Though considered primitive and unnecessary by urbanites, bushcraft is an art that should not go underestimated. When you know how to live off the land well, there is nothing you cannot do. Bushcraft is not something you can learn overnight, and like any student of an art, you need tools. There are several must-have items for Bushcraft that you should always have with you.
Fixed Blade Knives
A decent knife can do a lot more. Consider these your go-to tool for carving, whittling, crafting animal snares and traps, skinning game, food preparation, and cutting down small branches.
Consider the following when selecting a decent bushcraft knife:
- Tang – This is the portion of the blade that extends into the hilt or handle. A full tang is most desirable, because it adds strength. Cheaper knives will have half tangs, which are known to break off under too much strain.
- Handle – Avoid hollow handles. It might sound like a good idea to have something for storage, but remember number 1, the tang. A hollow handle means that the tang with shortened.
- Blade Material and Design – Opt for stainless steel, which goes forever without rusting. The downside to stainless steel, when compared to carbon steel, is that it goes dull faster. Consider the conditions you will be using the blade in and how fast it could rust. Then, think about whether you need a straight or serrated blade. Straight blades are always easier to maintain and sharpen.
Axes or Hatchets
Versatile and portable, hatchets or axes are perfect for chopping wood and trees, splitting wood, hammering posts, digging or chipping away at materials, and butchering larger kills. There are many options available on the market, but do keep in mind the same specifications used for deciding on a knife.
Ideally, the best hatchet is one that is not too cumbersome. The best length is around 10 to 14 inches with a weight that is around 1 to 1.5 pounds. Make sure that the blade comes with a sheath. Also, the handle should have a good grip.
These boys will do what knives, axes, and hatchets cannot. That is, they will help you build complex projects. But do you opt for the traditional saw or the saw that survivalists and preppers swear by? Also known as the wire saw, rope saw, or pocket chainsaw, these lightweight cutting tools are portable, convenient, and actually do work.
The two recommended flexible saws that will serve you well are the Unbelievable Chainsaw by Supreme Products and the Sabercut Saw by Ultimate Survival Technologies. Unlike some other wire saws, the Unbelievable Chainsaw and Sabercut Saw have teeth like a tradition chainsaw that provide clean cutting with little effort (despite having to use manual labor). For the price and the ease of use, either one would be an ideal addition to your essential bushcraft toolkit.
Separate weapons of choice are nice and all, but not many people in today’s world are going to have access to hatchets and saws unless it is part of their trade, like carpentry or landscaping. Furthermore, carrying around knives, machetes, and saws is burdensome. That is where multipurpose tools shine, because they are small, compact, yet built with enough durability to get you out of an extreme pinch.
Favorites include the Leatherman Skeletool series or Victorinox Swiss Army Knives. While going into detail about certain brands is unnecessary, there are some things you want to look out for. Remember, a cheap model from the department store is not going to hold up like a military-grade version with a bigger price tag.
You want a multipurpose tool that has the following features:
- Minimal weight
- Compact size
- Stainless steel tools
- Scratch resistant coating
- A carabiner clip attachment
- Knife blade
- Needle nose pliers
- Hardwire cutters
- Bit drive with Philips and flat screwdriver inserts of varying lengths
- Optional: scissors and a file
Survivalists and preppers will have a compass, no matter what. When all your needs have been met—food, water, and shelter—you will still need to know how to get your directional bearings. Even if you have a good sense of direction, you simply never know when a compass will come in handy.
Sure, you can find north by reading the stars or using shadows on the ground. Yet, this depends entirely on your current location and the weather. A compass, on the other hand, can be used throughout the day, depending on the model. If you have a global compass with various tools, like a sighting mirror, declination adjustment, and luminescent paint, then it does not matter where you find yourself.
Ready Made Shelter
Mastering bushcraft means mastering basic survival skills, like understanding how to make shelter using a minimal amount of materials. Still, you may not be ready to build a fort out of sticks and leaves just yet, so you should always pack something that can be of help.
Ever hear of a shelter in a bag? There are several brands, including the Land Shark “Instant Survival Shelter and Stealth Bag.” Though it may seem like a bit much to pay for a foldable aluminum trash bag, having something on hand may save your life.
The Land Shark is a good choice because it is aluminized to reflect up to 80% of your body heat, meaning it can be used in various types of weather. Plus, it is windproof and waterproof. Your other option is learning how to make the trash bag tent out of some duct tape and a tarp or several regular industrial-sized black garbage bags.
Even if you do not need the bags or tarp for shelter, you can use them for solar stills or in other bushcraft projects.
You can only live 3 to 4 days without water, so when you find a source of fresh, drinkable water, you need to get as much of it as possible. A water canteen or container is necessary. Your canteen can be made out of any safe material you want, but the recommendation is something that can be heated over a fire to boil out any toxins or make herbal tea.
Before you roll your eyes at this mainstream, fashionable addition, consider this: a military-grade, survival kit bracelet is not just a fashion statement. Paracord bracelets have a plethora of uses. Some that you may not have thought of yet include:
- Replacement laces, straps and belts;
- Traps, such as a string on the Paiute Deadfall or a tripwire;
- Bow-and-drill friction;
- Tying down shelter or securing a raft;
- Fishing line;
- Splinting, as most cords can be unraveled up to 20 feet;Clothesline;
- Making a pulley system;
- And much more.
Bushcrafting is more than just survival—it is knowing how to use the materials you have on hand to help increase your chances of pulling through any situation. When you have these essential items, not only will you be able to satisfy your basic needs, you will have tools to make life easier out in the wild.