14 Bushcraft Essentials
Bushcrafting is a really popular activity amongst anyone who is interested in the outdoors. It not only gives you a chance to be at one with the wild, but also gives you a great opportunity to learn new skills. We hear from loads of people who tell us that they bushcraft because it gives them a sense of freedom and gets them away from their office desks. We’ve also found that many of you use it for family bonding time, and passing on these skills to the next generation. Free of technology and distractions, just you and the wilderness.
From beginner to experienced bushcrafter we get asked what are the bare essentials needed for bushcraft.
It’s not the easiest question to ever answer as some people prefer certain methods and tools depending on where they are going, how long for and who with. However, we aren’t ones to shy away from a challenge. It’s not a cast iron list that you should necessarily follow to the letter (you won’t be going wrong by doing so), but hopefully you will get an idea of the sorts of things you’ll need.
Without further delay, here are our 14 bushcraft essentials:
Why is a blade essential for bushcraft? Simply it’s a versatile and strong tool, that has the ability to be used for a huge range of tasks with relative ease. As we’ve said countless times before, and even if this is your first time to Heinnie Haynes or the blog you’ll know how useful knives are! We posted up recently about ‘20 things a knife is really used for‘, and in this post you can see the sheer range of uses knives have. This is no different to any knife or blade used in bushcrafting. Everything from making shelters, hunting, cooking, clearing to making other tools and objects the blade is ESSENTIAL. Now we’ll quickly suggest two types of blade that you may want to think about adding to your bushcrafting gear.
Fallkniven F1 – A staple in terms of bushcrafting gear. It’s strong, light and just brilliant. If you are looking for a first time blade or a replacement blade this is a knife that should be considered every time.
Kershaw Camp 10 Machete – If you want a job doing in half the time (don’t quote us on it) as before then this is a machete for you. It’s strong and perfectly balanced to make even the toughest of tasks a walk in the park. Why do we like this so much? Well for the price it goes above and beyond. It’s beautiful to use and as strong as an ox. Why would we not love it?
This section is a tougher one to talk about. Why? Well because it’s very much down to preference. Firstly it depends on the length of time you’ll be out in the wild. The second depends upon space and personal preference. If space isn’t an issue you will definitely want to consider a water bottle with a filter. However if you are out in the wilds of the world for a prolonged period and space is an issue, then you may want to consider purification pens or tablets.
There isn’t a right or wrong choice in the decision you make here, but make sure you consider the length of time and space you have first.
No brainer really. You need a Pathfinder cooking set or similar. The reason is so simple. You can cook a range of food with relative easy, wash them, re-use them and store them easily for carry. Now that’s just our initial suggestion. We aren’t then saying never choose another set, but if you are looking at other sets, we highly recommend you use the Pathfinder set at least as a benchmark. You know exactly what you need to get.
You’ll see in the below images what exactly one of these pathfinder sets contains if you’ve not seen one before.
It’s not something you ever hope to need, but as the old saying goes ‘rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it’. Out in the forests, mountains or wherever you are it’s likely that there aren’t emergency services around the corner. It’s therefore essential that you do look after your body. If you get a cut, it can and will get infected if you don’t clean it. Something as small as that can stop your adventure in its tracks. Don’t be that guy who thought it would never happen to them.
What should a good first aid kit have? At a very minimum it should have plasters and or bandages with antiseptic wipes and maybe a cream. That’s at a bare minimum. However, it’s always worth considering other medical supplies such as bite and sting creams, syringes, tweezers, vinyl gloves, and scissors. As we said earlier 99.999999% of the time you won’t need them, but that one time you don’t . . .
You’ve got a couple of options here, either a hand held torch or a head torch. Head torches are great, simple for the fact that they are hands free, and it usually means that the light is facing where you are looking. On the other hand though a hand-held torch (flashlight) could be more suited to your needs as you have more control over where the beam is focussed and it’s easier to adjust the lights settings and functionality.
This isn’t something that we can tell you in a post like this. Again it’s something you need to look at yourself, but the two below photos (which are linked) are our recommendations that you should look at considering.
A tarp or basha should be one of our first thoughts here; durable, waterproof and lightweight. They are really easy to set up and take down and provide excellent shelter. However, if you don’t have either of these it’s definitely worth bringing or getting something else that can double up as a shelter such as some sport/survival blankets. Shelter really is an essential part of bushcrafting, so it’s really important that to think properly about how you are going to make shelter. This is depend both on where you’re going and how long for, so find out what the area is like and plan ahead!!
