Let us start with the beginning, bushcrafters USA has been around since hundreds of years and the main difference between a bushcrafter and prepper is that the bushcrafters mainly use their local resources to build shelter and to get food, while preppers mostly stockpile food and are aimed more towards preparedness for an emergency situation.
What are the bushcrafters USA? Bushcrafters are individuals that have the necessary skills to live off the land and even prosper without any tools. Usually, bushcrafters make their own tools but they do have a couple of items which they need like a good knife, hatchet, and a saw. using these 3 items they can build shelters from local resources and put up traps for small animals also.
For any bushcrafter the knife is the most important tool due to its versatility, my personal recommendations is to get a fixed blade knife Click here to check price on Amazon.com
To get started in bushcrafting you are going to need several tools altho these are not essential as a good bushcrafter should manage without any tools. But there are a few tools which will make your learning process significantly easier and you will be using these tools a lot unless you want to go hardcore bush crafting and do everything without the help of these tools.
These are the fundamental tools that you are going to be using through your bushcraft experience. There are 3 main working tools that you will be using plus some extra items that are not tools but these also will help you learning bushcraft, particularly in those initial stages.
The first thing you will be needing is a good cutting tool and for this, you will need a good knife. There are a few things when you choose a knife, there are a couple of key features that are important to look out for.
Style of knife
Avoid folding knives at all costs and aim for a fixed blade knife. The main reason why you want a fixed blade knife instead of a folding blade is because the folding blade has a hinge in the midsection, the problem with this is that it creates a weak point for heavier workloads like turning wood or carving. Even if it is a locked blade folding knife there is a big risk that over time that lock point can weaken and eventually close shut on your fingers.
Fixed blade knife means that the blade sits in the handle and holds the blade open at all times, so it is a single piece of metal running through the knife itself.
Also, you want a decent fixed handle either wood, bone, rubber or even plastic but do keep an eye out that it fits your needs as different environments need different handle types. For example, a fixed blade knife has the blade running through the entire knife, you wouldn’t want to use this in a colder climate as the blade transfers the cold onto your hands.
The shape of the handle is very important, avoid knives which are perfectly round as these will cause you blisters. Knives which have several finger holes will also cause blisters, and it restricts you to hold the knife in that one way as if you want to turn it around all those finger grooves are going to dig into your hand and after a longer period of time, it will start to blister.
Pick a handle that suits you, you don’t want a handle that is too long or too short it needs to sit in your hand comfortably. You don’t want to have a big gap while you are holding it as this will cause the knife to rock up and down.
The most important thing in picking a knife is the shape of the blade, don’t get a knife which has a cutting edge on the top as this isn’t a tool and is designed for combat use. Also, make sure the blade is wide enough so if you need to apply more pressure on it to cut something by placing your finger or palm on it that it won’t cut you. Aim for a flat spine for the blade this way you can use it in multiple ways.
My recommendation is to go for the drop point style blades. A lot of knives have a rolled end which is totally round, some of them have a flat end but these are very restrictive of what you can do with your knife. Mostly the lack of the endpoint will restrict you especially while making your fire or while carving.
There are a lot of knifes available on the market that have a smooth cutting edge which transitions into a serrated cutting edge, don’t bother with that if you want a serrated knife go and buy one. Serrated edges do have their advantages but for bushcrafitng is mostly useless so get a knife with a smooth cutting edge.
Don’t get a knife with gadgets on it, these are expensive and their selling point is the gadgets and not the actual knife and this should tell you a lot about the quality of the knife. The knife quality should speak for itself, you should not spend a lot of money on a knife as these are simple tools and its durability is determined mostly by the quality of the steel.
When you buy your first knife don’t buy something expensive, in bushcrafting your knife is more like a companion and once you learn to use it it will serve you well for a long period of time. The quality of a knife only goes as far as how you use it.
The material of the blade is a personal choice, some people like myself do like stainless steel it is durable and easy to clean altho it is a bot softer which means it will lose its edge a little bit slower but it is easier o put that edge back on it. It is stainless steel so it doesn’t rust up, doesn’t get so dirty and in my experience, these are also cheaper.
Carbon fiber steel
This is a little bit more difficult to maintain and clean. It also rusts up much easier as it isn’t stainless.
