How to Get Started in Bushcraft: A Guide for Beginners

Bushcraft is the art of living in the wild. Bushcraft, or wilderness survival skills, encompasses a wide range of skills such as shelter building, fire making, tracking, and foraging or hunting for food. Practicing bushcraft can be a great way to connect with nature, learn new skills, and have some fun.

If you’re interested in getting started in bushcraft, there are a few things you need to know. First, you need to find a safe place to practice your skills. Second, you need to gather some basic gear. Third, you need to learn the basic skills of bushcraft.

In this article, we will teach you everything you need to know to get started in bushcraft. We will cover the basics of bushcraft and important bushcraft skills you should know. We will also provide you with some resources to help you learn more about bushcraft.

What is Bushcraft?

Bushcraft is a set of skills that will help you thrive and survive in nature. It encompasses a range of primitive wilderness skills that enable individuals to thrive and survive in natural environments. From building shelters and starting fires to foraging for food and identifying edible plants, bushcraft equips you with the knowledge and abilities to live harmoniously with nature.

Why You Should Get Started in Bushcraft

Learning bushcraft offers numerous benefits beyond the acquisition of survival skills. Here are a few of the most common benefits and reasons people start in bushcraft:

Connection with Nature: By immersing yourself in the natural environment, you’ll develop a deeper appreciation for nature and its intricate wonders.

Self-Reliance: Bushcraft empowers you to be self-reliant, fostering independence and confidence in your abilities to overcome challenges in the wilderness.

Stress Relief: Escaping the hustle and bustle of modern life, bushcraft provides a therapeutic escape, reducing stress and promoting mental well-being.

Environmental Awareness: Through bushcraft, you’ll develop a heightened environmental consciousness, learning sustainable practices and leaving minimal impact on the ecosystem.

When you decide to get started in bushcraft, not only will you be challenging yourself to learn new skills, but you’ll also be gaining important emergency preparedness skills.

Get Started with Bushcraft

Where to Practice Bushcraft

Some basic bushcraft skills, such as building a fire or using your bushcraft knife, can be practiced in your own backyard. However, you can also practice your bushcraft skills in the wilderness. The best place to practice bushcraft is in a safe and legal area. Some good places to practice bushcraft include:

  • National forests
  • State parks
  • Wildlife refuges
  • Private land with permission from the landowner

Remember, that when you practice bushcraft, you should do your best to leave no trace – especially if you’re using public lands. This means you try to leave your campsite as close to how you found it as possible. Pick up all trash or debris and make sure you disasable shelters or firepits when you’re done with your trip.

Get Started with Bushcraft – 10 Ideas For Your 1st Survival Kit

What Gear Do You Need for Bushcraft?

If you want to get started with bushcraft, you’ll need the right bushcraft gear for your survival kit. Having the right gear and equipment is crucial for a successful bushcraft experience.  The amount of gear you need for bushcraft will depend on the skills you want to learn and the environment you will be practicing in. There are some bushcraft wilderness survival kits you can buy that will contain most of the tools you’ll need to start bushcraft. At the same time, there’s a lot to be learned if you research and pick your own bushcraft gear. Here are 10 types of bushcraft gear that are ideal for your first bushcraft wilderness kit.

  1. Backpack
  2. First Aid Kit
  3. Canteen or Mug
  4. Water Filter
  5. Flint & Steel
  6. Knife
  7. Axe and/or Saw
  8. Sharpening Stone
  9. Tarp
  10. Cooking Pot

We provide additional information for each item below:

Backpack to Carry Your Bushcraft Gear

You’ll need a durable backpack, day pack or rucksack to hold your bushcraft gear. Pick a pack that can accommodate the items you’ll be carrying on your trips. For example, day packs are ideal for shorter trips and don’t hold as much as bigger packs that can hold larger gear like sleeping bags or cooking gear. 

Safety First

Before heading out on any bushcraft trip, make sure you have a solid first aid kit. Look for a kit that includes at least the basic first aid necessities and is compact and easy to carry.

Clean, Safe Water

When you’re out in the wilderness, water is an essential part of survival. Select a solid metal mug or a lightweight canteen like the Keith Titanium Canteen Set if you’re carrying your own water or want to carry water you collect. We like this canteen because it includes a cup that you can also use for cooking.

