Bushcraft is really about getting back to simplicity. Getting back to more primitive actions for survival such as how to build a shelter, how to make fire, how to find water, or how to build a shelter. It is based on a more simple way of living, one where you are more reliant on whats immediately found in nature and more reliant on your knowledge and skill to live off of what is provided. Bushcraft can be done for just a day, a weekend or for some it can become a whole way of life.
I know a guy who makes this his life. He lives in an off-the-grid cabin with no electricity by himself in the middle of the mountains, and though he has some supplies, he stays there for six months at a time, relying on nature to provide everything he needs. He skins the animals he hunts and makes clothes, makes all his utensils out of wood he carves, eats the vegetables he grows and anything else the forest around provides him with.
While that lifestyle may not be for everyone, bushcraft really doesn’t have to be all or nothing, but rather cane be done in many different ways as its all about learning simple basic skills. The gear that you need really is minimal. That being said there are a few pieces of gear that will help you in your bushcraft weekend, week-long or lifelong bushcraft journey.
Tools For Keep You Alive & Connecting With Nature
However you take up the art of bushcraft, whether thats for a day or a lifetime, it teaches us how to take part in nature rather than trying to conquer it by learning simple laws of the land and how to use simple tools.
The guide will give you a list of bushcrafting tools that you can take with you next time you head on out into the wild. We’ve included our top choices that we have found is the best bushcrafting gear out there that will help you when your out in the bush.
Bushcraft Gear and Tools List
- Knife – Morakniv Companion Spark Knife w/ Fire Starter
- Axe – Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe
- Saw – Opinel Folding Saw
- Rope – TOUGH-GRID 750lb Parachute Cord
- Tarp – Sanctuary SilTarp
- Water Filtration – Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter
- Compass – SUUNTO A-30 NH USGS Compass
- First Aid Kit – Adventure Medical Kits
- Clothing – Best Bushcraft Clothing
- Boots – Best Buschcraft Bootsoots
- Backpacks – Best Budget Bushcraft Backpack
A good knife is the most essential tools for bushcrafting. Being able to slice, dice chop, skin is pretty important for just about anything whether you are using it for, hunting game, eating your dinner, prepping your food, chopping some kindling and carving some wooden tools.
A good quality medium-sized steel blade with a good grip is what you are looking for.
Morakniv Companion Spark 3.9-Inch Fixed-Blade Outdoor Knife w/ Fire Starter
Knife Length: 238mm, thickness 2.5mm length 104mm
Material: Stainless Steel, 3.9 inch fixed Blade.
Pros: Ergonomic handle with good grip, Razor sharp edge, Easy to sharpen, The ferro rod companion (mentionned above).
Cons: The ferro rod might be best used as a backup as it is quite small and may be more difficult to maneuvre if you are not accustomed to it. Definitely practice with it first before setting out. Whether you are new to using such a tool or a seasoned vet, an alternate fire starter or two is always a good idea.
Special Features: What’s great about the Morakniv Companion Spark knife is that it comes with a ferro rod which smoothly locks into the knife handle. And what about the flint you might ask? The spine of the knife blade has been ground to 90 degrees and is unpolished, making it an ideal flint. They say the sparks from the rod come out to 5,400 Fareignhiet! Which is insane and good for 3000 strikes.
With so many knives to choose from, Morakniv knifes are some of the best out there, especially for beginner bushcrafters as they are very reliable and inexpensive. This is a fixed blade that is just bigger than the size of your palm, has a good grip and
See our article on the best bushcrafting knifes under 100!
After a good knife comes a good axe. Some swear by it over most other tools. We would likely take a solid axe or smaller hatchet as our second tool of choice. It is after all one of the most ancient and tools found nearly 1 million years ago with the only thing changing is the materials.
Quality is once again what is most important, being the difference between a dull and heavy hatchet you wish you had left at home and a multi-use ‘weapon’ for cutting through any type of wood. With so many types of axes on the market and with their great diversity of uses, it’s good to have an idea of what you intend to use if for. It’s also always good to factor in how much weight you want to add onto your pack.
Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe
Length: 49cm, cutting edge 85mm
Weight: 800g (axe head 700g)
Pros: Hand forged high quality axe head, Light-weight American Hickory handle, Razor sharp and refined blade edge, Axe handle with good ergonomic grip.
Cons: The cost of this high quality axe may prove to be an obstacle for some, however it is well worth it!
Special Features: All Gransfors Bruk Axes have hand-forged axe heads which are customed designed for their specific usage. This Forest Axe can be used in a variety of ways including for falling small trees, delimbing, and chopping firewood. The axe blade is so sharp that is can also be used for many other task.
This particular axe comes with an axe sharpening file which is a great bonus since keeping your axe sharp is essential.
This axe is another Scandinavian pick that prioritizes quality and years of skilled craftsmanship. It can be said that buying a Gransfors Bruk axe not only means acquiring a high-quality product but it also means supporting a company that values a more ethical approach to craftmenship both in its relationship with nature, minimizing its negative impact, and also with its craftspeople, valuing and supporting their expert work.
