diseases after shtf

Dealing With Diseases After SHTF

diseases after SHTF

Note: This article was contributed by James Smith. Read more in the About The Author section below.

Apart from preparing, planning and thinking for an SHTF situation, have you ever wondered what the most likely threat is for people? As common sense suggests, when people know a SHTF situation is eminent today or sometime soon, they will go mad stocking food and water and prepare survival tools and kits. But there is something more than this – diseases after SHTF. Even the most prepared survivalists can be faced with illness in the aftermath of disaster.

Doctors are the people who first come into our minds when it comes to any condition like this, but in a disaster situation, the doctors would be facing the same survival challenges and after all they won’t be leaving their families.

In the aftermath of disaster, people might fear for starvation the most, which can lead to death, but in actuality the real reason that increases the probability of mass deaths is even worse. Can you imagine a situation where you have prepared enough for your survival and have a very-well planned strategy for defense too? The tools, the stocked food and water, everything is enough to keep you alive – starvation does not seem crucial here. If you have thought over it, the bigger threat is of contracting diseases after SHTF!

It is likely that people might not put much thought into it so here are the details that will help you keep aware of and prepare for disease after SHTF.

Common Sources Of Diseases After SHTF

diseases after SHTF
You made it this far- now learn how to protect your loved ones from diseases after SHTF. Image via Mitch Barrie on flickr.

Water Sanitation And Poor Hygiene

The clean drinking and tap water that we use in our daily lives to fulfill human requirements is taken for granted by everyone. Imagine a situation where public water supplies cease to function – inevitably, there will be a rise in deadly disease then.

diseases after SHTF
Without purification methods, improvised water supplies can easily become contaminated. Image via SuSanA Secretariat on flickr.

When proper sanction becomes no longer a simple thing, here is when you should fear for lives. Water supplies will be contaminated in a SHTF situation causing an outbreak of typhoid, diarrhea, cholera, hepatitis A, gastroenteritis and diphtheria. People might not know what to do then and this is one of the reasons why you are advised to keep a water purifier kit.

diseases after SHTF
Flooding poses an even greater risk to sanitation.

Diseases Caused By Insects

The best place to breed for insects is dirty and contaminated water and what can be better for them when you are facing SHTF disasters. I guess they would be the least bothered creatures on Earth then. Sounds funny, but is as dangerous as threatening the people’s lives.

diseases after SHTF
Small but deadly! Mosquitos are responsible for spreading severe diseases, such as Malaria and West Nile Virus.

Mosquitos, bugs, fleas, ticks, midges, rats and flies – almost like non-existent creatures could play the role of being the biggest creatures in a SHTF disaster by making you sick and that too, to such a severe extent that if not treated properly, people may die! Malaria, Lyme’s disease, Murine typhus, West Nile Virus and other contagious and life-threatening diseases spread like fire in the woods.

diseases after SHTF
Avoid camping near swamps and marshes, if possible. These areas attract insects.

It is important to have the knowledge beforehand and learn to keep clean drinking water and food. An insect repellant, non-prescribed anti-biotic medicines and hygiene accessories are therefore recommended to keep in a kit of emergency survival supplies. In areas of high risk for insect-borne diseases, be sure to include a mosquito net in your bug-out bag.

diseases after SHTF
Sleeping under the protection of a mosquito net is an effective way to prevent contracting insect-borne diseases. Image via Christian Haugen on flickr.

Respiratory Diseases And Infections

Respiratory infections and diseases are a major concern as they spread really quickly in disastrous situations. Cold, cough, flu and sore throat can still be treated through non-prescribed medicines (recommended to keep in a first-aid kit) however it becomes more threatening as there are certain bacteria and viruses that are drug-resistant. In a situation where all you can do is carry your own self safely; non-prescribed medicines will be of no use and won’t cure them.

diseases after SHTF
The flu virus is highly contagious and difficult to contain when living in close quarters.

These bacteria and viruses cause upper respiratory tract diseases such as bacterial pneumonia. It could be a major reason for massive death –imagine the unlimited food and water you’ve stocked, would it be of any help? Of course not, so is the reason why diseases are a bigger concern in the aftermath of SHTF.

diseases after SHTF
Dealing with diseases after SHTF will be challenging without access to modern medicine.

When fighting for their survival, survivalists live in groups with their families that increase the chances of transmission of air-borne diseases and infections from one person to another. Infants, elderly, and immune-deficient people are more susceptible to catching infections. The simplest example can be, you cough and then use the water-bucket that is shared, the other person uses it and here’s how he catches the disease.

diseases after SHTF
Take extra care to prevent infants from exposure to illness and disease.

