This question has been on my mind for some time now. What I’m starting to notice out there on the internet is a ton of overlap when it comes to bushcraft, backpacking, camping and hiking. Even just hanging out in the woods with a hatchet in hand can be considered…I guess…bushcraft. I know what bushcraft is. It’s the art of learning about and practicing wilderness survival skills. The issue I’m confronting is the determination of how pure the word “survival” is.
In the most unadulterated sense of the term, bushcraft should be about someone being dropped off in the forest, pretty much naked. From there, they have to figure it out. If they’re proficient with their survival skills, within a week, they’ll likely have a functional shelter, a food and water source and a steady fire. They’ll also most likely have some creature comforts built into their camp, like a chair of some sort and perhaps some trails cut so it’s easier to walk around. As we lean towards the more impure sense of the word, we find ourselves out the woods with a $200 rucksack, a $150 survival knife, ferro rods, tarps, tents, hiking boots and all the rest. To me, that’s more along the lines of camping. Bushcraft is much more survival oriented and with that world, there should be a lot less orange, bright green and black nylon floating around. Even paracord and bank line should be reserved for someone who considers themselves a “camper,” I suppose.
I think I’m simply trying to get a definition here. Personally, I’m fine with borrowing pieces from each discipline. I don’t need to be a hardened bushcrafter. I enjoy sleeping in a tent on a bedroll and I like nice backpacks. I also love all my gear and one of my favorite things to do is to shop for it. I would even like to purchase a sweet camper one day. It’s the outdoors I love and however I can figure out to spend more time in it is fine with me. I guess I just don’t know what to call myself. Do I even need a label?
I can’t remember when I first heard the word “bushcraft,” but it wasn’t that long ago. It was most likely introduced to me on TV. Some survival show, I’m sure. From there on, bushcraft has become wildly popular on the internet and in the outdoors and I have to tell you, I love it. I love the fact that more and more people are getting outside to enjoy nature. All that means is that there will be a greater number of people on earth who are self-sufficient and who respect and would like to protect the outdoors as much as they can. Before bushcraft though, those same people were considered and called “campers.” The problem is, camping can swing wildly in both directions. Some campers own just one old canvas tent from their Boy Scout days and a ferro rod and others own a $300,000 35 foot RV. Oh yeah, and a propane grill. Are both considered campers? I think so, but one definitely leans more towards the bushcraft side and the other definitely leans more towards the rolling house side. But hey, to each their own.
I am probably just trying to get comfortable in my own skin. Much of what I read on the internet and in forums like this one is about bushcrafting. I’ll admit that I feel some guilt after reading through a bunch of content that talks about survival and then I go shopping for the latest hatchet, cordage or canvas whatever. It’s fine though because I have yet to bump into anyone who is judgemental about the whole thing. I’m sure they’re out there, but at least I haven’t met them.
So, what do you think about the comparison between bushcraft and camping? Are they one and the same? Are they completely different? Is there any overlap? I’m curious about your perspective.