A Bushcraft Camping Outfit – Equipment for Living in the Woods

A Bushcraft Camping Outfit – Equipment for Living in the Woods

Bushcraft Camping Outfit
The author's bushcraft camping outfit. See below for numbered version and listing. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

Whether you are camping in the woods for a weekend or staying out for weeks, this bushcraft camping outfit is a good base model. It forms my standard bushcraft camping kit-list.

One of the considerations for my kit is that it has to provide good durability for the cost. I don’t mind paying good money for kit but it has to last well. My bushcraft equipment gets a lot of use and it needs to be able to withstand weeks and weeks of continuous use. Most of the kit featured in this article I’ve had for years. Much of it has been to several continents. This kit has stood the test of time. The kit that didn’t live up to the job has fallen by the wayside.

A Modular Approach

As I’ve mentioned in other articles, I take a modular approach to my wilderness bushcraft equipment. A modular system allows everything to dovetail nicely. This system helps me to quickly pack yet ensure I have everything I need, as well as cut out excess “just in case” equipment. Applying this system to my camping outfit means my essential wilderness equipment, personal wilderness first aid kit and my bushcraft survival kit, or “possibles pouch”, therefore form part of the kit below. In the field, I have a place for everything and everything in its place.


One thing I’ve learnt over the years is that less is often more. Keep your wilderness equipment outfit as simple and streamlined as possible. I try to minimise the amount of kit I have while maximising its functionality. The kit below is my distillation down to an outfit that works for me. I have used this bushcraft equipment while travelling in wild places as well as running bushcraft courses for many weeks on end.

Bushcraft Camping Equipment

Bushcraft Camping Outfit
The author's bushcraft camping outfit. See below for numbered list. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

Shelter and Sleeping Kit

1. Sleeping bag. I have a number of sleeping bags and I choose one to suit the season and the activity. When weight is a critical factor, I choose a goose down bag; other times I take a synthetic bag – synthetic bags tend to be more robust, cheaper to replace and easier (and cheaper) to clean.

2. Sleeping mat. I find self-inflating mattresses more comfortable than closed-cell foam mats. I use a three-quarter length mat to save on space and weight.

3. Bivvy Bag. I have a number of different bivvy bags but the one I use most is the standard UK military bag. It is simple, durable, roomy, not too heavy and relatively inexpensive (particularly if you buy a grade 1 surplus bag). I’ve added a stuff sac to keep it in. A tip on folding your bivvy bag – it’s better to stuff it than fold it; repeated folding of a breathable membrane such as Gore-Tex in the same place can reduce it’s ability to keep water out. So just stuff your bivvy bag randomly.

4. Tarp. A decent-sized tarp creates a fantastic space under which to live, not just sleep. You get much more room than you do in a tent. For most of the year it is my favourite way of sleeping out in the woods. You wake up fresh and in the environment around you, not shut off from it. There are lots of models of tarp on the market, many of them good but my favourite these days is the Hilleberg XP10. It is around the same weight as a military hootchie/basha but gives over twice the room. Its dimensions are 3.5 x 3.0 m (11.5 x 10 ft), giving a 10 square-metre covered space. Whenever I use a tarp I also pack a length of cord that I tie to the trees from which the tarp is suspended, running the cord under the apex of the tarp. This gives me a line inside the tarp on which I can hang equipment (such as my head-torch for easy reach in the night), as well as being able to air sleeping kit, socks, etc. under the tarp without fear of it getting wet in a rain shower.

Bushcraft Camp - tarp
Tarp set up for camping. Sleeping kit is airing in the morning sunshine. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

Carrying Kit

5. Rucksack. Everyone has their preferences. For this outfit, the Karrimor SF Sabre 45 works well for me. I use Arktis side pockets as I like the draw-cord closures and clip-buckle fastening (as opposed to zips). I’ve replaced the drawstring closures with better quality cord and removed a lot of excess webbing straps from the rucksack and side-pockets.

6. Rucksack liner. I use an Ortleib dry bag as my rucksack liner. It’s not the lightest in the world but it’s tough and, when fastened, it’s completely submersible.

Cooking and Water

7. Billy Can. The ubiquitous Zebra Stainless Steel Billy Can. It’s pretty bomb-proof and I’ve had mine for years. I admit they are also pretty heavy. I keep it in an old nylon stuff sack to stop the soot on the outside of the can getting all over the rest of my kit. Inside the billy I keep a collapsible wash bowl and a collapsible water bag, that I use in camp.

Billy Can Kit
Billy can kit - stuff sack, billy can, billy can insert, collapsible water bag (MSR Dromedary), and collapsible bowl (Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink). Photo: Paul Kirtley.

8. Water purifier. My first choice of method for making water safe to drink is boiling. A fire isn’t always convenient or practical, however, particularly when you are on the move. For the occasions when I don’t have a fire, I use the highly effective and easy-to-use Pre-Mac MWP.

9. Spoon. The only eating utensil I take.

10. Water bottle and metal mug. As discussed here, for me these are essential wilderness equipment.

11. Second water bottle. I like to have 2 litres water-carrying capacity as a minimum.

Personal Hygiene

12. Toilet kit. For visits to the latrine. This is an extra-small Exped dry bag containing toilet paper, wet wipes, alcohol hand-gel and a cigarette lighter.

13. Wash kit. Hygiene in the outdoors is important. Aim for a small, simple yet effective kit. My baseline kit is a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and a razor. For a shaving mirror, I use the sighting mirror on my compass (see 29 below).


14. Waterproof shell. There are some fantastic lightweight waterproofs on the market these days, primarily aimed at hill-walking and mountaineering. They are great for the purpose and I have my fair share in the wardrobe but they are too easily trashed in a woodland environment. For pushing through undergrowth, carry firewood on your shoulders, etc., you need something tougher. Not to mention the risks posed by fires. A high-quality and durable waterproof jacket (Norrona Recon Jacket is pictured but by no means the only choice) that will keep out the rain hour after hour, combined with a cheap yet durable and effective pair of waterproof trousers (mine were £20 from E-bay) is my preference.

15. Heavy warm layer. The classic Swandri wool shirts are great in the woods and safe near fires. They are a lot more durable than a woollen pullover.

16. Spare clothes. Spare socks, underwear and t-shirt.

17. Lightweight warm layer. An Ulfrotte 200g top – lightweight and warm – stuffed in a stuff sac. These garments can also be worn in your sleeping bag on unexpectedly cold nights. I’ve seen lots of these tops ruined by people wearing them as an outer layer, as a sweater. They are not made for this, they are designed to be underwear. The loop-stitching is easily pulled. Wear something over the top of it – even a light cotton shirt will protect it well. In this stuff sac I also stuff items such as 18, 19, and 20, when I’m not using them.

18. Bandana. Large cotton bandana. This has lots of uses – from a scarf to a towel to a rough water filter to an emergency triangular bandage.

19. Warm hat. A light but warm hat should always be in your kit, whatever time of year. Heat loss through your head can be considerable.

20. Sun hat. Even in the woods a hat to keep the sun off your head on hot days makes a big difference to how clearly you can think and how tired you become. A brim keeps the sun out of your eyes and stops your ears getting burnt. This type of bush hat is also good for breaking up the shape of your head and casting a shadow on your face – an advantage when you want to remain unseen by wildlife.


21. Head-torch. A head-torch is less critical in the summer months, when the nights are short, than earlier or later in the year. That said, I always take one. The Petzl TAC Tikka Plus is a good, lightweight general purpose model.

22. Axe. You don’t need an axe to go camping in the woods but if you know how to use one safely it’s a fantastic tool. I’ve had my Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe for many years and it’s like an old friend.

23. Bushcraft knife. The essential bushcraft tool, is discussed more in another article here.

24. Folding saw. A Bahco Laplander saw together with a bushcraft knife makes a powerful combination.

25. Swedish Firesteel. This simple piece of kit is a very dependable means of lighting a fire. I discussed the Firesteel more in an earlier article.

26. Possibles Pouch. Put as little or as much in this as you like. For ideas see my article How to Build a Survival Kit on Bushcraft Principles

27. First Aid Kit. For more details see this article A Personal Wilderness First Aid Kit.

28. Map and map case. I’ve used many map cases over the years (and suffered a lot of soggy maps). I find Ortleib map cases are the most effective at keeping my maps dry. If I need to carry additional maps, I keep them in a large Aloksak .

29. Compass. The Silva Ranger 15TDCL (Silva have since changed the name to Silva Expedition 15TDCL) is the compass I use. See this article for more details.

30. Notebook and cover. A notebook is always useful for keeping notes of important information, keeping a diary, making sketches, etc.

31. Binoculars. For me binoculars are an essential piece of equipment. Bushcraft is ultimately not about kit (despite what you might be led to believe by the above article!) but about a study of nature. Binoculars are a key tool in your study of nature. Whether you are watching fallow deer through the woods or close-focusing on a nearby butterfly, the use of binoculars allows you to observe so much more while remaining unnoticed.

Bushcraft Rucksack Packed
Rucksack packed with all the author's bushcraft camping equipment. There is still room left for food! Photo: Paul Kirtley.

Everyone has their own personal choice of bushcraft camping equipment. The wilderness bushcraft kit above has been honed to my preferences over years of work and leisure in woodland environments. But everyone is different. What do you prefer to take when you camp in the woods? Which bushcraft kit items are indispensible to you? Let me and other readers know your thoughts in the comments section.

Related Articles on Paul Kirtley’s Blog:

Essential Wilderness Equipment – 7 Items I Never Leave Home Without.

How to Build a Bushcraft Survival Kit.

A Personal Wilderness First Aid Kit: What to Include?”

The Importance of Leaving Word Before Heading Into the Wild

215 thoughts on “A Bushcraft Camping Outfit – Equipment for Living in the Woods

    1. How will you cope Steffan? :o) Too soon after the first aid kit article?!

      No I haven’t weighed the particular configuration shown in the pictures. Some of the inclusions in the article are generic (sleeping bag for instance) and I choose different bags depending on circumstances. The same goes for other clothing and equipment. But this is the baseline I work from.

      All the best


  1. Do you use a sleeping bag liner? Instead of soap, do you ever use wet wipes?

    1. Hi Austin

      I generally don’t use a sleeping bag liner as I often find them irritating, particularly in summer (that’s just me). That said, I do sometimes use a silk liner with a down bag if I’m going to be using it for weeks on end. Synthetic bags I’m less fussy about – my standard 3-season synthetic bag is machine washable anyway.

      As for wet-wipes, I do have a packet of anti-bacterial wipes in my ‘latrine kit’. I don’t use wet-wipes for general outdoor washing/cleanliness – they are pretty heavy for what they are and if you do a long trip, they just contribute too much weight and take up too much room. Soap and a flannel is a better long-term solution. A Sea-to-Summit ‘pocket-shower’ is also a good investment.

      All the best


  2. An interesting insight this. Very similar to my own set-up, I’ve got a heap of kit in my front room that I piled up before work this morning ready for a quick turn around before heading off to the woods tonight. I’m well aware that this is nothing like my lightest set-up but horses-for-courses is the key. I find that there is a core of essential stuff, if you are going to be comfortable, to which optional extras are added depending on your reason for being out. If you are not out on your own it is possible to share some of the load of course. I find the most difficult part is getting the food weight and volume down, especially if I’m going to be off the beaten track for some time. I’d be interested to see a feature on ‘camping & backpacking food & cooking’. Hint-hint!

    1. Hi Steve

      You make some very good points – definitely horses for courses. There is no one-size fits all solution that works for everyone in every season. And when there a few of you, equipment can indeed be shared. Cooking pots are an obvious example. Also, if there are two of you, do you both really need an axe? My tarp is big enough for two to sleep under with enough room left for equipment.

      Food definitely deserves a separate article (or two… 🙂 ).

      Enjoy your weekend in the woods!

      All the best


  3. Hi Paul,

    The modular pack system you mentioned earlier in the year has really helped me hugely- they are the ‘building bricks’ which help me : Rationalise all my kit , find all my kit , pack quickly and stop hours of silly deliberation.

    I would pack the following little extras on top of your list:

    1. A small file for my axe.
    2. Some extra paracord.
    3. A Carabiner.
    4. ‘Clingons’ for allowing some flexibility with my tarp (3m x 3m).
    5. A small scourer pad for cleaning my cup/billy.
    6. A carving Jack knife ( instead of Falkniven).
    7. A small quality camera (Samsung WB650).
    8. Back up power facility for mobile phone.
    9. Hip flask……………………………………………..(Anybody tasted the Beech Noyaux yet?)

    Well laid out article..invaluable tips.



    1. Hi Mark

      “Rationalise all my kit , find all my kit , pack quickly and stop hours of silly deliberation.” – brilliantly succinct description of how I got there! ;o)

      Thanks for your list – all good choices. Obviously I also had a camera on the occasion I took the photos for the article, even though it’s not mentioned in the article. It’s worth being more explicit though as a compact digital camera, in addition to a notebook, is a great way of capturing things and events you want to remember. I’ve found a small digital camera immensely useful in recording details of plants and I don’t recognise when I’m out – particularly in foreign environments – as you can’t often take a sackful of field guides with you.

      With the small file – do you have a recommendation? Personally I don’t like the Gransfors axe files. I think they are pretty ineffective as they are short, and only single cut on both sides. And I’ve had a couple fall apart on me (the wooden handle was just glued on). I prefer a full-sized file with single-cut on one side and double-cut on the other for aggressive work. I take this on serious trips, particularly in boreal forest – winter and canoe – when the axe really comes into its own. If you know of a good small file for other occasions, I’d love to hear about it….

      Do you use a Powermonkey for your phone?

      Hip flask – another invaluable tip! 😉

      All the best


      1. I’ve had a Gransfors small forest axe for years to and whilst out & about I just keep it honed with my little DC3 and I keep a small sheet of wet & dry paper with me which is great for keeping an edge. I also keep a small amount of gun oil in a tiny hotel sample shampoo bottle to keep the rust at bay 🙂
        great article as usual Paul 🙂

        1. Just remembered..
          For keeping the Iphone etc charged I bought a small rechargeable powerpack made my Anker from Amazon. Cost about £20 and is enough to keep my Iphone 5 topped up for a week if I’m fairly careful with the useage. Worth a look


          1. Hi again Craig,

            That does sound like it’s worth a look for iPhone users. Thanks for the tip.



        2. Hi Craig,

          Thanks for your comment. Agreed – you don’t need much to keep your axe in good shape while you are out. On extended trips I also take a small bottle of oil. Very similar to what you do, I have a dropper bottle from a gun-cleaning kit which does the job nicely.



      2. I use a chainsaw “flat file” instead of a gransfors for sharpening axes. You can get them from Ebay for around £2.50 without a handle (make one). And if you lose it it’s no real drama. They’re usually about 150mm so are quite light and compact

      3. Hi Paul,
        if you’re still on the search for a small file for your axe to take with you have a look at the chainsaw equipment. The file used to take care for the rakers is small enough to be carried around yet long enough for serious work. And they are cheap 😉

        1. Hi Anrdreas,

          It’s good to hear from you. Thanks for your comment.

