You may well have seen the plethora of other articles that we have on bushcraft and survival throughout our website. We have gone into some great detail about items and techniques that will help you survive if you ever need to. However, in this article, we are going to take a look at a bushcraft essentials list.
While you may think that you own everything, and you may well do, it is good to know what you will undoubtedly need in case you ever want to travel lightly. There are times that you want to test yourself with the bare minimum. Likewise, there are other times that you look in your pack and think; I have too much stuff in here, I will go back to basics.
- 1 Bushcraft Essentials List
- 2 Bushcraft Essentials List – Clothing
- 3 Bushcraft Essentials List – Shelter/Sleeping
- 4 Bushcraft Essentials List – Equipment
- 4.1 First Aid Kit
- 4.2 Water bottle
- 4.3 Bushcraft Essentials List – Headtorch
- 4.4 Whistle
- 4.5 Bushcraft Essentials List – Outdoor Watch
- 4.6 Strong Nylon Cord
- 4.7 Compass
- 4.8 Multi-tool
- 4.9 Bushcraft Essentials List – Knife
- 4.10 Hatchet
- 4.11 Bushcraft Essentials List – Fishing Kit
- 4.12 Mug
- 4.13 Bowl or Plate
- 4.14 Spoon
- 4.15 Bushcraft Essentials List – Small Camping Stove
- 4.16 Windproof Lighter or Firelighter
- 4.17 Notebook and Pen
- 4.18 Bushcraft Essentials List – A Kit Bag
- 4.19 Secondary Daysack
- 5 Bushcraft Essentials List – Personal
However, one of the hardest things to do is take something out of your pack that you think you may need. While that is a good thing, that you have them all, they may weigh you down. So, we will give you a list, and then go through what you may need to look for in each of the items.
Bushcraft Essentials List
Before getting into specifics of each of the items, we will look at what you need.
- Waterproof Outer layer of clothing. – Ensure that you have a jacket and trousers. The jacket should have a hood.
- Light, warm top. – A light fleece or pullover will be fine.
- Dense, warm layer. – A thicker fleece, woolen pullover, etc. It needs to be something that you can fit over the top of your light one.
- Tee-shirts/Shirts. – You will need a couple, at least.
- Outdoor trousers. – NOT Jeans
- Socks. – At least two pairs.
- Underwear. – At least one spare.
- Warm hat.
- Sun hat.
- Outdoor footwear.
- Sleeping bag.
- Floor mat.
- Water bottle. – Two pints or 1 liter as a minimum.
- Headtorch. – Including spare batteries.
- Outdoor watch.
- Strong nylon cord. – At least 20-30ft.
- Bushcraft knife.
- Bushcraft fishing kit.
- Bowl or Plate.
- Small camping stove.
- Windproof lighter or Firelighter.
- Notebook and pen.
- A bug out bag. – Ensure it will fit everything in.
- Secondary daysack. – A smaller bag may be desirable if you need to travel after setting up camp.
- Wash kit.
- Lip salve.
- Insect repellent.
- Baby wipes.
- Personal medication.
- Eyeglasses, if required.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Clothing
You may already have your preferred choices for some of the items. And we have already gone through some in previous articles. So, use whichever you feel like you get the most benefits.
It is often challenging to know when you will have a bad spell of weather. Unfortunately, it doesn’t need to be a tremendous downpour to ruin your day, either. Just a quick shower can make you wet and uncomfortable.
Having the right waterproof outer layer will help you stay as dry as possible. There are a few things that you want to look for in waterproof clothing:
- A good brand. – That will ensure that it will stand up to large amounts of rain before soaking through.
- Windproof. – There is nothing worse on a rainy, windy day than feeling cold from the wind.
- Not too insulated. – Yes, you read that right. In my opinion, you do not want a jacket that is too thick and warm. You should always use lots of layers to warm up and cool down. If you are too hot, take a layer off. Too hot, add a layer. However, if it is raining but warm, and you have an insulated jacket, you are going to be too hot, with no options for cooling down.
- Breathable. – For the same reasons as not being insulated, you do not want to sweat in the jacket or trousers. Most breathable sections of waterproof clothing are in strategic areas so that they can still be windproof and breathable.
