Bushcraft on a Budget: Tips for Thrifty Outdoor Enthusiasts

Bushcraft is the art of wilderness survival and requires a set of skills, knowledge, and tools. However, many people believe that bushcraft is only for those with deep pockets. This is far from the truth. You don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the great outdoors and learn the art of bushcraft.

In this article, we will discuss how to practice bushcraft on a budget. We will explore affordable gear options that won’t compromise your safety or comfort. Whether you’re a seasoned bushcrafter or a beginner, this guide will provide you with useful tips and tricks to help you get started without breaking the bank. We will cover everything from shelter, fire, water, food, tools, and more. So, let’s get started and explore the world of budget bushcraft.

Essential Gear

When it comes to bushcraft, having the right gear can make all the difference. While there are plenty of expensive options out there, it’s possible to get started on a budget. Here are some essential pieces of gear to consider:

Cutting Tools

A good cutting tool is a must-have for any bushcrafter. While there are plenty of expensive options out there, there are also some affordable choices that will get the job done. Consider the following:

  • Morakniv Companion: This Swedish-made knife is a favorite among bushcrafters for its durability and affordability.
  • Bahco Laplander Folding Saw: This saw is lightweight, compact, and perfect for cutting through small to medium-sized branches.
  • Fiskars X7 Hatchet: This hatchet is small enough to carry with you but still packs a punch when it comes to chopping wood.

Fire Starting

Starting a fire is essential for warmth, cooking, and signaling for help. While there are plenty of high-tech fire-starting tools out there, there are also some affordable options that will get the job done. Consider the following:

  • Ferrocerium Rod: These rods are affordable, lightweight, and can produce sparks even in wet conditions.
  • Waterproof Matches: A pack of waterproof matches is an affordable and reliable way to start a fire in any conditions.
  • Magnesium Fire Starter: These small blocks of magnesium can be scraped with a knife to produce shavings that will ignite when exposed to a spark.


Having a reliable shelter is essential for staying safe and comfortable in the wilderness. While there are plenty of expensive options out there, there are also some affordable choices that will get the job done. Consider the following:

  • Tarp: A simple tarp can be used to create a variety of shelter configurations, from a lean-to to a full tent.
  • Emergency Blanket: These lightweight blankets are affordable and can be used to create a simple shelter or to wrap around your body for warmth.
  • Bivy Sack: A bivy sack is a lightweight and affordable alternative to a full tent that will keep you dry and protected from the elements.

Water Purification

Having access to clean water is essential for survival in the wilderness. While there are plenty of expensive water filtration systems out there, there are also some affordable options that will get the job done. Consider the following:

  • Water Purification Tablets: These tablets are affordable and easy to use, making them a great option for backpackers and hikers.
  • Sawyer Mini Water Filter: This affordable water filter is lightweight and compact, making it a great option for backpackers and hikers.
  • Boiling: Boiling water is the most effective way to purify it, and all you need is a pot and a fire.

Food and Water

When it comes to bushcraft, food and water are two of the most essential things to consider. In this section, we will discuss some budget-friendly ways to source food and water while out in the wilderness.

Wild Edibles

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to source food while in the wilderness is to forage for wild edibles. There are many plants and fruits that are safe to eat and can provide valuable nutrients. Some examples of wild edibles include berries, nuts, and edible greens like dandelion and clover. However, it is important to educate yourself on what is safe to eat and what is not before consuming any wild edibles.


Fishing is another great way to source food while out in the wilderness. A basic fishing kit can be put together for a relatively low cost and can provide a steady source of protein. Some budget-friendly fishing gear includes a simple hand line, hooks, and bait. It is important to check local fishing regulations and obtain any necessary permits before fishing.

Water Sourcing

Water is essential for survival, and it is important to have a plan for sourcing safe drinking water while in the wilderness. Boiling water is one of the most effective ways to purify it. A metal camp cup or water bottle can be used to boil water over a fire. It is also important to have a way to carry water. A budget-friendly option is to use a plastic water bottle or canteen. If there are no natural sources of water available, it may be necessary to collect rainwater or melt snow.

In summary, sourcing food and water while on a budget in the wilderness can be challenging, but it is possible. Foraging for wild edibles, fishing, and purifying water are all effective ways to obtain these essential resources.

Navigation and Orienteering

Navigation and orienteering are essential skills for any bushcrafter. Knowing how to use a map and compass can help you find your way in unfamiliar territory, and it can also be a lifesaver in case of an emergency. In this section, we will cover the basics of compass use and map reading.

Compass Use

A compass is a vital tool for navigation and orienteering. It can help you determine your direction of travel, measure distances, and navigate through terrain. Here are some tips for using a compass:

  • Orient the Map: Before using your compass, make sure to orient your map. This means aligning the map with the terrain and pointing it in the direction you are heading.

  • Set the Compass: Once your map is oriented, set your compass to the desired direction of travel. This will help you stay on course and avoid getting lost.

  • Take Bearings: Use your compass to take bearings of landmarks or other points on the map. This will help you navigate through the terrain and stay on track.