          Yes, that’s a good point. I don’t have one personally but several of my team use chainsaw files to good effect.

          I’ll have to add one to my shopping list… 😉

          Warm regards,


          1. STIHL round file or flat file 150 mm.
            Because most times I am to lazy to look for larger files, I do at home most works with the small round file from STIHL, because it is standing on my writing desk with the pencils. :0)
            (If you would have two of them, perhaps you could use them as eating sticks in the asian way too?) STIHL (motor chaine saws) produces a 150 mm long flat file too, that I do not own and never used, but i am absolutely convinced, that this file will work perfectly like the round sister.
            This firm is well known for tools with higher prices than the prices of the competition, but it is well known too, that they produce the best motor chaine saws of the world market. I used a lot of different tools from them, while I was working as a professional gardener. This tools simply work!
            I do not think, that they sell flat files, that could be rubbish! So, you should have a look at this.
            (The smallest professional petrol saw is only around 500 €. – Forget your laplander saw, use german products!!!! (;0)
            Best regards from Berlin!

      4. Hi paul, now files … Buying new then go for Swiss vallorbe. Personally I use diamond files for sharpening everything in the field because they are light & compact. As for backup power, I use a 10,000 mha battery pack with 2 usb’s and has a solar panel built into the front. Cost about £10-15 on a popular auction website. ;0) On extended overseas trips I also carry 2x 5.5v cheap Chinese solar panels bout £2 each. These are very thin and lightweight(about 15x15cm). They have a single usb out and a diode on the back. Also take usb aa/aaa battery chargers (£1-2) for head torch batts(rechargeable).
        As for gransfors axes, well they’re simply works of art but I find the wetterlings are better for splitting being slightly wider in the blade, and better value for money. (I have used both and I kind of like the roughness of wetterlings.!)

  4. Nice article, and actually very close to my own system, with some minor differences. I like the way you think about your equipment, probably because it is so similar to mine.

    In Sweden I can generally find water whenever I want it, so I seldom carry more than one canteen, and often not even that (I’m testing the Guyot steel “Nalgene” for the last year or so; heavier, but I like it). Purely for the “feeling” I tend to carry a hand made kuksa, since it is nice for drinking tea out of.

    I sometimes replace the zebra with an old Swedish army pot (the oval one beloved by UK bushcrafters and derided by all Swedish males who had to live with it while doing military service). I have a steel one, and the two part system is handy at times, and the lid/skillet can be used as a cup. In summer here one often get a fire-ban, and then the trusty Trangia gets an outing.

    I often carry a groundsheet rather than a bivy, but one could argue either way; in winter the bivy — I have an old Haglöfs polycotton/nylon one that I generally carry — is the only way to go, but in summer the groundsheet is cooler (but it it is really hot one can sleep inside just the bivy).

    I prefer the closed cell foam pads to the inflatables; I simply do not trust the inflatables to stay inflatable. I use a ridge rest, but is considering getting a Evazote Doublemat.

    Ohh, and I almost never carry toilet paper in in non-snow conditions; I actually prefer sphagnum moss.

    On longer trips I agre with Mark H that a file for the axe is good; mine is an Husqvarna flat chainsaw file. I also often carry a small repair kit; the times I’ve needed to use it the stuff in it have been very nice (thread, needles, safety pins, waterproof adhesive tape — sold for repairing tents, IIRC — some steel wire
    and a few spare buckles in case the ones on the pack break).

    And one item I learnt from one of Lars Fälts books; a small pair of vise-grip pliers, but those are in my possibles pouch.

    1. Hej Par

      Thanks for your comment. Very good insight into some of the considerations for outdoor life in Sweden. Thanks! I enjoyed reading it, particularly “derided by all Swedish males who had to live with it while doing military service).” which made me smile 🙂

      Sphagnum is indeed very good although it’s not always available here. More in Scotland.

      I think your point about a repair kit is a very good one. I do usually have a small sewing kit and some duct tape. On longer trips, particularly canoe trips, it’s good to have a range of bits of wire, bolts, tape, etc. Pliers I take on canoe trips and when I might need to fix ski bindings or crampons, they are indispensible. All good stuff!!

      All the best


      1. Lots of great comments, variety is indeed the spice of life. I would like to get peoples opinion on Camilla oil. Some people rave about it. I’m still in two minds about it. I find that it just doesn’t have the staying power of some of the thicker gun oils.
        Toilet paper, wet wipes, and moss? Real campers use……………PINE CONES (Joke)

  5. Hi Paul,

    The file (Bahco?) I have is something purchased from B&Q with single cut one side and double on the other , but I have cut it down to 3/4 length – works for me… I have also got a narrower guage triangular Chainsaw file without a handle.The B&Q has a nice handle and sits well in the side pockets of my bergan, so I use that more often.

    The Power pack and solar charging unit were given to me as an Xmas pressie- Chinese import (no apparent brand) – but they work !

    The camera is excellent – superb Zoom and pictures so often have so much to tell.

    Cooking technique and food is so variable. As you say another subject – just avoid too much dried fruit (especially Mango Or Apricot) !

    The packing system has made life so much easier. Enough said…

    Thank you

  6. I saw Ben Orford sharpen a small forest axe this past weekend with a DMT hand held double sided (blue/red) diamond sharpener (something like this www+dmtsharp.com/general/featured.htm#product5, replace the + with .). He showed that laying the extended handle onto the head to start with reminds you to take off metal from the back of the bevel and not just the edge of it.

    1. Hi Steffan

      That’s a very good point regarding the axe – it has a convex bevel and to retain this shape you must take metal off the whole bevel not just the edge. I’ve seen some messed-up axes as a result of just sharpening the edge – one had a very distinct secondary bevel as a result and the owner just couldn’t get it sharp. It needed a fair amound of work with my axe file but we got it sorted….

      All the best


  7. Great article as usual Paul.
    I too have been taking a modular approach for some time now – it really does save an immense amount of time; especially when ay throwing a few bits (brew kit, med kit, mini hammock) in a day sack for a quick stroll as opposed to loading up for a few nights or longer out. It makes life easier too when trying to locate an unexpectedly needed item in your pack when on the move.
    One essential from your kit for me is the hammock. I bought myself one on a whim a couple of years ago and since then have never looked back. Up to that point I had never had a really good night of unbroken sleep in the woods using a sleeping mat on the floor (and I tried several). At least not without a little help from the hip flask already mentioned. For me the hammock was a revelation. I was out last weekend and finally one of my co campers finally woke me up at 9 as we had things to do – that’s about 2 hours after the latest time I sleep in at home.
    I also use a full length self-inflating sleep mat for warmth. Recently bought a new one from Karrimor; of all people it came from ‘Sports Direct’ in a half price sale (isn’t everything) and it is brilliant. Exactly half the length and half the weight of my previous one – see if they have anymore.
    In fact that is my current mission; going through tried and tested kit which I have had for years in some cases and trying to find lighter, smaller versions that perform as well. We all need a hobby right?


    1. Hi Paul

      Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the article.

      I know a lot of people love hammocks and fair play to them (and you) but I don’t really get on with them. I sleep really well on the deck anyway so it’s not a problem. I sleep my best outdoors and particularly in the fresh air (not as well in tents). I find when I come back indoors I find it too stuffy and need to open the bedroom window… 🙂

      Good tip re the inflatable mat – thanks. Your hobby is not a bad one. I think you share it with a lot of other people here……



      1. Interesting comment om the hammock. I’ve been rather sceptical of them, but bought a hammock to test this summer; the combination of not having to find flat ground and good mosquito protection tempted me. So far my main complaints are that turning around at night is a hassle, and that there is less space for cooking and doing crafts. And no more breakfast in “bed”… It will probably never replace the “regular” system for normal bush travel, but it might be good for when I just need a place to sleep with minimal fuss.

        Anyone who has seen a *good* mosquito protection system for ground dwellers under a tarp (I also detest tents unless forced to by climate)?

        1. Hi Par,

          I know this is a fairly old post but hopefully this will find you!

          I’ve been looking at mossie protection for some time and come across various approaches.

          I have settled on a Rab (or Integral Designs) Element Solo Bug Tent. They also do it in a 2-man size which is more readily available; I’m having to order the solo size in from Hollans.



        2. Hi Par,

          I know this is a fairly old post but hopefully this will find you!

          I’ve been looking at mossie protection for some time and come across various approaches.

          I have settled on a Rab (or Integral Designs) Element Solo Bug Tent. They also do it in a 2-man size which is more readily available; I’m having to order the solo size in from Holland.



        3. If you take a hammock like the DD hammock with double layer nylon & mosquito net you can use it like a groundsheet, insert your sleeping matt between the sheets (as it were) and still utilise the mosquito net at ground level – small amount of rigging still required. That makes for a versatile deck or airborne set up without doubling up on anything.

  8. The modern bushcrafter has the intention to carry more and more equipment…
    Sometimes forced by government, sometimes being inexperienced, sometimes by preference.

  9. Great stuff Paul, thanks !
    I have a few axes ( and FAR too many knives ! ) and have been spending some time with the larger of the two Finnish ‘Rosselli ‘ axes. I am finding it a real treat to use and it is fantastic at processing firewood !
    As I get older, ( 47 ) so, it seems, does the style of my kit. I find myself using many more natural fibre kit and have even started using a canvas and leather strapped pack from time to time ! ( a bit heavier, but beautiful and surprisingly comfortable. Wool underneath Ventile if I am in the woods ( having ripped or melted my share of Gortex ! ) Although Gortex has its place in my kit of course, depending on conditions. ( the biviy bag is ever present. ) What I have stopped doing for quite a while now is using any boots with a Gortex or waterproof lining.
    I have found that if I get a bootfull then it is realy hard to get them dry in the field.
    My best.

    1. Hi Chris

      Should we be calling you ‘Chopper’ Davis? 😉

      You know, I often use a Ventile smock in the woods. I just happened to have my Norrona jacket when I took the photos for the article. Mine is single layer and does let moisture through in prolonged rain, but over a wool shirt it works really well – I stay warm and dry underneath the wool shirt.

      Very good point regarding boots too. They are hard to dry, particularly in cold conditions.

      All the best


      1. Hi Paul
        I too am a stout fan of ventile clothing. I love my ventile smock and when in the forest I wear it in preference over my recon jacket, it just feels so comfortable and in winter I have found it performs much better than Gore-Tex.

  10. Thanks for sharing your kit with us. For those in North America, a much cheaper wool shirt is the US/Canadian olive drab colour wool shirt with two small chest pockets. I could fit in a mediium but prefer a larger fit to go over other clothes, this is my fire shirt and they can be found for $5-$10 at surplus stores or thrift shop from time to time.

    1. Hi James

      Thanks for your tip regarding the US/Canadian wool shirts. I’ll keep my eye out for one the next time I’m in your part of the world.

      All the best


  11. Thanks for showing us your kit, it’s simlilar to what I take too. I also carry a pair of gloves, I find that I usually end up with little cuts after I have been gathering materials for a fire etc. Gloves help me prevent all that.

    Thanks. Lee

    1. Gloves can indeed be handy. I have some leather gardening gloves that I keep with my Dutch oven – helps not to burn my hands 🙂

      All the best


  12. Bushcraft isn’t supposed to be about kit. But it is, isn’t it? Just look at the number of comments on kit articles, compared to any other. I, myself, was going to submit a simple comment that I also include a hammock and that DD Hammocks make very good and affordable ones. But I couldn’t leave it there.

    So, if bushcraft is about kit, then does it deliver as a strategy? Well, I’m not too sure. Why? Because, I think, it often leads to people carrying more kit and heavier kit than they need. This is both a bad thing in itself – as I get older, I really value a light pack – but it also seems at odds with the bushcraft credo of only taking into the wilderness what the wilderness can’t (easily) provide.

    A quick browse of the various walking and trekking magazines shows that the demand for lighter weight kit has, over the last few years, delivered some massive reductions in weight. And not all of this kit simply falls apart after a couple of outings. Some of this kit has been used on ultra long distance treks, where it has to be tough.

    Let me give a couple of examples. A tarp, hammock, and bivi bag is always going to be a heavier combination than the latest one man tent designs. And, if you want to stick with tarps, then Cuben fibre models are much lighter (and more expensive) than the ones most bushcrafters use.

    Another example. Bushcraft rightly places a lot of importance on carrying a cutting implement. But is that a. Justification for routinely carrying three or more blades (knife, saw, axe, multitool etc)? there is too much redundancy and weight here, even given the importance of cutting tools to bushcraft.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not for a moment criticising Paul, or anyone else. My standard kit looks much the same as his and, by the sound of it, many other people’s. But increasingly I think it only really delivers when either I’m going to be very static at a fixed location, or I’m in a remote place for an extended period, where redundancy gives safety, a large axe is useful for more than just firewood and I’m free to take what I want from the environment. Sadly, this is rarely the case and I’m guessing this is the same for most people.

    I will try and post a suggested hybrid kit (with photo’s) soon, if people would be interested.

