Monday, 15 August 2016

What is Bushcraft?

Bushcraft is a term used to describe skills that allow us to live comfortably in the natural world, using
natural resources in a responsible and sustainable manner. These skills were second nature to our ancestors, although many indigenous tribes and backwoodsmen still use these skills today.

A journey towards a full understanding of Bushcraft is not mere sentimentality; rather it is an empowering tool which allows us to reconnect with our roots and the natural world around us.

Bushcraft is a long-term extension of survival skills; it is about surviving and thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills includes for example the following:

  • Dressing right and the 3-layer principle
  • Navigation with map & compass
  • Navigation by signs in nature
  • Moving with ease in nature
  • Identification and behaviour of wildlife, and especially the possibly dangerous ones
  • How to choose a camp location
  • Different type of camp and shelter construction
  • Knots
  • Making fire with simple means
  • Collecting dfferent tinder & firewood and their characteristics and uses
  • Cooking with simple means
  • Food and medical sources in nature
  • Preparation of food and water found in nature
  • How different types of food affect your body
  • Handling knife, saw and axe
  • Wood carving
  • Maintenance of knife, saw and axe
  • Laws and local customs concerning living in nature
  • First Aid
  • Medical knowledge for life in nature and for emergencies
  • Field Hygiene

These are the most important areas of knowledge and skill you should strive to learn and improve on, and it is a lifetime of study with endless possibilities. With time you will find that you need fairly little beyond a good knife and a warm sleeping bag. 

The respect gained for our unknown ancestors in the acquisition of these skills can be an important part of Bushcraft. Regarding respect and understanding, one thread of Bushcraft is also concerned with respect and understanding of the natural world, its flora and fauna and the way these elements interact.

In teaching basic Bushcraft to children we are imparting an understanding of, and respect for, our world, the changing environment, other cultures and each other - it's also great fun!

Common Myths

"There’s no such thing as Bushcraft equipment. There’s Bushcraft. And there’s equipment." - Paul Kirtley

You have to be in the woods to practise Bushcraft. What if you live in an area where there are hardly any trees, a good example is the Hebrides, please find me a tree there. As I write this I am sitting here and I am  making more nettle cordage. To me that is Bushcraft.

You have to use a tarp or make shelters in the wild or you are not practising true Bushcraft. No, Bushcraft is a skill set. if you want to use a tent, then use one. equally if you want to make a shelter make one. if you wish to use a tarp then use one.

You have to cook over an open fire. There are places where lighting fires is forbidden. In these locations my preferred method is to use a meths stove.


  1. A very insightful post, something these so called experts to consider

  2. great explanation!