Everything to Know About Bushcraft & Camping

JGaulard

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What is Bushcraft?​

I’m new to this game, so I’m still trying to figure it all out. Luckily, I’m quite astute when it comes to activities like this. I pick up on things extremely quickly.

I’ve heard of the term bushcraft for years. I’m not sure I’ve ever given it much thought before. I’ve always been a straight up camper and surviving in the woods hasn’t appealed to me all that much. It wasn’t until recently that I became interested in the actual survival part. You see, I went winter camping for the very first time and that adventure shed an entirely new light on things. Now, I can’t stop thinking about this stuff. And of course, I’d like to know what the word bushcraft means. It seems to be at the center of everything.

To start off, I think I’ll tackle the actual word itself. I’ll pretend that I’m talking to someone who has absolutely no idea of what’s going on. They’ve never gone camping or walking in the woods before. They’ve never even gone on vacation away from civilization. It’s to this person that I would say that the word bushcraft is both a noun and a verb. It’s not like the words camping or hiking. Bushcraft can be described as a noun in this way; it’s an activity in which someone or someones shows an interest in being with nature and learning how to make do the best they can, as self sufficiently as possible. Anyone can go borrow a camper and sleep in the woods. Not everyone can create the perfect campsite in the wilderness; one that will afford them the opportunity to lie under the stars safely and securely.

I saw a quote today that was written by a father of two girls. The family visited Maine and stayed in the Grand Falls Hut that’s operated by Maine Huts & Trails. Even though they weren’t exactly roughing it as much as hard core bushcrafters would, the quote was reminiscent of something a budding outdoorsman would say.

“My goal for the trip had been for our girls to lose themselves in the woods, to scale rocks and imagine mountains, to ford streams and envision raging rivers, to make believe deep in nature.”

Pretty cool, right? If you’ve got that as a goal for your daughters, you’re a good father. I can tell you that right now.

Bushcraft is about getting to know nature. It’s about forgetting the indoors. It’s about making your own way. Respecting your gear. Finding new gear that will suit you well. Gear that fits your own needs. It’s about comfort and survivability in the elements. It’s about being different from all those who choose to ignore the forest, avoid the woods and stay away from the out of doors.

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As a verb, bushcraft is the art of doing all these things. It’s not thinking of them, it’s actually doing them. It’s the act of standing up and walking to the quiet and peace and choosing a location in which to live for the next minute, hour, day or week. It’s the roughness of it. The challenge. It gives you the feeling in your stomach of nervousness, excitement and dread, all in one sitting.

When you look at a tree, what do you see?

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Here’s what a bushcrafter might see. Branches to tie things to. To whittle and carve. To make into something. Logs to cut for firewood. Is it dry? Is it dead? Can I burn it? Can I use part of the tree as a shelter? As a fence? As a weapon? There are so many ways that someone who is into nature thinks differently than someone who isn’t.

So, what do bushcrafters need to know? If you’re reading this right now and if you’ve never gotten into any of this, I’ll give you a very brief overview of what’s most important when in the woods.

First, you need to know how to use the proper knife for so many things. The knife is one of the most important pieces of equipment for surviving outdoors. You also need to know how to make a fire and how to keep it going. You need to know how to transport fire from one location to another. Having knowledge of knots is critical. When outdoors, you’ll use rope all the time. You need to know how to strengthen it, use it for shelter and how to use it as a weapon, if need be. Hunting, trapping and fishing are categories unto themselves. This area is huge, but you’ll need to know about all of it. If you like food, you’ll find this topic invaluable.

Beyond what I’ve already mentioned, you’ll find that making shelter is one of the most rewarding aspects of spending time in nature. When your shelter is right, you’re right. Whether it be a tarp, tent or cabin, each has their own benefits and qualities. Tracking and recognition are important as well. Learning the habits of animals can help lead you to water sources and sources of food. It can also aide with hunting. Finally, we have foraging. If you’ve ever seen a wild bush with berries on it, you’ve likely wondered if those berries were edible. You should learn about plants and bushes in the wild. Your life may depend on it.

Simply put, beyond all the theoretical stuff, bushcraft is simply the art of using the nature around you to have the best experience possible. The more you know, the less you’ll be reliant on gear and modern amenities. Nature is chock full of resources that are waiting to be tapped into. Learn about them and take advantage of them. Plants, animals, topography, trees, shrubs – it’s all there for you. Educate yourself and when you do, you’ll face down many more life issues than you ever have before and you’ll become more self sufficient and confident. You’ll learn how to survive in the wilderness and you’ll create a mindset to face challenges head on as opposed to turning away from them. You’ll create a new you.

What are your thoughts on bushcraft? Are you involved in this hobby, sport or whatever you’d like to call it? If you are or you aren’t, please share your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!
 

JGaulard

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Looking For the Best Bushcraft Book to Learn From​

I am very new to bushcraft, although I have a long history of being active in the outdoors. I live in Maine, which, if you aren’t aware, is one of the most outdoorsy states in the entire U.S. People around here practically live outside. Needless to say, I need to get up to snuff. I’m actively searching for the best bushcraft “bible” I can find. I’ve seen some titles on Amazon.com that appear to be fairly decent. These are:

– Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury
– Advanced Bushcraft: An Expert Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury
– The Ultimate Bushcraft Survival Manual by Tim MacWelch
– Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival by Mors Kochanski
– SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman

Basically, I’d like to know which one of these books is the best for a beginner. They’re all rated very highly. I know the second one says that it’s advanced, but I’ve heard that it’s actually not too bad for someone like me. Also, if there is a book that’s not on this list that you like, please let me know.

I recently ordered and received Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury and it looks decent. I haven’t gotten into it yet, but I honestly thought it would be somewhat larger. It’s more like a handbook. Not knowing the size of something is a risk we take when ordering books online. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from it, but unfortunately, I don’t think it’s the bible I’m looking for.

Any advice and a point in the right direction would be great. Thanks!

Here are a few photos of the Bushcraft 101 book I received. I bought it used and it’s in great shape.

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Winter Camping in a Chilly 4° Fahrenheit​

I’ve got this friend who is totally into camping. He’s gone winter camping on our property earlier this season and recently showed interest in doing so again. The last time he camped, he did it alone. The temperature dropped to five degrees Fahrenheit overnight and I had no interest in joining him. I didn’t even have the gear that would keep me alive, so he did it alone. Brave man my friend is. He slept in a hammock and, in the morning, he told me that he froze his ass off. I’m not even going to tell you about the coyotes.

This friend of mine, Ian, recently purchased a tent that he felt would help him brave the elements a little more than the hammock did. The tent is the reason he wanted to camp again – to test it out. I invited Ian to camp in our back woods and he let me know that he’d be doing it this past weekend. This is where the story gets strange. About an hour after he let me know he’d be camping here, I found myself on Amazon purchasing two sleeping bags that were rated for -35 degrees as well as a tent. I have no idea why I decided to join him this time and to bring my lady along. These things just happen, I suppose.

Perhaps I thought it wouldn’t be too cold overnight, being March and all. I guess I thought the overnight temperature would hover around 20 degrees, which is like a heatwave in these parts during the winter. Well, they didn’t and it wasn’t. I’ll tell you about that below.

We camped this past Saturday. I had to haul all of my gear back into the woods. We found a nice spot about five acres away from our house, so if something went drastically wrong, we could all run back to save our behinds. My gear consisted of an ALPS Mountaineering Taurus tent, two huge Teton winter sleeping bags, an air mattress, a tarp, saw and a bunch of other stuff. I wanted to be ready and I wanted to be comfortable.

When Ian and I located our camping spot around noon on Saturday, we immediately began shoveling. He shoveled the snow from his tent spot and I shoveled the snow from ours. That took at least an hour and it was fairly brutal because of the depth of the snow. It’s almost three feet deep back in the woods and I shoveled over two feet from a spot that measured approximately 12 feet by ten feet. Luckily the tent I purchased is extremely simply to put up. It took all of three minutes.