    1. Yes, a hybrid kit is something, that should be discussed seperatly, perhaps Paul can write an artikle about that too. It would be interesting to read the comments of experianced people from different countries.
      If we are travelling in Europe, we need hybrid Equipment, because you cant light a fire every where. Here you are allowed to sleep in a tent, there only in a bivi bag, every 100 kilometers you have different rules in Europe.
      I own equipment for several thousand €, but even for me it isn’t so easy to choose the right things, when I am packing for a hiking tour. It is in my opinion necessary to develop together a list for bushcraft based hiking tours in developped, crowded countries. You can go for an illegal and some where legal hiking tour with wildcamping and often campfire in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France, (depending on the weather of course, I do not invite you, to burn our forests down in a dry summer), But if you want to hop in the sea or a lake or to taste the local kitchen in a restaurant that most times means: Campingground!
      Because in this blog under the leadership of Paul we try to give some tips for beginners, especially younger people in the student age, who haven’t so much money, it would be very sensible to doublecheck the Equipment for Hybrid Use!!!
      Is Pauls tarp a good tip for a European student, who wants to visit in his holydays different european countries? I recommend a military poncho for german bushcrafters, but am I right?
      I do not use larger tarps, I own 15 tents from 1 to 30 persons, 3 bivi bags and a military poncho, that is really enough for me and everybody I know. But what is about our student, interested in bushcraft, but interested in traveling in Europe as well? Is a 3×3 meter tarp large enough for britain? Are there 3×3 meter tarps on the market, that are strong enough, at the right point reinforced and fitted out with a loop at the right point to construct a pyramidic tent from with one pole from inside, two poles or tripod or the branch of a tree from outside to tie it up? — if the product is existing, we have to recommend that, and only that for the beginner in student age! He could go with such a tarp on a common european Campingground. And he has to, if he wants to swim at german and french beaches! Do all sizes of Zebra billy cans fit together with CampingGaz and screw ventile gas bottles? Is the best fitting large enough for one or two persons? Should we perhaps tell people that a skrew ventile burner fits on a adapter for the CampingGaz system, but there is no opposite way? Should we tell the beginner, that only the screw system offers winter gas from 5 to -20*C, but with the blue french and italian bottles the game is over at 5*C? — I think, we should tell that to people. We should tell them, that toaks offers titan pots in different sizes, that you can hang under a tripod AND handels like the US Army mug. (I bought one but didn’t use it till now, will give a review in january 2018) But I can say that i melted the aluminum handel of a french rectangular military pot, with the same test (pot standing on oak amber) i burned away a part of the green colour of the (western )German “Bundeswehr Kochgeschirr” ( thanks God it became black there later! ;0) but its shape is a bit tricky on the gas burner, and the gas bottles do not fit in, perhaps the smallest, don’t know. Surely the Zebra is better with a gas burner!
      I bought that diffusor bag for my had torch, to make a table lamp from, because that is nice, when I can’t light a fire. And sit with a friend at a table on a camping ground. It has exactly the right size for my thin 40×60 cm mountaineering towel, and razor, shampoo, tothpaste and toothcream in small sizes. Why should I buy an other bag in that size with the same weight in an other material, which is only a bag and no part of a nice table lamp?!? To save 5 €? I would say: Saved at the wrong point!
      And we all should give reports about our gas burners, there are weak burning things on the market, and titanium tools with broken arms, and stupid heavy ones too. I used since 20 years the old snow peak with 4 steel arms and piezo lightning. Small folding, large enough under pots till 6 liters, if you pay attention, light, hot, strong enough for larger pots, bomb proof i thing, if you handle with normal care. The small CampingGaz bleuet (with that cheap bottles without ventile) without any plastc parts is not very hot. I use it since 35 years. It works like the first day, but it is made for italy! In Iceland I emptied a full gaz bottle and the liter water did NOT boil! But in France for car camping till today in use, because its cheaper, than screw ventile bottles. But heavy!
      Tent for french summer camping grounds? Decathlon simple two man cross pole dome green, 25,-€ .This is no orthographic mistake: Twentyfife Euro! Double wall, absolutly ok! But it rains in, if you open the door- clean it up with a t-shirt or construct a military poncho over the entrance, it is constructed for areas and times, where it normally doesn’t rain, but it is rain proof. French youth hostels do not offer lockers, i dont bring expencive stuff there. Other tents? Hilleberg Nallo 2, for 3 seasons, but not snow storms, incredible intelligent construction and incredible expensiv not neccesary but very nice. My best tent ? Look at Youtube for:” Kohtenaufbau auf Zeit” you will see the heavy but portable canvas german boy scout tent “Tortuga Kohte” 4 meters from one peg to the opposite site, 4 persons , 285 g/ m2 black canvas, 20 cm groundstripe, best for 4 persons between 20 and – 20*C, but for fire in snow on solid ground, bad on snow! But this tent needs dead standing trees as poles, one pole over the shoulder with the attached national flag is possible but out of forest without firewood it doesn’t make so much sence, to southern France, we took smaller canvas tents, rectangular or triangular shape historic military tents, cheap but very good. As sleeping bag too in hot summers.
      Attention! I heard the polish army tent burns like plastic, even in the rain! This looks like a lavvu , but i have been told it is not, perhaps it is a dangerous trap!
      So, what i want to say: We all together should think about the possibility of hybrid use of our equipment, and find out the best for both worlds, because most of us are dancing on both parties!

  13. Paul, like myself is obviously a believer in the pneumonic KISS (keep it simple stupid) why burden yourself with lots of unnecessary kit. I would be interested to know though what ‘luxury’ item you take with you on longer trips? My personal luxury item is a Sony ICF-SW100 radio which I take on all trip when travelling abroad.

    1. I love music and an iPod is one luxury I sometimes take. When I’m running courses I like to listen to a few tracks before getting my head down. It helps me relax and switch off.

      When I’m on an extended journey, I like a good book to keep me company.



      1. Luxury item’s, that would be my Kindle Paper White in a zip lock bag and my pipe.
        My Panasonic video camera is a waterproof pistol grip type, HD video and hi res stills all in the palm of my hand, so I never go out without it and wouldn’t consider it a luxury item.
        Other than that, I have kit much like the above article.
        Simple, functional, covers the essentials and is tried, tested and trusted.

        Great blog site by the way Paul, keep up the great work my friend.
        Kind regards, Jack.

  14. Hi James,

    The main point you make is very interesting. There seems from the outside to be a definite contradiction between the requirement for ‘Kit’ and the ability to carry less kit or even no kit within Bushcraft circles.

    I think we find ourselves or I find myself struggling for higher and higher levels of Primative Technological skills, whereby you carry more and more skills about your person ,(..” in your head or in your muscles”..) to lower your reliance on Kit. However, until your skill set is at the ‘top of it’s game ‘you find yourself wanting to be fully ‘Prepared’ – and so naturally and responsibly you carry more kit .

    So I guess you start where I did – not that long ago ! With no skill or knowledge and lots of kit. Then you progress with your skills and the Ruck sack lightens……

    For me nowadays ( not that I have progressed massively !), I guess the two main factors which address the level of kit I carry are ; Time and The Standard of Bushcraft I wish to achieve. The more time I have out in the woods I will carry less kit – kit usually affords me some very efficient time saving solutions to staying outdoors. Pitching a tent may take moments and brewing up on a trangia minutes, compared to the purists approach. If you want to carry out Bushcraft perhaps to the highest Standard/ level- i.e that of the “skilled purist” you will carry less kit.

    Bushcraft is carried out at all sorts of levels by all sorts of people – for some I guess it is all about no Kit and for the majority it is about blending old technology with new for the best outdoor solution.

    I guess we end on the same point – The Hybrid Solution.

    My luxury item would be a good Bushcraft based book (or even more chocolate !)



    1. James, Mark and Rody make very good points, and their comments today have been very thought provoking for me.

      I was also going to make some quick comments but then ended up writing a lot more 🙂 ….

      I’m both a bushcraft instructor and a mountain leader and these different areas of outdoor life have different approaches to kit, particularly with respect to weight. I have plenty of lightweight kit too and use different combinations for different situations, different seasons and different trips. The objective of the trip often has a big influence on the choice of equipment. I’ll be interested to see James’s hybrid kit.

      To me, bushcraft is separate and distinct from kit.

      Also to my mind, camping in the woods is not bushcraft; it’s camping in the woods. That’s not to say we can’t apply bushcraft skills when we are there but I think it’s worth making the distinction.

      I think one question that often muddies the water in this type of discussion is how do you define bushcraft? I’m not necessarily supplying any answers here but I’ll share my thoughts and throw out a few more questions in the process.

      There are words surrounding bushcraft that carry with them concepts that seem to me somewhat dislocated. Terms such as ‘bushcrafter’ and ‘bushcrafting’ have gained popularity recently and are now widely used. People use these terms to define themselves and their interests. Does the a hunter-gatherer in the African bush live day-to-day by virtue of their bushcraft? Absolutely. But is a hunter-gatherer a bushcrafter? To me a bushcrafter is someone who practices bushcraft skills as a hobby or pastime.

      Over the years we’ve watched many anthropological and bushcraft TV shows examining native ways of living from the land. For me this portrayal of bushcraft in the widest sense raises the question of what is the commonality between, say, the way of life of African hunter-gatherers and the Inuit? Does the commonality define bushcraft? Or are they both examples of bushcraft? Or is bushcraft bigger than both of these environment-specific sets of skills and knowledge? Does bushcraft encompass all native skills and knowledge?

      One way or other, bushcraft seems to be a collection of skills and knowledge that allow you to sustain yourself from nature in a particular environment. But there also seems to be more to it than that – my perception of bushcraft is that it also involves an approach, a philosophy, a perspective. This perspective is not one of the survivor, but one who’s presence in that environment is normal or anticipated. A survivor is looking to be extracted or extricated. A native’s existence is intertwined with, and inextricable from, the land.

      One way you could define the difference between bushcraft and survival is that bushcraft is the set of skills and knowledge you use to live in your home environment; Survival skills are the set of skills and knowledge you use to live in an alien environment until you can return to your home environment. Are one man’s bushcraft skills another man’s survival skills? And if so, where does this leave us?

      If bushcraft really is the native’s perspective of their relationship with the land, are we (as inhabitants of the developed world) even capable of fully understanding this perspective?

      Regardless of these somewhat philosophical questions, the extent to which we apply bushcraft skills to our outdoor life – whether it is camping, hiking, canoeing or anything else – is a choice.

      Those who have also attended Journeyman courses with me will no doubt attest to the fact that the more kit you strip away, the more time you spend attending to your basic needs. Putting up a tarp is a lot less time-consuming than building a shelter, for example.

      So when we head out, we make a choice about the balance between application of kit and application of bushcraft. Kit makes aspects of our time outdoors easier, quicker or more comfortable. The more skilled we are in bushcraft so certain tasks become easier, less time consuming and we are more comfortable on a journey. There is, of course, overlap – certain kit makes the application of some bushcraft skills easier.

      To me, the application of bushcraft makes most sense in wilderness. Hence, my emphasis on wilderness bushcraft skills (it’s in my blog title). This is where local techniques and knowledge fit best. This is also why the classic tools of bushcraft also fit best in their respective wild environments. You don’t have to rely on a cutting tool in the woods in Sussex, you just have to walk to the road, catch a bus to the shops and buy another one. In the wilds, your kit needs to work. Your system needs some redundancy. Yes modern materials and design are making kit lighter – and we should be open-minded about this as long as the kit works. Native Americans embraced metals tools and utensils because they worked better than what they had. There is no need for us to be luddites. Just because the kit is modern doesn’t stop us having empathy with the environment we choose to enter.

      Whatever kit we use, doesn’t stop the skills we use and the knowledge we apply from being bushcraft.

      1. Fine point Paul, and well made.
        I have far too much kit and not enough skills. I am, however, addressing this inbalance !
        It is , I must add in my defence, my hobby and it has provided me with some of the most meaningfull and beautifull moments of my life.
        I am here to learn and share. Keep up the good work Paul !
        My best.
        ‘Chopper ‘ Davis.

      2. Let me start by agreeing with Paul that bushcraft is separate and distinct from kit. This list is simply my attempt to take the best of bushcraft and the best of the philosophy and equipment of ultralight backpacking, where a great premium is placed on reducing weight and not always at the expense of durability. Equally, ultralight backpacking is often conducted in remote or wilderness settings, where you also have to factor in risk. One of my inspirations in putting together this list was Ryan Jordan’s Arctic 1000 Trek http://backpackinglight.typepad.com/2006_arctic/

        Paul has added some fascinating observations on what bushcraft and bushcrafting is. I think your kit should enhance and not hinder your experience. Accepting the principle that reducing weight can do this, I wanted to see if I could create a kit list comparable to Paul’s that was of lighter weight, without sacrificing anything of real importance, including the bushcraft philosophy. None of the items listed is supposed to offer greater convenience for its own sake or to isolate you from your environment and your experience.

        I don’t recommend the ultralight approach simply because I am a slave to saving weight but because I think it has something in common with the bushcraft approach: simplicity, a closer connection to your surroundings and a greater reliance on skills rather than gear. I believe there could be a happy synergy between the two disciplines. For a much better description of ultralight backpacking than I could give, I recommend the books by Ray Jardine and Ryel Kestenbaum.

        I haven’t weighed everything out in my list but I’m pretty sure I’ve achieved a reasonable reduction in weight. Please feel free to prove me wrong or improve on my suggestions. I think this exercise can only fail if it doesn’t promote a debate – how else will we continue to improve?

        Whether this is a better kit list or not, I think is a completely subjective judgment and dependant on exactly what you are doing and where you are going. I take Paul’s point about wilderness bushcraft; but I suspect most people most of the time are carrying a similar amount of kit around the UK, which isn’t a wilderness. In such locations, a larger axe may be of less use and a wood stove a handy compromise.

        Lastly, I’ve tried, wherever possible, not to list particular brands or products. One reason for is that there may be better alternatives out there that I don’t know about. Another is that I think the commercialisation of bushcraft has, in part, contributed to the increasing list of kit we feel we must have and carry.

        Download James Peskett's Hybrid Bushcraft Kit

        1. If you are wondering how James added the download and the download button – I did it for him.

          Enjoy and let us know your thoughts!

          All the best


        2. James,

          I specially like your insights about the knife or hatchet. Leaving Your knife at home will be “out of the comfort zone” for many of Us. Having an axe on Your belt when on trail is less comfortable, in a more static setting its a good thing to get used to. Wearing a cutting tool on the person is critical.
          The multitool’s pliers and blade I use the most. The other features seldom used. Except the can-opener perhaps. This is a good opportunity to lose some weight, in choosing a simple multitool.
          A Thermos is always on my list, It’s adding comfort and speed ( warmth during the day without having to start a cooker or fire)

          thanks for sharing Your list.

  15. As a relative newbie, please take my view point in its proper perspective. Not long ago, I went for a few days using a “truer” form of the craft (cooking only using an open fire, no prepared food, etc), then shortly thereafter I went with a group, and cooked on a stove, used freeze dried food, etc, and my conclusion is the latter was not as enjoyable, and in fact the “ease” led to boredom, and this, and other similar experiences, leads me to believe the “purer” the form one’s time, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities allows them to employ, the better time they can have. Thank you very much for the great article (my wish list just grew exponentially:) ), and the wisdom that may be garnered from it and the comments.

    1. Welcome Josh

      Thanks for your comment. I think the point you make is a good one, relative newbie or not 🙂 One of the main reasons I became interested in learning bushcraft skills was that I was doing a fair amount of hiking, backpacking and wild camping but always taking all the kit and food I needed with me for everything. I started to feel some sense of dis-satisfaction with this way of visiting wild places and I wanted to understand and interact with the environment more than I was doing. I didn’t want to go into the outdoors inside a little bubble, equipped like I was undertaking a moon-landing. I wanted to be out there in nature, using it, interacting with it and being part of it. This led me to booking on my first bushcraft course then studying the subject in a depth….

      Thanks for your comment – I think there is more wisdom in it than you give yourself credit for.

      All the best


  16. At whatever level you approach Bushcraft it is the most fascinating ‘subject’. I find it acts as a catalyst to enjoying the ‘great outdoors’…..

    Perhaps we should just look at all our ‘kit’ in it’s modular form (our bricks) and cement it together with our bushcraft skills.

    Point well made Paul , thank you….


  17. hi paul,this is the same set up as i carry,but i would like to ask you,as thats no light load yuo have there how does that pack stand up. im currently using a 120 plce pack and thinking about down sizeing due to evry one saying its to big,but my issue is .is it better to have a larger pack,more spread out load as to a smaller pack cramed full, plus im 6.1. and not sure if the 45 will be ok for me. atb paul.

