Hi all I wanted to start a discussion here on ats after reading lots of threads on other sites about people's experience with bushcraft. Their
general ideas of just what this topic which even the mainstream is fond of , (Ray Mears UK Bushcraft et al) is all about.
The comments seem to thrive on general hints and tips , and reaction to them as useful. some of the more interesting threads have been started by
people relatively new to the field, asking very basic questions , which happen to produce very diverse replies, as well as general consensus.
Bushcraft can assume other names or come in different guises : ie 'fieldcraft' (forces term)
I regard 'Bushcraft' as a useful term which is best associated with Ray Mears as I beleive he coined the phrase.
My take on what bushcraft is , is a melding of many different real-life disciplines , such as gardening, building, soldiering , wayfaring (couriers) ,
travelling trades (not many left now), escape and evasion (criminals lol) , emergency rescue , hunting industry , forestry , ariel access , camoflage
(spies etc) , stealth (special forces) , orienteering (guides and mapmakers) , intelligence and reconaissance
weatherproofing (exterior trades like fishing) , sports (walking /hiking/climbing/fishing/fitness etc.) , nature tourism (birdwatching etc) , extreme
sports (mountaineering , polar expeditions) awards (eg Duke of Edinburghs) , police and detective work (tracking) , first aid/medicine , food
sourcing/farming , cooking (chef), butchery, the list can likely go on . eg. archeology/ mining / exploration / exploitation
What Bushcraft is not , is going to the office in a car for the day. It is not , shopping in asda , and neither is it vajazzling in the woods
There are common misconceptions of bushcraft also.
Part of the reason for these misconceptions and a block to learning for all , is the all consuming , SHTF scenario.
Now Mears and Bear Gryls often use this concept , of needing to get down to raw and very basic survival skills when you havent got the kit, you're
lost and you might die unless you make it back to civilisation or get rescued .
I want to make it clear that to learn real 'bushcraft' then putting aside the SHTF scenario is completely necessary for proper understanding and
actual practical practise of bushcraft .. in the bush . In fact , what you really do not want to happen while carrying out any of the above described
disciplines is for the # to hit the proverbial fan . You practise, and gain and retain the skills and kit , so that it DOESNT go wrong , and you DONT
Where Mears and Grylss have filled us in very adequately on what you need to know, if things DO go wrong , if you ARE trapped in the stoneage etc.
there is a wide open gap in the market when it comes to putting together coherently the practical knowledge which they have taken us to the borders
The basis of survival techniques is knowledge. What you know first , always counts more . Forewarned is forearmed . Knowledge , is the key requirement
, both in the shtf , but also in wider 'best practise' of bushcraft.
It seems to be generally agreed that Bushcraft in the sense that Mears definines it too, is 'being equipped with the kit , the provisions , the
knowledge and the practised skills for travel, survival, and living in comfort, amongst varied wild terrain and variable weather conditions ,, away
from the relative luxuries of civilisation , for a reasonable or extended length of time.'
Knowledge being the key then , bushcraft is a fondly remembered muse/hobby/passtime by many who prefer to delve deeper into it than simply sitting
back watching Grylls skip off into the sunrise with his big grin , or hearing Mears say , "this is is such a great thing to do , I love it so
A good thing about being involved with bushcraft in the great outdoors is that what you spend in terms of time enjoying yourself , is not wasted,
rather with the experience comes further benefit . In fact , being a multi-disipline routine , it is one of those multipliers in this sense . It can
help people learn what the world really is all about . There is in fact only so much to living outdoors comfortably for any reason , eg just as there
is only so much involved in gaining belts for kung fu . Bushcraft then contribute to a persons sense of wellbeing , and of their confidence in facing
what the world has to offer , on any given terrain .
Now the Scouts or similar federations have taught some skills including knots , mapwork , night hiking , first aid , quartermastery , camping , and
there is a list which they teach and the schooling sadly lacks for the most part...
There are many crossovers between these and the cadets , and the military . Bushcraft would not be anywhere without what the military in various
countries have honed as 'fieldcraft'. Military kit is often the only real choice for a serious outdoorsman , and unfortunately following the ways of
soldiers tends to fit best to bushcraft . Grylss of course is ex-services etc .
There are good reasons for the bushcrafters to understand the military and Mears studies for example the early Rangers expeditions . How to live and
travel outdoors involves updating our understanding to modern soldiering , a good example being the use of PLCE webbing belt and yoke with large
respirator pouches as well as a rucksck for longer 'marching order' style trips of maybe 100miles without resupply for those dedicated . Having
understood and tried , then carrying a large 50lb pack (light to most soldiers) is a lot easier with something called plce . Personal load carrying
It depends on the excursion , how long you go for defines how much you need to carry. The point is , dont be uncomfortable if you can pack hammocks ,
tarp and cord, for a couple of nights spent wild camping. The knowledge part of travelling on foot and camping comes with practise , how many litre of
water you need to take or find is going to be your decision. (Go for 3l a day if cooking and drinking tea)
This brings me on to what is really the physical basis of bushcraft/fieldcraft/survival outdoors > the kit . Its what defines it for me . There are
several elements which must fit in a co-ordinated and useful way for an appropriate excusrsion : your clothing system , must include waterproof layers
because it rains outside. windproof layers , they are your layers you chose them , up to 25 items to put on or off
your living equipment must include food and , soap etc , a 'brew kit' everyone knows it. firelighting equipment (stealthy or stupid ? ) navigation
tools , hipflask , headtorch , and stuff
your sleeping equipment eg half a roll mat , sleeping bag , hammock , bivvy bag, tarps
your water , is pretty self explanatory , you are not having a bushcraft experience for very long without any. simples
The last points about bushcraft are , "get out there and do it" , some people do dream on for too long , etc.
If you have the map you can go and use it , wayfare away from your house on foot , as some people do . That way there is no car to worry about , no
responsibilities , they are left at home . And dont worry if you're not miles from the nearest people , just give them a friendly wave and continue
up the footpath . Keep your wits about you especially at night , and remember most dog's barks are worse than their bites