As I have said, try to buy the best brand you can afford. Look for thin, lightweight, but reliable waterproofs that you can store in a small pocket in your bag. Also, try to find some with elasticated cuffs or velcro straps so that you do not get water up in your sleeves or legs.
Light Warm Top
Your tops, such as fleeces, should be where you get your warmth from. Try to get a snug fit fleece, with a neck zip to allow for heat control. You want some level of warmth from them, but do not overdo the thickness. I find that if I feel just too hot in a tee-shirt and fleece in 59F (15C), it is just right. However, that choice is up to you.
Heavy Warm Layer
The dense layer is what you want to use for when it is frigid, but not raining. Again, buy as good quality as you can afford. The thicker and warmer, the better. It should be in a size large enough to fit over your tee-shirt and light top.
Comfortable, lightweight polyester-cotton tee-shirts or shirts are my favorites as they dry quickly should there be a quick burst of rain or a splash from a puddle. There is not much to say about tee-shirts. However, I have found that some of the polyester only ones will get a bit “sticky” when you sweat or get wet.
Many people choose to opt for shorts instead of trousers. However, in my opinion, the benefit of cooling that you get from shorts is far outweighed by the benefits of protection that trousers offer you. That is, of course, a personal opinion. But I have had my fair share of cuts, scrapes, insect bites and stabs from thorns, etc. to ensure I wear trousers all the time.
However, there are still some considerations that you need to think about:
- Comfort. – That is the main thing that you have to check for. You never know when you may need to climb over something. If they are too tight, they will be very uncomfortable.
- Cargo pockets. – Having large cargo pockets will help you to store and access some of the essentials that you have.
- Zip pockets. – When you lose things in the wilderness, you have probably lost it forever. Using zip pockets for keys, change, etc. will help you prevent that.
Waterproof trousers may benefit you, but I still prefer to have a separate pair of over trousers. If you want to know how to waterproof your clothing, click here.
There is almost nothing worse than having cold, wet feet when you are out on the trail. You have a couple of options available to you. Take spares, or wear waterproof socks. Alternatively, wear regular socks, and take waterproof ones with you. I think that the best way to go is to wear regular socks and carry waterproof spares. That way, if you set your footwear and socks wet, you can dry yourself and put waterproof socks on to keep them dry.
Maybe a little strange for a Bushcraft Essentials List. However, I always have at least one pair of spare underwear with you. If you are going to be somewhere that is inherently cold, you will want to consider thermal base layers. However, if you are not, then you probably don’t want to add the extra weight, even if it is minimal.
Some myths say that you lose up to 40% of the body’s heat through the head. However, a study published in the British Medical Journal from 2008 proves that incorrect.
The amount of heat lost through the head is only proportional to the surface area of the head in relation to the rest of the body. There are other factors, including the amount of hair and outside temperature. Even so, when your head is cold, you feel cold. So, ensure that you have a substantially warm hat for when you need it.
Keeping yourself covered in the blistering sun will help you to stay cool – even if you may feel warmer. Make sure you have a lightweight sun hat with you for those times.
You never know when you might need gloves. Although you may only think that you need them when it is cold outside, you will also need them for other things. They can include climbing over things that are jagged, like walls, moving tree branches, etc.
The good thing about hats and gloves is that the weight and size of them are minimal in comparison to the benefits of having them when you need them.
There is quite a lot of controversy over the right and wrong footwear and for a good reason. Your feet are precious to you when you are in the outdoors. Personal preference has to take place here. However, being ex-military myself, I have my favorites. Some of the things I look for in a pair of walking boots are:
- Easy to maintain.
- Thick enough sole to not feel sharp rock edges, etc.
- Ankle support.
One other thing that I would mention is to always have a spare set of laces with you.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Shelter/Sleeping
Now that you know what to wear and what to pack, you may want to know what you will need for sleeping. All of this section is dependent on what your goals are.
Some people would never want to sleep without a tent, and others are ok making their own shelters. However, if you’re going to take a tent, here are some considerations that you need to take into account:
- Lightweight. – As with everything, you need to carry it.
- Easy to carry. – The bulk of the tent is a huge factor when considering carrying it.
- Easy setup/takedown. – You do not want to be fumbling around for two hours to put up your tent before you can use it.
- Only fit as many people as you need.