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After the tent was up, I inflated the air mattress and put down two moving blankets I recently purchased from Tractor Supply for only about $8. They were on sale and I thought they’d be perfect for this use. They were. I put the sleeping bags on top of the blankets and then added another blanket on top of the sleeping bags. I had never slept in 13 degree weather, so I over prepared. That’s what the weather forecast told me the temps were supposed to drop to. Thirteen degrees.

For most of the day, Ian and I cut down trees for our fire. I started the fire around four o’clock and we had it going until the next morning. Wood burns very fast outside, so we needed a lot of it. This is us processing a part of our stash.

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And this is the fire I got going. By morning, this hole in the snow was about eight feet wide and all the way to the ground.

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We hung out by the fire for most of the evening and around midnight, we decided it was time to go to sleep. This is the part I wanted to tell you about. It’s the fun part to read.

Let me tell you something. If we had decided not to sleep outside and if we had simply walked back to the house, the entire night wouldn’t have been memorable at all. We would have just hung out in the woods for a while and then left. We were toasty from the fire and things were fine. The fact of the matter is though, we didn’t go back into the house and we did sleep in the tents and I can tell you, it was memorable. I have never done anything like this before in my life.

It was like slow motion. We left the campfire and walked over to the tent. The minute I reached the door and unzippered it, I knew we were in for an adventure. First off, I had no idea where to put my boots. Any warmth I had accumulated from the fire was gone. I was totally freezing and there was no room in the tent for our footwear. My lady took her boots off, stepped in the snow and crawled into the tent and then I did the same. After that, we took off our jackets and gloves and tried to get into the sleeping bags. By this point, we were half frozen. I was utterly shocked by how fast this happened. The time that passed from being comfortably warm to being half frozen was only about two minutes. Apparently, the weatherman was incorrect in his forecast because the temperature fell to four degrees and I’m willing to say it fell even farther than that. I can only describe the feeling as a bone chilling bitter cold. The word “bitter” is all encompassing here. Our hands were cold to the core and again, it only took about two minutes for that to happen. I have no idea why it occurred so fast.

Anyway, both of us wore our thermals, pants, sweaters and big warm hats to bed. Once I got in my sleeping bag, I was fine. As for my lady, she told me that she was less than warm and that she shivered a few times. When we woke up in the morning, I felt as snug as a bug in a rug. She said she was cool overnight, but that the sleeping bags performed well. I think the reason that I did so well was because I had myself completely encapsulated in my sleeping bag and she didn’t. She had her head sticking out somewhat. I can tell you that if you have even the slightest air gap in the bag, all the outside cold air will rush right in. The cinch feature of these sleeping bags truly needs to be taken advantage of.

Also, I learned that when winter camping, you absolutely need to wear a winter hat all night long. Better yet, wear a balaclava. There is no way you’ll make it if you don’t. Your head gives off so much heat that you’ll likely feel extremely cold if you leave your head bare.

When we woke up in the morning, I found a layer of frost inside the tent from our breathing. Any moisture that came from our lungs condensed and froze to the walls and ceiling. It was crazy. I could scrape it with my fingernails. We made it though and I was extremely proud of the three of us for persevering. Even though it got very cold, we all stuck to it and stayed out there and that’s an adventure in itself. I am so glad we did this.

In the morning, we woke up and I broke down the camp. I hauled it back to the house and then we enjoyed a huge skillet breakfast. That was fun. We were exhausted from not getting much sleep and we all napped later on that day.

If I were to do this again, I would change a few things. Things primarily inside the tent. Next time, I wouldn’t use a queen size mattress and instead, I’d go with two twins. I’d put each one up against opposing sides so there’s a clear area in the middle. That way, we could take our boots off inside of the tent instead of outside. Also, I wouldn’t feel like I was going to roll off the mattress all night long. Queen size mattresses aren’t exactly queen sized. Also, I would probably set a tarp up to cover the tent on the outside. I heard that this can keep things somewhat warmer. I’d also use my little propane heater to warm the tent and sleeping bags up before we got inside because warm sleeping bags makes everything better. Just a few ideas.

Have you ever gone winter camping before? What are your experiences? I would love to read about them. Thanks for reading!

Visiting Our Winter Camping Spot in Maine​

Part 2

As I’ve mentioned above, my lady, my friend and I went cold weather camping overnight here in Maine a few weeks ago. There was about two and a half feet of snow on the ground and we had to do tons of shoveling in order to set up our tents. We also had to cut down a few small Ash trees to use as firewood. We had a great time that night, but it was very cold. I’ve never slept in that kind of cold before, but I, well, we survived. Yes, we all made it and we were very proud of ourselves in the morning. I think our -35° sleeping bags had something to do with our success.

My lady and I went back into the woods again yesterday to visit our camp site. Some of the snow has melted off and I wanted to see what the area looked like. I sort of missed it. It’s not like it’s too far away from our house or anything, so it wasn’t a long walk. We also wanted to hang a new deer feeder that we recently purchased back in the woods. We bought that from Tractor Supply along with a 50 pound bag of feed from a local hardware store and we wanted to get that set up for some future photography. Our goal is to hide in the woods while the deer are eating so we can photograph them.

In this post, I simply want to share a few photos of our short hike to the back of our property. We own 15+ acres here in Maine and it’s stunningly gorgeous. I love all the different species of trees and most of all, the abundance of and variety of pines. The topography is nice too. There’s a bit for everyone here on our land. Plus, it’s great for camping.

Okay, here are a few photos. I’ll try to tell you what you’re looking at before each one, since they’ll likely all look the same.

This is the beginning of the hike. It’s right past our back yard and it leads into the woods. This area is full of sugar maple trees. I have tapped them in previous years for syrup.

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This is the beginning of where I recently began cutting the trail that leads back into the woods. Since the closing for the land I purchased was in December, there was snow already on the ground. Some of the stumps from the small trees I cut down are becoming visible. Some of the land is actually swampy in this area, so I’m interested to see just how swampy it is come spring.

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We call this area “Big Rock” because it contains a large boulder that tells us the trail splits off in two. If we hike to the left, we go to the northern corner of the property which is elevated somewhat and if we hike to the right, we go towards our camp areas to the west. The big rock is covered with snow, but you can still see it.

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This next shot is of a snow trail I made that leads to the area our friend used as his camp site. This area was completely thick with small pines before I cleared it.

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And this is his camping area. While we were setting him up, we made a nice bench out of a Maple tree for him to sit on.

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His fire pit is to the left of the bench, but you can’t see that now because of all the snow.

These next two shots are of the deer feeding trough that we hung from a pine tree as well as the deer feed we purchased to go in the feeder. So far, we haven’t had any deer visit it, but we’re heading back there in about an hour to check on it today.

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We set this feeder up right past the small camp site I just showed you. We did this because the area is somewhat of a valley and we thought the deer would feel safe there. We also saw deer tracks in the area. Hopefully they’ll smell the feed soon. It stinks pretty bad.

This area was my first choice for a camp site. We decided to head further down the hill though because the eventual camp site was more open and we’d have to cut down fewer trees to make space.

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I did like this area though because it was almost directly underneath an enormous White Pine tree. It was huge.

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Don’t even ask about these next two photos. I’m on a hunt for fatwood and I haven’t been having much luck finding any. I will soon though because these woods are full of downed and rotting Spruce and other pines trees.

This is the dead White Pine branch I was about to chop with my new hatchet.

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And here’s a photo of the branch half chopped away. You can see how dry it is in the center of it. No fatwood here.

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I think I’ll leave the rest of the photos off this page. I took a nice long video of the walk around the campsite and then all the way back to our house. I’ll post that below, so if you’d like to check it out, please do so.


Trust me, there will be many more photos and videos of this piece of property. Just wait until I show you the brook that runs along it. You’re going to love it.
 

