It’s hard to believe in today’s society, but nearly two million people are reported to live off the grid. Due to widely available information on the internet, more and more people are learning about bushcraft and survival skills.
What is Bushcraft?
Have you heard people talking about this and wondered what is bushcraft exactly, or what kind of people are bushcrafters? Keep reading to find out what bushcraft is and why you need to learn some basic wilderness living skills to use in any natural environment or survival situation.
The use of the word “Bushcraft” can be traced back hundreds of years to “the bush” of Australia, where “bush” means the same thing as “wilderness” — undeveloped land still in a state of nature. But, as usual, the word “Bushcraft” means different things to different people.
To some, it’s a more or less spiritual way of living that strengthens your appreciation of life and gives you a deeper understanding of the natural world. Others in the bushcraft community see it more casually, as like being on an extended camping trip.
Bushcraft can also be seen as a sort of sport that challenges and develops your personal abilities. And there are those who focus on the idea that bushcraft teaches us lessons that apply just as well to modern life, like how to do more with less.
But there is a common thread to these different views. Bushcraft is the knowledge and set of skills required to survive in the wilderness with minimal supplies and only a few fairly primitive tools. It enables you to live by using the natural resources you can gather yourself from the area you find yourself in.
You may wonder what the difference is between bushcraft and plain wilderness survival. Survival situations are temporary emergencies you’re forced into, while bushcraft is typically seen as something you do on purpose for as long as you want.
These skills include a wide variety of skills such as tracking, fire lighting, hunting, trapping, fishing, foraging edible plants, and navigation with or without a map.
One of the most fundamental bushcraft skills is learning how to start a fire without matches in difficult weather situations like rain, snow, and high winds. There are many methods for lighting fires beyond using matches and lighters. These can include using a ferro rod, a fire steel, or a bow drill.
Mastering the ability to transport fire is also important for bushcraft and survival.
Another one of the survival skills that is important to learn is shelter building. You probably don’t want to live your whole life outdoors, exposed to the elements. In some environments that’s not even a serious option. Your shelter can be as basic as that age-old quick fix the lean-to, or even a permanent structure like a log cabin. Some people bring a tarp along to cover the ground or use as a makeshift tent.
It is also important to learn how to make and use bushcraft tools like hatchets (sometimes using natural materials) and be able to track animals as part of your bushcraft training and survival skills. This will ensure you can find enough wild food to eat.
The bushcraft skill set goes beyond day-to-day survival, though. It also includes wood carving, basket weaving, and making your own clothing from animal hides. Serious bushcrafters even make their own rope from natural fibers.
What Do Bushcraft Beginners Need?
It can be a little daunting when you first ask what is bushcraft because there are so many suggestions about which tools you should have.
It is possible to put together a kit of bushcraft gear without spending too much money. Be sure to have something to sleep in or on. Try a sleeping bag or tarp. As a safety precaution, think about having a mylar blanket to deal with sudden temperature changes.
You’ll also want a water filter to purify water that you gather from natural sources.
When preparing for the wilderness, multi-purpose bushcraft knives are a must. As well as a metal container to cook in, and some sort of waterproof pack. Look for products that are designed to help start fires as well. This will be important for cooking and keeping warm.
Be sure to shop around for bushcraft tools that can serve multiple functions. For example, a paracord bracelet can be used to make a shelter or to start a fire. An item like this can come in handy while living in the wilderness and honing your skills.
But don’t forget that the most important bushcraft tool is your brain. Gaining the knowledge you need should be your first priority. There are in person bushcraft courses available in various places. And there are some good books available, like the highly respected “Bushcraft 101” by Dave Canterbury and “Bushcraft” by Mors Kochanski .
What is the point of Bushcraft?
Regardless of what level you work towards in practicing bushcraft, there are many benefits. Learning to become less reliant on modern day items can carry over into your everyday life, helping you protect the environment by decreasing waste and oil use.
Focusing on learning bushcraft skills can also be very personally rewarding. Facing and overcoming obstacles while building up your self-reliance helps you increase your sense of self-worth and makes you grow as a person. And if you go into the wilderness with a team, you can focus on cooperation and team building skills.
Additionally, learning bushcraft skills can help you become better at problem-solving by forcing you to work with limited resources. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
Now that you know the answer to what is bushcraft and understand why it is important… you may be ready to jump into the wilderness with your fellow bushcrafters and show off your wilderness skills. Check out some essential flashlights and get going!