A few months ago, Brian Green tagged me in his write-up, “My Three Favorite Bushcraft Items.” I’ll admit, the reason it has taken me a bit of time to respond was because it was a difficult tag (at least for me). Truth is, I have not necessarily practiced much “bushcraft” on my hikes. However, I think I have 3 items that I can write about, that fit the bill (at least somewhat).
To begin with though, lets look at what the great and powerful Wikipedia says about “Bushcraft“:
“Bushcraft is a popular term for wilderness skills … it is about thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include;firecraft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, rope and twine-making, and many others.”
Bushcraft can somewhat go hand-in-hand with “UL” backpacking, as both skill sets require the person to have the knowledge and skills to survive in the surrounding area, while only having a minimal amount of supplies. Considering this, while I haven’t been practicing many of the skills listed above, one thing that I do have some limited experience with is wood fires, and some of the tools to prepare the wood for a wood fire. And of course I have used a wood fire to cook with, so the 3 items that I will be writing about in this article will relate to this…
The first is an item that I will admit, I have not had any use with while backpacking, but it is a common bushcraft item. That is my Wetterling’s Hunters Hatchet (which was provided to me by my good friends at Sport Hansa). Wetterling axes & hatchets have been hand-forged in Storvik, Sweden for over 100 years. First-rate Swedish steel is chosen for the heads, and American Hickory is selected for “most” of the handles. The steel is “slowly forged by hand in a hammer press” and the handles are hand carved. Because each axe, or hatchet, that is made in their workshop is completely hand-made, each one bears its own distinguishing marks that set’s it apart from all others.
According to the information found on the Sport Hansa site, the hatchet features a 1.5 lb head, and a 16″ long handle. While I cannot measure the actual weight of the head and the handle separate, I can say that the total weight, including the leather sheath (as seen in the photo immediately above) is 2 lbs & 6.6 oz. Now, at almost 2.5 lbs, this may not seem like a very “UL” item, however, that depends on the user and their skill set. A hatchet can obviously be used to create shelters (including carving stakes) and chopping/splitting wood for a fire; however, some even use them for hunting and preparing their food, and even for throwing games (with the appropriate hatchet, or tomahawk).
The handle on mine in particular measures 15.5 inches from the top to the bottom. There is also a large lanyard hole towards the bottom of the handle should someone need to attach some cord to it. As well, the supplied leather sheath can also be attached around one’s belt so that the hatchet can be hung by their side.
As I said, I have not used my hatchet on the trail, although, I will admit, I wouldn’t mind doing so at least once… maybe on a short overnighter. However, for the most part, the hatchet is more of a car camping tool for me. Even then, the most use I get out of it is for preparing wood for a fire, which I could use to cook with…
The second bushcraft item that I have decided to write about is my Mora Clipper 840. (For more info on the specs on this knife, check out an earlier post HERE.)
At 3.6 oz for the Mora & the plastic sheath (as seen immediately above) the Mora is a true workhorse. The Mora Clipper 840 is a fixed blade knife with a blade length of right at 4 inches. I also have a Mora #1 that is very nice, however, what I like about the Clipper over the #1 is that it features a rubber grip, and that it also incorporates a bit of a finger guard into the handle. The rubber grip on the Clipper allows me to maintain a more firm grip on the knife (especially when wet) than the wooden handle on my #1. I also appreciate the bright red trim on the handle as this makes it easier to notice, and lessens my chances of accidentally leaving it behind.
I have carried my Mora on a few trips and have been happy to have it on each trip. I have used it for preparing wood for fires, as well as cutting cord and opening food bags. I have personally chose not to use it to cut food with since I have used oils on the blade that are not exactly safe to use with food. However, to be fair, I rarely need to actually cut up any of my foods since a majority of my meals are simply FBC meals. The few times that I have needed to slice food (summer sausage) I simply used a smaller knife that I keep in my ditty bag.
The Mora Clipper is likely the most used “bushcraft” item I own. For me, it has been a trustworthy knife that has been able to handle all that I have thrown at it, and then asked for more. However, what really makes this item shine is the price… They can easily be found for $15, and sometimes even less… There is a lot to be said for this much knife with such a small price tag, not to mention that it is widely available. In the end, it is my opinion that the Clipper can take a beating, such as when batoning wood, yet still make feather shavings for a quick and easy fire tender, all at a low price.
And the last “bushcraft” item that I want to write about is my Trail Designs Sidewinder Caldera Cone. Now, this may not technically be a “bushcraft” item, but it’s what I got. The reason that I “qualify” it as such, is because I can use a wood fire inside the cone to cook my meals over. Now I guess a more true version of a bushcraft kitchen would be to simply make a fire in a fire-pit, and then just throw my pot into a nice little spot of coals, however, I am not always up to making a full on fire, nor am in the place that enables such a thing (IMO) for different reasons. With the Caldera Cone, I am able to clear a tiny spot and create a small fire inside of it that is large enough to handle my cooking needs safely, and can easily be maintained and extinguished.
I actually have 2 different Trail Designs Sidewinder Caldera Cone set-ups, however, the one pictured above is the one for the 1.3L Evernew ECA253 cook pot. Also, the one pictured above includes the Inferno kit (sold separately), which transforms the Caldera Cone into a double-walled, wood burning gasifier stove (essentially, it creates more heat and less smoke than a single-wall, wood burning stove).
In the past, I have used my Mora Clipper (mentioned above) to both split/baton wood, and make feather sticks for tender. Once I had my wood prepared, I then set up my Caldera Cone with the Inferno insert, and loaded it with some small pieces of wood, and the tender. After the fire is going good, I load some larger pieces into it, then set my cook pot on the top of the stove. For 2-3 cups of water, usually, one load of wood was enough to get a boil, however, depending on conditions, it sometimes could take a little more. Adding more wood is simple though as it comes with a cut out which wood can be fed into the stove while the post is still on top.
To be honest, any time I cook with wood, I feel different… closer to the earth I guess. There is definitely something to be said of building a fire using the most basic of tools, and then to cook my meal over it (or in my case, boil water and add it too my freezer bag with the dehydrated food inside). Either way, it induces a feeling/mood that is not present when using any other cooking methods, whether it be alcohol, solid fuel, canisters or white gas…
So, these are my 3 favorite “bushcraft” items, at least by my standards.
I would like to thank Brian Green (from Brian’s Backpacking Blog) for both the shout out and for the tag. And in spirit of keeping this tag going, I am going to tag the following people for their “3 Favorite Bushcraft Items”…
As well, for anyone else reading, feel free to leave a comment below and share your own favorite “bushcraft” items!
Thanks for stopping by…
Disclaimer: Sport Hansa has provided me with the Wetterling’s Backcountry hatchet for the purpose of a review. I paid for the Mora knife with my own money. The Caldera Cone mentioned in this article was won in a contest on Trail Groove (I bought my second cone with my own money for a different pot). However, all comments within this write-up are of my own opinion, which were formed after personally using the items.
Cesar has just published his response to this tag on his blog. Check it out HERE.
Joslyn has just published her response to this tag on her blog. Check it out HERE.