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What to Wear to Sleep While Winter Camping + Check List​

If you’ve never gone winter camping before and if the temperature is below 0 Fahrenheit, you’ll likely be in for a shock. If you’ve never felt that kind of cold for an extended period of time before, you’re definitely going to be in for a shock. I’m not sure there’s anything that can prepare you for it besides actually getting used to the cold. And even when you do, it’s still painful to deal with and to contend with.

A few weeks ago, I went camping in Maine and the temps were near zero. I knew it was going to be cold, so I prepared very well. As I sit here and write though, I keep going back to the experience in my mind and I wonder if there was anything I could have done differently to make things easier. Not that anything was terribly difficult, but things could have been more comfortable. Live and learn, I suppose. For the first time, I did well, but it will be much better the second time and the third after that.

In today’s post, I’d like to discuss a few things. First, I’ll talk about the cold weather sleeping bag I purchased for this trip and then I’ll discuss what anyone in the same position would likely need to wear to sleep in frigid cold temperatures. It’s not as easy as you’d think. Finally, I’ll give you a rundown of the list I made for this camping adventure. Call is a brief camping check list if you wish.

Okay, to start off with, I’ll tell you that before the trip, I went on to Amazon.com and looked for the warmest sleeping bag I could find. Since I was going backpacking at all and since our camp site was only about five acres away from my house, I didn’t care in the least about the weight or the size of the bag. I wanted bulk and warmth and that’s all I wanted. If I was going to lie on my back for six hours in temperatures that were hovering near zero, I didn’t need to be shivering.

The bag I found is called the TETON Sports 1027L Deer Hunter Sleeping Bag and it’s the -35 degree version. There are two versions of this bag; the -35 degree one and the 0 degree one. When purchasing these sleeping bags, you need to be careful because the temperature ratings are somewhat misleading. The rating they give on the web page is the survival temperature rating. Add 30 degrees to that and you’ll have the comfort temperature rating. Don’t confuse the two and don’t think you’re going to get away with a higher temp rated bag in very cold weather. You won’t.

Here are some photos of the TETON cold weather sleeping bag. To start off with, I think I’ll show you the big sack it comes in. This is so helpful to carry.

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It’s a huge sleeping bag and it weighs 17.5 pounds. That’s seventeen point five pounds, not one hundred and seventy five.

Next, I’ll show you the top portion of the bag and the temperature rating that’s sown into it. The inside of this thing is extremely soft and the sleeping bag kept me extraordinarily warm the entire night. I was very impressed.

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The material the outer is made of is tough and durable too. It’s canvas, just like Carhartt pants. That’s part of the reason I chose this product.

Next, I’ll talk about what to where to sleep while winter camping. There’s one rule when it comes to this; if you’re still cold in your bag, get out and put more clothes on. Before this little adventure of mine, I was under the impression that I was going to wear only thermals to sleep. Boy was I wrong. I ended up wearing, on the bottom, big thick socks, thermals and my Carhartt pants and then on the top, I wore a t-shirt, a thermal and a wool sweater with a winter hat on my head. The hat was key. Without that hat, I don’t think I would have made it. I took it off for just a second and it felt like all the heat was being sucked out of my body. Next time, I’ll wear a balaclava. And a hat on top of that.

At first, I didn’t have any socks on because the boots I wore don’t require them. They’re rated for -145 degrees or something crazy like that. The boots end up pulling the socks off my feet anyway. After I got in my bag though, I found that my toes were somewhat chilly, so I decided to put the socks on and that helped out a lot. The moral of this story is, if you try wearing one thing and find that you’re still cold inside of your sleeping bag, put more clothes on. Put your jacket and your gloves on if you have to. That’s just the way it is.

For this final section, I think I’ll quickly run through my winter camping check list. I don’t know whose benefit I’m doing this for more, yours or mine. I’d like to look back on this list in the future when I need it. Okay, here it is.

– 1 10’x10′ heavy duty tarp to place under the tent
– Rope for a clothesline
– Shovel to dig the snow from tent area
– Air mattress to sleep on
– Sleeping bags
– Gun for protection
– Tent to sleep in
– Flashlight
– Lighter to start fire
– LED lamps for lighting
– Balaclavas to wear
– Saws to cut firewood
– Propane heater for inside tent (I didn’t bring this)
– Knife for multiple uses
– Paracord for multiple uses
– Duffle bag to carry gear in
– Toilet paper
– Warm socks
– Water (didn’t do much good because it froze overnight)
– Warm clothes and extra socks and hats

I didn’t write down everything because I know I stuck more stuff in my bag, but this is the bulk of it. I’ll write more as it comes to mind. For the next time, I’ll probably bring another tarp out there to hang over the tent. I’d also like to pick up some additional paracord because you can never have too much of that stuff. And finally, I’m going to swap out the queen sized air mattress for two twin mattresses. The queen is too small for two people in these sleeping bags.

Oh yeah, here’s a photo of my Mr. Heater Big Buddy propane heater that I didn’t bring. I think I will next time.

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Do you have any stories about winter camping? What did you bring on your trip? I’d love to know, so be sure to share in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!
 

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Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury​

I received my copy of Dave Canterbury’s book entitled, Bushcraft 101 in the mail yesterday and I am quite excited to jump into it. I’d like to read it as fast as possible because the spring weather is right around the corner. Notice how I didn’t say “spring” is right around the corner? It’s here now, but it snowed last night and this morning. I suppose this is spring in Maine. We’re bound to get one or two last snow blasts before this winter lets go. The same thing happens year after year.

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I already read through the first chapter, which I’ll discuss below. I’ll also be writing posts that talk about all of the subsequent chapters on this website. I can’t wait to turn this thing into a powerhouse of knowledge. After all, Dave mentioned that he learned from others before him and he shared that knowledge with us via his book. Now, it’s my turn to learn from him and share with you. It’ll be a lot of fun.

Okay, so what I’ve just learned is that I didn’t read chapter one. I read the introduction, so that’s what I’ll discuss now.

Do you remember that post I wrote where I attempted to describe what bushcraft is? In that post, I gave a rather long winded explanation of how I see things. To me, bushcraft isn’t only the act of doing something, it’s the fact that it means something. There were a few lines in Dave’s book that leads me to believe that he agrees.

First, let me tell you how Dave described bushcraft. He says it’s, “a term for wilderness skills and is the practice of surviving and thriving in the natural world.” He then goes on to say that certain skills need to be learned in order to actually enjoy yourself and that bushcraft is a hobby more than anything else. After all, most of those who choose to engage in this sort of thing have someplace to live, but choose to test themselves against nature. Read my post on winter camping for more of that. He even goes on to describe how becoming proficient at bushcraft may help in certain survival situations. We’ve all seen one reality show or another or a story on the news where someone or a group of people needed to fend off the elements. It’s generally the person who has a knowledge of survival who does the best.

My favorite part of the entire introduction had to do with the feeling being outdoors gives those who choose to partake in it. Simply put, learning bushcraft is a way for us to enjoy the outdoors. So many of us are trapped in classrooms or offices and as my good friend conveyed to me not so long ago, that’s simply not natural. As humans, many of us have a strong desire to connect with what’s outside our homes and places of employment. Camping, hiking, bushcraft and many more activities allow us to sit back and revel in what’s right beneath our feet.

Here’s the best line of the book so far: “It is my belief that by understanding natural resources and learning about the items that make the difference between comfort and misery, you can attain an almost euphoric experience when spending time on the trail or in the bush.”

Do you want to know something strange? He’s right. The feeling you can experience when you “figure it out” is euphoric. It’s liberating and it’s confidence building to say the least. I’m excited to get more into this. This book has got a lot to teach.

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Remember though, I’m always looking for the best book on bushcraft, so if you know of any, please let me know. Thanks!
 