Paracord is brilliant it’s strong and durable. Whether you want it to make a shelter a trap or simply to hang clothes up it does it. What’s also brilliant is that you can get meters of it in pure rope form, bracelet form or lanyard form. They can be designed to your own style, and come in a huge array of colours and can be carried in what ever way is best for you. Which ever way you carry it, you will be glad you did.
We mentioned earlier about blades. Well you may have noticed we were talking about big blades, which are of course good for clearing bush or hunting, but not so good when it comes to the finer things like chopping fruits, cutting cooked meat or hunting mushrooms. Not only that but a small knife is much easier to carry around and generally lighter. Much like the bigger blades we’ve talked about you’ll again most likely want to consider a fixed blade knife. Why? They are usually stronger and less easy to lose. They are designed for harder tasks so should be used for what they are built for. Some great examples of ideal small bushcraft knives are the Mora or Hultafor knives pictured below.
Even if you’re only out in the wild for a day, you should ALWAYS have a sharp knife. There is no excuse especially with the number of sharpeners on the market that are pretty easy to use, and the sheer volume of videos online showing how to use them. That being said, don’t be afraid to ask someone you know or us for advice. But out in the bush you are on your own, so look before, take a sharpener with you and it’s there if you need it. Especially if you are going to be out for a while or plan on using your knife a lot. It’s definitely worth it!
Another form of shelter but this time for sleeping. Get a good bivy and sleeping outdoors is a joy, free from insects and wonderfully warm. Modern bivy’s are great not only for the feature mentioned but also because they are so much more portable than your average tent as well as keeping you warmer in those cold winter months. If you haven’t even considered one before. We highly recommend you at least look at getting one, and they are pretty good value too!
A good rucksack will help you carry things from A to B. A great rucksack will allow you to carry loads of things with you easily from A to C. NEVER just pick the first bag you see because you like the look of it. Take your time, choose a bag that has all the space you need. Or if you want a bag that you can use for bushcraft but a few days later use it in the city, get a smaller one with lots of MOLLE straps for you can add exactly what you need for your given trips.
Modern bags have so much engineering and design going into them, making them the optimum distance from your back so it’s breathable and the perfect shape to fit all your bits and pieces in. Like we’ve said with some of the other 14 bushcrafting essentials its a personal preference thing. Look at what you want the bag to do, then choose the right one for you.
We’ve talked knives, we’ve mentioned machetes, now it’s the time of the axe. In the axe family you have a number of choices: Axe, Tomahawk, Hatchet or even a Fremont Farson tool. Each brings its own benefits to be table. The axe itself is a big tool, capable of felling small trees in no time, but it’s heavy, not something for a long trip where you need to cover loads of miles. The hatchet, the smaller and lighter alternative to the axe is something that does a very similar job but much easier to carry on longer journeys. However, like the axe, it isn’t a very versatile tool. Perfect for some uses, not so for others. Then you have Tomahawk and Fremont, these tools are much more versatile but less robust than their cousins. They are both lightweight and strong great for lots of smaller tasks, but not quite up to the tasks the axe and hatchet can tackle.
Carrying water is more than essential. We’ve already covered purification, but if you are in an area where there is no water, you need to have taken some with you. One of the most common an obvious methods is using a ‘bladder’. You can either get bags specifically designed for bladders, or you can get rucksacks with areas designed for bladders to go in. If you aren’t a fan of those you can always carry a flask on your trousers with a carabineer or a bottle pouch on your bag. Either way you will need something that you can store water in and access with ease.
The final but equally essential item is a fire starter. There are loads of brilliant ones out there, so it’s simply a case of ‘trial by fire’ (yes we went there). Some take a bit of getting used to others are easier but not necessarily as long lasting. What you do need to look for though is that the fire starter can work in a whole range of wet and dry conditions at various altitudes. If you are going somewhere new it’s always worth checking you have the right tools for job.
Ok, so above we’ve outlined 14 bushcraft essentials. This isn’t a hard and fast list saying these are the only things you should consider, they are just guidelines. We have no doubt that other people will need and prefer different tools etc. If that’s the case then we’d love to hear what you are using and what you think is an essential bushcrafting item. Please leave a comment below and let everyone else know if there is anything else that you think NEEDS to be included in your opinion.