    1. Hi Paul

      You are right – it isn’t light – but there are substitutions I can make to reduce the weight. This is a baseline kit-list that I use a lot when I’m running bushcraft courses. It’s tough and low-maintenance and in the last few years has probably seen about 15- to 20-weeks use per year.

      The Sabre 45 rucksac is very good and one of my favourites. The pack on its own, without side pockets, is surprisingly light – not much heavier than the Crux AK47 climbing sack that I have, for example. I also use the Sabre 45 for a daypack in the winter, so year-round it sees a lot of use. It has worn well and the only hole in it is where a mouse had a nibble at it.

      In terms of support – the hip belt is a little skimpy compared to bigger packs but still provides a good amount of support as long as the pack matches your back-length. I’m also 6ft 1in tall and I find the pack comfortable. A friend of mine who is taller, doesn’t get on with the pack as most of the weight hangs on his shoulders, the back of the pack being too short for him.

      If you pack well you can get around a weeks worth of food in this pack too but it starts getting pretty heavy and a little awkward to pack. At this stage, I’d certainly be looking at using something a little bigger and with more support.

      I hope this helps?

      All the best


      1. I go along with the positive rating for the 45. I actually it find more comfortable and better balanced than the 75 – surprisingly. I can’t seem to get the 75 close enough to my back/neck at the top end despite how tightly I cinch it and adjust things. So it feels like it is hanging too loose and pulls my centre of gravity backward.

  18. I think we all wish we could just go out with a knife (plus the odd other item), build our own shelter and live off the land, but most of us just don’t have the time to do all that.

    I get out as often as possible but when I do, it’s only for one night at a time. By the time I’ve found my camp site, set up my tarp and searched for stuff to make a fire It’s already about 4:00pm. It get’s dark around 7:15 in summer where I am so I don’t have much more time to do a lot more. to make a shelter and forage for food would be too much for the level I am at.

    Every time I go out I learn something new and see what natural resources I can use instead of my kit, but sometimes reaching for the paracord instead of making natural rope is more beneficial for the time I have.

    Great thread


  19. You can talk about it for ever, differ in opinion till the end of times, you just need a few principles and you have a few variables, for example:
    – weight & volume
    – fit for purpose durability/quality/applicability (e.g. a hammock in -40C is not preferable)
    – risk

    Principle1: Use the lightest material which gives you the desired durability.
    Principe 2: The total kits carries a certain amount of risk once you loose one or more items (when using items of “combined functionality”
    Principle 3: test your kit on technology soundness and up-to-dateness (refresh your way of thinking every so years)
    Assumption: money plays a very limited role

    Example #1. Taking the old NATO flask (1.0 l) will set you back 212 grams. A drink bottle from SIGG (1,5 L) will set you back 209 grams. A Platypus water sack will set you back 36 grams. A 1 liter PLatypus will set you back 24 grams. As paul mentions the ortlief one he has is heavier but strong (The MSR onces as well, but are even heavier)

    Example #2 I can use my titinium pan with loose handle of 175 grams and a mug, 24 grams and a spork of 19 grams (Total: 218 grams). Or use a billy can (xxx weight) and/or BCB like crusader mug (279) or take both and take utensils to some extend. Billy cans come in so many shapes and sizes and weight, would not know where to begin, they have titanium ones as well I believe.

    In example one you could take the platypus 1,5 liter and save quite some weight. They are durable enough… (they will last far beyound your trip lenght) But are not that strong in a sense that they could overcome an accident type of thing. A poke with a walking stick, stepping on it (should not be a problem), heat, etc. NATO flask also is not good with heat and quite some weight for the amount of water you can carry with it.

    My choice: I take two 1,5 l platypus bags (72 grams) saving space and weight and reducing risk by taking a spare. Other option is to take the Sigg one (aluminium) which can carry more and take 1,5 Platypus. Not more weight, since I can carry 3L of water.

    In example two you can use the crusador mug / billcan and use it as a pan/mug. Tatanium is as strong as steel but 60% lighter and has far better corrosion resistance.

    My choice: I take the titanium, plastic folding mug and titanium spork and iron handle. I take an additional iron handle of 12 gr. Which I can use as handle or other things if needed. Also here I would gain quite some weight to the other set. I can use the lit of the pan for cooking as well btw.

    You can change the principles and variables, depending on the setting you go or whatever and go by every item. One thing for me is always important, carrying less means you can physically do more (simple science) and under dangerous circumstances (bolders, weather, etc.) it might be safer to have less weight. Next step, just leave stuff out and use nature as much as possible. Using nature comes with new variables, like e.g. a saw and an axe (just to show, things change once the principels and variables change). Going cold…bigger pack due to additional volume of clothing.

    Another one: Would you use paracord or kevlar cord? I do not know, I do know that we have the 7 strand paracord which weight about 8 grams a metre with a breaking strengt of 550lbs, or kevlar which is one milimimeter in diametre, has three strands, weight about 9 grams for 15 metres with a breaking strength of a 100kg. 15 m of kevlar is 3,75, 10m of paracord 5 GBP. Use the principles and variables and in my case will use kevlar. Whether or not it will perform in the bush, I do not know yet.

    1. Kevlar vs paracord: I actually abandoned paracord since I found that 4mm braided polyester is much, much nicer to tie knots in (not to mention pulling on with bare hands!), and will work well both as bowstrings and for bowdrills in an emergency.

  20. I think the key here is to have a flexible approach and to build up over time to a selection kit relevent to differing circumstances ie winter/summer, open fire/gas burner, water availability and so on. Probably the usual route is to begin with reletively cheap gear from military surplus stores. As experience grows one gathers a greater understanding of what is really needed or wanted then gathers that kit. I imagine that most of us who have enjoyed spending time outdoors for a number of years, have to make decisions over what to take and what to leave – is that not part of the enjoyment too?

    Until recently I used to head out kitted up with everything I could fit in my 90 litre pack and on my person. It was part of the enjoyment for me to travel around with an ‘everything I will need if the world ends tomorrow’ approach. I still go out with friends who continue with that approach and I completely empathise with it still – every conceivable tool for every eventuality. I fully understand that that clashes with the “know more, carry less” philosophy, but each person seeks different rewards for their efforts.
    While kitted out in this way I could carve some spoons, build a large shelter, cook a huge stew from scratch and refer to large tomes of wisdom while foraging for edibles. Did that make me any less bushcrafty? No, of course not. At least as far as I am concerned which is of course completely biased.

    To this day I remain a kit fetishist. Only nowadays I very rarely find items I genuinely think will improve upon the kit I currently carry. It’s not that I wouldn’t like much of the latest gear but simply that I have narrowed down what works for me.

    I said I ‘used to’ take a massive pack of gear because I recently bought myself a much smaller pack that I had fancied for a while. It was a conscious plan to force myself to lighten the load. Obviously a lot of kit would have to be sacrificed or smaller lighter alternatives found. What a revelation!
    By starting with the absolute bare essentials and building up, rather than starting with everything I wanted to take and trying to make it fit, I realised how much was surplus to requirement. It is a really useful exercise that I would encourage everybody to do (essentials up, not buy a small pack).
    How often do you use that set of small carving knives? Do you really need all those bungees when you can use paracord and learn to tie an adjustable knot? etc. etc.

    Knowledge is power and I am glad I changed my approach. I am lighter, quieter, more agile and less tired at the end of the day. Maybe I have finally seen the light? Although I do fancy one of those ultralight tarps, and my compass could do with an update, come to think of it a digital thermomer for my med kit could be useful, and wow – those new binoculars my mate has are cracking, and……………………

  21. I suppose your next article should cover how you pack this set up into your rucksack, what goes in the side pouches, how you arrange the main compartment et-cetera.

    I would be curious to know how much cordage you carry, for instance how long and what gauge are your tarp ridge and guy lines?

    Another great article, thanks.

  22. Hi Paul just back from a week in the woods myself ( down in Englandshire) and my kit is very similar to yours but living up here in bonnie Scotland when I go to the woods I need some midge protection and especialy sleeping under a tarp ! I would be intrested to know what you use if you are amongst the wee beasties ?

    1. Hi Mark

      If I’m bivvying amongst the wee beasties, I use a bivvy bag with an integral mosquito net. At times I’ve really needed it; I remember waking up early one morning just north of Glen Carron, thinking it was raining such was the pitter-patter on my bivvy bag. It turned out that the outside was thick with midges! I waited for the sun to hit my bivvy bag, and disperse the little pests, until I got out of bed – one of my better excuses for having a lie-in! 🙂

      All the best


  23. Hey Paul,

    I see someone else mentioned a titanium spork. I’d like to support that idea. There are three versions I can think of off the top of my head. One from REI, and two from Snow Peak. REI carries a full size, and Snow Peak carries a full size and a short version. I personally prefer the REI because the part that actually touches the mouth a polished, where the Snow Peak versions are bead blasted.

    My titanium spork never leaves the key chain on my hip. With the exception of eating, of course. I get compliments all the time, but I’m sure I get some strange looks, too. I don’t really notice.

  24. What an interesting,and for me,poignant thread i’ve stumbled upon….
    Like Paul,i to have “come home” to bushcraft(for want of a better word) after spending alot of time traveling/backpacking…but quite often merely “passing through” my enviroment,in my “bubble”as you say Paul.
    It would appear to me that alot of the “outdoor media” would have us belive that the ONLY way to go is fast and light,from A-B pronto,the Thru-hikers who walk 2500 mile’s in the shortest possible time,never deviating from a given route, never stopping….
    To me, there is a correlation between this style of outdoor activity and the way alot of us lead our lives now,competitive,goal orientated,highly structured,known outcome etc.
    I have to come clean and count myself in the fast & light brigade(or i was!),but all the while felt that something was missing.
    Having had a boyhood spent making camps,lighting fires etc,it was only recently that i realized how drastically my percieved view of the outdoor life had changed.
    Anyway,after my first recent bushcraft course i now feel much more attuned to myself,my own wants,as much as anything,and realize i have many happy hours of learning ahead.But more importantly,i don’t feel conditioned to stride ahead at all costs…..although i may do at times!!!
    From a kit point of view my feelings are mixed.Asthetics V Practicality.I have to confess to a love of natural fibres,just seems to have more “Soul”,though i realize Event has its place too.After years of carrying heavy packs and finally arriving at an ultralight/lightweight ethic,i’am loathe to let the weight creep up again.
    I don’t see any reason why it should,or not much anyway.Of course their is an overlap with regards to alot of walking/bushcraft gear,and as most people here have testified,they have an array of equipment which can be mixed/matched depending on climate,terrain etc.I guess its so subjective and personal………….Phew!
    Good blog Paul.

    1. Hi Dean

      Thanks for your comment. You make some really good points in there. “To me, there is a correlation between this style of outdoor activity and the way a lot of us lead our lives now,competitive,goal orientated,highly structured,known outcome etc.” – I couldn’t agree more. If people want to do this I have no problem. Sometimes I’ve approached trips like this. But it isn’t the only way 🙂

      All the best


  25. Does your set up leave any room for food? What do you bring to eat on extended hikes and where do you store it? Your pack looks pretty full as it is.

    1. Sure does. The side pockets are not full. I can get around 5 days worth of food in. Any longer and I need more food, I’ll probably switch to a bigger rucksack or drop some of the less essential kit items. Packing and kit choice is always a balance between weight and function – see the above comment thread! As for what food I take on extended trips (and the rationale that goes with it) – that’s a whole article in itself….

      All the best


  26. Hey I don’t actually camp much but I stumbled upon this blog and I was wondering if you have ever heard of a lifesaver bottle? It filters any water almost instantly and can be used every day for something like 3 years before needing a new filter. Originally they were designed to be sent to third world countries or for disaster relief when fresh water is not available. However, they are now open to the general public. The fairly large downside is the cost, which is more than a hundred dollars. I was just wondering if you had heard of them or tried them or just had a comment in general. They seem really practical to me but I usually only take shorter trips so I just carry water. Unfortunately I am one of those people who just loves the gear even though I will never use it so I have seized the opportunity to live vicariously through your opinion.

    1. Hi Anna

      Welcome and thanks for your comment/question. I have tried the Lifesaver bottle and it did seem to work. I think it is a good idea but the downside for me was that it was pretty bulky and quite heavy. If it’s the only bottle you have then it makes sense as a complete system. However, if you are using multiple bottles, I prefer a water purification system that is independent of the bottles. This is my personal preference of course and not a comment on relative effectiveness of the methods involved. I hope this helps!

      All the best


  27. Just wanted to holler at you from Italy, great information. Much appreciated.

  28. Posts like this brighten up my day. Thanks for bothering

  29. Hi Paul,
    thanks for another great article and thanks to all who’ve commented. I’d like to endorse the use of leather gloves. Because I have slight Dupuytrens contracture, I took a pair of leather gardening gloves on the Woodlore fundamental bushcraft course I attended, in order to make gripping things with my left hand more comfortable. Subsequently I found them useful for many purposes besides. I think I was the only one of the students on the course who took gloves and they were much in demand by fellow students for dealing with hot cooking pots. The other reason I took them was because I’d read this course used stinging nettles, but in fact on my course we never did. Obviously good for dealing with brambles and thorns too.
    Regards, Ian S.

  30. Hi Paul,
    thanks for the articles, marvelous practical info. I would like to ask you, what is your opinion about Fiskars tools (hatchets and folding pruning saw)? I do have only positive experiences.

    1. Hi Kamil

      Welcome and thanks for your comment. The Fiskars tools are OK to use and certainly good value. Personally I prefer hatchets and axes with a more traditional (i.e. wooden) helve. The Fiskars folding pruning saw locks closed, which is an important safety feature. Also, do use some of the Fiskars bow saws (as well as Bahco) in our base camps over at Frontier Bushcraft and these are pretty good.

      All the best,


  31. Hi Paul, just copying this article ino my file for ref and noticed that you don’t specify paracord and pegs along with the tarp. I can see you making the pegs, assuming there is wood about, and cord from the vines and limbers etc, again assuming you’re not on the tops of Exmoor or Dartmoor but … I always take cord and pegs just in case and considering it may be wet and cold by the time I find the place to stop for the night :-).

    The head torch you recommend is very expensive … what would you suggest for us poorer folk  ? A good strong beam that you can point seems like a requirement?

    best wishes,

    1. Hi Elen,

      I’m glad to hear you are finding this article a useful reference. Just for clarity – all my tarps have cord already attached to them when I pack them so it is implicit I have cord with me for rigging up the tarp. Apologies if this wasn’t clear. I carry an extra length of cord too so I can run a line under the apex of the tarp to hang items (such as a head-torch) inside the tarp. I only carry (metal) pegs if I’m unlikely to be able to make pegs from what I find around me – normally when cutting green wood is prohibited or if I’m above the tree-line.

      On the subject of head-torches, I thought the Petzl Tikka was reasonably priced at around £30. The performance is good and it is reasonably robust (although I have broken one or two over the years as the casing is plastic). If you can’t stretch to this, then I would go for a lesser model in the Petzl range such as the Tikkina 2.