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What Are the Best Wool Socks to Buy For Winter Sports?​

Question: I do tons of snowshoeing and, at times, my feet have gotten cold. I’ve upgraded my boots, but they still get cold. I’ve been looking into different brands of wool socks and think that’s the way to go, but socks are so weird to buy. Some of them are very expensive and others are too thin and are just strange. I think they’re from China or something. I can’t seem to figure it out. So if you have any advice, I’d appreciate it. Also, I’m interested in doing some cold weather camping and after reading a few blog posts, I’m even more determined to get some of these socks. I don’t want my feet to freeze off.

Answer: You’re totally on the right track. I think about this stuff all the time. I actually bought some wool socks for myself and my lady last Christmas from Amazon.com and while hers were fairly thick, you can almost see through mine. They’re still warm, but lesson learned. Shopping online can be tricky.

When I went winter camping, I brought a few pairs of those really thick gray socks that everyone has. You know the type. Some of them have the red band around the tops and some have the green. I’m not sure if they’re hunting or hiking socks or what, but I do know that they’ve been around forever. They were okay and the did the job, but I would have been confident with higher quality gear.

After all these years of looking at socks, I’ve definitely settled on wool. It’s the only way to go. Wool rocks. And after looking at wool, I think I’ve settled on Red Head Brand at Cabela’s. You should visit their web page. Right now, they’re $11.99 per pair and I think they’re made in North Carolina, if memory serves. From what I’ve learned, this is a very good brand and these socks are even guaranteed for life. If they wear out, you can return them for a new pair. That’s pretty good. What’s most important though is the thickness of the wool and I think these socks are plenty thick. I’ve seen a video of them being made and I could tell that they’re high quality. I hope this helps.

By the way, here is a video for you:


For the life of me, I can’t find the video from the factory where the socks were being made. If I do locate it, I’ll post it here.
 

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Schrade SCHF9 Survival Knife​

For the next three or four posts, I’m going to be showing off some of the gear I’ve recently purchased as well as some gear I picked up through the years. I don’t have a lot, as I’m just starting out with bushcraft and camping, but I’m getting there. So far, I have a survival knife, hatchet and a ferro rod. I also have a few other things, such as rope, paracord, some books and things like that, but I’ll get to all of that later on. For today and probably tomorrow, I want to show you what the three items I just mentioned look like.

So here’s the thing; I have no idea if what I own is “good” or not. New products seem to come out every day and each one is markedly cooler than the last. I would love to have a hatchet whose steel was forged on some island off an exotic coast with a wood handle what was whittled by a monk in Bangladesh, but alas, I purchased one that was made in Illinois. It’s good though, I know that.

In this post, I want to show off a pretty huge knife I bought about five years ago. I had just moved to Maine and I knew I needed something to use to protect myself while out hiking in the woods. I didn’t quite know what I was going to do with a big knife, but it was better than nothing. At the time, I had no interest in camping or anything like that. Definitely not bushcraft.

I searched through Amazon.com for a few minutes, landed on this knife’s page, read some favorable reviews and then bought it. It was sort of a no-brainer. Now that I have it, I really like it. I think I need to sharpen the blade a bit to get it to that razor sharp point I want to feel, but as it stands, it’s a great knife. For formality’s sake, it’s called the Schrade SCHF9 Survival Knife. Check out this photo. I just did a little shoot in my garage. I pride myself on my photography, especially when it comes to survival knives.

schrade-schf9-survival-knife.jpg

Now that I’m getting into bushcraft and camping a lot more, I’m finding that I got lucky when I bought this knife. If memory serves, one of the primary reasons I picked out this one in particular was because it consisted of one piece of steel, all the way from the tip of the blade to the butt of the handle. So if I wanted to hammer this knife into or through something for one reason or another, I wouldn’t break the handle off. No matter what they say, if your knife isn’t steel all the way through, it’s going to break under abuse. Here’s a photo of the butt end of the knife. You can see the steel sandwiched between the thermoplastic elastomer handle.

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Here are two more photos of this thermoplastic handle. I’m not quite sure what “thermoplastic” is, but the handle seems plenty strong. It’s solid. Here’s a photo that shows the texture of the handle.

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And here’s a photo showing that steel running the entire length of the knife. I believe they call this “full tang” design.

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The last time I went camping, my friend brought along his ferro rod to start the fire. I was mesmerized by this little piece of equipment, so I started looking around for my own. I eventually purchased one that I’ll discuss in a later post, but what I’d like to mention here is how the “bushcraft” knife I accidentally bought five years ago works perfectly with ferro rods. Because of its high carbon construction, the back of the blade is great for running straight down a ferro rod to obtain those coveted sparks. I tried my knife with my new ferro rod and boy did it do a good job. So I got lucky in this department. The first few times I ran the spine of the knife along the ferro rod, nothing happened. This is because I was scraping the paint off the surface. The third and fourth times though, sparks all over the place. In the image below, you can see where I scraped the paint off the rod.

schrade-survival-knife-ferro-rod.jpg

Because the knife is 12.1 inches long, the blade is substantial. It measures in at 6.4 inches, so it’s just longer than half of the entire knife. I remember when I first bought this knife, I ran it straight through a piece of paper. It was extremely sharp and I was very happy about that. I’m sure it’s dulled through the years, so I’ll need to sharpen it up a bit. Take a look at the blade.

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And finally, this knife came with a very decent sheath. There’s a spot to slide a belt through and it’s got some cords down near the bottom of it so you can tie them around your leg. This way, the sheath won’t bounce around as you’re walking or running. Or fighting a bear. A handy storage pouch is included in this sheath as well.

Overall, I’m happy with this purchase. For just under $40, I think it was a deal. Back when I bought it, I never thought I’d actually be using it, but now that I have it, I’m glad I do.

Do you own a survival knife? If so, what do you have? I’d love to know. There are many varieties of knives available and if I could, I’d buy them all. A man can never have too many knives.
 

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What Makes a Good Survival Knife?​

I just finished writing another post (above) about my knife. You should check it out. I talk about why I first bought it and about some of its finer points. I also posted a few of my better pictures of the knife. I guess I’m writing this post here in the forum because I’d like some advice on it. My questions are: Is my Schrade SCHF9 survival knife any good? It seems fine, but does it live up to today’s standards? Also, what makes a good survival knife anyway? Is it the steel used in its construction? The blade edge? The strength of the knife overall? From my point of view, having a butter knife in a survival situation is better than having no knife at all, so I really should be happy with what I have. The things is, I keep seeing all the exotic and beautiful knives out there on the internet and they just seem so awesome. Are the ones with the wooden handles that cost tons of money better than the ones with the hard plastic handles? Or is that just a matter of taste? I would love to get some perspective on all of this. I sometimes get the feeling that there are some strong opinions on this subject. By the way, I believe I purchased this knife back in 2013.

I’m going to include a few of my leftover photos of my Schrade survival knife for you to take a look at. Enjoy!

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Estwing 14″ Camping Hatchet​

Back a few weeks ago, when I was cold weather camping with my friend Ian, I noticed that he was using his hatchet for a number of different tasks. He chopped down a few small trees and he used the hatchet to chip away two small divots in pieces of wood so his bench would fit together nicely without the top log rolling around. I thought my friend’s usage of this tool was pretty clever. I’ll admit that I never much had a use for a hatchet, but after seeing him use his, I thought one might be handy in my world.

When I go outside into the woods, I generally bring either a lopper or a bow saw to cut down small trees when cutting trails. Since I haven’t gone camping in ages, I haven’t had much use for a hatchet. Now that I’m getting more into camping though, I know I’ll need one. While I can easily use my bow saw to cut down trees and saw them up for firewood, a hatchet will help immensely when it comes time to split wood and to harvest some shavings for starting a fire. Fatwood is all the rage and I’ll get to that in later posts. For now, I’d like to show off the small hatchet I picked up on Amazon.com.

