7 Common mistakes the average bushcrafter makes
Bushcraft is a popular and growing past-time, but as more and more people start it, we are seeing a resurgence in simple mistakes. In the most part these mistakes are just annoying, but sometimes it can completely ruin the experience. Don’t be caught out, take your time preparing, and don’t make the mistakes mentioned in this post and you’ll have an awesome time out in the wilderness.
But, until that time, here are seven common mistakes the average bushcrafter makes . . .
Not researching the geography prior to departure
This is very important. Especially so if you are going to somewhere you’ve not been before. Do you know what other animals live there? Do you know they types of trees? Simple questions like that can make a huge difference. Let’s take for example knowing the type of animals. In the UK there aren’t a huge number of apex predators, but there are animals that could a) do you harm b) steal your provisions. Foxes, Mice and Badgers are great examples of animals that could do you harm and/or steal your provisions. Now looking at the tree example, there are loads of different types of trees, each with their own unique attributes. Some of which are great for shelter building, but poor for fire starting or visa versa. By knowing the local geography you can plan appropriately. If you don’t know enough about tree’s then have a look at our tree guide!
This can make or break a bushcrafting experience. Well that is if you get the weather you want. Checking the weather has a number of benefits. Firstly you know what clothing to take. Secondly you know to avoid areas that are prone to flooding if torrential rain is forecast. Thirdly weather good or bad can be a hazard. By this we need, too hot and you get dehydrated. Too cold and you get frostbite. Too wet and you get freezing and sodden. That is unless you have planned, i.e. if it’s hot take more liquid. If it’s cold, take warm clothing. If it’s wet take waterproofs for you and you kit. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a mistake too many people make.
The wrong gear for the wrong environment
This leads on from the above two headings but deserves a heading in its own right. By checking the geography and weather you get a pretty good idea of the kit you need, but it’s then not simply a case of taking some stuff out and adding others into a general bag.
Although this may take time; re-pack the entire bag. Make sure you have all the right kit. Leaving without something is really just tempting fate. We don’t want to scaremonger, we just want to make sure that you do have all the right gear for the right environment.
The rule of two
Although this can definitely be applied to people in this example we will focus on gear. The rule of two means having at least two of essential items such as maybe a headlamp, a knife or a water filtration system. We aren’t saying have two of absolutely everything, as that would be ridiculous. What we are saying is essential items should be doubled up. But, not doubled up as in having two of the exact same items. Have two similar but different items. Take for example a headlamp. You can buy ones which give very similar outputs, but run on different batteries, which means that may work better in a given environment. Or you may want a backup that has a much stronger beam for dire emergencies, and have a less powerful headlamp with a longer battery life for general use. The choice is yours, but it’s always worth considering having two of the most essential items.
Too much or too little
This is a really tough balance to get right! And likelihood is that you’ll never get it 100%. If you are going to fall one way though, make sure you fall to the slightly more side.
The one thing you want to make sure you do have plenty of is food and water, or at least have the ability to easily and effectively get more. In some environments both food and water can be difficult to come by (yes, even in the UK). Therefore it’s vital you take food and water with you, but also take things like water filters and hunting/foraging equipment. It isn’t easy to always get the balance right between taking and finding food/water, but even if you take a couple of power bars and don’t use them because you have found food/water then you’ve not lost anything. If though you don’t have them and you can’t find food then the old term about a creek and a paddle comes to mind.
Packing your kit wrong
This is arguably one of the hardest things to get right, but of vital importance, and there are some really keen bits of information we want to get across to you.
Remember the first bit of kit you pack is going to be the one you take out last. If it’s something you are likely to need either in a hurry or before you’ve made camp then don’t pack it at the bottom! The more useful or versatile the kit, the more accessible you will want it to be.
But, that’s only half the story, as packing it by simply putting versatile stuff at the top isn’t going to make a huge difference by itself. The next thing to look at is the distribution of weight. You want your bag to be well balanced. You want the weight going directly down, so that it’s not pulling your shoulders back or making you hunch forward. It’s not an easy thing to do, but by practicing packing and re-packing your bag in a variety of way can help show you how small changes can have a pretty big impact of the comfort of your bag and the length of time you can carry it for.
The final nugget of information for you in the section is left for life, right for food. This is your left if you are wearing the bag. Why is this important? Well for you it’s probably not a huge deal as you can likely remember where you packed it, but what if you are injured or unconscious and a by-passer finds you. Do they know where to look for your medical kit. What if you are diabetic or have allergies and need a shot, how are they supposed to find your medical supplies? By keeping and encouraging everyone to use this simple format we hope to save lives. It’s not something we want you to ever need, but if something were to happen, wouldn’t you like to know you’d potentially helped save you own life by making it that much easier?
Appropriate bag size
Too big and you carry pointless stuff, too small and you don’t carry enough.
There are two ways of dealing with this . . .by having a big bag you give yourself options which is great. But, don’t buy kit for you bag, buy a bag for your kit. Get all your kit ready first, and then get the bag. If you’ve not made any of the mistakes already mentioned you should be fine, and you should have the right kit. The short of it is, don’t let you bag size dictate the kit you take, let the environment and your needs guide you.