Bushcraft vs Survival: Understanding the Key Differences

Bushcraft and survival are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different things. While both involve skills and knowledge that can be used in the wilderness, they have different goals and approaches.

Bushcraft is the art of living in the wilderness using only natural resources. It involves skills such as building shelters, making fire, finding and purifying water, and hunting and gathering food. Bushcrafters aim to live comfortably in the wilderness for an extended period of time, and they often use traditional tools and techniques to do so. Survival, on the other hand, is about staying alive in an emergency situation. It involves skills such as signaling for help, finding and treating injuries, and improvising tools and shelter. Survivors aim to stay alive until they can be rescued or until they can make their way back to civilization.

What is Bushcraft?

Bushcraft is a set of skills and knowledge that enable a person to survive and thrive in the wilderness. It is all about using the resources that nature provides to create tools, shelter, and food. Bushcraft is not just about survival, but also about enjoying the natural world and living in harmony with it.


Bushcraft has been around for centuries, and it has been practiced by indigenous people around the world. The term “bushcraft” originated in Australia and was used to describe the skills of the bushmen who lived in the outback. In North America, the skills of bushcraft were practiced by Native Americans, who used the resources of the land to survive.

Skills and Techniques

The skills and techniques of bushcraft are vast and varied. Some of the most important skills include:

  • Firecraft: the ability to start a fire using natural materials, such as flint and steel, or by friction, such as using a bow drill or hand drill.
  • Shelter building: the ability to construct a shelter using natural materials, such as branches, leaves, and bark.
  • Water sourcing and purification: the ability to find and purify water from natural sources, such as streams and rivers.
  • Foraging: the ability to identify and gather edible plants, berries, and nuts.
  • Hunting and trapping: the ability to catch and kill wild game for food.
  • Navigation: the ability to navigate using natural features, such as the stars, sun, and moon.

These skills are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bushcraft. There are many other skills and techniques that are essential for survival in the wilderness.

In summary, bushcraft is a set of skills and knowledge that enable a person to survive and thrive in the wilderness. It has a rich history and is practiced by people around the world. The skills and techniques of bushcraft are vast and varied, and they are essential for anyone who wants to live in harmony with nature.

What is Survival?

Survival refers to the process of remaining alive or in existence, especially in adverse or unusual circumstances. It involves the use of skills and techniques to sustain human life in emergency situations. Survival skills are important for anyone who spends time in the outdoors, as they can mean the difference between life and death.


Survival skills have been used by humans for thousands of years. Our ancestors had to rely on their knowledge of the natural world to survive in the wild. They had to hunt for food, build shelters, and protect themselves from predators. Over time, humans developed new technologies and techniques to make survival easier.


Survival skills include a wide range of abilities, from building a fire to finding food and water. Some of the most important skills include:

  • Shelter building
  • Fire making
  • Navigation
  • First aid
  • Water purification
  • Hunting and trapping


Survival techniques are methods used to apply survival skills in different situations. Some of the most common techniques include:

  • Building a debris shelter
  • Starting a fire with a bow drill
  • Using a map and compass to navigate
  • Administering first aid for injuries
  • Finding and purifying water sources
  • Setting traps to catch animals for food

In summary, survival skills and techniques are essential for anyone who spends time in the outdoors. By learning these skills, you can increase your chances of surviving in an emergency situation.

Key Differences Between Bushcraft and Survival


The main difference between bushcraft and survival is their purpose. Survival is focused on staying alive in a wilderness or emergency situation. It is about finding ways to meet the basic needs of food, water, shelter, and warmth. On the other hand, bushcraft is a more comprehensive set of skills that allows people to thrive in the wilderness. It is about creating comfort and living in harmony with nature.


Another key difference is the environment in which these skills are used. Survival skills are typically used in emergency situations where a person is lost or stranded in the wilderness. Bushcraft skills, on the other hand, are used by people who choose to live in the wilderness for an extended period of time. Bushcrafters have a deep understanding of the environment and use their skills to live off the land.


The equipment used in bushcraft and survival is also different. Survivalists focus on carrying the minimum amount of equipment necessary to stay alive. They carry items such as a knife, fire starter, and water filter. Bushcrafters, on the other hand, carry more equipment and tools. They may have a larger knife, an axe, and a saw. They also carry more gear for comfort, such as a tent or hammock.


The duration of the situation also plays a role in the difference between bushcraft and survival. Survival situations are typically short-term and require immediate action. Bushcraft, on the other hand, is a long-term endeavor. Bushcrafters spend extended periods of time in the wilderness, sometimes for weeks or months at a time. They have the time and resources to build more elaborate shelters and create more complex tools.

In conclusion, while there are some similarities between bushcraft and survival, there are also key differences in their purpose, environment, equipment, and duration. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right skills and equipment for your needs and goals in the wilderness.

Bushcraft vs Survival: Which is Better?

When it comes to wilderness survival, two terms that are often used interchangeably are bushcraft and survival. While they share some similarities, they also have some distinct differences. In this section, we will explore the advantages of each and factors to consider when choosing between them.

Advantages of Bushcraft

Bushcraft is all about utilizing the resources around you to meet your needs. It teaches you how to create items from nature to assist you in surviving in the wilderness. Some advantages of bushcraft include:

  • Sustainability: Bushcraft emphasizes the use of natural resources in a sustainable way, which means that you can survive for an extended period without depleting the environment around you.
  • Versatility: With bushcraft skills, you can create a wide range of tools and shelter from natural materials.
  • Connection to Nature: Bushcraft encourages a deeper connection to nature as you learn to live in harmony with the environment around you.

Advantages of Survival

Survival, on the other hand, is all about staying alive in a difficult situation. It focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to sustain human life in extreme conditions. Some advantages of survival include:

  • Adaptability: Survival skills can be used in a variety of situations, from natural disasters to unexpected emergencies.
  • Quick Thinking: Survival situations require quick thinking and problem-solving skills to stay alive.
  • Minimalism: Survival skills often require minimal gear, which means that you can carry what you need with you.

Factors to Consider

When choosing between bushcraft and survival, there are several factors to consider:

  • Purpose: Are you looking to live off the land for an extended period, or are you preparing for a short-term emergency situation?
  • Environment: The environment you are in can influence which skills you need. For example, if you are in a desert, water procurement skills are essential.
  • Resources: The resources available to you can also influence which skills you need. If you are in a forested area, bushcraft skills may be more useful.

Ultimately, the choice between bushcraft and survival depends on your specific needs and situation. Both have their advantages and can be useful in different scenarios.

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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