Okay, the proper name for this hatchet is the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe – 14″ Camping Hatchet. Now, I had to look up what the difference between an axe and a hatchet is and I discovered that the name of this tool is a bit misleading. A hatchet is a small tool that’s used with one hand and an axe is a much larger tool that’s used with two hands. So this would be just a hatchet, not an axe. I’m sure some sizes are right at the cusp of being used with either one or two hands, and those tools can be called whatever you’d like.

Here’s a photo of my new toy. I hope you like the way I have it all set up on a pile of firewood. I thought it’d be very rugged looking this way.

estwing-camping-hatchet.jpg

This has definitely got to be one of the most popular camping hatchets out there. I see it all over the place. It’s made right here in the U.S. and I think the steel is poured in Wisconsin. I don’t know why I say that because the headquarters is in Illinois. I think I saw the name Wisconsin out there somewhere though.

Let’s take a look at a few more photos.

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I’ve seen a lot of talk out there about this leather handle. Some folks say that the polyurethane that’s used to coat it flakes or wears and then if the leather gets wet, it can rot. Some people who have purchased this hatchet actually sand away the poly with 100 grit sandpaper and then apply Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil to the leather, so it repels water. While it takes many, many coats of this oil to completely soak the leather, it’s supposed to be the best thing you can do for these tools. Perhaps I’ll do that one day.

This next photo is a shot of the bottom of the hatchet. I watched a video of this tool being made and it’s so cool how the manufacturer adds the leather rings around the shaft and then presses on this bottom plate and rivets it in place.

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I like the ballistic nylon sheath very much on this tool. It unsnaps and then you slide the sheath down the handle to the bottom of the hatchet for removal. I’ve seen this same tool come with a leather sheath, but I don’t like the look of them very much. I like the black nylon a lot more.

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See? This is what I’m referring to. The sheath slides down the handle.

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This is the head of the hatchet. As you can see, this is a one piece tool. It’s all steel, unlike some others that have only a steel head and then a wooden handle. I think these are pretty strong.

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I thought this photo was pretty cool. I got the blade straight on. I figured I better take lots of photos now while it’s brand new. It’s going to get dirty very quickly.

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Well, there it is, an introduction to my new Estwing camping hatchet. I think this will last a good long time and I’m excited to start using it outdoors. I’ll also be showing more photos of it in the outdoor gear forums on the discussion board, so be sure to check them out. Thanks for reading!
 

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Bayite Large 6″ Ferro Rod​

Here’s another winter camping story for you. A few weeks ago, when my buddy camped out on my land, the temperature dropped to 5° Fahrenheit. I helped him set up camp, but after that I went back inside to sleep. He was on a mission to test out his new cold weather camping gear (hammock) and I wasn’t about to get in the way. Plus, I didn’t have any cold weather gear myself, so I wouldn’t have been able to stay with him anyway. Again though, I didn’t want to get in his way. I knew he was trying to see if he could make it alone.

One thing I did do though was help him gather firewood. I know all about that and I’m pretty good at dealing with preparing for and maintaining camp fires, if I don’t say so myself. When it came time to light it up though, I didn’t know if he was going to use some newspaper and a lighter or if he was going to go the bushcraft route. He went the bushcraft route. He pulled out his ferro (ferrocerium) rod and striker and after not too long, he got a small fire lit. I watched the entire time and I thought the ferro rod idea was pretty good. Especially for survival situations.

As for material to start the fire, I think my friend used birch bark and small dry pine twigs. Once the flame got larger, he started adding bigger pieces of wood. Pine, maple, whatever we could find. We had a good time dealing with that fire until I went into the house to sleep. The camping area was only about five acres back in the woods, so it wasn’t too far of a walk.

Seeing him use the ferro rod led me to the conclusion that I needed one myself. Since I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for, I decided to find a decent looking one on Amazon.com and just buy it. I did know that I wanted a large one though and that’s why I bought this six inch model.

The ferro rod I purchased was made by Bayite and it’s six inches long and a half inch thick. Take a look.

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Since I had never used a ferro rod to start a fire before, I didn’t know what to expect. But since I own a nice Schrade survival knife that’s constructed with a high-carbon steel blade, it didn’t take long to find out what would happen. I held the ferro rod firmly in my hand and slide the back of the knife down it a few times. The first two times, nothing happened because the knife merely scraped the paint off the rod, but the third time I struck the rod, sparks flew all over the place. I was very pleased with this and decided to stop before I burned something down. In the photo below, you can see where I scraped the paint off the rod with my knife. Knives with high-carbon steel blades are awesome to use with ferro rods.

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Before I tried the rod out, I tied some paracord to it. The rod came with a small hole drilled in its end. I just threaded the paracord through the hole and tied a Two-Stranded Overhand Knot to secure it. It’s a very tight knot, so I don’t think it’s coming out.

Overall, I like this ferro rod a lot. I don’t think I would ever buy one of the small models that are sold all over the place. This big one isn’t very heavy and it’s a lot easier to handle than the small ones. It’ll also last a lot longer. Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!
 

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Bushcraft: The Five Cs of Survivability​

If you were to ask me what I need to store in my pack before heading out into the wild, I’d probably get a few things right. I know I’d need a knife and something to start a fire with. And I know I’d need a tarp or a tent, but from that point on, I’d have to really think about things. I’d have to go over exactly what I’d do after I showed up to my camping spot in my mind and as I went through my actions, I’d likely recall the supplies I’d need. This probably isn’t the most efficient method for packing gear, especially after it’s been done a few times previously. You’d think I’d remember more. Knowing myself, this is a perfect way to forget a great many thing.

I guess creating and using a bushcraft gear list would be a better idea. I mean, all I’d have to do then is refer to the list and I’d know what to bring. I do love my lists.

I’m reading through the first chapter in Dave Canterbury’s book entitled Bushcraft 101 and I wanted to report back that I’m enjoying it very much. I’d like to discuss one of the very first topics Dave mentions in the book and that topic has to do with what he refers to as The Five Cs of Survivability. I was so happy to see something like this included in the book because I tend to gravitate towards grouping of things. I think I remember back in college, one of my Psychology professors taught my class about how the human mind groups things and that’s how it remembers more efficiently. Ever since I learned about that, I haven’t been able to shake the idea. Telephone numbers, zip codes, the five Cs of survivability…you know, the normal, every day stuff.

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First off, I’d like to say that it’s a great idea to group a concept as important as this into a fun and memorable thing. That’s going to help a lot of people out, especially if they’re in a rush or on the run. We don’t always have access to a list and sometimes it’s just better to have broad ideas to recall in an instant.

Secondly, I’d like to go over exactly what these five Cs are. I’ll list them below and offer a short example of what might be included in each category.

The five Cs of survivability are cutting tools, cover elements, combustion devices, containers and cordages. As you can see, the items that one might place inside each group would cover almost any circumstance in the wild. This is why I like this grouping thing so much. You can add what you’d like and leave behind what you don’t, as long as you include the basics. Let’s go over what someone might include in each section.

Cutting Tools: Full tang survival knife (6″ high-carbon), Hand axe (hatchet), Multi-tool, Pocket knife.

Cover Elements: Tent, Tarp, Trash bag, Emergency space blanket, Wool blanket, Sleeping bag.

Combustion Devices: Waterproof matches, Lighter, Ferrocerium rod, Mini inferno, Fatwood.

Containers: Water container, Canteen, Cup.

Cordages: Rope, Paracord, Bank line (Mariners net line).

As you can see, I gave some whimsical examples above. I’ll be sure to cover each section of this grouping in subsequent posts in great detail. I’d love to talk about the best pieces of gear to be used for different circumstances. For now though, I hope you get the general idea of what may be necessary while venturing out into the woods.

Well, that covers it for The Five Cs of Survivability. If you have something to add, please do down below in the comment section. Thanks!
 