Once you get your first knife make sure before you use it to learn how to maintain it, how to sharpen it and how to keep the edge on it. The knowledge is key, once you learned how to maintain it will be much easier, especially as there are so many different “cuts” in bushcrafting.
This in conjunction with a knife is really useful, it will open up a lot of things to you. It is a pretty basic tool, to be honest, but even though it does only one task, when used with a knife it can open up a lot of possibilities. Folding saw‘s are popular for a number of reasons but it doesn’t need to be a folding saw if you don’t like them. But do take in consideration of using a folding saw which are:
- Blade locks in place this makes it easier and much safer to carry, if you ever carried a normal saw in your bag you probably had problems where the saw cut through your bag as it scratches up the fabric. But with the folding saw it is nice and safe as the teeth are closed in the folding compartment.
- Uses less space than a normal saw.
- You can use it on your bushcraft belt, if you ever carried an open saw on your belt you will understand the pain of it.
Prices of the open saw differ wildly from the cheap to extremely expensive, try to aim for a mid-ranged on as you will be using this a lot. Before buying one of these saws make sure the blades are interchangeable and have a good amount of thickness to it so it doesn’t bend easily. If it bends a little then it should not be a problem but if you bend it a little and it stays bent than you will have a very difficult time doing any work with it.
If you go for the cheaper ones keep in mind the blade quality as over some time these will bend and in some case, they might even brake rendering the saw completely useless. On the other hand, some of these folding saw’s are ridiculously expensive and there is no need to break the bank for it.
Before you buy a folding saw make sure the blade locks when it is open and when it is closed so you can’t open it without pressing the unlock button. I prefer one with a thinner blade as it is less likely to stick in the handle. As for the handle, this depends on your environment but you can’t go wrong with a rubber handle.
Something that I find very important is a holder lanyard as I can just hang it up on a branch or on my belt.
This tool is not an absolute necessity, you can get by without using it but this tool also opens up much more possibilities of what you can do and adds just enough of versatility at the cost of small weight. You don’t need a massive ax, a small hatchet should be fine if you are using it correctly with the above-mentioned tools. Get a decent kind of hatchet, doesn’t need to be an expensive one but do keep an eye out for the quality of the handle and especially of its blade.
There are a couple of things to keep an eye while buying a hatchet
- Handle, make sure it has a wooden handle as if it brakes while you are in the bush you can make a new handle. The wooden handles come out of the head much more easier then the ones with plastic or metal handles as these are usually riveted or glued in. If you have a plastic or metal hatchet and its handle breaks you are going to have a very hard time to get the blade off what remains of the handle. As for the wooden handles if it breaks you can just knock the handle out of its head and with a bit of knowledge you can make a new handle in no time. Make sure that the handle isn’t straight as it will be much easier to use. The handle should not be as smooth as if you are sweating you will lose your grip as this is a swinging tool.
- Sheath, get one with a sheath of some kind. A lot of the cheaper hatchets come with a strip of rubber blade but this has a tendency to fall off. make sure that the sheath fastens onto the blade you don’t want it to be loose.
- The grind of the handle should be a convex grind altho this is more difficult to maintain but it holds its edge for much longer this means that you have to sharpen it less often. The flat grind ones dull up really quickly after just of few cuts in my experience. Make sure the head is fastened in securely at the top.
- Stainless steel or carbon steel should be its blade, both are good and somewhat easy to maintain.
- Lanyard, not essential but a handy little thing to have.
Just like the knife it comes down to personal preference, find the one that works for you and is cost effective for your budget. If you go for longer periods of time preparing your firewood, in that case, go for a nice ax as it will be easier to chop firewood with an ax then with a hatchet. Avoid hatchets that have a wide head as these are designed for splitting wood, the slim blade is good not for only splitting wood but for carving and cutting also plus these also weigh significantly less.
Unless you are buying an ax specifically to split wood with it don’t buy one with a wide head as these are not as versatile.
Either you are new or old to bushcraft a notebook comes always handy. This item is quite often overlooked but it is a very useful item especially if you are new to bushcraft. You will learn a lot and taking notes will help you in your learning process even more. Keep a journal, there is nothing more satisfying after a hard day bushcrafting then to sit by the fire and writing your experience down for that day,