      I hope this helps 🙂

      All the best,


  32. Pingback: A Bushcraft Camping Outfit – Equipment for Living in the Woods « vivalist
  33. Pingback: Bushcraft Camp Outfit | Craft and Lore
  34. Hi Paul,
    Thank you very much for excellent article, pictures with numbers, this explains your experience in the wilderness, for our outdoor education in the Himalayas what do you recommend best mosquito net. regards Najeeb Khan
    Himalayan Holidays (Pvt) Ltd
    Islamabad Pakistan

  35. Instead of the dry bag I use a 5 gallon bucket. Keeps everything dry and sealed. Plus multiple uses. Would need a larger pack of course. Great list though 🙂

  36. Hello I am Karsten from north Carolina, I love camping and have been many times, but I would like to give you some suggestions for your set. Two of my favorite tools to carry are 1. a sog tactical tomahawk-winch can preform a variety of tasks such as chopping, splitting, cutting, and doubles as a weapon. Not to mention it only weighs about 2 pounds. Also if you have heard of it, I love my lifestraw. Its a personal water purifier designed by a German scientist for African children to have a clean source of drinking water, and it only cost $20.00 at most outdoor stores. You can drink from any source and it automatically purifies the water from the source, it is good for 1000 liters, and you can drink 250 ml per minute. Check both of these out for yourself.

  37. You’re not in the girlfriend’s good books now Paul. I managed to convince her I needed a sf 45 to go along with my sf 80-130 as the 45 is a little more user friendly size wise. So I’ve just ordered one. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it 🙂

  38. Hi Paul,

    I’m putting a kit together something similar to your suggestions here, and was wondering, what self-inflating mattress do you use here? The ones I have will never stow down to that size no matter how blue in the face I become! 😀


  39. Hy Paul,
    Nice article with the photographs .. Very easy to understand and follow along in your post.
    i have +/- the same article’s
    we go with 3 persons once in a month on a BIKE-HIKE .. for one or two overnight ..
    my Englisch on paper is not very well .. but i try to do my best ..
    grtzz … J@siu .

    1. Hey Jan,

      Good to hear from you and thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked the video. It’s also good to hear that you use similar equipment. Your bike-hikes sound like fun! 🙂

      Warm regards,


  40. Hi Paul. Great blog. One thing missing is night footwear? While wet boots are drying and you are pottering about the campsite or for the first trip to the loo in the morning do you pack your “fluffy slippers” joke but serious question.

    1. Hi Mick,

      Not as daft a questions as some might think. For temperate hiking/camping, I just take boots and that’s it, with a dry pair of socks reserved for sleeping bag if cold enough to be necessary.

      For full winter camping (i.e. hot tenting), I will take some ‘indoor’ footwear that can also be used on compacted snow as there are various advantages to having an alternative to your main boots.

      On canoe trips I take wet footwear for the boat and dry footwear (normally light hiking boots) for camp.

      Hope this helps.



  41. The last year or so I’ve been working on a more separate kit or modular type system ad well as shaving off some weight. This article has given me some really great ideas so thank you for putting it together.

  42. Hey Paul,

    Nice kit you have there!

    Where did you get your leather Bahco Laplander sheath from?


      1. Thanks, didn’t know these kind of sheets exists…

        I really like your blog but every time I connect, I get this message to view your 20 free vid’s. I’ve seen them, like them but you keep “spamming” me. I think this can cost you some “clients”/visitors… With cookies you can prevent this problem.

        I do really appreciate what you’re doing, this is a positive comment to help you!


        1. Hi Lode,

          Regarding the pop-overs it’s off-topic but no worries.

          I understand your frustration. I’ve been tweaking the settings to get the best balance between capturing the attention of new visitors and not annoying returning visitors – not an easy balance to achieve! 🙂

          Rest assured, I do use cookies for various aspects of the site, and this is one of them.

          I’ve adjusted the pop-over settings again today. As a regular visitor, you should now only see the pop-overs infrequently (no more than once per week on the homepage and less frequently on each article).

          But please do check that your browser accepts cookies (sounds like it does from your suggestion).

          Also, if your ISP dynamically changes your IP address you may see them a little more often.

          If you continue to see them more often than you think is acceptable, then please do get in touch again…

          Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

          Warm regards,


  43. Great article Paul!

    Very thought provoking.

    I have one question which popped in to my head as soon as I went through your list. I can’t see a collapsible shovel here. Why would there be one you may ask. I remember when I was in my teens and did some survival we would always take one small, collapsible shovel with us. It was handy for many reasons but it was mostly used to dig a hole when you went to do your business. It would be covered up afterwards and job done.
    I was looking at all of your equipment and thought that maybe the axe could be used in a similar manner but a bit less straightforward.
    What are your thoughts on that? How do you go about when nature calls?

    Keep those fantastic articles coming 😉 Maybe you could do one about clothing and layering for different seasons?


    1. Kris, I wouldn’t use an axe to dig in the soil as this dulls the blade very quickly. Instead a good digging stick can quickly be fashioned when at your location.

      1. Agreed, a digging stick is all you need.

        Kris – check out the free videos on this blog. In one of the videos I discuss latrines and I go through how to make a digging stick.

        Hope this helps.

        My axe never goes anywhere near the ground – it would wreck the edge on it.

  44. A great article Paul as usual, I will certainly be comparing your preferred items to my own. I have a recommendation though, I use a ‘Zubat Silky’ pruning saw rather than the folding Bahco (which I used to use). The longer blade and better cutting action uses much less energy to process timber. I’ll be honest, I even prefer it to a longer bladed frame saw as the teeth are so sharp it cuts through timber like a proverbial hot knife through butter.

    Keep up the good work, Lee.

    1. Hi Lee,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s good to hear from you.

      Yes, the Silky saws are good. My friend and colleague Ian Lawson, who is a professional tree surgeon swears by them.

      Let me know if you have any further thoughts on the kit…



  45. ….HI Paul…Great article.
    I use these items always in the woods + a multitool ( in my case: Wenger Ranger mod. Mike Horn).

    All the best

    1. Hi Sergio,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, a good quality multitool can often be a great asset on a wilderness trip.

      All the best,


  46. Hey paul,
    I prefer a hatchet over a full size axe. Especially when packing a saw.

  47. This has been a great read. This business of what kit to include, or exclude, and the opinions on and attempts to define “bushcrafting”. 100 years or so ago it was “Woodcraft and Camping” or simply “Woodcraft”, now I’m not sure what it is. As I ease into my mid-60’s I want a very light pack, I want comfort more now than I did 50 years ago, so modern lightweight items quickly catch my eye; the less it weighs, the more comfort I can carry without it becoming a burden. So now I go camping, or simply out for the day, and I carry everything I need but no more than what I’ll need. And if I engage in “bushcrafting”, whatever that means, it will be at my leisure; I simply enjoy being “out there” having a look at the places I can only visit.

    1. Hi Mark,

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this article and the thread of comments below it. Personally I don’t like or use the term “bushcrafting”. To me bushcraft isn’t an activity, it’s a set of skills and a view of nature that informs and expands all of my outdoor activities. Therefore it makes little sense to turn it into a verb.

      Most people do not need heavyweight canvas and leather kit these days. Modern lightweight fabrics can be much more durable than people credit them and most people are not on the trail for months and months. That said there is something nice about investing in kit that is going to last a long time.

      But before we get embroiled in the kit debate again – being out there and enjoying nature at your leisure is exactly what it should be about, whatever kit you do or don’t take or whatever you choose to call “it”.

      Warm regards,


  48. Paul, congratulations on a very well made bushcraft site! Further, your relaxed and unobtrusive manner when going about explaining things is a further plus that makes you stand out amongst the rest.

    Now, I subscribed some while ago and you are asking for comments on your videos, so here are my three small points of – hopefully constructive – criticism:

    1) You – and many fellow US and UK based bushcrafters – are an avid user of the zebra pot, be that in their 10 or 12inch version. I see however very few – including yourself – experts out there using the cooking system which in my opinion is far superior to the single pot, ie the Swedish Trangia system. For almost 20 years now I’ve been using the very same stainless steal one in different climate zones around the world and in different conditions. It has never let me down, and you can not just heat water in it over a fire, gas or petrol stove, but also bake and fry reasonably well in it. This comes at a little bid of a price-in-weight but in my opinion this is well worth it. What is your stand on this?

    2) I quite like the setup of your individual First-Aid-Kit, and probably so, because mine is very similar ;-))). I do wonder however, why you don’t include a little sachet of quick-clot or a similar substance in it.

    3) I’m all with you on your choice of knives. I don’t understand however, why you wear yours around your neck. I do appreciate that you are in knowledgeable company indeed, yet this in itself is no argument for me. What about being garotted by your own knife-cord when falling or going over-board in a river and the cord gets caught somewhere? What about “pinching” yourself when tired and re-sheathing in the dark? What about the darn thing dangling in front of you when kneeling down to attend to chores? I’ve always worn mine on the belt attached to a “dangler” Scandinavian style. If find this not only much more practical but also more comfortable, since it rides even lower than the bergen-hip-belt and doesn’t bother you there.

    Now, I hope not being to rude by pointing these things out, but – as said – please see them as constructive inquiries.

    Should ever your trail bring you to Northern Germany, rest assured you have a friend here where to stay both in- or outside!

    Greetings from Hamburg, Chris

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comments and interesting questions. I don’t take them as rude at all.

      1/ I use Zebra pots because they are hard-wearing and easy to clean (which is why we issue them on our courses, where they get somewhat abused) but personally I find them quite heavy. I have another similar billy which is much lighter for when weight is an issue. I also use MSR pots – stainless or titanium, dependent on the situation – and have several sets of the old stainless steel Coleman pots with bails (no longer manufactured) which I use mainly for canoe trips. In terms of stoves, I own and use an Optimus Crux, MSR Whistperlight Internationale, MSR XGK II and MSR Reactor. I’ve also used Trangias a fair bit, although don’t own one at the moment. Personally I find them slow for the type of cooking I do when I don’t have access to a fire. In terms of the Trangia pots, however, I agree they make some good ones and we use some of the larger ones in our group kit on canoe trips.

      2/ There are some good reasons not to use QuikClot for most wounds as explained here and even though in some extreme circumstances, it might make the difference between bleeding out and not, I can’t envisage a situation where I would be able to apply it to myself. Hence, it’s not in my personal kit. If I include anything extra for extreme bleeding (of myself) – for example on a solo trip – I include a CAT. For larger group kits in remote settings then QuikClot does bear inclusion.

      3/ My knife is on my belt the vast majority of the time. The only circumstances I wear one around my neck is when a hip belt would make it uncomfortable/inaccessible, as explained here. I think this also explains the issue with “dangling”. You are absolutely right to highlight the folly of wearing something around your neck when canoeing for example. The snag risk is potentially lethal (in more ways than one).

      Thanks for your comments/questions and kind offer of hospitality.

      I hope my response adequately explains my thinking on these points but please do feel free to ask for clarification.

      Warm regards,


  49. Dear Paul,
    I’m impressed with your web site and all the people who participate in it. I’ve read your thoughts on camping kit and the replies it has elicited.
    My head is spinning with the great number of words and philosophies exchanged here. All of it good and true and yet something is lacking. — For me. My deeply held and very private belief in the outdoors is that it offers us the hard grace and savagery needed to live. It offers us solace and an “angle of repose” not find elsewhere. The pretty spring Robin is a fierce killer; it portends tragedy for some. Yet, it lives in world of beauty. So many of us so love the countryside, the forest, the meadows and streams, waters , the “cool green hills of earth” with passion and satisfaction.

    I hope these thoughts are not out of place here. Reading all the comments, I considered what is important to me. This is what emerged.

    I come to you as a most recent subscriber. I don’t participate in groups. Not at all.
    I reside just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border in northeast Washington.
    I raise horses on my ranch. Its 40 acres of forest, pasture and creeks.
    I’m in the forest every day. Sometimes I sit at the base of a tree and am happy.
    I have just learned to make fire with only forest materials. This is exiting – knowing I have this knowledge now.

    The saplings grow dense in this forest here and I thin them daily giving those I let stand more room to grow. The snow is deep now and the cold is in single digits. Sometimes there is wind. I’m lucky to have this to do. I know it is good for the forest.

    Best to you, Paul and to all those who words I’ve gained something of value from.


  50. Hi Paul

    I like the idea of the folding sink that fits in the billy can. I’ve been using a groundbait bowl bought from the local tackle shop. It works ok but far too bulky in the bag, whats the sink you have there in the photo? Or can you reccommend on that fits please.

    All the best

  51. I find I build my kit around the task in hand. What this means is could be just a bucket and a folding knife for foraging, right up to a 100l pack with a full compliment of edge tools etc. for longer time periods. It’s worked for me so far taking this approach to packing. It also gives me more scope to decide what I want to do with my time. Lately I’ve been taking a travel guitar on longer trips as I write music better when I’m relaxed, just a small example of why flexibility is your friend. I feel as long as you cover the essentials you need anything else is up to you. My kit isn’t vast just varied in use.

    1. Hi Gordon,

      It’s good to hear from you.

      I think you make a good point that you should fit the kit you take to suit your intentions. As long as your basic needs are catered for and you don’t succumb to any detrimental effects of the prevailing environmental conditions, the rest is personal choice. We go to the woods or mountains (or both) for many varied reasons; many of us has different motivations on different trips.

      I completely agree with respect to creativity too. I have some of my best ideas or clearest thinking when I’m out.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Warm regards,


  52. I do consider all the ideas you’ve introduced to your post.
    They’re very convincing and can definitely work.
    Still, the posts are very quick for starters. May you please
    lengthen them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  53. Hi Paul, the Zebra billy can looks excellent and I have a pan which is excellent quality. The plastic locking lugs on the billy cans I’ve heard can melt. Can they be removed/replaced without damage, or would it be better to remove and just ditch them? I’ve asked another company for advice and will post when info received…..Regards…….Nobby

    1. Hi Nobby,

      I just remove them. They serve no purpose if you are hanging the billy over a fire.

      All the best,


      1. Cheers Paul, still waiting for a reply off the company but I think your plan’s the best……Regards

  54. Great article very detailed and helpfull how you can click on item and go stright to a store cus a lot of people struggle to find kits that get recomended also a lot of articles ive read about kit are a bit vauge but this one is very detailed another great article paul( top man)

  55. Just a quick question i havnt got a car at moment and i have to walk to destonation do you know were the law stands on carrying axe on the ice loop of your karromor or would i have to store axe inside my karrimor untill i get to a woodland or more remout surroundings
    Any help would be much apprecated

    1. Hi Lee,

      I would slot the axe down inside the main compartment. It could be seen as an offensive weapon.

      Also, it’ll prevent damage to the finish on the handle and the leather mask from train/bus doors and/or tarmac and concrete surfaces, etc., while travelling.