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What is a Tumpline?​

Question: Every time I read something, I feel like I’m back at square one. I had no idea there was going to be this much to know when it came to bushcraft, hiking and camping. I’ve already learned a lot though, so I’m pretty psyched about that.

Has anyone ever heard of a “tumpline”? I know it’s a strange word and it’s not one I’ve ever heard before, so I’m wondering if anyone here has experience with these things. I know they are some sort of a rope, but I’m not quite sure how they’re used with a backpack. Also, I do a lot of hiking. Should I be looking into getting a tumpline? I guess I should learn what they do before I consider buying one, eh?

Answer: Awesome question and yes, if you do a lot of hiking and if you carry a lot of weight, you should definitely look into picking yourself up a tumpline. You can either purchase one or make one yourself. You’re probably better off making one yourself because tumplines aren’t the most popular pieces of gear to find out there. They’re actually kind of tough to find. I was just on Patagonia’s website where they have/had a tumpline for sale for $19, but it’s not available anymore. You can make yours from organic material or even paracord. If you’re decent at weaving, you can craft one that’s very comfortable.

Basically, a tumpline is a rope or strap that you can either tie into a bedroll or attach to your rucksack/backpack on either side. Think of it as a long belt. You can attached it or tie it around any piece of luggage, really. Then, once attached, you would place the strap on your head and use your head to hold most of the weight of your cargo as opposed to using your back. If you’ve ever had your pack straps dig into your shoulders, you may see the value of this. From what I’ve experienced and from what I hear, the weight of your pack is distributed very effectively through your spine as opposed to just your shoulders, making the weight of what you’re hauling feel noticeably lighter. People all over the world use tumplines for all sorts of things. You just need to use your head about it. Haha. That was a joke.

If you search in Youtube, you’ll see a bunch of videos on this piece of gear. I want to tell you though that not everyone uses the tumpline over their head every single time. Sometimes, people wear it around both shoulders to distribute the weight of their cargo through the arms and shoulders and sometimes they wear the strap over just one shoulder, like they’re carrying a regular bag. It’s up to you how to use yours. I’d say they are very beneficial.

Answer: Tumplines are popular when canoeing and portaging. They help tremendously with the weight of all the gear that folks bring on the canoe. They’re also popular and are used with pack frames and baskets. Trappers use tumplines all the time because their gear is heavy. As said above, this handy strap spreads the weight out through the spine instead of just the shoulders.
 

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Are Bushcraft Pack Baskets Really Necessary?​

Question: Yes, here’s another one of my beginner questions. I’d like to thank all of you for your patience. You’ve given me a lot to think about with the help you’ve given to me previously, so I appreciate it.

This question has to do with pack baskets. I am at somewhat of a loss as to what people do with them and why they’re even necessary, with pack frames and backpacks being what they are. What exactly are pack baskets and why do people who enjoy bushcraft use them? Don’t they seem a little old-school to be out in the woods with? Aren’t there better options for gear storage? I think I might be suffering from my modern day era way of thinking, so that’s why I’m having difficulties wrapping my head around these products and ideas, so any help would be welcome. Thank you in advance. Again.

Answer: I know it seems strange to carry a basket on your back for those who haven’t ever done something like that, but I can tell you that pack baskets are worth their weight in gold. They also have a very long history, being dated back to nearly 900 B.C. I’ll give you some background and usage below.

Pack baskets have been and still are helpful to those who need to carry hunting and fishing supplies to the areas where they hunt and fish. It’s a great place to consolidate everything as opposed to having it hang out everywhere, possible losing pieces along the way. Baskets are also helpful for carrying back the game the hunter has killed as well as the fish the fisherman has caught. That’s not something they’d want to carry by hand.

Pack baskets can work by themselves, being attached to some rope and then hung over the shoulders or they can work in conjunction with a pack frame. Some outdoorsmen even place a basket inside of their rucksack in help it keep its shape. I was just watching a video last night where a hobbyist did just that. I’ll post the video below. In the video, the man said that his rucksack, although very high quality, oftentimes lost its rigidity and became annoying and cumbersome at the most inopportune of times. He was given a pack basket which held the bag open and he was able to fill that basket with all his gear. It fit perfectly and he was quite pleased with his setup.

Really, pack baskets are meant to protect a person from all of their pointy and sometimes sharp gear. Since they need this gear (traps, tools, axes, etc…) out in the field, the basket is used as somewhat of a bag or a container, yet has firm sides and a strong and durable exterior. They’re lightweight, so that’s not an issue and they also form right to the shape of a person’s back when filled to capacity. They’re also roomy, so I don’t see anyone using one and then not using one after the fact. They’re simply too convenient.

I’m not sure how much you’ve looking into this piece of equipment, but I can tell you that these things have traditionally been crafted from black ash or willow splints. In more modern times, they’re making them out of reed. These more rustic baskets are definitely geared towards the more “natural” outdoorsman who enjoys the “wooden” look. I like to go with ultra-modern myself and I like my gear made from strong nylon and fabrics like that. Even plastics are good with me. I’ve never been one to think the ash, willow or reed appearance was appealing. I hope this helps.
 

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How Strong is 1050D Nylon?​

Question: I’m currently in the market for a camping and bushcraft rucksack and I’m somewhat overwhelmed by all the options available out there. So far, I’ve searched through all the rucksacks Cabela’s has for sale and I have no idea how many Amazon has for sale. That’s a rabbit hole if I ever saw one. Cabela’s didn’t offer that many, so I gave up on them and I’ve gone back over to Amazon. I have my eye on a very nice bag that costs around $129. It’s called the 5.11 RUSH24 Military Tactical Backpack and apparently everyone loves it. There’s one thing I’m wondering about though and that’s the material it’s made out of.

The specs say the material is Durable 1050D nylon. I looked that up and apparently, it’s also called MultiCam 1000D nylon or 1050D ballistic nylon, which is a very cool name.

I used to have a pair of snowboarding snowpants that had the butt and knees made from Cordura, which I think is only 1000D. I loved that stuff as it was virtually indestructible. I would be thrilled if this rucksack is actually made out of a material that’s even better than Cordura. Does anyone know exactly how strong this ballistic nylon is? How is it for a rucksack? This alone would be the deciding factor for this bag.

Answer: The material the sack is made of is the most important thing. If you can afford the $129 for this bag, I’d say go for it. That’s a really good company. I’ve seen them around. 5.11 is awesome.

As for 1050D ballistic nylon, depending on its weave, you’re probably not going to get any better than that. The “D” in the name of the nylon indicates its weight, but many other factors come into play with nylon’s strength, such as its specific type of weave as well as its manufacturing process. It’s strong though and that’s nothing you should even be concerned about. If it says that it’s Durable 1050D from 5.11, take my word that it’s good stuff. You’ll be hard pressed to find something stronger.

Just to let you know, in general, there are a few different versions of 1050D ballistic nylon. A better strain is called “High Tenacity,” which holds up a lot better against heat. Different types of nylons are better for certain things too. For instance, 1000D Cordura nylon is better against wear (because of its soft, cotton-like consistency), but the 1050D ballistic is stronger overall. So it’s strength against abrasion resistance. We’re splitting hairs here though because if you liked the Cordura on your snowpants, you’re going to love the ballistic. I mean, the stuff was originally made for use in bulletproof vests. You aren’t going to damage it.
 

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Do I Need a Jackknife?​

I guess I can answer that question myself. Yes, I (or you) probably do need a jackknife. If anyone does any camping or bushcraft, it’s best to have a jackknife (folding knife) in their pocket, on their belt of in their bag. The reason for this is its versatility. I own a large survival knife as well as a nice jackknife and I will tell you that I end up using the jackknife more than the survival knife. It’s great for smaller tasks and even everyday tasks that have nothing to do with the outdoors.