The third most handy tool would be a saw. We would likely choose an axe or a saw, as there might not need to be the need for both, in our opinion. Though it would entirely depend on what you plan on doing, if you are thinking of doing a lot of building like making a long term shelter then maybe you would need both.
Opinel N ° 18 saw, is a Carbon Steel Gardening and Camping Folding Saw, and though it is defined as a camping saw, it can be used in many different environments. As it is foldable, and lightweight it’s perfect for throwing in your bag when you are headed out to the bush.
Opinel Folding Saw
Length: 18cm (7-1/8″) blade
Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Features: Carbon Steel with anti-corrosion coating, beachwood hande.
Made: in France
Pros: Great grip, Beachwood handle, Anti-corrosive, Well made.
Special Features: Opinel was founded in 1890 by Joseph Opinel in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Savoy. The company has always been run by the family members and is now managed by the 3rd generation of Opinels. Today, Opinel is a French company with more than 100 employees are all involved in the design, development and production of knives.
The ‘Original’ folding knife made from Beechwood handles has become a staple for the company and since then they have expanded into other carbon steel blades tools. They emphasize a simple minimalist design that gives the saw a nice feel.
With its 18cm (7-1/8″) blade designed for sawing all branches with a diameter less than 10cm (4.0″) which cuts effortlessly by pulling the saw. This folding saw is made of carbon steel, which makes it strong and resistant to wear. The blade is sharpened on both sides and has a cutting depth of 1″ with a carbon steel blade that is heat-treated for extra strength making it more resistant to corrosion.
While it may not seem so exciting at first, a good coil of rope is a solid piece of equipment to have on hand for bushcrafting. And when it comes to rope, paracord is unanimously the go-to, for its strength, quality and versatility. A typical paracord can be used for things such as:
- Tarp setup, or more extensive shelter construction
- Hanging food up in a tree to avoid bear visits
- First-aid for things like turniquets and splints and even making a stretcher
- Sewing thread and for fastening or fixing gear, fishing line
Of course, there exist ways to make your own in the wild but this requires a large amount of skill and practice, like making rope from coconuts or from stringy bark from a tree. Despite this rope’s versatility, it is still recommended to pack other types of smaller twine and sewing thread. With bushcrafting the possibilities of creation with twine or rope are limitless.
TOUGH-GRID 750lb Parachute Cord
Length: 50ft-1000ft lengths
Material: 100% Nylon
Weight: 750lb paracord, 11 inner triple strands
Made: in U.S.A.
Pros: The triple inner strands (mentionned above), The extra 200lbs baring capacity (mentionned above), Genuine military specs, Lightweight, Sold in various lengths.
Cons: May have too much elasticity for some tasks
Special Features: While many paracords have only double inner strands, Tough Grid Paracord has 11 triple inner strands. It also has an extra 200lbs of weight capacity bringing it up to 750lbs as compared to the usual standard of 550lbs.
Perhaps a shorter length of paracord is a good way to begin. It also comes in a bright orange colour which can be handy when it comes to visibility. With this type of product, it is pretty hard to go wrong.
Packing a good quality, waterproof tarp is a game-changer when it comes to any prolonged/overnight adventures in the bush. While a quality tent is of course a great asset, a good tarp offers an even greater variety of usages and is THE sleeping arrangement of choice for most bushcrafters.
One of the great benefis of a tarp is that it gives you an almost immediate shelter under which to set up camp when conditions are at their most adverse. Nobody wants to set up camp or try and cook on a fire in the rain.
Sanctuary SilTarp – Silnylon Tarp, Guy Line and Stake Kit
Length: 10×8 feet
Material: 100% Nylon, 30 denier rip-stop nylon
Weight: Total weight 20.5 oz
Features: Ultralight/Waterproof Ripstop, Includes kit with guy line and pegs, fully tapped seams, limited lifetime warranty.
Pros: Quality of the material, Waterproof, Includes a kit for easy setup (pegs and guy lines), Lightweight.
Cons: It’s a well made tarp… no cons really
Special Features: The 16 perimeter loops are one of the highlights of this tarp, giving you lots of flexibility and options when setting up. It can easily be set up into an A-frame shelter, using trekking poles which this company also produces or some wooden poles from your natural surroundings.
One very positive element regarding packing a tarp is not only that it requires very little effort to throw up and quickly create shelter but it can also reduce your impact on your surrounding environment.
It is not to say that you cannot or should not build a shelter out of your natural surroundings, only that this can sometimes cause some destruction to your natural surroundings. Moreover, building a shelter can also be a very time consuming affair and if also arriving to your camp spot in adverse weather condition, a good tarp can really save the day.
6. Water Filtration
One of the most important and fundamental elements related to bushcrafting and many other types of outdoor adventure is where you are going to source potable drinking water or how you are going to make it drinkable.
Of course, we all envision or wish to find a pristine clear source of drinking water gushing from a rock face or hole in the ground but mostly this isn’t possible in today’s world where man and animals are everywhere and pollute everything. One of the most common methods is to simply boil the water in your multipurpose cooking pot.