If you’ll be accessing water from natural resources, make sure you grab a water filter to help clean your water before drinking.

Firecraft – The Art of Making Fire

A good fire is required for most overnight bushcraft trips. A fire starter, like flint & steel, is one tool that will make starting a camp fire easier. You can use flint and steel, along with the right tinder, to create sparks to start your fire. Generally, flint and steel is a more durable option as it’s not mechanical and can withstand the elements. You can also buy a fire starter kit, or put together your own reliable firestarter kit using waterproof matches, a ferrocerium rod, and tinder material like cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly.

Bushcraft Knife for Various Projects

To create tinder shavings, cut small vines, filet a fish, and for various other bushcraft skills, a sharp, quality knife is a requirement. A reliable and versatile bushcraft knife is a must-have tool. Look for a bushcraft or wilderness knife with a blade length that’s about the width of your palm and includes a sheath to protect the blade. You’ll be using the knife for a lot of carving and craft projects, so choose one that has an ergonomic handle.

Gerber Freescape Hatchet
Gerber Freescape Hatchet

Cut Your Wood with a Buschraft Axe or Saw

If you’re planning on building a fire or a lean-to for your bushcraft base camp, an axe or folding saw is a handy tool. With a bushcraft axe or saw, you can quickly cut down twigs, poles, firewood, and other larger materials.

Sharpening Stone

With all the carving, cutting, and shopping, your knife and axe blades might start to dull. A pocket sharpening stone will help you keep your blades sharp and ready to keep up with your bushcraft skills.

Ultimate Survival Base All Weather Tarp
Ultimate Survival Base All Weather Tarp

Make an Easy Shelter

When you get started with bushcraft, a durable tarp has a variety of uses. Invest in a waterproof, lightweight and durable tarp that provide amples protection from the elements. Whether using it for an overnight shelter or a quick, temporary shelter to protect you from a passing storm, a tarp can be quickly set-up to create a roof over your head. If aren’t making your own twine or rope, paracord will help secure your tarp shelter.

If you do plan on sleeping in the wilderness overnight, consider picking up a sleeping bag or sleeping pad to help you have a more comfortable sleep.

Cook Your Meals Over the Fire

Many people who bushcraft enjoy cooking their meals on the campfire. A camping pot or billypot, lets you easily boil water and cook up a hot meal over the fire. Look for a pot that has a handle and can withstand being placed in or above the fire. And remember, you’re carrying the pot so keep that in mind when selecting the correct pot size.

With these items in your survival kit, you’ll have the right tools to get started with bushcraft. You’ll likely add or remove items from your bushcraft survival kit as your skill set grows and you start taking on different levels of bushcraft trips.

Getting Started in Bushcraft – Basic Skills to Know

To kick-start your bushcraft journey, it’s crucial to acquire the following foundational skills and knowledge:

Firecraft: Mastery of fire is fundamental in bushcraft. Learn various fire-starting techniques, such as friction-based methods like bow-drill or hand-drill, as well as the proper selection and preparation of firewood.

Shelter Building: Understand the principles of shelter construction, including different types of natural and improvised shelters suitable for varying weather conditions.

Water Sourcing and Purification: Learn how to identify and collect safe drinking water sources in the wild. Acquire techniques for water purification to ensure your health and well-being.

Navigation: Familiarize yourself with navigation tools like maps, compasses, and celestial navigation methods. Gain knowledge of natural indicators, such as sun position and star patterns, to find your way in the wilderness.

Wilderness First Aid: Equip yourself with basic first aid skills tailored to outdoor environments. Learn how to treat common injuries and ailments that may occur during your bushcraft adventures.

Building A Bushcraft Shelter

One of the most important skills in bushcraft is shelter building. Shelter will protect you from the elements and provide you with a place to sleep.

Types of Shelters

There are many different types of shelters that you can build, but some of the most common include:

  • Lean-to: A lean-to is a simple shelter that is made by leaning a long pole against a tree and then draping branches over the top.
  • Debris hut: A debris hut is a more complex shelter that is made by piling branches and other debris on top of a frame.
  • Hole in the ground: A hole in the ground is a simple shelter that is dug into the ground.
  • Tree house: A tree house is a more complex shelter that is built in the branches of a tree.