Map Reading

Map reading is another essential skill for bushcrafters. A good map can help you navigate through unfamiliar terrain, find water sources, and locate potential hazards. Here are some tips for reading a map:

  • Understand the Symbols: Maps use symbols to represent different features of the terrain. Make sure you understand what each symbol means before setting out on your journey.

  • Use Contour Lines: Contour lines on a map represent changes in elevation. By understanding how to read contour lines, you can determine the steepness of the terrain and plan your route accordingly.

  • Plan Your Route: Before setting out on your journey, plan your route using the map. This will help you avoid potential hazards and ensure that you arrive at your destination safely.

In summary, navigation and orienteering are essential skills for any bushcrafter. By understanding how to use a compass and read a map, you can navigate through unfamiliar terrain and stay on track. Remember to always plan your route and stay aware of your surroundings.

Skills and Techniques

Learning bushcraft skills and techniques can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be expensive. Luckily, there are many skills and techniques that can be learned on a budget. Here are a few essential skills and techniques to get you started.

Knot Tying

Knot tying is an essential skill for any bushcrafter. It can be used for everything from securing shelter to fishing. There are many different knots to learn, but some of the most useful include the bowline, clove hitch, and taut-line hitch. To learn these knots, you can find tutorials online or in books. Practice tying them until you can do it without thinking.

Campfire Cooking

Cooking over a campfire can be a fun and delicious experience. To cook over a campfire, you will need a few basic tools, such as a cast iron skillet and a Dutch oven. You can find these items at a thrift store or garage sale for a fraction of the cost of new ones. To cook over a campfire, you will also need to know how to build a fire and how to regulate the temperature. Practice cooking simple meals, such as stew or chili, until you feel comfortable cooking more complex meals.

Basic First Aid

In any outdoor activity, there is always a risk of injury. Knowing basic first aid can be a lifesaver in an emergency. You can take a basic first aid course at a community center or online. Some of the essential skills to learn include how to stop bleeding, how to treat burns, and how to perform CPR. It is also important to carry a basic first aid kit with you at all times. You can put together a kit on a budget by purchasing items such as bandages, antiseptic, and pain relievers at a dollar store.

Learning these skills and techniques can help you become a more self-sufficient bushcrafter without breaking the bank. With practice and dedication, you can master these skills and take your bushcrafting to the next level.


Bushcraft is a great way to connect with nature, learn new skills, and challenge yourself. However, it can be an expensive hobby, and not everyone has the budget to spend on high-end gear. The good news is that there are many ways to enjoy bushcraft on a budget. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Prioritize your gear: Think carefully about what gear you actually need and what you can do without. Focus on the essentials, such as shelter, water, and fire, and invest in high-quality gear that will last.
  • Look for budget alternatives: There are many budget-friendly options for bushcraft gear, such as military surplus stores, DIY projects, and second-hand gear. Do your research and shop around to find the best deals.
  • Learn to improvise: One of the core skills of bushcraft is the ability to improvise and make do with what you have. Learn to use natural materials, such as branches and leaves, to build shelters and fires, and practice your knot-tying skills.
  • Practice your skills: The more you practice your bushcraft skills, the better you will become at using them. Take the time to practice fire-making, shelter-building, and other key skills, and don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things.

Overall, bushcraft on a budget is all about being smart, resourceful, and creative. With the right mindset and some basic gear, anyone can enjoy the great outdoors and learn valuable skills without breaking the bank.

Martin Smith
Outdoor Expert at Bushcraft Explorer | Website | + posts

Martin Smith is not just your average outdoorsman; he is a dedicated explorer with a deep passion for survival and bushcraft. The natural world has always been his favorite playground, which led him to develop a profound understanding and love for bushcraft skills. His curiosity is insatiable, constantly driving him to uncover the secrets of the great outdoors and unravel the mystery behind survival in nature.

Martin is the creator and host of the popular YouTube channel, 'Bushcraft Explorer,' where he shares his experiences and teaches essential survival techniques. But he isn't just a content creator; Martin is a survival expert who has spent countless hours under the open sky, perfecting his bushcraft skills.

From constructing shelters and crafting tools to identifying edible plants and purifying water, Martin has honed his survival skills in the most challenging environments. His dedication to mastering bushcraft has shaped him into an authority in this field, making him more than qualified to share his knowledge with others.

But Martin doesn't just talk the talk; he walks the walk. He spends a considerable portion of his life outdoors, continuously expanding his knowledge base and skill set, all to feed his love for the wild and provide his followers with up-to-date, reliable, and practical survival tips. He is also an avid hiker and explorer, often traveling to remote locations to test his skills against nature’s challenges.

Martin's writing, much like his videos, is brimming with practical advice and insightful tips. Through 'Bushcraft Explorer,' he not only shares his profound expertise but also inspires his readers and viewers to embrace the beauty of the outdoors and the thrill of survival. His commitment to making bushcraft accessible to all is evident in his easily digestible content, making his work valuable for both beginners and experienced outdoorspeople alike.

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