      Hope this helps,


  56. Hi Paul,

    I’ve been following your website for quite some time, and i have actually never seen such a complete source of information about bushcraft..

    I really agree with the idea of using a drybag as a rucksack liner, i have used it for years! I always used a bag that is smaller than the capacity of the sack (i.e. i used to use a 40L drybag with a 45L rucksack or 60/70) because i used it for clothing only.. Last year i abandoned the idea in favour of a simple pack cover which actually did not do its job, leaving the back of the pack completely exposed to the elements (even though wearing GoreTex shells) and soaking up the contents..
    Since i discovered your site i am using the dry bag method again, just because it works and it has multiple uses 😀
    I have almost the same gear for my long trips, with the exceptions of a tent (replaces the tarp) and the lack of proper filtration/purification system, just because fresh, clean water is widely available in my woods

    Anyway, i live in a country (Italy) which has very restrictive laws about lighting fires, even in an emergency situation, actually in italian woods you can only breathe and be careful what you step on, you might break a tiny stick or a small rock and get yourself in serious troubles with the law, so i have a question for you:
    Have you ever used a wood stove? like these “hobo stoves” you can craft from an Ikea utensils holder? My Trangia burner sometimes is just not powerful enough to cook and i still do not want to take my gas stove with me, i find it way too bulky and not even close to my idea of having fun and relax in the woods, so what is your thought on this cooking system?

    All the best,


  57. Great article, well-reasoned & clearly explained as ever. Just out of interest, Paul, what size of MSR Dromedary water bag is that?

  58. I read this article completely concerning the difference of most up-to-date
    and previous technologies, it’s awesome article.

  59. Hi paul
    Regarding the MSR Dromedary, How would you go about cleaning it after use?
    Ive had mine for around 8 months now and still get a plastic/burnt rubber taste from it. Is there a way of getting rid of this horrible taste?

    Jon Silver, I use the 4ltr. It fits really well inside a billy can, when not in use.

    Thants for the articles Paul, Keep up the good work.

    All the best ,

    1. Hi Paul,
      Visited your blog and found a lot of useful info. Thanks for the good work. I stay following…
      Cheers, Pat

  60. Hi Paul,
    Really like your website and informative videos. Briefly, I have been a wilderness traveler for over fifty years. I built raft and floated down the Mississippi when I was 17. Walked across the Swiss Alps (Haute Route) in my twenties. Backpacked with my wife for six weeks along the Continnental Divide. Spent lots of time on the Appalachain Trail. I live in CA now and have traveled all around the Cascades, incl. Rainer, and the Sierras.
    I started all my outdoor fun in the Boy Scouts. I am an Eagle Scout. I also was a wilderness camp counselor in high school. This was when the scouts were really into slash and burn bushcraft – LOL. I have taught backbacking, canoeing, kayaking and sailing. I am also a US Coast Guard Master Mariner. There is a lot of transferable skills in all of these adventures.

    My lightest pack was just under 16 pounds for three days and 75 miles. Of course I started packing with the old canvas rucksacks – no waist belts, little padding on the shoulders and soggy when wet. I witnesses the explosion of backpacking gear in the 70’s. At that time the gearheads seemed to overwhelm the reason for backpacking, that is, getting back into pristine Nature and leaving stuff alone. I do not bother the animals or try to pick up snakes. In fact, I have only fished with some modest success.

    Anyway, I am 65 y.o. and gearing up for the AT, possibly a through-hike in about a year. I was wondering what you think about hammocks? I have a Hennessy Assymetrical lightweight Explorer with integral bug netting. It is comfortable, but need to use my ensolite pad for winter time. I also can use the fly as a tarp tent if I want to sleep on the ground or base camp out of the rain. I spray everything with Permithin to keep the ticks and mosquitoes away.

    Although they weigh alot, my favorite piece of gear is a WW2 folding trenching tool. I have used it successfully to chop wood, make a Dakota Hole, fire tend, toilet duties, and even a snow cave. Again, it is a bit heavy, but value to weight, it is great!

    I have several packs and a always looking for ways to lighten things up. My Gregory (huge) has served me well, but is worn out and leaks. I have a single sling Maxpedition Kodiak (1700 cu. in.) – a little techie though – well built. They have provided slots and sleeves and zippered pouches all over the place; thinking that you will know exactly where to stow things in them??? I prefer an multiple accessible single compartment – even if I have to take it on and off to get at things. I think I might need to go up to 2500-3000 cu. in. for a suitable four-season pack.

    I have two new additions I really like 1) Solo Stove – burns twigs 2) Titanium alcohol ultralight stove (1.2 oz) – work great together.

    I also carry a few vaseline soaked cotton balls as fire-starter, just in case everything else is wet.

    Enough for now – Happy Trails.

    There is so much to talk about, but that is it for now. Can we talk about packs

  61. Hi Mr. Kirtley.
    I really enjoyed reading this series of articles. I really learned a lot from them. If I ever make it across the pond I’m as taking one of your classes. AT


    1. Hi Steven,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m very glad to read you have learned a lot from my articles. Please do come and visit if you are ever over here. It would be good to have you along on a course.

      Warm regards,


  62. Hello Paul. I am Ruud from the Netherlands. I have no experience in bush crafting or long treks since where I come from we call two trees standing together a forest and the most dangerous animal is the sparrow. I have seen your video “How to pack your kit”; would this equipment suffice to do the Appalachian Trail?
    And another question: do you use the Sea-to-summit Kitchen Sink to do your dishes as well as cleaning your socks and underwear? (Remember, I have no experience). Thank you.

  63. Dear Paul,

    what spoon are you are using that fits behind the crusader mug?


  64. Hey Paul, Great Blog post. Very indepth and covers a lot.
    I go through my gear every Spring and Fall and make sure the proper kit is in for the time of season.
    One item I still don’t have, that’s a good water filter pump. Hope fully in the Spring I will get one.
    I do boil water all the time, but don’t carry those water purifier tablets. Don’t like the taste of the water, lol. Looked at the MSR and Katadyn. I’m leaning towards the Katadyn Pocket water filter, it’s a bit pricy but it does a very good job.

    Great to be back on the mailing list for the Blog again.

  65. Hello Paul! A very great article for beginners like myself. It is very true that items with multiple uses are most valuable. Anyway, I was wondering how you feel about hatchets. They are lighter than the axe, and for my soon-to-come first bushcraft trip, it seems to be a better option…your opinion?

  66. Hi Paul: At first glance your bush equipment seems complete but heavy. However, that factor remains
    subject to what kind of wilderness experience you plan. I’ve crossed several thousand miles of rough
    wilderness mountain terrain in Washington and Canada’s, North Cascades. Weight, caloric intake , and
    personal comfort dominate the situation. I carried a strong yet light weld frame expeditionary pack, the
    clothing adequate for weather extremes. Properly fitted and broke-in boots a must! Several weeks in
    deep mountain country requires a lot of food, and I always carried good fishing gear. Your article
    lists the rest excellently. Be comfortable and be prepared! Finally, if on a canoe trip you can take lots
    of equipment.
    Live Free, Jim

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your comments.

      You are correct that this base kit is somewhat heavy. I am also a mountain walker and my long distance backpacking kit looks somewhat different. It retains the functionality but not the durability/longevity.

      I should really write a companion article to this one…

      Warm regards,


  67. Hi Paul
    Loving the blogs so far.
    You mentioned the power monkey charger earlier I wondered if you have used them yourself and had any thoughts on there usefulness.
    I tend to have one with me either the explorer or the extreme and have found that I can charge my hand torch, head torch , gps and phone well enough over a three day trip.
    I used to carry spare batteries with me but found having enough power for my trip meant a fair amount of wheight and bulk was added to my pack.
    All the best Adrian

    1. Hi Adrian,

      I have used Power Monkey chargers but only in a relatively limited capacity. As you’ll gather from my blog and maybe my Flickr profile I love photography. I find my compact camera and DSLR batteries last pretty well unless I’m videoing. I have quite a few spares of these batteries as they are specific to the models in question and not quick to charge either. So, I don’t tend to charge these in the field. I do charge my GoPro on trips though as the battery life is poor and I don’t want to have lots of batteries with me. Similar thinking to your comment about size and bulk of batteries, you get to a certain point where it’s better to have a charger and recharge the batteries on rotation. I don’t currently use a Power Monkey for this but a different but similar model (which I was given) and I keep it dedicated to charging the camera. I don’t tend to use my phone a lot on trips. I like to turn it off and keep it for emergencies. If I use GPS, I use a separate Garmin unit which has excellent battery life. It takes AA batteries though, as does my head-torch so I tend to have a few of these in my pack. I like AAs because they are generally easy to get hold of (as far as batteries go) in any country. My old Nikon F100 film camera used to run on AAs too but alas this has never been an option with digital equivalents…

      All the best,


    1. Hi Franci,

      Yes, that’s the type I use most of the time and which features in this article.

      Warm regards,


  68. Hi Paul

    I was wondering if you could give me the name of the pack you have in thee
    Picture i am looking for a new pack and this one caught my eye and also if you
    Help with a tip on a good and cheap knife

    Thank you very much

    Ryan st laurent (rosco the friendly canadain)

  69. I blog frequently and I genuinely thank you for your information. This great article
    has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your blog and keep checking for new details about once per week.
    I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

  70. Great article on camping Paul, really liked it. You still give real solid advice and it holds in pretty much all spheres of survival.

    Your modular approach is the same one as I follow on my blog – http://bestbugoutbagz.com.

    Would love to know your thoughts on my modular system.

  71. Hi Paul – you seem to have compacted your British Bivvy into quite a small space – can I ask what size stuff sack that is?
    Also, how about an article on sleeping systems? I have a gigantic 3 season Belgian army bag and whilst warm the bulk of it is extraordinary – I am now wondering whether something like a Snugpak jungle bag and clothes and a bivvy would be a better idea for under the basha in the glens in Spring, Summer and early Autumn, simply from the point of view of bulkiness? Also, sleeping mats – being on a budget I’ve been using the German army folding one – not exactly the most comfortable, but easy to carry – any experience with the folding Thermarests or the bog-standard rolly foam ones, or is it flying by air all the way ‘;0)
    Cheers and thanks for some great articles.

    1. Hi Phil, I can’t remember the exact dimensions of the stuff sack off the top of my head but it’s something like 20x20cm.

      Funny you should mention sleep systems as I have a project I’m currently working on related to this. You are not the only one with a big bulky sleeping bag. Watch this space…

      With respect to sleep mats, I always quite liked the Karrimor Expedition Karrimat for a roll mat. I typically use 3/4 length Thermarests these days but if you are on a budget, take a look at the Vango range of self inflating mattresses. They’re fantastic value.

      Thanks again for your comments Phil. I hope the above helps.

      All the best,


      1. Hi Paul – many thanks for getting back to me. I am looking forward to the article!
        I actually got a UK MoD 24 Hour Operational Ration Pack stuff sack (not that you’d want to stuff your food anywhere other than in your gob) – it’s 32 x 25 cm laid flat and the British army bivvy rolls nicely into that. Kitmonster were selling them on ebay for £4 – I can recommend them as a supplier – they have a hell of a selection of useful bits and bobs.
        Take care

        1. Hi Phil,

          That’s a good tip regarding a source of stuff sacks for bivby bags.

          I agree re Kitmonster. I know Dominic from when he came on an Arctic course a good few years ago. He’s always looked after me in the shop too.



          1. I’ve actually had real para-cord (as in the stuff off of parachutes – the seams were still there) off him too. There’s actually tons of good surplus gear around at the mo – hard not to go a bit bonkers!

  72. Hi Paul!

    Many many Thanks for this guide!!
    i’m a Tuscan fan of Ray and now of you, i’ve used this article to improve and upgrade my equipment!
    Now I’ve a question… What’s your thinking about hobo stove? Do you use in your hike?

    Ciao e Grazie ancora!

    1. Hi Mattia,

      Thanks and welcome to my blog.

      I’m happy you are finding this information useful.

      I don’t tend to use a hobo stove. I either use a simple campfire or a stove such as the MSR Whisperlite.

      Warm regards,


  73. Paul really enjoy your shares and know a lot of planning goes into them. As I was reading two of my where I go they go with me came to mind. #1 is 1-2-3 or as many as you feel comfortable with and that’s some blank CD’s for signaling,a sharp cutting if the need be,chips and or shavings to add to building a fire just let your mind do the walking on this. #2 Supper soaking Kotex a must for applying compression if need be and can also make by picking fibers to add to the bird nest if need be starting a fire. Well I’ll leave your minds to of coarse do what it’s designed to do and that’s being creative I do and that’s a big,big part of leaving what direction I’m going and I’m gone ! Thanks Again Paul and all the other bloggers ! Hoping this will be helpful.

  74. Paul, I enjoyed your article on your emergency kit . I keep mine in a steel water bottle on a biner. In it are a box of matches. Zip lock bag. Multi tool.fishing kit, wire plastic garbage bag. My knife and fire steel are already on my belt. I really enjoy your input and expertise. Keep up the good work

    1. Hi Cliff,

      Good stuff.

      Thanks for your comment and sharing what you carry and how you organise things.

      Warm regards,


  75. I don’t even know how I ended up here, however I thought this put up was good.

    I don’t realize who you might be but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger for
    those who are not already. Cheers!

  76. Hello,
    I loved the article, it’s a great read and fun to see what I should look into. I was wondering what other tarps you’ve had good experience with. I’m in the market for one that’s quality but below the price points of the one you referred to specifically. Although that tarp seems perfect for my hammock sleep system, it’s just to expensive for my wallet.

    1. Hi Nik,

      I’m glad you found the above article useful.

      Yes, the Hillberg tarps (and tents) have become rather expensive in recent years. My XP10 is still going strong though, having bought it in 2006/07. I’ve had to replace the original guy-lines but other than this, the tarp has been very durable.

      Other tarps I have used that are good quality but less expensive are the tarps by Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) in Canada. They have two main tarp models – the Scout Tarp and the Guides Tarp. The Scout tarp is smaller than the Hilleberg XP10. You can see the silicone version of the Scout Tarp it in action here.

      The Guide tarp is slightly larger. They make a standard version and a silicone version of each (silicone is lighter but more expensive). These are all very reasonably priced. You can order them online: http://www.mec.ca/product/5027-714/mec-guides-tarp/.

      I also use Integral Designs silicone tarps but these tend to be quite pricey.

      Some of the team who work for me at Frontier Bushcraft have started using Alpkit tarps and so far they are very happy with them. As with all of Alpkit’s gear, they are very well priced for the specification.


      DD Hammocks also produce a range of very reasonably priced tarps. I have not used them myself but many of my students have them and rate them as good, particularly in combination with a hammock.

      I hope this is useful to you Nik. Let us know what you decide upon and how it works for you.

      Warm regards,


  77. Hello Paul, as well as greetings to the others,

    Could someone please comment on the MSR Dromedary – what size did you choose (4,6,or 10l?) that nicely fits into the zebra billy can with 12 or 14cm?