A tarp is much more versatile than a tent. It is lighter and more compact too. However, you will need to learn what to do with it in terms of setting it up to sleep. There are some ideas and instructions here.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Sleeping Bag
The choice of a sleeping bag is going to be dependent on the climate you are in when you use it. But, like everything else, there are some things that you need to take into consideration:
- Material. – Down-filled bags are usually lighter than synthetic. However, they are prone to cause problems when they get wet. Therefore, I would choose synthetic all the time. They are also better at keeping you warm.
- Temperature rating. – That is something that you need to decide when you know where you are going to be. Check the weather and always go for a better rating than the lowest temperature that it says it will be. You can always unzip a little if you are too warm.
- Size. – You do not want too much spare space in your bag. If there is a lot of air in it, it will take longer to warm up. Therefore, it may feel colder than it should.
- Shape. – “mummy” shaped bags are better at keeping you warm, but they will give you less leg movement.
We have more information about sleeping bags here.
All you need this for is to take out some of the jagged edges that you find on the floor, such as stones, etc. Try to find a lightweight, small mat that will fit your sleeping bag. You do not want or need to carry something much bigger. You can lie your mat and bag out on the floor, mark it, and cut it down to size to reduce weight and size.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Equipment
Along with the clothes you are wearing, taking, and sleeping equipment, there are various other essentials that you need to have with you almost all of the time.
First Aid Kit
It would be an unwise choice for you to leave home without one in any situation. However, even more so when you are going into the wilderness. Therefore, always have the largest pack that you can carry sensibly and keep it well-stocked at all times. Here is a list of items you may want to consider:
- Waterproof dressing strips
- Microporous tape
- Instant hot pack
- Instant ice pack
- Sterile moist cleansing wipes
- Non-sterile disposable triangular bandage 90cm x 90cm x 130cm
- Low-adherent absorbent dressing pads
- Nitrile powder-free gloves
- Eyewash bottle
- Hand sanitizer
- Burn Blott sachets
- Sterile eye pad dressing
- Medium sterile dressings
- Large sterile dressing
- Washproof plasters
There may be some things that you think you can exclude from the list but do so at your own risk. If you find you need something that you do not have, you will wish you never took it out.
Hard-wearing plastic bottle that will hold at least 1 liter of water, more if possible. If you have a pocket on your bag that is specifically for a water bottle or a funny shaped pocket that seems useless for much else, try to get a bottle to fit it.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Headtorch
A head torch is essential on the bushcraft equipment list, and you should buy one as good as you possibly can. Normally, you may think of taking a standard torch with you anyway. However, a headtorch allows you to use both hands. Also, zoom-able lenses make great additions to them if you can get one easily enough.
Do not forget to take extra batteries for the torch, or a charger pack if it is a rechargeable one.
Although you do not see them on many Bushcraft Essentials Lists, whistles are great for drawing attention to your whereabouts if you ever get lost. A whistle such as a fox 40 is a great choice.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Outdoor Watch
While any watch will be sufficient, a rugged outdoor one will be less prone to breaking if you knock it against something. Try to get an analog one, and then you have other uses for it, such as using it as a compass.
Strong Nylon Cord
You never know when you will need some strong cord for getting yourself out of a bad situation. It is also useful for making your tent if you only carry a tarp. Ensure that you have enough of it, though. Thirty feet should be excellent, but take more if you have it. You can even use it as a bootlace if you need it.
Buy a high-quality compass with a good bearing on it. You do not want to have to shake it all the time to get it to work. If you get a good one, you are not likely to need the “fancy” ones with covers, etc.
I also prefer the map reading variants. Some do come with other options, such as a small spotting scope, but they are usually useless in comparison to the real things, and map compasses have useful map markings on them. Ensure that you get one balanced for the hemisphere that you are in.
There are so many options in regards to multitools that I will not be able to cover each aspect of them in this article. However, my two favorite brands are Leatherman and Gerber. I particularly like the ones that have a fire starter built into them, as they are often easily accessible than a separate fire starter.