One thing I want to mention before I go on though – when searching for the perfect folding knife, make sure it’s got a strong open lock mechanism. I remember a time when I was a kid; I was holding my small, cheap folding knife, that I bought from a flea market, in my hand. It had no lock to hold it in the open position. When I went to stab something (just fooling around), the knife folded and cut my hand. That wasn’t fun. Hopefully these knifes aren’t even sold today without a way to automatically lock them open.

Anyway, when choosing a jackknife for use in the outdoors, be sure to set your primary focus on the blade itself. This will be for smaller, lighter uses obviously, but the blade should be versatile and strong. If you’re going to buy a Swiss Army knife, get one of the larger models, such as the Hercules. And if you’re leaning towards a Leatherman, the same hold true. The Surge is a good design. Both of these models are larger than the traditional multi-tool knives, which means their blades are larger too. These are somewhat expensive knives, but they’re very good and they’re rated highly among users and those familiar with them.

As I said, these knives are used for a bunch of things, so before purchasing, think about what you’ll be using yours for and then buy the one that matches those uses best. Blade size and knife weight vary somewhat, so if you’re going to be skinning, you’ll need something larger and stronger and if you’re going to be cleaning fish, you’ll need something smaller and more delicate.

Do you own a jackknife? If so, what do you have? What’s the brand and model? Do you like it? Please let me know. Thanks!
 

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Military Wool Mitten Inserts From Maine Military Supply​

My lady and I had to go to Bangor for the day a while back, so I decided to make a stop off at the local Maine Military Supply store that’s located right off of Interstate 395. It’s just south of Bangor; it’s on Rt. 1A in Holden. I’ve never been there before, but what I remember of a military surplus store near the town in which I grew up, these types of stores are rather awesome. I had a feeling I was going to want everything they had in stock.

Okay, I’ll admit, I didn’t want everything they had in stock, but I did want most of it. I mean, ammo boxes, machetes, knives, firearms, camping gear – you name it, this place had it. The only issue I experienced was that I didn’t know how their prices where. I had no idea if a sleeping bag cost $100 more there or less there than elsewhere. Because of this, I played it safe. I bought only one thing. Well, two of the same thing. Military wool mitten inserts. The inserts cost only $2.99 per pair, so I figured I was somewhat safe from any wild price swings that I may have encountered after I got home and checked on things online. As it turns out, I got a deal. On Amazon, these same inserts cost $6.49 for a two-pack. After tax, I may have saved a few cents. Whatever – these inserts are so good and so cheap. I love them.

If you aren’t aware, wool liners are to be used in conjunction with those huge cold-weather military mittens you see all over the place. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, just search “military gloves” or “military mittens” on Google or Amazon. You’ll see a wide variety online. This type of mitten runs large so you can first put on some liners and then the gloves over them. It’s this multiple layer effect that works so well to keep the cold out. I’ve been doing something similar with another pair of mittens and fleece gloves I own with decent results. My current setup isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than anything I’ve tried in the past.

Take a look at these wool inserts. All of them seem to be medium sized and they’re made of 75% wool and 25% nylon. I’ve yet to purchase the glove that goes over these liners, but I’ll do that soon enough.

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wool-mitten-insert.jpg

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Springtime Camping in Farmington, Maine​

I’ve long said that we need a campground in our town. Well, I guess we now have the closest thing to that and it happens to be right in my backyard. A friend and I cleared some more underbrush and trees a few days ago and we now have one of the most lovely camping spots I’ve ever seen. It’s directly next to a babbling brook. Yes, a babbling brook.

As we were searching for good spots to set up our tents over the weekend, my friend, Ian, suggested that we clear near the brook that runs along the rear of my land. I was thinking more along the lines of sleeping under the huge White Pines, but after taking a look at what he was referring to, I had to agree that his spot was far superior to the one I was considering. He sold me on the, “Just wait until you hear the water running by as you open your eyes in the morning.” Okay, okay. It’s those details I don’t think about all too often, but he was right. We now have the best spot ever.

We camped out this past Saturday night into Sunday morning. We put together a decent size fire ring and I even hauled back a swinging bench that we had laying around. As for my tent, I used my trusted ALPS Mountaineering Taurus. As for everything else, I placed a nice thick tarp on the ground under the tent, laid down two moving blankets inside the tent, directly under my TETON Sports 1027L Deer Hunter Sleeping Bag. I was going to use a few wool blankets that I picked up a month or two ago, but those were unnecessary. My sleeping bag was all I needed. I have to tell you, I am so glad I picked up two of these bags. Whatever that material is on the inside, it’s so comfortable. I slept like a rock and they were worth every penny. By the way, the temperature was 45 overnight and I wan’t too hot in this sleeping bag. It’s legit in that it’s rated to -35 degrees, so I was concerned about being sweated out of it, but that didn’t happen. And believe me, I’ve tested it in the cold. It means business.

I’ll have to bring my camera along next time to take more photos, but the one above is partially of our camping area.

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And here are two more, looking up and down the nearby brook.

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While those photos were just okay, I’d like to make it up to you by showing you a few videos I just took. I walked into the woods on through one trail, stopped at the camp site for a while and then left through a different trail. It’s all just so beautiful back there. I’m really thrilled with this property I purchased. Here are those videos.


 

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What Kind of Knife Do I Need for Bushcraft & Camping?​

Question: I’m looking to purchase my first “real” knife and I’m wondering if anyone has any advice for which one to buy. I know there are a few different types of blades with hundreds of different styles, so I’m a little lost. If you can, please let me know your opinions. Thank you.

Answer: I’ll start you off at the very beginning as I’m sure many others out there have varied opinions on this. Everyone has their favorites, so I’ll leave brand names out of this (until the end). If you check into some of the top bushcraft publications, you’ll find that this is a common topic. I’ll share what I’ve learned about the subject below.

There are a few very basic considerations you want to look at when choosing a knife. First is length. If you find that your knife isn’t large enough to split small pieces of wood, you need a bigger one. If you find that it’s too large to perform fine carving or whittling, you need a smaller one. I have a few knifes that have blades that run anywhere between four and six inches. I think I like the six inch one the best.

The second area of consideration is to choose what you’d like the blade to be constructed of. It’s become commonplace for outdoor enthusiasts to lean towards high-carbon steel with a sharp back corner. This is because high-carbon steel works exceptionally well with ferro rods. Also, the 90° angle on the back of the blade ensures those sparks are formed. Don’t go with pretty beveled edges and slick coatings on the blades. Those things will only get in your way when the time comes.

One of the most important areas of consideration when it comes to choosing belt knives is whether or not it’s of “full tang” construction. If you’ve ever seen a knife where the metal from the blade extends all the way to the end of the handle, you know you’re looking at full tang design. Knives get the crap kicked out of them and when you’re banging on the backside of it or on the handle when trying to split wood, the last thing you’ll need is for the handle to fall off. And I don’t care how good the manufacturer says the knife is, if it’s not full tang, don’t even think about buying it. This type costs more than the others, but it’s worth it.

The last thing you’ll need to think about is what type of edge your potential knife will have. There are four popular grinds; Scandinavian, Hollow, Convex and Full Flat. Each of these edges has their pros and cons. The Scandinavian and Full Flat have thinner edges that are great for carving and the like, but are somewhat brittle when they get beat on. The Hollow grind is the thinnest of all, which is perfect for skinning and processing meat, but it’ll chip easily and you definitely don’t want to be splitting wood with this type of edge. The Convex is the wood splitter of the group because of it’s thicker edge, but don’t try carving with it. Also, you need to think about sharpening your knife in the field. Some edges are easier than others to sharpen. Personally, I’d go with the Full Flat edge because it sits somewhere in the middle and it’s pretty versatile.

I found a few links for you that discuss some very good knives. These are the favorites from a few years ago:

https://gearpatrol.com/2017/11/09/best-bushcraft-knives/

https://www.gearhungry.com/best-bushcraft-knives/

From what I can gather, these are the best bushcraft knives out there.

