BEGINNER BUSHCRAFT GEAR
So you have discovered the awesome world of Bushcraft. You've read articles, heard stories and watched videos of people working with nature and learning to survive in the wilderness. You like the look and efficiency of the gear that these guys are using so you search it up on the internet, and then try not to choke on your coffee as you see the price of this gear!
FEAR NOT - No one was born an expert (although my Dad might argue otherwise). We all have to start somewhere and as a beginner all you really need is the basics. So in this section I will list some gear that I think is suitable for a beginner looking to get into Bushcraft. As a beginner, we don't want to be spending loads of money on gear. The focus should be on learning and developing your skills. So with this in mind, the gear listed below is for those who are on a tight budget and do not wish to spend much on bushcraft gear. I have provided Amazon links to items where possible. Why Amazon? Because it's used worldwide and I personally have confidence when shopping on the site and have had a good experience of doing so. These are also Amazon Affiliate links, which means that when you click them and buy the product through them, I get a small commission which gets invested straight back into creating high quality YouTube videos for you guys - it really helps me out! Below is a list of the Beginner Gear for both UK and US Amazon links. For more detailed descriptions of each piece of gear, scroll down below the gear list to find out more about each item.
FIRST AID KIT
Without doubt the most important part of anyone's kit if heading out into the wild. You do not necessarily need an expensive first ait kit, a simple one with the basic contents should suffice. However, think about the what is involved with Bushcraft: Fire, Sharp Tools (Knife, Axe, Saw) and think about the common injuries that might occur from this. With fire, you may be likely to get burns. With sharp tools, it is common to get cuts and scrapes, as well as wood chippings in your eyes. With this in mind, you can still purchase a basic first aid kit. But I would recommend adding the following to your kit for those emergency situations:
- Israeli Bandage
- Wound Clotting Gauze
- Burn Cream
- Eye cleaning solution
- Small mirror
- Water purification tables
FIRST AID KIT (UK)
FIRST AIT KIT (US)
BASIC BUSHCRAFT KNIFE
When starting out Bushcraft, a knife is certainly one of the first items that people want to buy. One of the most versatile, important and dangerous tools that you can have. With a knife you can make shelter, prepare firewood, carve tarp and tent stakes, prepare fish and game, cut cordage, plus much more. However, remember that in reality a knife is a lump of sharp metal with a handle. There is no need to buy an expensive knife when you are starting out Bushcraft. You do however, want to have a knife that is safe to use, therefore there still needs to be an element of quality and durability. I think I speak for most in that the best knife for any beginner will most likely be a Mora knife. This is in my opinion the best bushcraft knife for beginners. They are well made, incredibly durable and tend to hold an edge very well. What you do need to consider, is the environment that you are in. If you live near the coast, and you are often around salt water, then a stainless steal knife is more suited to you. If you are in the woods, or climates that are generally much drier, then a carbon steel knife is more suited. But again, it is also down to personal preference. For me I started out with a Mora Companion, and then moved onto a Mora Bushcraft. Both incredibly good value for money knives that should last you a very long time if well maintained. See the links below to find out more info on them.
MORA COMPANION (UK)
MORA COMPANION (US)
BASIC BUSHCRAFT AXE/HATCHET
Another key tool when out in the woods especially, is a Bushcraft Axe or Hatchet. As a beginner, you should not be looking at felling trees. At this stage it is about axe safety, learning how to use an axe, learning how to process firewood into smaller, more usable pieces. For these types of jobs, a hatchet is really all you need. For basic shelter building, making support poles and stakes for fire reflectors etc, this can be done with a small hatchet. Be aware, with a hatchet having a shorter handle then an axe, it means that you are more likely to miss objects that you are cutting and swing the head of the hatchet towards yourself. It is worth going on a basic axe safety course before using a hatchet. When I started practising Bushcraft years ago before YouTube, I had a small cheap hatchet that I bought in a local hardware store. Now there is a huge range of hatchets out there. I tend to favour the Fiskars hatchets as great for beginners. They are good value for money, light and durable. Once I was accustomed to using a hatchet, I moved onto a Husqvarna Hatchet Hobby, which I still use to this day.
FISKARS HATCHET (UK)
FISKARS HATCHET (US)
Probably the most commonly used cordage in the Bushcraft world is Paracord. It's a good all-round cordage, although not the best. When it comes to strong cordage for a relatively cheap price, you can't go too wrong with 550 Paracord. If you strip back the coating of 550 Paracord it should have 7 inner strands which can be used to make fishing line or snares in a survival situation. The downsides of paracord are that when wet it can expand and slip. However, as a beginner, it should cover you for using as guy lines for tarps, holding up support poles when building shelters and making a lashing when putting together a cooking tripod or building a fire reflector.
A small folding Bushcraft saw is very handy for processing firewood and building a shelter. As a beginner, you do not need a large saw. I managed just fine with a Bahco Laplander folding saw. In fact, the majority of my Bushcraft Camp was built using this small saw. It is cheap and very compact, I generally put it in the side pouch of my backpack, but it is also small enough to fit in the cargo pouch of my bushcraft trousers. Once you start to do larger bushcraft tasks, or you are looking at doing overnighters in colder months where you need more firewood, then you can look at upgrading to a larger, more efficient saw. But for now, a Bahco will do you just right for the price.
