undisclosed location in a forest in Washington State. The authors are long-time outdoor-livers Bert & Holly Davis, who have collected tips from other home-less (not homeless) people for decades. I love the amount of detail it gathers together from individuals finding their way, outside the confines and rules of our towns and cities."


"I recommend them highly to anyone interested in alternative living or bare bones camping."


"Great bang-for-the-buck reading, with lots of other input from people living the portable/hobo lifestyle. Some cool lodging ideas too."


"Bert and Holly Davis shared a legacy of independence born out of less-established life — or maybe a life established differently. Dwelling Portably is a mini-revelation of an invisible society of people whose elders of the time briefly stepped into the literary light for 18 years (from 1990 to 2008), sharing their philosophy on basic life through survival tips and tricks in little info letter that is now reached a two-volume anthology."


" ... from an overly simplistic view, this book is mostly a guide to living off the grid. If you expand from there, you see that the tips being given in this book can be used from anyone from the hardcore survivalist to the urban apartment dweller looking to live a little more cheaply and simply. In these pages one can learn about how to drop out of modern society, whether partially or completely. Among the tips offered is advice on bathing, eating, energy, pest pervention, home schooling, waterproofing of dwellings, tents, yurts, straw bale structures, tipis, lean-tos, and just about any structure that one can think of. Each submission is written in a simple and easy to follow manner. Also included in many of the submissions are diagrams to help in understanding the workings of more detailed endeavors. To sum it up, with little effort, some time, and some simple supplies someone could use this book as "how to" for simple, easy, and back to basics living without interference from 90% of the modern world.

The folks that submit the pieces that are published here seem to range from backpackers who like to travel light to hardcore survivalists that view the US government as an enemy to be avoided at all costs. If one keeps an open mind when reading this book and avoids making judgements as to the lifestyle of the authors or submitters, anyone from the weekend camper to the person looking to "disappear" and live a nomadic life will come away with some type of knowledge after reading this book."


"Appropriate for the long-term camper, this series of zines and books put out by Microcosm Publishing provides hours of entertainment and indispensable advice from people who live in the woods, on sailboats, and in their vehicles."


"Practical advice about being homeless or low-budget in-motion by choice -- camping on the edges, living simply, getting by on the road and loving it."


“Great for anyone who wants to go outside!”


"More great DIY dosage courtesy of Microcosm Publishing, who’ve helped compile a whopping thirty years worth of hand-typed, hard-won knowledge of life on the road originally published as Message Post. How to hop a freight train, how to build a solar cooker, how to keep mobile chickens, and how to build a yurt are some of the back-to-basics, practical tips you’ll find here, shared by the Davises as well as by their loyal readers (and fellow portable dwellers). Forget the cupboard of canned soup and those survivalist scare pamphlets—when the big upheaval hits, Dwelling Portably is the resource you’ll want to have by your side.


"Well. This zine is about, appropriately enough, how to dwell portably. Apparently, we really don’t need houses and electricity in the modern world. I, however, like my relatively stable crapshack, and since I live near a viable, centralized food source, my world doesn’t need to be that portable. However, if you’re into the nomadic existence, I’d bet dollars to donuts that this would be a helpful zine. Lots and lots of copy about things such as where in the wilds to put your poop in any given season, using a venom extractor to remove a tick, and how to recycle damaged plastic buckets with new uses. Also, if you’re into camping (I mean into REAL camping, not living off of Ding Dongs stowed in the trunk) I’m sure that this would be a great mag. There’s almost no wasted space, and the info appears knowledgeable and covers diverse topics (about how to dwell portably). If you’re homeless or on the run from the cops or into hardcore camping, this is for you."


"With the imminent collapse of the Western financial world looming, we all need a copy of this resource favored by hikers, campers, hobos, dumpster diving hipsters, and armchair travelers.

This zine is what MacGyver would read on his day off. Need to make a knife holster out of scrap leather? Get some sketches. Hypothermia worries? Gotcha covered. Need a review of Primitive Life Skills video? (Where can I get a copy on DVD?) It's in there. From building a fire to pest prevention to waterproofing matches, improve your current hobo lifestyle or prep for doomsday with this handy book."