    Thank you,
    and with best regards,


  78. Hi Paul, thank you for the advice and direction. I ended up going for the 3×3 DD tarp after a bit more research as well. So far I’m loving it! Thanks again!

  79. Hi Paul… Interesting equipment! I live at Marajó island (Amazon region), here is better sleeping in a hammock. Sleep on the floor isn’t a good idea 😉

    1. I agree.! Sleeping in a hammock is better anywhere in the world( if there are trees ;0). Allows you to bivi out on most gradients, definitely more comfortable/relaxing ;0)

  80. Hello Paul. This is a another great article from you, thank you. I’ve been camping like this since the late ’80’s and it is nice to see that my own gear is very similar to yours, though not as expensive in relation to some of the clothing though some of it may now appear on my Christmas list. A quick question on the line that you run under your tarp, have you fitted a drip line or break at the ends (but still under cover) to prevent rainwater run-off from the tree dripping from the lowest point in the line which would usually be right under the tarp? I’ve fitted breaks to my ‘under’ tarp line when I use one, and my hammock. Prior to fitting the breaks, I found that my bivvi functions perfectly as one winter morning I woke in a small puddle at the bottom of my hammock but I, and more importantly my sleeping bag, was still warm and dry. Regards, Simon.

  81. I’ve spent countless hours searching the web looking for articles on bush kits. So many are impractical and focus solely on the most up to date gear and clothes. Your article was informative and gave me so many ideas as to what to buy and include in my kit. I’m very impressed, thank you.

  82. Being prior Marine Corps, I’ve spent countless hours searching the web looking for articles on bush kits. So many are impractical and focus solely on the most up to date gear and clothes. Your article was informative and gave me so many ideas as to what to buy and include in my kit.

  83. Wonderful articles as usual Paul. On the subject of sharpening axes here may be an alternative to try or consider. I’ve spent nearly 50 years sharpening stone carving chisels and axes, both “firesharp” and “tungsten” tipped. I’ve used a range of wetstones to diamond pads and wheels. As a stone carver on cathedrals to sculpted work I got through a fair few pads ect. over the years but the one I kept going back to cost nothing and that still is my small flat square of Forest of Dean sandstone which sharpens both hardened steel and tungsten to a fine cutting edge. Yet to try it on my bushcraft tools…..I wonder!!!!!

  84. Hi Paul I am new to camping / bushcraft could u tell me how u go about finding where to camp . thanks great work

  85. Hey Paul, thank you so much for providing all this great content, and for free. I always learn something from your vids. You’re the only other person besides me who carries binoculars.
    I pack my shelter and most of my sleep kit in a small nylon day pack then tie it to the top of my back pack. My sleeping bag goes in the bottom of my back pack. The day pack holds my hammock in a snake skin, 4 aluminum stakes in a pouch, patch kit, 2 windshield screens as a sleep mat and any loose hardware. Anything that usually gets wet goes in a dry bag, my tarp, 550 cord and tree straps. When I set up camp, I then have an empty day pack for foraging and hiking around. I also have an empty dry bag that I use as a washing machine with some safe soap; it can be a shower with a nozzle and a siphon hose, a vessel to store water or to put out a fire. It’s useful to keep wet items outside of your pack. It’s my favorite, almost weightless bit of kit. The siphon hose is also used to blow air into the base of a fire lay.
    I also carry a folding trowel for digging cat holes and clearing fire pits…
    I would give up 1 liter of water and replace it with a fajita fry pan, which weighs about the same. Great for food that taste better fried than boiled; bread, fish, pancakes…Here in Maine there are a lot of regulations regarding fire and the small cast iron pan works well with my Trangia.

  86. Hi Paul,

    This is great information and how you select and classify your gear is precisely the thing I have to improve the most. I’m slowly (though not always correctly) weeding out the “just in case” gear, and I still have a tendency to take unnecessarily large quantities of what I need. Your modular approach will sure help me organize better. You mention things I overlooked completely so far.

    Thanks for this article.

  87. Hi Paul
    My favourite garment to wear is a fireman’s vest. I found two at the price of £1.50 at an army surplus.
    lightweight, long (great for all those bending jobs) and warm. They are also fireproof, so safe for fire activities at Forest School. Waterproofed Jackets I find stiff and noisy, they are also highly flammable and tend to hold smoke stains and smells, I only use them when necessary.
    Great article, er, I tend to clean and polish my zebra!

    1. I polish my cooking pot every morning too. I hate it, if it is black. And then I use it to comb my hairs, and I use it when I am shaving myself every morning in the forest, especially, if I can’t find my compass. I think, the multi use option cooking pot / shaving mirror is the most genious idea of my glamping kit. Only the idea to use a solid large paella pan as a pulka sledge is reaching the same level!
      Best regards!!!! ;0)

  88. Hey Paul,

    I am going to travelling to a couple of places namely the south west of England, then onto Scandinavian Arctic and then Northern spain. Do you think the Swanndri Mosgiel is good for these places? Is a Wool Outer layer good in arctic scandanavia?

    1. Wool or plastic, that is the question! Technical both is possible, slightly different in the microklima!
      When I was around 1990 in summer time in Iceland , everybody there was using a thick traditional wiking jumper, made from uncoulered wool of white and brown or black sheep, so they got white and bright and dark brown and grey wool and produced seamless knitted patterned jumpers from. I guess, Erik used the same, when he discovered Iceland. Instead of the waxed coat Erik may have used (In this case neither Fjellräven nor Barbour) they used in the early 90’th of the last century ;0) rubberised rain jackets over the jumpers in blue or green. May be, they use today goretex jackets, but i doubt, that they changed their jumpers! Especially not the very traditional mountaineering club, who runs all that phantastic cottages! If it is raining every time like in iceland, goretex doesnt work so good, goretex doesnt really work in the rain, it only allowes to wear the open raincoat if you expect rain, that is the point! So with rubberised raincoat or goretex hardshell you will become whet, if it rains. (Of course more whet in the fully waterproof fabric!) And if you start to become whet a woolen knitting starts an exothermic reaction, helping the goretex too a bit; the fleece jacket is just a whet plastic jacket! But the fleece is drying fast in the wind, even through the goretex if it stopped raining. In Iceland it doesnt stop to rain.It is raining a bit every time! So there you heat yourself with that exothermic reaction and trust in, that the wool will suck the water like a kitchen pong, and you dry it in the evening in the house. — Or you dry it by sitting next to a fire! (Not in Iceland, of course, because the wikings rotted out the trees by chopping and coming with sheep.)
      I also bought such a jumper. There in Iceland it was very good, but in Germany it was most times to hot, today I prefere cardigans, jumpers with zip collar or a fleece jacket. In Berlin we also get sometimes -25 *C, but it becomes hot in the summer too, like in Skandinavia.
      If I go without fire I prefere in the summer cotton or in the winter merino as base layer, polycotton mix shirt, fleece jacket and goretex rainkacket, the shirt fits over the fleecejacket (!) for windy conditions or to protect the fleece against sparks, if I light a fire as an exeption. Going with saw, hatchet and fire, I use cotton or merino base layer, polycotton shirt , wooljumper, wooljacket, polycotton jacket and goretexjacket or militaryponcho. – As you see, I tend to let saw and hatchet at home in the german and french summer, and light fires, if it becomes cold in Germany and whet enough to be out of the risk of forest fire. (I hate cooking, I eat bread if possible, but for longer tours you need to take spaghetti with ( break them in short parts before boiling !) spaghetti are light and compact! With a powder sauce from the supermarket they aren’t delikate, if you throw the powder in the same pot behind the pasta, but think about, what you get out of this small package! Viva Italia!
      So, I use fleece without saw and axe and wool if I plan to light a fire every day.
      Plastic you have to wash, Eric didn’t wash his jumper till he reached Iceland. Perhaps his mother said to him: “Take your boat and air out your jumper!” And so he discovered Iceland! ;0)
      An other legend is, that a thin layer of cotton in normal conditions would stop the transport of moisture. It is slowlier than with merino and merino is slowlier than a marathon running plastic shirt.
      If I do not run, I stay dry in a cotton base layer. If I do not use to many layers!)
      And in front of a fire, it surely becomes dry, that is the main reason for our use of the fire. The cooking surely was an accident 30 000 years ago, when some meat fell in the fire!
      Just take the jumper you have in your wardrobe and start. If Erik would have had to read and watch all the reviews about outdoor clothing, you can find now a days in internet, he never would have discoverd Iceland, that’s for sure!
      So long you do not use jeans in possibly whet conditions, have a tarp, raincoat and zigarette lighter with you, you have a good chance to survive in Sweden. In Spain you most times survive in swimming shorts and cotton t-shirt. Don’t burn down their forest, please, and keep in mind, that the Guardia Civil doesn’t like people who play with matches in their forest!

  89. Hey Paul, do you know if my British arctic sleeping bag would fit in the Sabre 45 rucksack you have? At the moment I have a Sabre 75, and find it too heavy even empty. But I love the comfort of it, even when it is fully laden. I’m just trying the reduce my weight, so i guess if push comes to shove, I can strap my sleeping bag on to the lid? Do you think that could work?

    1. Hi Marc,

      I agree the Sabre 75 is considerably heavier than the 45, disproportionately so for the extra capacity. Personally I think the extra 30 litres is a small 30 litres. The Sabre 75 does have a more substantial and supportive back system than the 45, however.

      Can I ask why you want to be using the arctic sleeping bag? If you are using this outside of cold winter conditions, you will save more weight by changing your sleeping bag than the rucksack…


      Warm regards,


      1. Hi Paul & Marc, I’ve ditched conventional rucksacks and have for years been using the make golite. A 72 litre rucksack( which can compress to a 50ltr ) weighs only 950g! This is on average 1.5kg lighter than most packs! They are made from dyneema fabric which is very tough. There is padding but no internal frame so you need to be well skilled in the way you pack or arrange the load inside, ie softer items at back. I’ve trekked for months on end with this method and it is very comfortable. It also enables you to carry more food & therefore trek to more remote places These packs are tough and well thought out. They have an unusual mesh back which virtually eliminates that cold sweaty back syndrome when putting your pack back on after a stop. Hard to find/buy golite now but can still get them. There are other light packs but I haven’t tested them.

      2. I totally agree, that most times 45 liters are enough and I think, the very large side pockets are phantastic, but i recommend 60 liters with the opportunity to attach a winter sleeping bag in a dry bag on top of the rucksack. So you can compress it for short trips to 45, use it for city tours in european summer conditions too, when you take perhaps a second shirt or something more, and can carry your souveniers home. With attached winter sleeping bag you have enough space together to go for winter camping in your local forest.
        All this offers the german military Kampfrucksack in Flecktarn camouflage which you get used for 40 €. But it doesnt have a well made thick belt, only a strong thin one. But that doesn’t disturb me, because I use light weight equipment. Theoreticly you could use like the army a seperate Y-belt for havier parts of your kit, or attach the belt stiched to the rucksack. A very cheap high quality option!
        In the side pockets I have a 1 liter Coke bottle at the left and flip flops at the right side. or a Pepsi bottle, so I can choose! ;0) No, seriously: that’s the size, you get the bottles very well in and out, if the bag is full packed, and the flip flop option I really use, if i am in hostels or on camping grounds, If I want to hike, I throw the shoes inside the main bag, an buy a water bottle at the Supermarket. Two 1,5 liter bottles or 0,75 thermos bottles would fit in too. Metal single wall bottles I use only in winter times. (to melt the ice inside, befor it destroies the bottle) But, ok, I do not hike in Canada! I most times could call a taxi in the forest! So thin PET isn’t a risky problem. By the way, I never destroyed one in the last 20 years, since I stopped using aluminum in the summer, and since 15 years I live out of the rucksack half the year.
        There are a small, a very small and a larger pocket on top, thin rainjacket or thin military poncho in the small, or swimming shorts and t shirt (with the flip flops as pyjama in hostels or for the walk to the shower or beach) the large top poket is flat, lamp, spoon and so on or maps. The smallest would take paper hankerchives, I do the attached belts for top attachment of winter sleeping bag there in and the attached photon mini torch as backup. The frame of this rucksack is the foldable german army insulation matress, the life boat for air matress sleepers! If I count the matress seperatly, this rucksack is very light for a 60 liters NATO bag! I like it so much, that I most times let my Fjellräven winter Rucksack at home. Instead of the small forest axe , your gouvernment doesnt like to see, you are free to attach the full size military gun Heckler&Koch G3 to the rucksack, which fits nicely, and helps a lot, if a mouse wants to steal your bread! ;0) Longer tent poles could be attached here too, if you should not regularly use an automatic gun in your summer weekend camping equipment.

      3. Sorry, I forgot to write, that this german Kampfrucksack has between the side pockets and the main bag tunnels to do the ski in, hanging on the binding, very nice for thouse, who try to go for skiing this year in the alpin mountains! Of course you get an axe in there too.

    2. (I’m probably replying to a years old post, but it may help readers wondering whether to buy a Sabre 45 or a Sabre 75).

      I first bought the 45 because it was highly praised everywhere, but then found out it was too small for my needs (the joys of online buying) and ended up buying a 75.

      Things to consider:
      – 3/4th size Thermarest mats don’t seem to exist anymore so you’ll probably have a full size one. Favoring comfort over spartan sleep (like I do) also means using a bulkier mat (like a Trek Pro). Stuffing a Trek Pro and a synthetic 3-season sleeping bag into a Sabre 45 doesn’t leave enough room for the remaining things. Stuffing a Trek Pro and a synthetic 4-season in a 45 leaves absolutely no room for anything else.
      – You usually don’t want to have your sleeping bag (and/or inflatable mat) tied to the outside of your rucksack (almost no protection, risk of loosing it/them, weight distribution).
      – Lighter stuff is usually much more expensive. For instance my weatherproof jacket costs 10 times less than Paul’s, but is 2 times heavier and bulkier.
      – As Paul mentioned, the back system of the 75 is in another league compared to the 45. The 75 is also not just bigger, it also sports a few additional features like compression straps for the lid (which can extend, not like the 45).
      – There’s only so much you can cram in a 45 even when you optimize your stuff. For instance when traveling for mixed work/holiday trips I’m happy to be able to put more “official looking” clothes in my 75 rather than having to take an additional bag.

      tldr; a good night’s sleep and not having to invest into light but expensive equipment easily trumps the +860g of the 75 vs the 45. That said, if I had to travel long distances during multi-day trips I’d probably re-consider that approach.

      YMMV !

