How to Start Bushcraft: A Beginner’s Guide

Bushcraft is the art of wilderness survival. It involves using the natural resources around you to survive in the wilderness. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced outdoorsman, learning bushcraft skills can be a valuable asset. In this article, we will provide you with some tips on how to get started with bushcraft.

The first step to starting bushcraft is to learn the basics. This includes learning how to make a fire, build a shelter, find and purify water, and find food in the wilderness. To make a fire, you will need to learn how to gather firewood, create a fire lay, and use a fire starter. Building a shelter involves finding a suitable location, gathering natural materials, and constructing a shelter that will protect you from the elements. Finding and purifying water is essential for survival, and learning how to find food in the wilderness can be a valuable skill.

Understanding Bushcraft

What is Bushcraft?

Bushcraft is the art of living in the wilderness, using only natural resources and primitive tools. It’s about learning to survive and thrive in the great outdoors, using skills and knowledge that have been passed down for generations. Bushcraft is not just about survival, it’s also about learning to live in harmony with nature.

History of Bushcraft

Bushcraft has been around for thousands of years. It was originally developed by indigenous people who lived off the land and relied on their skills to survive. Over time, bushcraft has evolved and been adapted to different environments and cultures. Today, people all over the world practice bushcraft as a way to reconnect with nature and learn valuable survival skills.

Benefits of Bushcraft

There are many benefits to practicing bushcraft. Here are just a few:

  • Self-sufficiency: By learning to live off the land, you become more self-sufficient and less reliant on modern conveniences.
  • Connection to nature: Spending time in nature has been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits, including reducing stress and improving mood.
  • Survival skills: Knowing how to build a shelter, start a fire, and find food and water can be lifesaving in an emergency situation.
  • Cultural heritage: By practicing bushcraft, you are keeping alive the traditions and knowledge of indigenous people who have lived off the land for generations.

Overall, bushcraft is a valuable skillset to have, whether you’re an avid outdoorsman or just looking to reconnect with nature. By learning to live off the land, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world and develop valuable survival skills that could one day save your life.

Essential Gear for Bushcraft

When it comes to bushcraft, having the right tools and gear is essential. Here are some of the must-have items that every beginner should consider investing in:


A good quality knife is the most important tool in your bushcraft kit. It can be used for everything from carving wood to preparing food. Look for a knife with a sturdy blade that is at least 4 inches long. A full tang knife with a comfortable grip is also recommended. Keep your knife sharp and well-maintained to ensure it is always ready for use.


An axe is another essential tool for bushcraft. It can be used for chopping wood, building shelters, and even for carving. Look for an axe with a sturdy handle and a sharp, durable blade. It’s also important to choose an axe that is the right size for you and your needs.


A saw is a useful tool for cutting wood, especially for larger pieces that an axe may struggle with. A folding saw is a good option for bushcraft as it is easy to carry and can be used for a variety of tasks. Look for a saw with a sharp, durable blade and a comfortable grip.


Starting a fire is an essential skill in bushcraft. While there are many ways to start a fire, having a reliable firestarter is important. Options include matches, lighters, and ferro rods. Choose a firestarter that is easy to use and reliable in all weather conditions.

Shelter Building Materials

Building a shelter is an important part of bushcraft. Look for materials such as tarps, paracord, and natural materials like branches and leaves. It’s important to choose materials that are appropriate for the environment you will be in and that will provide adequate protection from the elements.

Water Purification System

Access to clean water is crucial for survival in the wilderness. A water purification system is a must-have item for any bushcraft kit. Options include water filters, purification tablets, and boiling water. Choose a system that is easy to use and effective at removing bacteria and other contaminants.

By investing in these essential tools and gear, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled bushcrafter. Remember to always prioritize safety and to practice your skills in a controlled environment before heading out into the wilderness.

Basic Bushcraft Skills

When starting out with bushcraft, it’s important to learn and master basic skills that will help you survive in the wilderness. Here are some essential skills to get you started:

Fire Starting Techniques

Fire is essential for warmth, cooking, and signaling for help. There are several techniques for starting a fire, including using a lighter, matches, or a fire starter. However, it’s important to also learn how to start a fire without any modern tools, such as using a bow drill or hand drill.

