OUTDOORS | Are You Looking For A Different Camping Experience? Try Bushcrafting!

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We’re going to put our hands up here and admit that buscrafting is among our strongest skills here at Camping with Style! We’re delighted however to share with you some great advice on bushcraft from Rebecca at the brilliant Hiking Mastery blog.

Photo Credit: Active OutdoorsPhoto Credit: Active Outdoors

When many people think of camping, they probably think about glamping, or imagine a decked-out camper van that provides them with comfy beds, a bathroom, and a fully functioning kitchen. Not many people are willing to camp in a basic tent and cook all their food on a campfire.

Despite the popularity and obvious appeal of comfort camping, there’s still a large amount of joy to be had when going back to basics and  camping with only the bare necessities.

If you want to completely connect with nature and live off the land, being able to master bushcraft is a must.

What Is Bushcrafting?

In simple terms, bushcrafting is the ability to survive in the wild using skills you have developed, instead of depending on the items you bring for a camping trip. Also known as “wilderness skills”, bushcrafting requires mastery of a variety of skills.

Bushcrafting isn’t a new ideology. Before the invention of tents, grills, and prepackaged food, people were naturally bushcraft masters. Our ancestors had no choice but to respect and live off the land; building shelters, foraging, hunting, cleaning and cooking their own food. A far cry from modern camping!

Give bushcraft a try

Bushcrafting however is increasingly popular as more and more people attempt to connect with nature and feel like they are at one with the land. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as wanting to escape from technology or watching experts, like Ray Mears, on Television.

No matter what your reason is for being interested in bushcraft, it’s a valuable set of skills to have. Not only will it add something different to your camping experiences, but you might even find it saves your life one day! Furthermore, mastering bushcraft means becoming part of a small percentage of people who know how to live comfortably in any natural setting.

What Skills Are Required To Master Bushcrafting?

Don’t be fooled by experts such as Ray Mears though! They may make bushcrafting seem fun and easy, but it takes a lot of time and practice to master. You can’t just go into the woods for the weekend and expect to come back knowing everything about the subject.

Many people group bushcraft into five broad categories: food foraging, trapping/hunting game, water gathering/purifying, shelter building and fire building. However, for those who are brand new to bushcrafting, here is a more extensive break down of the skills you need to master:

Making A Camp

  • Fire Building
  • Shelter Building
  • Rope & Knot Skills

Finding Food

  • Foraging
  • Trapping/snares
  • Fishing

Preparing and Cooking Food

  • Gutting/Cleaning Fish
  • Butchering/Preparing Wild Game
  • Cooking Food
  • Preserving Food

Using Tools

  • Knives
  • Axes
  • Machetes
  • Saw

Finding Water

  • Filtering/Purifying
  • Storing

First Aid

  • Finding Natural Remedies
  • Emergency Skills

As you can see, bushcraft takes enormous effort to master. It’s more than just basic survival and camping skills. Bushcrafting is being able to live comfortably in nature without the help of anything you can purchase from a store, the exception being survival tools.

However, most experts recommend bushcraft beginners master the essential skills before learning the rest. What are the essential skills? Well, different experts have different opinions. Generally, building a shelter, building a fire, and finding food and water are good skills to learn first.

Camp fire

Bushcrafting Tools

There aren’t many tools used in bushcrafting. For example a compass isn’t usually considered a bushcrafting tool. However, the tools you are allowed to use are incredibly important, as they significantly improve your ability to hunt and build shelter.

The most common tool is a survival knife. They’re small and easy to carry. Bring the best survival knife with will be an enormous help. Knives are typically used for “lighter” tasks. For example, they are used to carve wood to make spoons, containers, and other utensils. They are also used to make traps and prepare food.

An axe is another helpful bushcrafting tool. Although, many individuals prefer hatchets because they are smaller, but perform the same tasks as axes. Bringing along a hatchet will make “heavier” tasks easier. For example, a hatchet can chop wood, split logs, and butcher large game. They are also used to dig and hammer posts into the ground.

Sometimes people will bring machetes or saws with them. However, these tools aren’t necessary for survival. They perform the same tasks a knife or a hatchet do. Machetes and saws will just cut through wood faster and easier.

Give bushcraft a try

If you are truly a bushcrafting master, you can learn how to make your own knife out of stone or flint. Learning to make a knife can be a great skill to have if you lose or forget your knife. However, a “homemade” knife should be a last resort, typically used in emergency situations only.

Bushcrafting Improves Camping

Mastering bushcrafting doesn’t mean you have to completely live off the land every time you go into the wild. You can still camp in a tent, roast marshmallows, and sing campfire songs. However, bushcrafting can enhance your camping experience.

For starters, it allows you to enjoy camping without sleeping in an camper van or lugging an enormous tent and lots of gear with you. Camping the old-fashioned way will allow you to disconnect from technology and social media, allowing you to connect with yourself and the people around you.

Bushcrafting can significantly improve hiking or backpacking trips too

Knowing how to live off the land can decrease the amount of equipment you might need to bring along. For example, you might not need to bring as much food or cooking equipment, lightening your load and improving your overall experience.

Finally, bushcraft skills are great to have in emergency situations. Bringing store-bought food might make cooking easier, but if an animal gets into your food you could find yourself in trouble. Or if someone injures themselves, knowing first-aid skills could prevent infection or further injuries.

About the author

Rebecca lives in the USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favourite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, the company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passions is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She writes for HikingMastery.com
Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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