Bushcraft is becoming more and more popular these days, but what exactly is Bushcraft? Basically, it is about trying to live by using the basics present around you in the wild. It is not just one thing but a group of related skills that you can adapt to overcome obstacles and survive in the wilderness.
In this article, we will explain what Bushcraft is, what are the required skills for Bushcraft, and what gear is essential when you are Bushcrafting so that you can understand the essentials of what Bushcrafting is and how you can improve your Bushcrafting experience.
What is Bushcraft?
Bushcraft combines the knowledge of using the animals and plants out in the wild together with some basic Bushcraft tools so that we could get an insight into how our forefathers lived. It refers to a way of living in the bush by making use of your outdoor survival skills in such a way that you work in harmony with the natural environment instead of exploiting it. These survival skills include:
· Cooking on an open fire
· Lighting a fire with sparks generated from friction
· Building shelter
· Identifying and using various species of plants
· Finding and purifying water
· Making cord
We as humans have a close link to the natural world, and being outdoors is the ideal way for people to learn about the world around them. Bushcraft learning is not restricted to a particular age group and can be utilized by young and old people alike. It is a perfect confidence-building exercise which gives people the opportunity to focus on themselves and get a new perspective on the challenges that they face in their everyday life.
Bushcraft removes the people from the distractions of the 21st century, such as mobile phones and allows them to move outside their comfort zones while being in natural places such as bush, backcountry, wilderness, outback, etc. All these are places that are not significantly impacted by humans but are dominated by natural elements.
Essential Bushcraft Gear
In recent years people have shown an increased interest in the art of Bushcrafting, which can mostly be attributed to TV presenters Les Hiddins in Australia and Ray Mears in the UK. They have given people a new perception and knowledge of Bushcrafting and made it popular among the masses. However, you will require some basic tools if you want to go Bushcrafting. Following is a list of some essential tools that you should take with you on your Bushcrafting adventure:
A Bushcraft backpack is an essential item that is used to carry all the equipment that you are going to need on your journey. Therefore, you should choose a good quality product that is lightweight, durable, and can easily hold all the things that you will be taking while you will be Bushcrafting. It should have enough pockets and compartments to hold all your equipment by your side. Make sure that it is strong and is able to keep your gear protected. Look for a Bushcraft bag that is not only comfortable and accessible but is also rugged enough to handle different environments.
When you are outdoors, you will be battling many elements such as snow, mud, rain, etc. and your regular shoes would not be able to cut it. You will need Bushcraft boots to keep your feet dry as these shoes are waterproof. They are designed with a rugged rubber sole, which provides extra traction in case you encounter some extreme weather. Be sure to choose shoes that are made from high-quality leather and are comfortable.
Knife or Multi-Tools
A knife is the most important tool of the Bushcraft backpack. They are used for multiple tasks such as skinning game, preparing food, batoning branches, making traps and snares, carving wood, etc. A good quality knife will make your work easier and help you complete your work efficiently. Thus it is vital that you choose a knife that has an ergonomically designed handle so that you can work comfortably. The blade should be sharp, durable, functional, and strong.
However, there are situations where having a multi-purpose tool is more advantageous. A multi-purpose tool has various blades in one unit, so whatever the need, you will have the right blade handy. Make sure that you find a product that is designed by keeping volume and weight to a minimum without sacrificing true functionality and high quality.
First Aid Kit
Whenever you go on a journey or an adventure outdoors, it is crucial to take a first-aid kit along with you. This is because when you are outdoors, you cannot afford to risk your health. The smallest cut could become infected and cause a lot of pain. Having a well-equipped first aid kit could prevent this from happening.
A great practice is to prepare a first aid kit that contains supplies that will help you meet the particular challenges of your trip. It should also contain some basic items such as painkillers, antiseptic creams, plasters, and scissors, as well as any other medicine prescribed by your doctor.
One of the biggest challenges that Bushcrafters face is surviving through summer months when you are sure to encounter some rain. In order to keep yourself, your equipment, and the fire nice and dry, it is vital to pack a tarp in your Bushcraft backpack.
A tarp provides open space under which you just do not sleep but live as well. It provides more room than compared to a tent and makes you feel closer to your surroundings. There are many models of tarp available, but make sure that you buy a reliable product that is also lightweight so as not to add unnecessary weight to the equipment you will be carrying.
A tarp not only protects from natural elements such as rain and sunshine but also provides a perfect place to air socks, sleeping kits, etc. without getting them wet in a rain shower. You can also hang a cord under the tarp to hang your equipment, such as head-torch, to help you see better at night.
What Are Bushcraft Skills?
Bushcrafting skills or wilderness survival skills refer to the knowledge and skills required to thrive in the wild by using natural resources and very few basic tools. These include hunting, fishing, tracking, fire-making, shelter-building, and navigating by using tools such as axes and knives. Some other skills include rope and twine-making, foraging, water sourcing, and container construction from natural materials. Now, let’s talk about some of these skills in detail:
One of the basic and most crucial Bushcrafting skills is shelter building, as it is vital to stay warm and dry while you are out in the wild in order to survive. You can use a tarp or a tent to build a shelter; however, a hardcore Bushcrafter will make a basic shelter by using the wood, branches, leaves and pine needles found in the wild. This skill is extremely important and can help save your life. A good shelter will protect you from natural elements and will make your outdoor excursion enjoyable and safe.
Having clean water to drink is another important Bushcraft skill. It can be difficult to find clear water sources while you are out in the wild. Your first choice is to boil the water to make it safe for drinking.
However, it may not always be convenient or practical to build a fire while you are on the go. In such cases, a more feasible solution is to carry a portable water filter in your Bushcraft backpack. They are easy-to-use and effectively purify water from any harmful bacteria making it safe for drinking. You can also use a filter water bottle to save time.
There are different types of portable water filters available that work on varying principles. Make sure that you choose one that is guaranteed to remove all the bacteria from any non-salt water source.
Fire making is an essential skill when you are out in the wild. It not only keeps you warm out in the wild, allows you to cook food and boil water but also wards away animals. Therefore, it is vital to have the proper tools and knowledge to start a fire, including gathering wood, preparing and finding tinder, and building a fire. You can also use fire pistons, Ferro rods, flint and steel, char cloth, and other methods to make a fire.
Another essential ability is to move a fire, which involves knowing which materials can be used to wrap and maintain burning coal when you want to move camp.
Another important Bushcrafter skill is hunting. You should know how to use your Bushcraft knife for hunting small game. If you find hunting more strenuous, you can also make different traps to ensnare a meal. If you have a fishing line and hook in your Bushcraft backpack, you can use it to catch fish, or you can fashion one out of the things around you.
It can be difficult to survive on just fruits and berries as you require protein when you are outdoors. Having adequate hunting skills can help to retain your strength without burning too many calories.
Foraging is elemental to a Bushcrafter’s survival. It is about knowing which plants or bushes found in the wild are safe to eat. Feeding off the land requires complete knowledge of the local plants. These include seeds, nuts, roots, tubers, leaves, fruits, berries, and much more. Identifying plants by simply looking at them and eating them without getting sick can be the key to survival in the wild.
Also, cooking and boiling some leaves and plants can reduce or remove their bitterness and make them palatable. Make sure that you have complete knowledge about the local plants in your area. If you are uncertain about a plant, if it is edible or not, you can take a small bite without swallowing to make sure that it is edible.
Bushcraft is not just about surviving in the wild – it is about being able to live at one with the environment that is sustainable and highly rewarding. If you want to forget the modern world completely and get close to nature, then Bushcrafting is for you. However, it is vital to have the essential gear with you to make your venture enjoyable.