In our first Bushcraft Basics blog, we talked about what bushcraft is and where it originates from (the answer might surprise you!). Today, it’s time to explore why you should try it.
We’ll tell you this upfront; we think that everyone should learn a few basic bushcraft skills.
We can practically hear what you are thinking right now, “I’d like to try it, but I don’t have any bushcraft skills,” or “It is fun to watch Alone, but doing it? No thanks! Bushcraft survival isn’t for me,” or “I don’t plan on living in the wilderness, so why would I bother learning bushcraft skills?”
Patience, young Padawan. All will be revealed.
Get ready – we’re about to get deep!
1. Bushcraft camping isn’t as extreme as you think.
What comes to mind when you hear ‘bushcraft’?
Maybe it conjures up mental images of a Bear Grylls-style wilderness survival guru eating eyeballs or drinking their own urine. Or perhaps you’re picturing someone using a flint to start a fire and cooking up a fish they caught themselves from the river nearby. Or, it might bring to mind building a rustic shelter in the middle of nowhere using your bare hands and a hatchet.
Most bushcraft stereotypes have something in common; they are extreme. Things that you’d need to be an expert to do, or that involve challenging, potentially life-threatening missions into the wilderness.
And yes, bushcraft is all of those things.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t try it for yourself today, with no prior experience of (or interest in) extreme wilderness survival.
Well, just because bushcraft camping can be pretty hardcore, doesn’t mean it has to be.
Because bushcraft and wilderness survival are often lumped together, it is easy to forget what bushcraft is all about: learning practical skills and knowledge that allow you to connect with the environment around you on a deeper level.
You don’t need to commit to spending 100 days in the wilderness. In fact, we recommend starting slowly by picking up a few essential bushcraft skills and incorporating them to your current outdoor activities.
For example, learning to identify native flora and fauna in your area is a form of bushcraft. So is practising some simple knots or carving a spoon from a piece of wood you found. And brushing up on how to light a campfire (safely and responsibly) is, too.
Over time, you can develop your knowledge and skills until you could, if you wanted, do some more ‘extreme’ bushcraft adventures – but no pressure. You do you.
On the most basic level, Bushcraft is the process of becoming more comfortable in the natural world around you. And absolutely everyone can benefit from that, in our humble opinion. Agreed?
2. Bushcraft brings you closer to nature (and reminds you to respect it).
There is a lot of buzz around the whole idea of ‘connecting with nature’. Spending time outside is associated with a whole bunch of mental and physical health benefits, and chances are that you’ve experienced some of those for yourself, if you’re reading this.
Bushcraft takes this connection with nature a step further by showing us that we are not just ‘visiting’ the natural environment. We are a part of it.
Now, we think this is great for a couple of reasons.
First, this helps us feel more connected with nature on a whole new level. We’ve all heard of this stuff, so it makes sense, right?
But the second reason doesn’t get mentioned as much; bushcraft educates us to treat nature with a little more respect.
How often have you seen soggy toilet paper where it shouldn’t be? Or had run-ins with wildlife who have become accustomed to being fed by humans? Or come across a wide section of the track where people have been avoiding the muddy puddle in the centre?
Every step we make, everything we take and everything you leave behind – bushcraft teaches us that it all has an effect.
We are not saying you have to be perfect, or that you are a bad person if you have done less than ideal things in the past – we’ve all had times when we’ve had to answer the call of nature in a less than ideal spot, or been tempted to feed that cute wallaby at the campsite, or avoided that puddle even though we know we should just walk through it…
But, that is no excuse for not trying to be better in future.
One of the most fundamental bushcraft skills is understanding your environment. When we start learning about the natural world around us, and our place within that, we become more aware of the impact our actions are going to have now and in the long run. And, with that knowledge, we can start to make better decisions about how we interact with nature – and not take it for granted.
That alone is a great reason for everyone to learn bushcraft skills, if you ask us.
3. Bushcraft shows you that less is more.
Bushcraft has had a huge influence on our company’s philosophy and values for this very reason. Way back when we first started in 2015, our intention was to create gear that would let our customers go further with less.
That philosophy has driven us to create outdoor gear that priorities function over form, quality over quantity and durability over disposability. With gear like that, it is possible to further with less – not just for today’s adventures, but for a lifetime.
Bushcraft embodies this ‘less is more’ philosophy in a number of ways.
First, bushcraft makes us consider how we can live in balance with the natural world and maintain that balance for future generations.
In today’s world, very few of us are directly reliant on nature for our sustenance and survival. We’re not foraging or hunting for our next meal, or finding resources to build a shelter with, or using medicinal native plants. But, if we were, we probably would be a lot more careful about how we utilise those resources, right?
That means taking only what you need, respecting wildlife and having a basic understanding of the ecology of the area to ensure that your actions don't disrupt the natural balance.
Second, by learning to get by with only that which is essential, bushcraft camping shows us that knowledge is far more valuable than having the latest or most expensive gear. It is knowledge that will help you make a protective shelter, start a fire with minimal tools, or identify edible plants. Knowledge is the most important tool you can take with you into the wilderness.
Lastly, bushcraft focuses on the essentials for survival – shelter, water, fire, and food – and shows us that we can survive with very little. When we step back from all the distractions and superfluous stuff we think we need, we start to see that the things we think will bring us satisfaction actually don’t at all – sometimes they do the opposite.
Bushcraft teaches you that getting by with less is not only possible but also incredibly rewarding.
That, if you ask us, is life-changing.
4. Bushcraft makes you feel good!
Having less and only using what you can find can sound daunting, but don’t let that put you off; this is actually a part of why bushcraft is so fun.
Why? Well, we humans are natural problem solvers. In fact, our ability to solve problems has been crucial for our species development and long-term survival.
Our early human ancestors faced numerous challenges in their environment, from finding food and shelter to protecting themselves from predators. Successfully solving these problems not only ensured survival but also led to a more comfortable and secure existence.
This impulse to solve problems has literally been wired into us; when we solve a problem, it triggers our brain’s reward system to release neurotransmitters like dopamine and other ‘feel-good’ chemicals.
Bushcraft skills allow us to tap into that inherent problem solving instinct that is within every one of us.
Bushcraft is all about trying to use what is available in your surroundings rather than relying on pre-made solutions. This makes you think outside the box as you need to figure out how to use natural materials and basic gear to meet your needs – be it for shelter, food and water or tools.
By stepping outside your comfort zone or challenging yourself even in the smallest way, such as setting up a camping tarp for the first time or learning how to collect and purify water, you get a little boost of self-esteem and confidence. That gradually adds up to make you realise what you are capable of (hint – it’s more than you think!).
Bushcraft is rewarding. It makes us feel good about ourselves, even when we’re not outside practising our bushcraft skills. It helps us feel connected – to nature, to each other and to ourselves.
Seriously, just try it already. You’re going to love it.
So, will you try bushcraft camping?
Bushcraft camping is all about developing the knowledge and skills required to live in nature with just a handful of versatile tools. But, as we’ve discussed today, it is far more profound than just practical skills and in-depth knowledge of the natural environment.
The knowledge, skills and mindset that bushcraft teaches us can change the way we think about our environment – and ourselves.
Even learning a few basic bushcraft skills can show us that we don’t need much to get by, but we have to respect what we do have, whether it is tools, our knowledge or the natural resources around us.
We think everyone can benefit from that. Don’t you?