However, as a backup…and when in doubt (regarding the potability of any water) or when the water sources are murky or swampy and definitely undrinkable, there is a variety of good portable water filtration systems on the market.
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Water Filter
Length: 9x8x3 inches
Material: 2 micron glassfiber filter
Weight: 1.2 lbs weight
Pros: Very easy to use, Lightweight and very portable, Reliable, filtering 99.9% of all harmful bacteria, Low maintenance.
Cons: Due to its compact size, it takes some patience to filter the water and the hand pump is pretty small. Katadyn also makes larger filters which are still very portable and easier to work with.
Special Features: It has activated carbon in the core of the filter which helps neutralize the taste of the water if there is any and can also help eliminate certain chemicals in the water when present.
You can’t really go wrong with this filter or any other filters from Katadyn. They are a good backup or a main go-to when it comes to safe drinking water.
One of the most classic tools for orientation in the wild is without a doubt the compass. Orientation is a key element in any outdoor trekking or bushcrafting, making the compass one of the most important tools in your kit along with a map of the area you are to be going.
It’s also hard to justify not bringing one along on any trip when it barely adds any weight nor take up any room in your pack. It is a small but powerful tool for going in the right direction and not getting lost.
SUUNTO A-30 NH USGS Compass
Length: 2.24×4.49×0.39 inches
Weight: 0.1 lbs
Pros: Lightweight and compact, Easy to use (still requires practice), Two-zone system, Luminous markings for situations where visibility is limited, Comes with instruction but also a complete user’s guide.
Cons: The acrylic material can sometimes break. While it is generally quite durable, it should be handled with care especially in regards to preserving the accuracy of the device.
Special Features: The Suunto A-30L Compass is designed as a two-zone system. This means that you can not only use it in the Northern Hemisphere but also works in the Southern Hemisphere. In the past, most compasses worked only in one zone or the other.
The compass also includes a magnifying glass. Knowing how to use a compass beyond having it simply indicate to you the North is definitely a useful skill to acquire. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your compass before setting out and also ensure that it is well-calibrated (the red needle should be pointing North).
And of course, if getting lost or safety is a concern, you can always bring a GPS along as backup.
8. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is always an invaluable thing to pack. It is an important addition especially when considering how much of your day will be spent working with sharp tools. Then, also consider all the possible hazards you may navigate through in a day while walking in the bush. Even a minor injury can slowly begin to complicate things if it is not properly cared for.
Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight
Length: 7.5x10x10 inches
Weight: 37 lbs
Features: 61 piece kit
Pros: Lightweight, Waterproof, Kit is sold in varying sizes and with varying contents depending on your needs.
Cons: Questionable zipper quality on the inner bag (some waterproof failures reported)
Special Features: Moreover, more serious injuries when initially treated properly, can actually be put into check more quickly and even life-threatening injuries can be greatly mediated when proper first aid is applied in a timely fashion. No one wishes to suffer an injury or accident and since no one can predict when they might happen a first aid kit is essential tool to keep close by.
One of the plus points of this kit is that it has two layers in order to protect it from the elements (especially from getting wet). The inner bag is fully waterproof and the outer bag is water-resistant.
This is just one of many possible starting points as far as first aid kits go. It’s always good to figure out what type of supplies you think you may need based on the type of activities you will be doing and the possible hazards you think you may encounter. Therefore adding or subtracting the right supplies is very important as most kits can always benefit from custom modifications.
More Bushcraft Gear: Individual Guide Reviews
If you are going to be headed outdoors for a weekend trip you are going to need at least some basic gear. We aren’t into getting the super fancy high-tech gear that is out there these days, we often stick to second-hand stores, regular wool shirts and socks, but there are a few items that do come in handy. Going into all the bushcraft clothing you might need is a bit beyond the scope of the article, so if you are interested to know more see the link below
For some of the best Bushcraft Clothing that we like.
You are definitely going to want to have a good pair of boots with you. Spending a lot of time on your feet especially if you are hiking around for days on end, means you are going to want something with ankle support. And as you are likely to be in unpredictable environments you probably want something waterproof, or at least water-resistant so your feet dont get soaked.
There are far too many types of boots too list and go into here, but if you want to know more, we go into more details of what you should look out for when trying to find bushcrafting boots.
Check out our list of the best bushcrafting boots
No surprises here, if you have a bunch of gear you are going to have to have something to put it all into! Here the emphasis will be on finding something that is the right size for you, which wil be dependant on how long of a trip you are planning on going on, whether you are going o a day trip or a week trip, chances are you are going to need a different type of bag take along with you.
For a list of some of the best bushcraft backpacks that we have found check out our guide
Take care of your tools and gear
One of the best ways to ensure that your tools remain in good working order and are long-lasting, is to learn how to care for them. It is important to learn how to store your tools properly, how to sharpen them and even repair them.
This is another fascinating element of bushcrafting and it can even lead you into the fascinating and ingenious domain of creating and building your own tools in the wild. Until such an endeavour bears fruit we hope that this short guide was beneficial and that it can help to equip you more adequately in order to meet all the bushcrafting challenges you may face with creativity and efficiency.
Now that you are geared up, happy bushcrafting!