How to Build a Shelter

The best way to build a shelter will depend on the materials that are available and the environment you are in. However, there are some general principles that you can follow:

  1. Choose a location that is sheltered from the wind and rain.
  2. Gather enough materials to build a sturdy shelter.
  3. Build the shelter so that it is big enough to fit you comfortably.
  4. Make sure the shelter is well-ventilated.

Fire Making

Fire is essential for survival in the wild. It can be used for cooking, warmth, and signaling. There are many different ways to make fire, but some of the most common methods include:

  • Using a flint and steel
  • Using a bow drill
  • Using a fire starter

How to Make a Fire

The best way to make a fire will depend on the materials that are available and the environment you are in. However, there are some general principles that you can follow:

  1. Gather enough tinder, kindling, and fuel.
  2. Build a fire starter.
  3. Start the fire with the tinder.
  4. Add kindling to the fire.
  5. Add fuel to the fire.

Tracking Animals

Tracking is the art of following the tracks of animals. It can be used to find food, water, or to track down an animal that you have injured. There are many different techniques for tracking, but some of the most common include:

  • Reading tracks – Look for signs of animal activity, such as tracks, scat, and fur.
  • Following scent trails
  • Watching for signs of animal activity and being aware of the animal’s habitat and behavior.

Hunting

Hunting is the act of killing an animal for food. It is a skill that has been practiced by humans for thousands of years. There are many different ways to hunt, but some of the most common methods include:

  • Trapping
  • Bow hunting
  • Rifle hunting

Resources for Learning More About Bushcraft

There are many resources available to help you learn more about bushcraft. Here are a few of the most popular bushcraft books:

You can also visit our bushcraft blog for more bushcraft tips and guides.

Bushcraft is a great way to connect with nature, learn new skills, and have some fun. If you are interested in getting started in bushcraft, there are many resources available to help you. We hope this article has given you a good introduction to bushcraft and the confidence you’ll need to head into the great outdoors.

Bushcraft FAQs

What are some common mistakes that beginners make in bushcraft?

Some common mistakes that people new to bushcraft make include:

  • Not planning ahead. It is important to plan ahead when you are going out into the wild. This includes knowing where you are going, what gear you need, and what skills you need to know.
  • Not being prepared for the elements. The weather can change quickly in the wild, so it is important to be prepared for all types of weather. Check the weather ahead of time and make sure you have the right clothing, shelter, and food.
  • Not being aware of your surroundings. It is important to be aware of your surroundings when you are in the wild. Pay attention to potential hazards, such as wild animals and poisonous plants.
  • Not practicing bushcraft skills before you go out into the wild. It is a good idea to practice bushcraft skills in a safe environment before you go out into the wild. This will help you to learn the skills and to build confidence.

What are some of the most important bushcraft skills?

Some of the most important bushcraft skills include:

  • Shelter building. Shelter will protect you from the elements and provide you with a place to sleep.
  • Fire making. Fire is essential for survival in the wild. It can be used for cooking, warmth, and signaling.
  • Tracking. Tracking is the art of following the tracks of animals. It can be used to find food, water, or to track down an animal that you have injured.
  • Finding food. Hunting, foraging for plants, or fishing is a popular way to get food in nature.
  • First aid. First aid skills are essential for anyone who spends time in the wild. They can be used to treat minor injuries and to save lives.

What’s the difference between bushcraft and survival skills?

In short, bushcraft is about living in the wilderness, while survival skills are about staying alive in the wilderness.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between bushcraft and survival skills:

AspectBushcraftSurvival Skills
DefinitionA broad range of skills for living in the wildernessSkills for staying alive in the wilderness
FocusLiving off the landStaying safe and getting help
SkillsBuilding shelters, starting fires, finding food and water, navigating the wilderness, using natural materials, first aidFinding shelter from the elements, staying warm and dry, getting food and water, signaling for help

Bushcraft Charlie

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, Bushcraft Charlie first developed his wilderness and survival skills in the suburbs of Maryland. After relocating to Montana, he's continued to spend time outdoors - hiking the Rocky Mountains and practicing bushcraft skills like shelter building and fire making.

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