How to build a proper Bushcraft Kit
Bushcraft is becoming more and more popular all the time, which is awesome. As everything we do in general day-to-day life is now run by screens and computers, it’s great to go back to basics and rediscover the outdoors.
A few tips to get you started
Less is more: There is a common mistake than every single person has made at least once. It’s simply carrying more than you need. You don’t need to carry every tool known to man to be able to enjoy bushcraft and the outdoors. Cramming every single space in your pouch or pack with items doesn’t mean your kit is better. It just means you are carrying more weight and it’s harder to find things.
Versatility is key: Following on from the less is more approach it’s important that you have dual or multi-purpose items. Having one item that can do the job of two is always helpful or having a tool which can help you make other tools is equally invaluable.
Basic Bushcraft Survival Kit
Knowledge: Knowledge is your greatest asset in any given situation. Knowing how to light a fire, read a map or track animals are all basic and essential skills for survival. Before you plan for a few nights away bushcrafting, ask yourself if you honestly have all the appropriate knowledge. Also, when we say knowledge we aren’t just talking about skill sets like map reading or hunting. We also mean knowledge of the geography and landscape. Do you know how hot it is going to be? Is rain predicted? If so, is the area I am going to prone to flooding? These questions need to be asked and answered before you head off.
A knife: Pretty common sense really but there are a couple of things you really need to think about.
For bushcraft, we nearly always recommend a fixed blade knife. A folding knife with a strong locking mechanism can be extremely effective, but even a locking knife is not as strong as a decent fixed blade. With a folding knife, you get a more compact tool, but there is a lot more to go wrong with it. The choice is ultimately yours, as long as you remember size isn’t everything and its far more about the quality of the blade steel above everything else. If you are looking at a fixed blade knife, there are a couple of options. For those with a bigger budget we strongly recommend the Fallkniven F1 or F1 Pro. If however, you have a smaller budget then Mora do some cracking bushcraft blades.
Firesteel: Anyone who knows anything about bushcraft will know to include a Swedish firesteel in their kit. They are dependable, long lasting and effective.
Sharpener/sharpening stone: Because you are out in field, you have two options really. A whetstone is a good choice, as it is simple to use and effective. Failing that you may want to consider a portable and on the go sharpener like the Lansky Blade Medic. They are not as reliable and are not as effective, but they will keep your blade sharp in the field, where you cannot rely on a flat surface for your whetstone.
Whistle: From what we’ve seen this is something all too often neglected because it’s not a useful tool for actual bushcraft. But, you really should have one, at all times! If you are stuck a whistle will be much louder than anyone’s voice, it also uses a lot less energy. There are a number of really good whistles out there. The Explorer Survival Whistle is one that we highly recommend due to not only how loud it is, but also the other features it has such as a compass, striker, waterproof compartment and signalling mirror.
Flashlight(s): If you have read a few things on our blog you will have heard us talk about the ‘rule of two’ a number of times. This essentially means having at least two options of your most important items. Flashlights being one of those. What it doesn’t mean though is having two the exact same. It means having two flashlights from different manufacturers using different batteries etc. This means if your one packs up because of certain weather conditions your spare is likely to still work. When we say flashlights we are not just talking about standard handheld versions, we are also including headlamps and microlights.
Paracord: The versatility that paracord offers is invaluable. 550 paracord is the standard you should look for ideally. The reason is that is can used in a number of applications. Either as a single cord, or you can remove some of the internal strands for other uses. Something you should also consider is firecord. This is a really useful aid to fire starting, which as you will already know is an essential part of survival.
Matches: These are for emergency use or for when a firesteel just won’t catch. You can’t possibly carry a huge amount of matches so they should be used sparingly. But, they are a great alternative and remember to keep them dry too, as wet matches are useless. Therefore, a waterproof case is definitely in order.
Water Purification: Being able to purify water is a necessity. There are number of ways you can make water safe, you can either use tablets, a UV (steri) pen or a filter. Filters are really good, but due to the size, they probably aren’t the best for the average Joe bushcrafter. Instead, you should look at tablets or a Steripen. If you aren’t a regular bushcrafter then tablets will be fine. For the longer term though, it is definitely worth investing in a UV pen. You get much more use for your money!
Waterproof bags: These are ever so useful. You can either use them to store water in, or keep water out. They are great for storing things like fruits, phones, matches and generally supplies you don’t want to run the risk of getting water damage.
Unlubricated Condoms: Because these are for emergencies and not everyday use, don’t get lubricated ones. They are very useful for storing water (keep the condom in a sock to help prevent unwanted bursting. The condom can also be useful for keeping items dry if you happen to run out of waterproof bags. One other use is that they can be used as makeshift latex gloves if you run out. Obviously not quite the real deal, but in an emergency needs must.
Hunting and Fishing Equipment: having a little survival tin with all your fishing accessories in is always a good shout. Not only is fishing relaxing, but it is also a great source of food!
Sewing Kit: Sewing may not be the coolest of skills but it’s really useful. You can stitch up holes in your tarp, clothing or for simply passing time. A skill that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Maps and a compass: Technology cannot always be relied upon, so consider going back to basics with a map and a compass. The compass doesn’t have to be big and many come in-built into other products. However you carry one is your choice but the point is you must carry one and know how to use it.
First Aid Kit: Do not leave the house without one, because it will be the time you actually need it. You will need sufficient supplies to deal with cuts, and wound dressing as a minimum, however if you feel that other types of injuries are likely to occur, you should adjust your kit accordingly. It’s not just important though to have kit, you also need to know how to use it all. We strongly advise you get yourself onto a basic first aid course at a minimum. This will give you at least the basic knowledge required to deal with accidents.
Cooking Equipment: Cooking equipment is very important especially if you are out for long periods at a time. Having a cooking set like those from Pathfinder is a great shout because they are strong, durable and multi-functional. This will offer you versatility and an easy cooking experience.
Carrying it all
Putting all the kit discussed above together can be a task itself, and there are a number of ways you can put your kit together. Many people take a modular approach and slit up items into groups and keep them in separate pouches so that everything is easy to find. You should also consider accessibility. By that we mean are the items you are likely to need most often or earliest near the top of you bag/pack or are they at the bottom?
The key to remember is that this is purely a guide, not an item by item checklist. There are many other things you may want to consider for your kit, depending on the time of year, location and your individual tastes.
If you have any question please let us know or leave a comment below which could be useful to others. Also if you like the article and find it useful please feel free to share it J