The genre of magazines devoted to the self-reliant lifestyle seems to attract a larger audience wanting a print version. Nevertheless, they've still had to expand into the online world. Some have embraced the Web more readily than others, but they all offer great, useful information about how to live a self-reliant lifestyle.
Each of these magazines' websites offers at least a small number of sample articles for free. Many offer much, much more, including blogs, multimedia, and so on. In addition, many of these periodicals offer back issues and/or anthologies for sale, which is an excellent way to build a library of self-reliance and homesteading information.
One note before we proceed: If you like any of these publications or their websites, I encourage you to subscribe to them. That's the only way that they'll be able to keep bringing us such great information!
Full disclosure: I do not get any commission or profit in any way from your subscribing to, or buying from, these magazines. What's more, I am a paid subscriber to two of these magazines; I buy the remainder of them by the issue as I find one that interests me.
That said, here are the self-reliance magazines you need to check out, in alphabetical order:
- BackHome: This bi-monthly magazine, started in 1990, is geared toward those interested in taking control of their own lives and building a sustainable, self-reliant lifestyle. BackHome offers clear, practical information on mortgage-free building, solar and renewable energy, chemical-free gardening, wholesome cooking, home business, homeschooling, small livestock, vehicle and workshop projects, and family activities. While the magazine is a decent read, unfortunately, their website is one of the sparsest ones on this list. Still, you can see the current issue's table of contents online, and on that page, you can also click a link at the upper-right to see a few sample articles.
- Backwoods Home: Since 1989, Backwoods Home magazine has specialized in showing people how to build their own home, produce independent energy, grow their own food, and how to make a living without being tied to a city. The bi-monthly magazine also covers related subjects such as health, raising animals, food preservation, country skills, home schooling, arts and crafts, recipes, and book reviews. Their material has a strong streak of independence running through it, helping their readers do things for themselves, without help or interference from big government or big business. As such, this publication generally leans toward a more conservative viewpoint, though it is not usually political (though some of the online blogs do sometimes discuss political topics). In addition, Backwoods Home has really embraced the Internet, offering many of their past articles free online. In addition, they have several robust blogs that offer regular information and opinions on self-reliant topics.
- The Backwoodsman: Founded in 1980, the Backwoodsman magazine is a bi-monthly publication dedicated to the preservation of Old Frontier living, primitive hunting and fishing, tool and weapons lore, and wilderness survival. Each issue is offers information, projects, and adventures associated with past North American history. Similar to BackHome magazine above, the Backwoodsman has a small presence on the Internet, though they do offer free copies of some past articles.
- Countryside & Small Stock Journal: This bi-monthly magazine (better known as just "Countryside") is actually two publications that merged in 1973 (Countryside was founded in 1969, but Small Stock magazine was founded in 1917). Countryside emphasizes simple, sustainable, country living, and is targeted toward homesteaders. Their website is fairly robust, offering a large number of past articles for free reading, as well as an online breeders' directory.
- GRIT: The oldest periodical on this list (published since 1882), GRIT is a bi-monthly magazine that celebrates country lifestyles of all kinds. It offers articles on a broad range of topics, including product reviews, livestock guides, gardening, cooking and other do-it-yourself information, humor and the inspirational stories of folks who moved to the country and love it. Each issue covers topics related to country living, land management, wildlife, gardening, livestock or pets, skills and techniques, seasonal food, community, machinery or tools, and lifestyle events. The online website is very useful, offering a newsletter, many blogs, a link to land for sale, and a vast number of online articles spanning many topics, including those of the current issue.
- Mother Earth News: Since 1970, this magazine has provided information on organic foods, country living, green transportation, renewable energy, natural health, and green building. Mother Earth News focuses on leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll also find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. In many ways, the "green" nature of this publication means that there are more liberal-leaning overtones to some stories, although it's not generally political. Furthermore, they have the most robust website of the publications listed here, with an enormous number of free online articles everywhere on the site, many blogs, a link to land for sale, several newsletters, and more. You can also choose between print-only, digital-only, or combined subscriptions to Mother Earth News, which is very flexible. You can also be a complete collection of their magazine articles (from 1970 to 2011) on CD/DVD for $59.95, though they run this on sale for about $40 from time to time. (I have the DVD version, and it is very nice to be able to search and find relevant information across that many issues.)
- The New Pioneer: This magazine is the newest one on this list, and was started in 2010. Currently, it's doesn't seem to have a consistent, regular publication schedule and offers no subscription. Be forewarned: it is pricey, costing $9.95 per issue. However, each issue is packed pretty full of good self-reliant information. What's more, The New Pioneer doesn't really have a website yet; they only have a Facebook page. However, the publishers do post a few sample pages so that you can get a feel for the publication. Depending on your monitor and resolution, you may be able to read some content from these images too.