Release your inner Bear Grylls with these 10 bushcraft essentials
TIPS FOR SAFE BUSHCRAFT ADVENTURES
1 Wherever you practise your bushcraft (or indeed any aspect of camping), remember the basic tenet of the Countryside Code – leave only footprints.
2 Keep that blade sharp and it will reward you with optimum cutting performance (and less chance of accidents). Make sure you know the recommended way to sharpen any particular edge.
3 Be careful. Never leave knives lying around.
4 Note, also, the law regarding carrying knives. In “everyday” use, a knife must readily fold and the blade has to be less than 7.62cm (3in) long. See gov.uk/buying-carrying-knives.
Here’s our selection of 10 pieces of essential bushcraft kit.
FOR AN INSTANT STRIKE
EASYCAMP FLINT STRIKER
Expect to pay £5.99
A little trick to impress your camping (or even non-camping) friends is to soak this in water, and demonstrate how it can still provide a spark to start a fire, or light a gas stove or lantern. It’s designed to work in all weather conditions, too. Sparker and metal plate (alternatively, strike it along a piece of metal cutlery, like a knife) are linked by a short piece of cord (to prevent loss of one or the other), and clip together for carrying in your pocket. Dimensions are 7.5cm long x 1cm x 2cm.
Key features Two-piece design, works in all conditions, pocket size
FOR A CLASSIC CUT
OPINEL NO12 CLASSIC ORIGINAL
Expect to pay £17.95
From a knifemaker whose expertise goes all the way back to 1890. And, as you can guess from the “No12” designation, this is one of what’s a huge portfolio of knives and blade-related items. It features the French manufacturer’s trademark polished beech handle and Virobloc, the rotating collar that locks the blade open to prevent it closing accidentally.
Key features 12cm Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel Yatagan blade
FOR WHEN MATCHES SIMPLY AREN’T ENOUGH
UST HERITAGE CAMPFIRE KIT
Expect to pay £19.95
Even tinder and kindling is supplied here in this little all-in-one fire-starting package. Key item is the SparkLite, which manually produces sufficient spark to set things going, in any weather conditions. The tinder has its own tine, to ensure dryness, while the kindling logs are in a resealable plastic bag. And, if all else fails, refer to the instructions: completing the kit is a set of cards offering tips on how to build your fire. It’s all housed in a drawstringed “rustic burlap” bag, dimensions 25cm x 15cm x 6cm. Total weight is just over 235g.
Key features SparkLite fire starter, nine kindling logs, 12 Light-Me tinder pieces, Fire Building cards
FOR A CLASSIC FIXED BLADE
WHITBY PAKKAWOOD SHEATH KNIFE
Expect to pay £24.95
Long before glamping was even a gleam, a sheath knife was something of an initiation for any Boy Scout (less so Girl Guides, sorry) and a must-have camping item from thereon. Whitby has been a top knifemaker since 1961, with a huge range on offer today. This is from its Survival series. Overall length is just over 24cm, and the blade is 10.8cm long. The handle, in a wood/plastic composite, also has a lanyard hole.
Key features Stainless steel blade, Pakkawood textured handle, faux leather sheath, two-year warranty
FOR EVERYDAY USE
BUCK RIDGEWAY EDC
Expect to pay £29.95
Launched in 2017 as Buck’s “first ever everyday carry knife”, from a company that’s notched (sic) up over a hundred years of specialist manufacturing. Named after Britain’s oldest road, the Ridgeway is a non-locking slip joint knife (ie, it has a handle with one or more folding blades) that you can carry with you anywhere. Overall length (closed) is 9.52cm and it weighs 62.4g
Key features 7.1cm stainless steel blade, burl wood handle, “forever” warranty
FOR GIVING A BASHING
ROBENS COPPER HEAD HAMMER
Expect to pay £32.99
Channel your inner bushcraftsperson with this rather stylish, but highly effective hammer – which is just at home bashing in tent pegs on any campsite. The copper face means less shock is fed back when you strike any hard object. Also, says Robens, you get an even blow with every strike. The head also has an integral hook for pulling out pegs. It’s 31cm long and weighs 518g.
Key features Copper and steel head, wooden handle, safety wrist band
FOR TAKING AN AXE TO THINGS
ROBENS MULTI AXE
Expect to pay £54.99
One for the chop? Not just an axe, Robens’ Multi Axe also includes an 18cm saw (stored in the main handle) and a fire steel (in the sheath). The handle is made from polyamide – lighter, stronger and more resilient to shock than the typical glass-filled nylon often used. The sheath also comes with a carry handle as well as a removable belt loop. Overall dimensions are 35cm x 2cm x 14.5cm, weight is 872g.
Key features Stainless steel, plastic sheath, PA handle
VICTORINOX SWISS CHAMP
Expect to pay £53.99
From the company that had a huge hand in bringing us the Swiss Army knife – available today in a huge array of guises; over 800, would you believe? When you hear the words Swiss Army knife, chances are this is the sort of thing you’ll picture. The Swiss Champ is probably the ultimate pocket knife for bushcrafters – packing a mind-boggling 33 functions from large knife blade to a toothpick, and almost everything in between. Whether you want to scale a fish, saw some twigs or simply open a bottle of beer you’ll find a tool for it on here. There’s even a tiny ballpoint pen to write your journal as well as screwdrivers, tweezers and more. It weighs 185g, is just 91mm long when everything is folded and comes in the traditional red, plus a variety of other colours.
Key features 33 functions, can be engraved, lifetime warranty
FOR BEAR SURVIVAL
GERBER BEAR GRYLLS ULTIMATE SURVIVAL KIT
Expect to pay £69.99
One of many results from a collaboration between Gerber (over 70 years old) and The Great Adventurer himself (44). This starts with the mini-est of multi-tools: nine of them – on top of the blade, there are needlenose pliers, wire cutter, various screwdrivers, tweezers and more. Then there’s a 16-piece selection of bags (waterproof, survival), light, mirror, waterproof matches and fire starter, snare wire and emergency cord, sewing and fishing kits etc. It’s all topped off by guides to surviving and rescuing. Total weight is only 119g, dimensions are 11.4cm x 12.7cm. Reduced by £7 online at the time of writing.
Key features Multi-tool, total 16 pieces, zipped ripstop nylon bag
FOR WHEN A KNIFE’S NOT ENOUGH
LEATHERMAN EDC REBAR
Expect to pay £94.95
Spotted anything? There’s no blade here. That means this kind of item could be invaluable in situation when such an item is simply not allowed. Otherwise, you get a pretty full kit of tools – needlenose and regular pliers, lots of screwdrivers, two wirecutters, crimper, wood/metal file, scissors, saw, bottle and can openers, awl, 20cm/8in ruler, you name it. EDC is an acronym for EveryDay Carry. It weighs 190g and is 10.16cm long. There’s also a choice of leather or nylon sheaths.
Key features Stainless steel, 25-year warranty, lanyard ring