Shelter Building

A shelter provides protection from the elements and helps conserve body heat. Basic shelter types include lean-tos, debris huts, and A-frame shelters. It’s important to learn how to build a shelter using natural materials found in the environment.

Knot Tying

Knot tying is an important skill for securing shelter, creating traps, and tying gear. Basic knots to learn include the bowline, square knot, and clove hitch.

Wilderness Navigation

Knowing how to navigate in the wilderness is crucial for finding shelter, water, and food. Basic navigation skills include using a map and compass, tracking, and using natural landmarks.

Water Sourcing and Purification

Water is essential for survival, but it may not always be readily available. It’s important to learn how to find and purify water using natural methods, such as boiling, filtering, and using purification tablets.

Foraging and Hunting

Foraging and hunting provide sources of food in the wilderness. It’s important to learn how to identify edible plants and animals, as well as how to safely hunt and trap game.

By mastering these basic bushcraft skills, you can increase your chances of survival in the wilderness. Remember to always practice these skills in a safe and controlled environment before venturing out into the wilderness.

Advanced Bushcraft Skills

If you’ve already mastered the basics of bushcraft, it’s time to move on to more advanced skills. Here are some essential skills to help you survive in the wilderness.


Trapping is an important skill for any bushcrafter. Knowing how to set traps and snares can help you catch food when you’re in the wild. There are many types of traps you can learn to make, including deadfall traps, snares, and pit traps. It’s important to know what kind of animals are in the area and what kind of traps work best for them.


Tracking is an essential skill for any bushcrafter. Knowing how to read animal tracks can help you find food, water, and shelter. It can also help you avoid dangerous animals. You can learn to identify different tracks, scat, and other signs of animal activity. It’s important to practice tracking in different terrains and weather conditions.

Wilderness First Aid

In the wilderness, accidents can happen. Knowing how to provide first aid can save a life. You can learn how to treat common injuries, such as cuts, burns, and broken bones. You can also learn how to deal with medical emergencies, such as snake bites and allergic reactions. It’s important to have a first aid kit with you at all times and to know how to use it.

Primitive Cooking Methods

Cooking in the wilderness can be a challenge. But with the right skills, you can create delicious meals using primitive cooking methods. You can learn how to make a fire using a bow drill or hand drill. You can also learn how to cook food using hot rocks, clay pots, and other primitive methods. It’s important to know how to cook food safely and to avoid food poisoning.

Natural Cordage Making

Cordage is an essential tool in the wilderness. You can use it to make shelter, tools, and traps. Natural cordage can be made from a variety of materials, such as plant fibers and animal sinew. You can learn how to make cordage using different techniques, such as twisting and braiding. It’s important to know what materials are available in the area and what kind of cordage works best for different tasks.

By learning these advanced bushcraft skills, you’ll be better prepared to survive in the wilderness. Practice these skills regularly to become proficient and confident in your abilities. Remember to always respect nature and leave no trace.


In conclusion, starting bushcraft can be a daunting task, but it is a rewarding and fulfilling hobby. With the right mindset, gear, and skills, anyone can become a proficient bushcrafter. Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind when starting your bushcraft journey:

  • Start small: Don’t try to tackle too much at once. Focus on learning one skill at a time and gradually build up your knowledge base.
  • Invest in quality gear: While it can be tempting to go for the cheapest option, investing in quality gear will pay off in the long run. Look for gear that is durable, versatile, and fits your specific needs.
  • Practice safety: Bushcraft can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Carry a first aid kit and know basic first aid skills.
  • Learn from experienced bushcrafters: There is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there from those who have been practicing bushcraft for years. Seek out mentors, attend workshops, and participate in online communities to learn from those who have gone before you.

Remember, bushcraft is about learning to live in harmony with nature and becoming self-sufficient. With patience, dedication, and a willingness to learn, anyone can become a skilled bushcrafter.

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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