Life Below Zero Challenge #2: Can You Barter?

For the Arctic residents of Life Below Zero, complacency is not an option. Lack of preparedness means certain death. The stakes are high living on the outskirts of humanity, and for many in the lower 48, life can be pretty sedentary, pretty comfy and cozy… until now! [Cue Life Below Zero Weekly Challenges].

Tonight on Life Below Zero… winter prep goes into overdrive as the big chill descends on Alaska. Time is running out for the Arctic residents to gather resources and prepare for the freeze, and that means making the most of the limited hours of daylight, and making every minute count.

The Hailstone’s semi-nomadic lifestyle requires heat at all times in winter. Chip hopes to turn an oil drum into a portable wood stove for the sub-zero months ahead.

In remote Alaska, when you don’t have something you need, you either make it yourself or do without. Chip prefers to avoid money, and sticks with the old system of bartering. So when he is in search of an oil drum for his portable stove, he puts a radio call out:


“If anybody got an old barrel they wanna trade off that’s got at least one good side, I got caribou, I’ve got dried fish, I got some muskrats, and I got a little bit of bear meat left. Or berries. I will trade any of them. I just need a drum. Come on over to Hailstones if you got something.”


In Chip and Agnes’ isolated community, turning to your neighbors is the norm. “I don’t think a lot of people know who their next-door neighbor is in a lot of places. I think a lot of people live among a lot of other people, but they don’t know anybody,” Chip says.

Sure enough, Chip was able to take a leg of caribou and trade it for an old drum to create his portable stove, which will be crucial to survival in the coming cold months ahead.


So… how well do you know your neighbors?

In Noorvik, the neighbors look out for one another, providing meals and resources in times of need, and relying on each other to make it through the months below zero.

Chip says, “There’s been a big shift, since the ’90s, especially. Most of the younger ones that are graduating high school right now aren’t gonna live like this.”

For the second installment of the Life Below Zero Weekly Challenge… can you barter with a friend or neighbor for something you need? Bonus points for making it a mutually beneficial trade.

Tell us! What inspires you about the way these folks live off-grid and on their own? Think you can try giving up some of life’s little luxuries and live a sliver of the Arctic lifestyle? Let us know if you are going to partake in the weekly challenges, and share your stories and experiences. We’d love to hear from you. 

Don’t miss new episodes of Life Below Zero, Thursdays at 9P… and be sure to come back next week for challenge #3! 


  1. Diana Lavagnino
    Napa Valley, CA
    April 25, 2014, 12:52 am

    I am in awe – especially of Sue … tuff gal ! I am too, and I wouldn’t mind the isolation, but I’m just a little too old to endure the physical requirements. So glad the season is back – one of my favorite shows. Go Sue! (Does she get any kind of TV/radio entertainment ? )

  2. Jule Westcott
    April 26, 2014, 7:50 pm

    I am worried about the woman in Eagle. It looks like her husband got an anger problem. Also I love to come back to the Alaskan bush if I had a wife. LOL! I lived in the bush, but no wife, so I came down here to AK. but no luck here either. LOL!

  3. bea andrade
    May 2, 2014, 3:47 pm

    this is my first time watching the show and all I can say is I LOVE IT. I cant wait to start watching from the first season.

  4. Don
    May 3, 2014, 11:47 am

    What a fantastic show, even watch the re-runs.

  5. Tom m
    May 3, 2014, 1:11 pm

    What happened to Glen. He uses no modern tools. He seemed to be the most remote and secluded person on the show. I miss seeing him surviving in a canvas structure

  6. Ian Smit
    United States
    May 6, 2014, 3:41 pm

    I recently bartered for goods, I needed an antler for some projects so I bartered a block print that I recently did for my church to trade with a friend of mine for the antler it worked out .

    • Meg Gleason
      May 7, 2014, 8:54 am

      Very cool, thanks for sharing!

  7. Tyron Craig Conerly
    May 8, 2014, 4:42 pm

    Wow I thought our Chiago winters were tough but in comparison to Alaskas winters our winters are nothing. I respect the way those assume folks struggle to live and survive. Sue my heart and prayers go out to you every night. You are a very strong woman. Woman across the world should take survival skills and struggles from your way of life.
    Stay strong… TC

  8. teresa nicks
    May 8, 2014, 4:47 pm

    this show is awsom I think sue ia amazing women and one tough cookie

    May 15, 2014, 8:37 pm

    I love the show. I truly respect and admire the way of life the people on the show live. Would love to relocate my family their someday, The Hailstones rock.

  10. Gregg Wilton
    Western NY
    May 20, 2014, 7:28 am

    I agree with the comment on the man in Eagle, Watch out, that guy has some real anger issues.

  11. Jeff Christensen
    June 12, 2014, 9:16 pm

    The show is excellent !! These people are living the lives so many of us only dream about. Thank you for letting us get to know them.
    I think its great the Hailstones are teaching their children to carry the traditions into the future.
    Sue, your one tough Gal. I would be proud to know you.
    Where is Wiseman? How’s his trap line?

  12. bill fennimore
    n.cape may nj
    December 11, 2014, 11:37 pm

    the hale stones r one strong family they teach there girl to surive that’s a good set of parents they r great/// sue is one tuff cookie the husband in eagle gets on my last nerve I feel bad for his wife he treats like she is not a part of the show all damage is her fault he cant man up

  13. Sheri Gladden
    Del Rio, Texas
    December 12, 2014, 12:24 am

    Lived in Alaska in 1973. I loved it there. It is my dream go to back some day. I love this show and the people on it. I admire each of them, and the way they choose to live their lives. If we could all be as fortunate! Would love to communicate with Sue. Does she have an email address or or a Facebook page? Stay safe each of you, and thank you for sharing your way of life with us.

  14. larry lemmons
    las vegas nv
    December 13, 2014, 2:07 pm

    I really like the show I too watch them over and over what are the tattoos on Agnes hailstones jaw represent I think the whole family are great

  15. anthony tantalo
    April 5, 2015, 1:58 pm

    I have been a hunter all of my life .I am 61 yrs old .I have hunted birds,deer, elk, bear,and other smaal game. watching the hailstones shoot caribou from a modern day boat powered by a modern day motor with modern day weapons is appaling.They should be made to use canoes and spears or bow and arrow for the taking of swimming game.This is not right.I turn them off whenever they are on.

  16. anthony tantalo
    florecnce oregon
    April 5, 2015, 5:44 pm

    I have watched the way the hailstones hunt caribou crossing a river,.disgusting at best.modern boat and weapons, how sad.I have been a hunter for 50 yrs.if alaska fish and game dept. allows this ,they are screwed up.I turn the hailstones off whenever I see them.

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