        I own a Decathlon Quechua Rain Cut Zip blue ( marine blue ) that looks very civil and official, but sporty, 290 g in size Large absoloutly ok, no zips in the pockets what doesn’t disturb, i used it one year, without intermission, as windbreaker too, with 6 kg on one shoulder every day minimum 6 hours each day, up to 20 kg twice a week 3 hours minimum, without any problems, hood inside the collar 15 € ( fifteen!) It looks brand new after this year. I recommend it to everybody who stays in developed countries and areas.
        I own a more official looking olive green Decathlon Solognac hunting rain jacket, heavier, but better looking fabric, more oficial and stronger for forest use. They replaced it with a new model which costs 25,-€, hood in the colar, zipps in the pockets, rabbit pocket in the back. My older model was the same price and is made in high quality. Both you get with trousers too.
        I own an Austrian Goretex “Feldjacke leicht” in olive green ( that is exactly the cut of the US M65). Phantastic Quality, only the liners of the pockets are a bit light fabric, not made to through garden tools in. But constructed for mountain troops use! Highly recommended, 40 to 60€ used.
        (Attention: The older normal Feldjacke (M65) is heavier and 65 poly 35 cotton mix fabric.)
        I use since longer times goretex parkas of the german army ” Naesseschutzjacke” and trousers “Naesseschutzhose” together called the whet protection suit “Naesseschutzanzug”. Today you can’t get them any more in olive green, but in Flecktarn Camouflage (spotted woodland) they are incredible light for military material, incredible tough and part of a complete system with summer uniform and winter protection down to negativ 25 *Celsius. The rainsuit costs in Germany at Raeer in Hildesheim only 70 € !!! Nearly unused! They write used, but they look like new. (december 2016)
        That material is constructed for a war against Switzerland in the alpin mountains too.
        — You mean, the Swiss will not attac Germany? — That’s why you get it so cheap!
        Best Regards

  90. Paul

    hi , must make a comment regarding using tarps in Australia , very, very few people use open tarps in Australia in summer, spring and auturm due to deadly snakes crocs and other dangerous critters , as an aussie bushman who has been tramping most of Australia for 40 years, people use either swags, bivvys bags [ with full insect and snake/ spider enclosure] hammocks or tents, where I live brown snakes chase you with agression and death adders will end your life quick smart if you don’t use your head as to where you lay your head at night, other than that your gear you use is well thought out .

    In the UK using tarps works well , not here though !

    1. Hi Chris,

      Fair comment re not sleeping on the ground in Australia. Your Aussie military hootchies are good though….

      Warm regards,


  91. I’d have to say a kit pretty similar to mine. I would add I’d always have relative to where some type of insect protection. No see um netting etc either full or just head and repellant. I do always like to take a months worth of multivits as well. I’ve started to take very small home made very low powers Morse transceivers as well as a bit of an experiment to see if I can get it to work no matter where I am. Beats any radio.

    1. I agree, a box of multivitamin medicin for a month is very use full, if you are doing for example a trans antarctic ski expedition or a trans pacific ocean kajak tour. For trans atlantic sailing it’s enough to take some lemons and apples with.
      In european countries I often eat some berrys or herbs, instead of carring a box of multivits, because I prefere their taste. On week end trips I sometimes take an apple with me.

  92. Wow Paul, this is a great writeup for a bushcraft kit. There are some nice tips in here and I really like your lightweight modular approach. The pictures look awesome. Thanks for sharing the info!

    What approach would you recommend if someone doesn’t have as many bushcraft skills, but wants a good survival kit like a bug out bag for 3 days?

    We put together a BOB guide based on our experiences and all of the expert info we could get our hands on, but I’m wondering what you think about it as well?

    Here is our BOB review guide: http://www.trekwarrior.com/best-bug-out-bag/

    Let me know what you think of it and thanks for the great content!

  93. Hi Paul,
    Great article. Looks like you forgot to include the packing in the article. Do you carry a poncho? I would think it depends on what you carry, duration of trip and weather conditions; or do you just carry a waterproof jacket instead? Do you have any articles on basic minimalist camping, taking only the essentials?

    1. Hello WM, there is a video on the packing also on this site. You’ll find this and other articles, videos and pocasts by using the search bar on the RHS of the website or the category headings on the homepage.

      As for waterproofs, I take a jacket and trousers.

      Warm regards,


    2. I want to tell something about the PONCHO:
      A military poncho is a very use full and cheap equipment for the beginner, because it can replace in its multi use funktion tent, rainsuit and bivi bag, so if you buy for example a german army poncho for 20 € you can save for the beginning a lot of money. But you have to know, that it is working worse, than every things it replaces. So it is enough in summer conditions in woodland, and for that my favorite gear if I expect dry conditions. It will protect you against a short rain, and you will not sweat like in a rainsuit, but after a while you will become whet, if you are walking. If you have rain and wind, you will become whet faster. You do not see your feet, if you hold it like that, that the rain doesnt fall on your feet and the end of your trousers, so a poncho is nothing for stony ways and rocky mountains. There it would try to fly away (like a tarp) if you use it like a tent. You can’t use it in mountains or at coast lines, but you can use it in woodland, if bushes and trees protect your camp against wind. The german and US poncho is very small if you use it as a lean to shelter, you can sit under it in front of a fire or sleep under it, more action is impossible under it. In Germany or central France or more thousern that is ok, because in the summer their the rain normaly is short or comes in the night. I think in Britain you have more and longer rain, so a larger tarp would be better. If the rain is short in Germany, i can wait, till it stops, in areas with longer rain you perhaps should prefere tarp and raincoat. Used as a bivi bag, you let it open untill it rains and sleep with open face under the sky, so that you feel the first rain drops in your face. Than you close the poncho over you. If you do it like that, you minimize the time of condensation, but of course you will have more condensation than in a goretex bivi bag, or a snugpack bivi with central zip. Because the sides are not really closed with that snap buttons, you have a chance, that water will float in your sleeping bag, if you made the smallest mistake. With a sleeping bag with synthetic filling in german or frech or italian summer conditions that is ok, it will dry next day because the sun will shine and even in the night you have around 20*C or more, doesnt matter, if the sleeping bag becomes a bit whet in the corners. In cold conditions you need a real bivi bag, under a poncho shelter too. But if it rains only short in the days, the combination of goretex or snugpack special forces bivi bag and military poncho is a very good strong and light option in woodland.
      A poncho is no luxus gear, but it is an equipment you can use in warm and dry conditions to save a lot of money and weight. And it is possible to learn about it in warm conditions, that you can use it in cold an whet conditions too, no question! A lot of people use it instead of tent, rainsuit and even bivi bag. The poncho is a hard teacher, but can become your best friend!
      The ( 3 items replacing ) military poncho is the personal standard equipment of conservative german boy scout associations. We give the boys with it: Rope-lines, swiss knife climber, german military cooking pot/mess kit with cotton hankerchif, spoon, summer sleeping bag, triangle neckerchif ( as scarf, towel, hat) tooth brush,-creme, soap, (razor), leather shorts (replace them with zip off trosers in polycotton mix), hiking boots, 2x wool socks, 2x under pants, 2x t-shirt, swimming shorts, long sleeve shirt, (wool jumper with neck zip), wool jacket, leather belt, military canteen flask, 10 cm fix blade knife, matches, toilet paper, rucksack with water tight liner. In cold conditions added with sheep skin or foldable german army insulation matress, (short replacing knie long trousers and 2x long socks) longjohns, woolen cap, woolen scarf, leather gloves. Only the group leader has a head lamp, first aid kit, map and compass, wrist watch and purse, now a days a mobile telephone.In cold conditions the groop uses hatchet 600 g, small bow saw, candles, 6 liters cooking pot with pan lid, cooking chaine, small wooden cutting board, 10 liters water bag, small (garden) toilet showel, 4 meters diameter cotton tippi tent (Tortuga Kohte), guitar, diary, large soop spoon.
      This equipment is used by groops of perhaps four 12 years old boys and two 16 years old leaders in summer conditions and winter conditions till neativ 10 degrees Celsius (night). The fire tent makes that possible in winter times. (see it at youtube “Kohtenaufbau auf Zeit”)
      So you see, what we figured out as a minimal equipment for german weather conditions in the last 100 years of german bushcraft traditions in Wandervogel and Boy Scout moovement.
      The individual first part of this list is enough for one person in the german summer, older groups most times become smaller, so that every body has one of the four parts of the tent, which he can erect as something between an A-frame shelter and a tunnel tent or use it together with the poncho ground sheed as bivi bag, for bad winter conditions if he is alone.
      I hope, that gives you an idea about the absolute minimum personal kit in continental conditions.
      If you plan to travel with that equipment (without the group equipment of course) trough the continent, it can’t be a fault to go the first night in the city where you are entering the country of your choice in a official youth hostel, and ask them for a paper map and adress and telephone numbers list of the national youth hostel association, because equiped with that you are able to get out of bad weather, if you have bad luck and a long week of heavy rain! Intelligent people change the project in such a situation and visit a week long some museums in the next larger city!
      If you buy a military poncho, you should know the following: Used as a lean to shelter the german and US poncho is very small, the dutch is a bit larger, the light weight from MFH is long, but not very wide, the miltec is to short for people taller than 1,65 meters. The hoods of both civil products (MFH and miltec) in several army colours are made for summer conditions, perhaps a woolen cap. The original dutch, german and US military poncho has a a bit to large hood in the summer, but it is large enough for a extreme cold weather parkers hood, which you would not get with your head trough the holes of the civil produced pochos. For cold and very rainy conditions you should use one of the strong and large original military ponchos, which are a bit better spark and fire resistant too. (Spezial Depot Dehler offers the brand new german Flecktarn camo original german military goretex poncho for around 100 €. Something for freaks. Most people should buy a used rubberized army poncho (or civil MFH light weight) and a britisch army or snugpack sf bivi bag, in my opinion. That is the better deal for less or the same money.)
      I hope that helps, especially those who want to travel in Germany, Poland and France. (A small gas burner would be a sensible idea too in Lower Saxonie, eastern Germany, Poland and France).
      For those, who want to go to Scandinavia or go for camping in Britain I recommend to understand, that Paul Kirtley recommends other equipment, because he uses it in thouse northern countries, where you find often different weather, than southern of Hamburg.
      In Greece you don’t need a poncho, in Iceland a rainsuit is a good idea, in between it is intelligent to inform yourself, which weather you have to expect!
      Best regards!

  94. Hey there,
    I would like to ask, what size the olive green cotton bandana has that you are using? A it a army product Or homemade ? How thing is the material?

    Thank you very much!


    1. Hi Max,

      It’s a Swedish military bandana/scarf. The can be easily found in military surplus suppliers stocks and are very inexpensive.

      Warm regards,


  95. Hi Paul! Thanks for sharing this very helpful article. Very helpful indeed! That is a nice back-pack – “Saber 45,” but what can you say about the “Snugpak Bergen Backpack, Olive?” Is that a nice choice too? Hopefully wait for your professional opinion. Cheers Paul!

    1. Hi Gary,

      Thanks for your comments. To answer your question, I have not used the Snugpak bergen. Therefore I am unable to offer an opinion (professional or otherwise 🙂 ).

      Warm regards,


      1. Warm regards too Paul… You’ll expect me to always be active in your Videos and Blogs – I learn a lot from a very Prolific Bush-Crafter like you… Thanks Again…

  96. How much would a kit like thus cost approximately?

    1. Hallo Shannon!
      If you do not plan to go alone or in a small group to northern Skandinavia, Canada, or Sibiria, if you just want to start with bushcraft as a hobby in Britain or some where else in Europe, you do not really need the high quality of the materials Paul is using.
      You should have a look in the next shop around you, where you can buy used army materials. There you can get a complete spring to autum bushcraft equipment for 100 to 300 €. Pay attention, that really every thing fits over the next layer of clothing, even, if you do not buy the complete clothing system in one rush. For example you can use at first the longjons you own, but see, that the woolpower 400 longjons (100 €!) would fit under your trousers, so later you could buy them. British , Dutch and German army Equipment is light, strong and cheap. Look in the winter artikles of this blog, before you start to buy stuff for the summer.
      If you do not like camouflage patterns, you should look for austrian military equipment and hunting and trekking equipment from Decathlon, it is not expedition material like parts of Pauls equipment, but it is totally ok to use it in develloped countries. But most times the military equipment you can get for a far better price! The sleeping bag you should by not from a military shop, they are to bulky and heavy, take for example one from Snugpack or an other civil product, like the olive green mummy stile one from Decathlon. And do not buy a to small rucksack! First collect your stuff and buy then the backpack, nothing is more disgusting, than to fix equipment outside, because you do not get it in your bag! Paul recommends 45 liters. I often use only 35. But I recommend to buy a backpack with 60 liters, in winter weather that is reached fast! And do not forget, that you want to carry a larger amount of food too, and in summer time your worm clothing are often in the rucksack, not on the man in the sunshine of the day! I often had to carry equipment for my girl friend. I used 60 liters, she 35. Thats like 2×45 liters, but a bit different! So pay attention, before you buy an expensive rucksack!

  97. Thanks for the articles Paul I find them very Interesting and Helpfull

  98. Hello..
    This is just a “heads up” on the Silva compass.
    It’s now called the “Expedition S” and the declination side of the capsule (the opposite end of the red “shed” arrow) is missing the marker line to precisely set the alignment for magnetic declination.
    Over a long distance one or two degrees off, could be an issue.. esp.. if one is in a difficult situation.
    While this can be viewed as relatively minor, we all know that when major issues occur it’s often the addition of minor problems into the mix that create a dangerous situation or some sort of catastrophe.
    I’ve been in contact with Silva regarding this issue and they have told me that all of the Expedition S compasses are missing this and that they realize that they have to add this back on the next production run.
    A minor issue is that the compass cover (housing the siting mirror) has curves on the left and right sides. When you lay it down flat on a map, you can’t use the full length of the compass as straight edge to draw a complete line from point to point (as one would do when triangulating their position).

  99. Hi Paul,

    What pouch are you using for 16. Spare clothes?



  100. Great information.
    But I can’tell find what you use as a light weight back packing stove and pot system
    Eg gas, alcohol, stick gasification stove
    Or do you just your Billy / canteen cup into / over a fire?

  101. Very useful thanks Paul. I come from a mountain background and always used a tent. I am keen to use a tarp more and agree it is nicer to be outside. However, when camping I have come across an ever increasing amount of ticks so I prefer to be in my tent but only fir that reason. Do you have any tips for avoiding them whilst in a bivi?

    1. Hi Lucy,

      I very rarely get bitten by ticks even though I spend scores of nights outdoors under a tarp each summer. The key thing is to avoid bivvying in the type of vegetation that harbours many ticks. Stay away from dense, green vegetation, especially bracken. Better to bed down on dry leaves if you can. Stay away from areas that deer rest up too.

      Hope this helps.

      Warm regards,


  102. Hi Paul, great article as always.
    When people think of bush or outdoor equipment, binoculars do not often come to mind. I, when outdoors ,always carry a pair, and have managed to wear some out.
    In my experience I have found the following benefits:
    You can see trouble before it sees you
    It aids navigation, identifying landmarks, without the need to get closer to confirm what they are, thus saving energy, and enabling advanced strategies if you identify your route ahead is blocked.
    Search and rescue, essential.
    There are many other uses, including as you said, getting closer to wildlife.

    All the best

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