"Ever since Diamond solicited this unusual little book called Dwelling Portably 1980-89 by Microcosm Publishing, I've become increasingly intrigued by the idea of dropping off the grid. Not merely a guide for outdoors enthusiasts, green freaks, or the urban disenfranchised, Dwelling Portably is a reasonably advanced how-to guide for self-sufficiency in a variety of models. Collated from several write-in sources between 1980 and 1989, this essential little book is a history of exchanges between people living free in national parks, wildernesses or on the road unfettered by mortgages, debts, or consumerism. The typography is so beautifully dense it really makes you slow down to read it. You'll be sure to pick up points such as:

The advantages of different types of mobile dwellings (tipi's, twipi's. lean-to's, tlean-to's, yurts, trucks, campers, caves, even cardboard boxes) and how to outfit each; Calculating the most energy-efficient methods for heating and cooking in different structures; Bathing, first aid and hygiene; The security and integrity of long- and short-term storage, which turned out to be a bigger issue than I would have guessed; Gathering fuels (e.g. best practices for chopping wood so you don't kill yourself) and insulations; Idea and recipe exchanges; Book product and zine reviews, along with the addresses and amount due with shipping to purchase.

Highly recommended reading. I'm already excited to read the follow-up, Dwelling Portably 2000-08, edited by the same amazing couple, Bert and Holly Davis. My favorite contributor, though, was hands-down Julie Summers. Thorough and investigative in her "field" reporting, her posts are absolute standouts. Where are you now, I wonder?

As for myself, I'm just not ready to leave my snug abode and cup of hot tea yet. But, for the first time, camping doesn't sound so bad."


"Dwelling Portably has been around a long time. And the way things are going lately, it appears more and more relevant with each passing day. The premise is that you don't necessarily have to live within the grid. The issue at hand has tips for dealing with dirt floors, various (and very creative) uses for free water barrels, the merits of vitamin D, solar cooking, and plenty more. Also has a summary of past issues--many of which are still available--and a listing of unusual sources, many of which are zines."


"For those of you who live outside, travel a lot, squat, or just want tips on living a bit more simply this compilation of Dwelling Portably is a must-have. It’s 168 pages of the ‘zines best ideas from building a simple jug shower, a DIY hammock, camping tips, foraging suggestions, different shelters, waterproofing all sorts of things, and everything else you could possibly want to know. I wish I would have come across D.P. ‘zines years ago, but then again it’s never to late. The book is also fairly compact so it won’t take up too much room in our pack."

A zine that focuses on alternative housing and living. Tons of information on how to live off the grid.

One of the most informative zines I've ever read.It's about living well on very little. Jam-packed with useful things about alternative living, and why you need to consider this a viable lifestyle.

Many detailed tips on tent living; woods living; urban living in a car, van or bus. Easy to understand; for readers who’re actually walking the walk.

An amazing resource

Very helpful and useful information.

Simple living tips that really work.

"Dwelling Portably is one of the finest publications we have ever come across ... These stories offer a glimpse into a lifestyle most of us have not lead, and offer a perspective on and compassion for those who don't have a place to call home. Even if you do have a roof, the practical advice in this publication should be a part of the library of every Urban Homestead."

"Dwelling Portably is an important resource for anyone that camps or is/may live portably, but is also a very informative read for anyone that may not be able to commit to it yet is still interested in learning more about this alternative lifestyle. This is the definitive guide and everyone should be inspired by it."

They share tons of fantastic useful information and stories about living a nomadic life with fellow travelers, who also frequently write in with their own two cents. You'll find diagrams and notes on how to make tools, portable showers, find seasonal jobs, stay warm at night while Winter camping; hitchhiking and freight train hopping guides; suggestions from people who live in their car, in tents, yurts, tipis, or nowhere at all. And perhaps my favorite thing about Dwelling Portably are the personal stories that surround the helpful information.