Monday, November 14, 2011

A Beginner’s Guide to Bushcraft and Camping-Part 1

Introduction

There are those among us who were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where we were exposed to camping and the outdoors from an early age, and have had people to guide us, and in some cases drag us along on all of those camping and fishing trips.

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I fully understand however, that not everyone has had such early exposure to the outdoors. There are many people who develop an interest in these activities, but have never been in the woods, and have no sources of information other than what they can find online. I remember finding myself in a somewhat similar situation when I arrived to the US. While it was not my first time in the woods, I had no one here who could tell me how things are done in the US, so I had to figure out a lot of it on my own.

I have been getting a lot of emails and questions from just such people who are thinking about starting out in bushcraft or camping, and I decided to write a series of posts targeted at such individuals.

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The posts are going to be aimed at a person who has had no camping experience and does not know anyone who can provide them with the needed information. I am thinking of maybe a college student who has been inspired by his favorite survival TV show, or even someone who has been spending way too much time in an office and wants to see if there is more out there.

A quick search online will reveal a fair amount of information along the lines of “bushcraft kit for under $100". Unfortunately, I find that many of those posts are written by people who have forgotten what it is like to be new to camping and bushcraft. It is true that an experienced person would have no problem spending the night in the bush with just a blanket and a tin can, but often we forget that this is targeted at a person who has never been in the woods. It can indeed be a frightening experience and few people would attempt it without what they consider the proper gear.

Even worse, most of those post and videos leave out essential gear. The person often discusses their knife, their axe, their saw and pot in length. At the end of the post we then see a note along the lines of “the above does not include my tent, sleeping bag, stove, etc”. Well, I hate to say it, but those are the important and costly items.

Equally frustrating is the fact that many of those gear lists include things that the person received as a gift, or found at a yard sale, etc. While that is great for that individual person, it makes the kit very hard to replicate by the reader.

So, after getting frustrated at a number of such posts, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and see if I can do better. I will attempt to provide a guide to creating a reasonably priced and complete kit for camping and bushcraft. For this list I will use only commercially available products. I will cut costs wherever possible, but I will try to do so without cutting out items. Along with the gear, I will try to cover some techniques and general information that may be useful to the person who is just starting out.

Keep in mind that whether I intend it or not, this will more or less be a guide to how I do things and my style of camping and bushcraft. It is certainly not the way for everyone, but if my writings resonate with you, this may be of some use. 

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