FOLDING SAW (UK)
FOLDING SAW (US)
Like the first aid kit, a water bottle should be a high priority on your gear list. We can survive weeks without food, but only a few days without water (depending on the type of survival situation that you are in). There are two types of water bottle that you can have in your kit. If you are looking to boil water, then you will need a stainless steel water bottle (you can get titanium, but that would be expensive). If you are out hiking and you need to travel light, then a plastic water bottle should do you fine. You can also get hydration bladders which allow you to drink water on the go without having to stop and open your backpack. The best value for money water bottle brands out there are probably Nalgene and Klean Kanteen.
WATER BOTTLE (UK)
WATER BOTTLE (US)
When it comes to protecting yourself from the elements, a tarp is incredibly versatile. You can either put it up over a hammock, or a tent on the ground so that when you get out of your tent you still have a protective roof over your head. You can even setup tarp shelters as I have shown in this video. As a beginner, a cheap tarp should do you fine if you are on a day trip looking to setup a small camp for a few hours. If doing overnighters, then you will want to be comfortable, therefore a more expensive and better quality tarp would be more suitable. But as a beginner, something cheap should be fine, as long as it has some rivets and a few tie-out points.
BASIC TARP (UK)
BASIC TARP (US)
One of the best tools to use to light a fire is a ferrocerium rod (or a firesteel as it is commonly called). When scraped fast with a striker or the back of a knife, bright, hot sparks are thrown from the firesteel into your tinder material. They can burn at a temperature of up to 3,000 degrees and you can get around 12,000 strikes from one firesteel. If you are using your knife with a firesteel, be sure that it has a sharp 90 degree spine to it, do not use the blade of your knife as this will dull it over time.
ARMY FIRE STEEL (UK)
ARMY FIRESTEEL (US)
A backpack really is just used to store your tools. However, some are more comfortable than others, and some are more durable than others. There is a massive range of backpacks out there, it really is down to the one that suits you. What you need to consider is the size of the backpack that you are going to need. If you are going on day trips and hiking in the woods perhaps get a small fire going and making some coffee, then a backpack of around 25-30L will suit you fine. If you are going on overnight camping trips for 1-3 nights, then a larger backpack of between 40-55L is probably better suited. However, remember that in winter it is colder, and the clothing and sleeping gear that you carry will be bulkier, therefore a large backpack will be needed. You may need to go up to 70-80L. As we are focussing on a beginner here, with day trips in mind, then a small 25-30L backpack should be fine. If you are looking to attach side pouches and gear to the outside of your backpack, then you might want to consider getting one that has MOLLE webbing. MOLLE standing for "Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment". If you are looking for a bargain, then you can find some great backpacks at various military surplus stores. Often these backpacks are cheap but have an excellent build quality. The vintage backpacks of the 70's and 80's area also made of high quality and durable material. However, they can be heavy and relatively bulky. It is all down to personal preference.
SMALL BACKPACK (UK)
SMALL BACKPACK (US)
An easily to forget but essential item of your bushcraft kit is a compass. You may not need to use it often, but when you do you will be incredibly grateful. If you are on long hiking trips and you are using a map you will most certainly need a compass to help you navigate to where you want to go. Now with a compass you can go cheap, but I would not recommend this. At the end of the day, if you find yourself lost, you are low on food and water and you are running out of daylight, the one thing that does not need to let you down is a compass. Therefore I recommend getting a good quality compass like a Silva.
Let's not mess about guys! As a beginner, you're not going to be making fire by friction. You may be at the stage where you can light a fire with a fire steel and some cotton wool. You may even be at the stage of lighting fire by birch bark. However, even the experts carry a lighter with them. A lighter is a key part of your kit and you should never leave home without one. Even if you don't end up using it. It gives you piece of mind knowing that you have a lighter in your kit for when the fire lighting situation is getting tough! No need for an expensive one.
CHEAP LIGHTERS (UK)
CHEAP LIGHTERS (US)
When you're out in the woods using your knife or axe regularly, there will eventually come a time when they need sharpening. You don't want to be lugging out big Japanese water-stones with you. So a small compact sharpening stone is all you need. I always have on me the Fallkniven DC4 Diamond/Ceramic whetstone. It's incredibly compact and a quick strokes of the knife on this generally brings it back to sharpness no problem.
DC4 SHARPENING STONE (UK)
DC4 SHARPENING STONE (US)
So that's pretty much it. This is the basic gear that as a beginner will help you to develop your bushcraft and survival skills out in the field. You do not need to buy all of this gear at once. In fact I recommend that you don't do this. Just buy what you think you will need to start with and then upgrade your gear once you feel the need to. Remember bushcraft isn't really about gear, it's about learning what how nature can provide for you. How you can work WITH nature, to survive and thrive. Overtime your knowledge will develop, as will the gear that you use. You will find yourself starting out with cheap gear, and then appreciating the more expensive, hand-crafted items that still do the same job as the cheap gear, yet they are more satisfying to use and own. The best way to start learning about Bushcraft is to grab yourself a notepad and pen, head out into the woods with a few wild edible and beginner bushcraft books and start building up your knowledge of nature. You will soon realise that you don't actually need much gear at all!
I hope that this page has helped you. If you have purchased items through the links that I have provided then I must say a huge thank you, it really does help to support me and my channel. Once you have got some practise using some of this gear, then pop back here and have a read of the intermediate Bushcraft Gear section, where I show you what gear you can upgrade and new items of gear that might help you on your Bushcraft & Survival journey!
Thanks for reading guys!