Beginner Bushcraft Kit, what to buy? What do I need? Where do I go?
Stepping in to Bushcraft and is a fascinating journey when done right, straight of the bat I will advise any bushcrafter who is just getting in to bushcraft as a hobby to take part in a course ran by professionals like ourselves and it’s not just us wanting your cash but it comes down to woodland dangers, fires and fines, UK knife law, foraging, fishing and licences, trapping and hunting, not to mention access and wild camping, buying the wrong kit, accidently trashing woodland sites often people fail and end up in bad situations, hypothermic or bleeding out in the middle of nowhere, fined or even shot at. Sometimes it’s the simplest mistake such as using the wrong kind of rock around your fire and it explodes and hurts someone or yourself.
Don’t rush out in to the wild just yet; learn in your back garden first, where you’re safe and close to help and on your own land.
Doing this can be good fun, making an area that you can work in and learn in before heading out is good fun, it’s kind of your own space to learn and practice in.
I would recommend using an area where you can cut out some grass, away from anything flammable. I would dig down and figure out what’s below the ground, such as gas lines etc or you could just use a fire pit but make a burning area for fire craft, have a wood cutting area, whittling area, green craft area where you can forage for wood and bring it back to work on or store. You could just simply do these things in the woodlands but I would advise new bushcrafters to start somewhere safe.
But once you are ready to head out there are a multitude of public footpaths and bridleways criss-crossing England and Wales that should not be ignored if you want to head out. They give access to outstanding landscapes and unique habitats. These public rights of way are marked clearly on Ordnance Survey maps. On the 1:50,000 Land ranger series, footpaths and bridleways are marked in red; on the 1:25,000 Explorer series they are marked in green, you also have the Right Of Way Act, 2000 established areas of open access land where access by foot is permitted. These areas are clearly marked – shaded a light yellow – on recent OS 1:25,000 maps as well as a set of definitive maps being available online at http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/
Ok first before we go in to kit I think I should give your some basic rules of bushcraft for beginners.
- Leave as you find it, clean and clear
Rule 1 RESPECT: Ok sounds simple but it’s not that easy, respecting the land, animals, land owners, fire, knife use and axe use, mother nature. They all need a huge amount of respect as each can lead to issues.
Rule 2 PLAN: So maybe you’re a fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy or girl. Well bad news your will fail. One thing you need to learn is take your time, plan and plan more. Even on the day you’re out, take your time, reserve energy and don’t exhaust yourself. But a good plan will always work well and a backup plan even better.
I would recommend braking down what you goal is for the day you plan on heading out, let’s say I plan on practicing camp craft skills.
So first I would plan and research camp craft skills online or via my books, looking at items and ideas that could help me in the future. I would note during my research the types of woods, clays they use or seasons and weather related items that the skill relates too and what tools is needed to be able to carry out the job.
Next I would plan a date and time, time I plan on arriving and what I need to do once I arrive and where I am going. Sometimes your plan gets thrown out the window as you may end up just exploring the whole day or come across something unexpected like wild boar or a damaged bridge.
I always make sure I have plenty of time especially during the winter as darkness sets in fast and low temperatures even faster. So make sure you have time to get to where you are going and back before night time sets in. Most people that become unstuck in the wild are people that only planned on going for a day, they don’t have the right kit and can end up stuck, lost or stranded and then your challenge is to survive.
Next I would check the weather leading up to my day and on the day, I check a few different weather reports and even swell reports for surfing as they tell way more about what’s going on out at sea and what’s coming in land and in the UK we are never far from the coast.
Next I plan my clothing around the season and weather and I plan for things like ticks, mosquitoes and midges whether or not I need layers and been in the UK normally I always have layers, it’s like my old friend David Alan, 22 years SAS always says, it’s better to have and take off rather than not be able to add layers when you need them most.
Se our post on bushcraft clothing for the right kind of clothing for the job.
Bushcraft kit and what you need!
You will have heard of the term “all the gear, no idea” well we see that allot and I strongly advise learning first before buying kit, its easier said than done but most of what’s on the market is tat and the more you know the less you carry and this is true.
Well each task is different such as camp craft will incorporate a hand saw, bow saw or chainsaw, axe etc but works just as good with a folding handsaw from ASDA for about £3, no need to spend anymore unless you’re going out weekly and want in to invest in long term kit.
A basic core kit for all round bushcraft would be:
- A full tang knife – See our blog on full tang blades.
- A folding saw
- A fire lighting kit See our blog on fire lighting kits
- A water bottle and cup set that can be boiled (Avoid alloy as it leaches chemicals that are harmful) I use stainless steel cup and 1000ml stainless steel water bottle.
- A dump bag and inside it I have, para-cord, brew kit, small spoon/ folding spoon
- I have an axe loop on my belt with a Hultafors classic hunting axe see our video on that axe and why we use it.
When it comes to knives people starting may use a Hultafors utility knife, cost of around £8 or a Mora knife at around £13. Both are amazing bushcraft knives for beginners and cheap to buy. They are NOT full tang but a good learning tool.
That’s it, it’s all I take with me and fits on my belt, I dress for the weather. If I am taking my back pack, for a day I will take a 35lr pack or less, inside that pack I will have:
- A first aid kit, I use an explorer’s kit by Karimor but any first aid kit will work. You can see my kit in the photo above.
- A set of working gloves, like gardening gloves for all work and handling hot items
- My poncho/tarp for days I need a shelter
- Waterproof blanket roll for sitting on, laying on and chilling out
- My food, I take dry food in a zip lock bag, often pot noodles and pepperoni, it’s cheap and light and fast to cook and loaded with energy. Nuts etc. Not the most healthy but I am looking at carbs and protean, fat while I am out, slow burning energy foods but I avoid chocolate as it’s a quick high and fast drop, instead I make my own mint cake from birch sap each spring
- 2lr of water
- My Zebra Billy can for boiling, cooking etc
- I have a small leather pouch, in that I have a sharpening stone, rag, pig fat I use for maintenance on my knife and axe and that’s my extended day kit
I may then take items I need for that day, such as wood whittling tools, fire lighting tools I want to test along with cameras, tripods or books for research, maybe a note pad and pen etc.
Really the only way to find out is to head out and once you’re out there you will realise that something you don’t have may be a good idea for next time and then items you have you will leave in the house.
I should mention that I also have a small magnifying glass on a leather cord around my neck and a neck knife.
That’s it, learn each subject one at a time and practice each subject.