Take your time to decide which will suit your needs the most. However, do not buy a cheap one as you will be disappointed and frustrated when you need it and it breaks. Also, never buy one without a sheath – you always want it on your belt.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Knife
Yes, you will want a bushcraft knife even if you have a multitool. I won’t go into them too much as we have some other articles on them on this site. So, here is a list of pages you may want to visit:
- Top 10 Best Bushcraft Knives for 2020
- 13 Bushcraft Skills Every Survivalist Should Know
- How to Sharpen A Knife Properly: Hunting & Survival Blade Sharpening Tips
Click on the links now so that you don’t forget to read them. Don’t worry; they will open in a new tab so you can continue reading the Bushcraft Essentials List first.
A hatchet is a small version of an ax. They are convenient to have with you when you are doing any sort of bushcraft. Again, buy as good a quality as you can afford, but make sure that they are small, lightweight, and made from carbon steel. You do not want these breaking on you.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Fishing Kit
Having your own compact bushcraft fishing kit with you could be the difference between eating and not. The packages are pretty small but have all of the essential emergency fishing supplies in them. Some have over 260ft of aline in them, which could come in handy in other situations, too.
We have an immense amount of fishing information here.
A simple, stainless steel mug. Try to get one without paint or coatings, as you can use them for heating water over a stove then, too.
Bowl or Plate
I prefer to have an oversized mug that I can use for a bowl, and then not use a plate at all. However, you may want to have separate utensils. Just remember that you need to carry it. They may not weigh much, but they are awkward to pack sometimes.
A simple stainless steel spoon.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Small Camping Stove
Although building your own fires is best due to the size, I do like to have an emergency camping stove. You can buy them with small flat punched plates of steel that you have to assemble into a fire. They are great for use in a bad situation, and they are so small you wouldn’t even notice you had it.
Don’t forget to check that your mug will fit over it without falling into the gap though.
Windproof Lighter or Firelighter
Do not forget to have a windproof lighter or a firelighter. Take extra gas if you use a lighter.
Notebook and Pen
A waterproof notebook and pen is an ideal addition to your Bushcraft Essentials List. They may be a little expensive for a notebook. However, you will be glad you paid for it when you need to make notes about your location in the rain.
Bushcraft Essentials List – A Kit Bag
I have put a kit bag on the list, even though it is pretty evident that you will need one. The only thing that you need is one that will fit everything in. However, there are some other considerations that you need to take into account. We will look into those in a different article, as there are too many things to go into.
However, for this list, make sure it is lightweight and durable, waterproof, and large enough to fit all your kit into. Try to find one with many pockets that you can use for different types of equipment, and mark them. If you can not find a waterproof one, you can buy liners that you insert before packing.
Try to get one with straps, clips, and hooks on, in case you need to use them for accessories.
A smaller, lighter kit bag for bare essentials. A standard rucksack size is fine. Just enough to put your cup, first aid kit, camping stove, waterproofs, notebook, hatchet, cord, and water bottle.
Bushcraft Essentials List – Personal
Even though you are taking a lot of things into the wild, you will still need some personal items.
A basic wash kit is all that is required. Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste.
If you have a large bandanna, that may be sufficient. However, I like to carry a microfiber towel. They are very absorbent, easy to dry, and compact.
The higher the protection factor, the better. Do not think that because it is cold, you will not get burned. A good rule of thumb is; if you cast a shadow, you will burn. Apply it regularly.
You may not think that you need lip salve. However, extreme wet, dry, hot, or cold will dry your lips out. Again, use it regularly.
Find out which insects are prominent in the areas you are going to, and ensure that the repellent will work with them. The last thing you want to worry about is insect bites. Always remember to carry something to treat bites, too, should you get bitten.
It only needs to be a small, travel packet. However, you never know when you will need to have a freshen up. They are also good for cleaning debris off a wound before a sterile wipe.
Do not forget to take any personal medication with you. Take more than you need; you will always be able to take it home after.
Eyeglasses If Required
Any prescription eyeglasses, sun glasses, etc.
While this Bushcraft Essentials List may seem pretty extensive, I have not put some of the extra things in there that you may usually carry. I am not saying that this list has everything that you will ever need, and you should always plan for each trip. However, if you have the items that I have listed, you are going to be at a perfect starting point.
Remember to account for the amount of time that you will be out for, and also the climate you will be in. You may want to put extras in, such as another pair of gloves, or even a solar-powered battery pack to charge phones, torches, etc. Check our homepage for more articles that may help you to learn bushcraft.