These knives where chosen by Gear Patrol:

– Spyderco Bushcraft

– Morakniv Bushcraft

– Helle Temagami

– Fallkniven F1


– L.T. Wright Bushcrafter HC

– CRKT Saker

– Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion (I love this one)

– Esee Knives Model 3

– Benchmade 162 Bushcrafter

– Condor Tool & Knife Bushlore

And these were chosen by Gear Hungry:

– Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Companion Bushcraft Knife

– Morakniv Carbon Fixed Blade Bushcraft Knife

– Fallkniven F1 Bushcraft Knife

– Condor Walnut Handle Bushlore

– Benchmade – Bushcrafter 162

– Schrade SCHF36 Frontier Fixed Blade

– Morekniv Craftline Pro S

– Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival

– Buck Knives Selkirk

– Spyderco Bushcraft G-10 PlainEdge Knife

There’s also a lot more than goes into choosing the perfect knife, such as what type of material the handle is made of and whether or not the knife has a serrated edge. I encourage you to take a look at the sites I linked to here and then browse through each of the knives I listed. When you’re finished with that, I’m guessing you’ll be quite educated on the topic. Let me know what you pick as your favorite.
 

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What Gear Do I Need For Bushcraft?​

Question: I’m a beginner and I have recently purchased a few bags to carry all sorts of stuff in. I have a very nice backpack and a haversack. The only problem is, I don’t have much actual gear yet. I do have a few lighters and a knife or two, but nothing like the pros own. I’m not there yet, which is why I’m asking this question. What’s your advice for filling my bag and sack? What do you bring when you venture out in the woods? What are your go-to items to keep on you at all times?

Answer: I have my own go-to gear when I head out, but really, everyone is different. One person may want to use a lighter for starting fires while another is determined to use only their ferro rod. Personally, I always keep a lighter on me. I use it all the time to melt the frayed ends of rope. That’s a must.

Also, there are all types of bushcraft folks around. Some like to camp in tents while others sleep in the nude under the stars. Let’s just say that there are “levels” of bushcraft.

I’ve got quite a few books on bushcraft, but Dave Canterbury’s Bushcraft 101 is one of the best when it comes to laying out typical gear someone might keep in their bags. I’ll list and describe some below.

To keep in your pockets, you’ll need a lighter, compass and jackknife. These are probably good items to keep on you most of your life. You never know when you’ll need any of these. Again, the lighter is perfect for melting the ends of paracord and the compass comes in extremely handy during most times during long hikes, camping trips or anything bushcraft. I love compasses. Finally, the jackknife is small enough to conceal and it’s handy enough for cutting paracord or for notching wood for one reason or another.

When it comes to your belt, Dave says to keep a sheath knife and a kuksa. A kuksa is a wooden cup. I personally don’t keep anything on my belt as I don’t like the feel of it. Those things would become uncomfortable for me, so I generally store everything in my rucksack.

As for a belt pouch, Dave says to keep a sun glass, ferro rod, another lighter, carving jack and some cordage, such as paracord or tarred mariner’s line. Again, I don’t have a belt pouch because I keep all my gear on my back and in my pockets. I do like the idea of a haversack though. That’s next.

In the haversack, store your watch coat (light waterproof jacket), kerchief, more cordage, work gloves and another ferro rod. To be honest, I don’t know why you would need two lighters and two ferro rods, but if Dave says to bring them, there must be a good reason for it. I like the idea of a kerchief or rag and I think it’s a decent idea to carry these things where they’re more accessible than in a backpack. I would keep all the items that I’ve previously listed in the haversack.

Okay, so here’s the big one. He’s got a lot of stuff listed here, so this may take a while. I’ll move fast and I won’t be as descriptive as Dave was. In your backpack, store a tarp, trash bags, wool blanket, axe (hatchet), cordage, bow saw, pot, skillet, candles, fatwood, lantern and some more items that I don’t think you’ll be interested in as a beginner. You can pick up his book if you would like to know the minute details, but I suspect you won’t be packing a pencil and paper or large needles in your bag. Or a knife repair kit. Some of this stuff is out there for the pros.

The nice part about this list is that it’s suitable for bushcraft, camping or even hiking. I would always keep paracord on me because I never know when I might need it. A lighter is a must and so is some sort of a knife, even if it’s not a big survival knife. I do like having a ferro rod as a backup and I’ll generally make sure my knife is made of high carbon material because I can use the two together. Blankets, tarps and cookware is all a given for camping, so that’s fine.

Overall, if I were you, I’d start working on this list. Instead of buying a “watch coat,” you may want to work on getting a waterproof anorak. Those are more stylish and more readily accessible. You can also use it for hiking and camping if you so desire.
 

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Pictures of the 5.11 RUSH24 Tactical Backpack​

I’ve actually been looking for a new backpack for some time. Regular backpacks are sort of small and since I always have tons of stuff to put in mine, I needed something that was a bit larger than was I had traditionally used. I gave an earnest search a few years back, but after that turned up nothing, I gave up. That is, until I realized the world of camping and bushcraft offered their own quite impressive lineup of gear. Apparently, it wasn’t that the backpack I was searching for didn’t exist, it was that I wasn’t searching in the right places.

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If memory serves, I was browsing the internet in an effort to learn about MOLLE webbing. I had heard of it here and there and I wanted to know what it was. Well, just as luck would have it, I stumbled across a video where a man was explaining the finer points of MOLLE and he was demonstrating on the 5.11 RUSH24. I said, “That’s it! That’s the pack I want!” It was perfect. The material it’s made of is called “Ballistic Nylon” and it’s practically bullet proof. I fell in love with tough nylon years ago when I discovered that my snowboarding pants were made of Cordura. If you aren’t aware, Cordura is some tough stuff. It’s almost indestructible and if the bag I found was made from anything like that, I wanted it. That’s for sure. Not to mention that the bag also had all the zippers and compartments that any great camping bag should have. There’s no shortage of compartments in this thing.

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Okay, let’s take a look at some photos of this backpack. It holds 37 liters worth of anything you want, which, in my opinion, is the perfect size for a summer hiking or camping bag. For the winter, I plan on picking up the RUSH72, which holds 72 liters. It’s a larger bag and that’s great for all that extra clothing and gear that I’ll need for any winter camping adventure.


I’ll start out by showing you some of the MOLLE webbing I was referring to earlier. This is basically a strap system that’s sown to the outside of the bag that allows you to affix accessories to it. On this particular bag, there’s MOLLE on the back as well as the sides, so it’s very flexible in the way it can be set up. This is the back of the bag. Or the front; however you look at it.

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If you’d like the longer version of what MOLLE is and how it works, you can check out this video:


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And this is after I opened the largest section. You can see all that room in there. There are two mesh pockets as well as a full nylon laptop pocket.

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Next up is the inside of the front pouch. Again, this rucksack has got a lot of pockets and a decent amount of room to store lots of gear.

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Above is the front lower pouch and this next one is of the front upper pouch. There are two upper ones and they’re both smaller than the lower one.

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Since this is a brand new bag, I was very eager to attach something to the MOLLE webbing. The only item I had that might attach was my survival knife. On the back of this knife’s sheath are some straps and a velcro belt flap. I managed to sneak the strap under the webbing and snap things back up. It worked well, with only one issue.

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While the bottom of the sheath is very secure on the webbing, the top isn’t secure at all. It flaps around, so I think I’ll need to use some paracord to secure that part to the webbing as well. Once that’s completed, I’ll permanently have my knife affixed to the bag. I may even attach the knife to the side of the bag because that’s a taller area. The bag pouch seems a bit short for something so large.

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Okay, that’s about it. I wanted to show you my new backpack and I’ve done just that. If you’d like to add any information about this bag or if you’ve got any questions about it, please contribute in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!
 
Everything to Know About Bushcraft & Camping was posted on 09-16-2021 by JGaulard in the Outdoor Forum forum.

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