Practicing good hygiene, like covering your cough, washing hands frequently, and avoiding shared utensils whenever possible will help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. If a member of your group becomes ill with a respiratory infection, it is best that they rest and limit interactions with others until they recover.

diseases after SHTF
Ah-choo! Catch your sneeze or cough to minimize airborne pathogens.

Wounds And Infections

In a SHTF scenario, it gets extremely crucial to take proper care of wounds and infections as tetanus shots and antibiotic medicines aren’t available. To clean them, you of course won’t be able to rely on other sources of water too being unsure about its contamination. Infections lead to conditions like sepsis and gangrene.

diseases after SHTF
One thing you can prepare is a well-stocked first aid kit for tending to injuries.

Prevention is better than cure and here would be the time to practically implement it. A simple wound in such a situation can lead to long-term disabilities, chronic wounds, infections in bone and unfortunately Death! Having knowledge and learning medical skills before such disastrous situations can help survivalists save their lives. Learning about medical emergencies, cleaning and sterilization will also help prevent infections.

diseases after SHTF
Important essentials for cleaning and bandaging wounds.

In order to be able to address wounds and injuries, you will need a well-stocked first aid kit. It should include bandages, antiseptic, and tools to help you quickly tend to injuries and prevent infections. For help with planning your first aid kit, CLICK HERE.

Food-Borne Diseases

While food plays an important role in your survival, it can also be a source for harmful bacterial infections. It is better to skip a meal and continue to look for food than to consume something that is questionable. Food-borne diseases can be deadly, especially without access to immediate medical intervention.

Foods that come from animal sources, such meat, eggs, and dairy products, may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Also, cross-contamination can occur with other foods, such as produce. In a survival situation where sanitation is compromised, it can be difficult to maintain cleanliness and thoroughness when cooking. Do not consume undercooked meat or eggs! The resulting infection can cause fever, diarrhea, and cramps lasting several days. Depending on the person’s health, this can become very severe.

Another danger may be lurking in your pantry. Food-borne botulism can be contracted from canned foods that are not processed properly. Untreated, botulism can progress into paralysis of the arms, legs, torso, and even respiratory muscles. To help prevent contracting this disease, boil canned foods for ten minutes before consuming. For more information on canning safety, CLICK HERE.

canning safety guidelines


Your strategy for health is a major component of your survival. Dealing with diseases after SHTF requires planning ahead by educating yourself about disease prevention and treatment. Be aware of sources of contamination. Know how to recognize symptoms and do not dismiss them – even mild symptoms can be a sign of a more serious problem, especially when resources are limited. And always pack a first aid kit in your bug-out bag!

About The Author

James Smith is a survivalist, who loves to write about survival skills and techniques. He has extensive knowledge about different survival kits and other survival supplies which he loves to share with others by writing blog. Follow him on twitter @jamessmith1609.

Your Thoughts

Can you think of any other diseases that may arise post-disaster? Are you taking extra steps to prepare for disease after SHTF? Tell us about them in the Comments section below, thanks!

Read More

survival after bugging out

A Step-By-Step Guide to Survival After Bugging Out

survival after bugging out

It’s one thing to have everything you need prepared and ready to go in case of disaster; it’s quite another to know exactly what to do and to stay calm under pressure.

In a disaster, what you do in those first crucial moments has a lasting impact on your long-term survival. However, preparing for survival and actually surviving are two very different things. To improve your chances of survival after bugging out, we’ve prepared a list of priorities to help you plan your long-term survival strategy and ensure you’re ready for life off the grid.

Priority #1: Securing the Area

Once you and your party have arrived to your designated bug out location, the first thing you want to focus on is ensuring the area is still a safe place to spend the night. Check out your perimeter and, if you haven’t already, sketch out a rough map of key area features. Find a decent vantage point that allows you to get your bearings and view the surrounding area, making note of any bodies of water, visible trails, roads, and train tracks.

survival after bugging out
Carefully assess whether it is safe to remain at your chosen bug out location.

Another important sign to look for is evidence of other travelers; you chose your bug out location because of its desirable features, perhaps other bug out parties have as well. Key indicators to look for include man-made items along the trail to your bug out location, rising smoke, and bright colors indicating tents or tarps. Additionally, listen carefully for footsteps and voices, especially if you fled a nearby disaster.

At this point, simply having knowledge of any persons nearby and being able to keep tabs on them without divulging your location will suffice until you have addressed the second priority, assessing health. However, if you have the means, consider setting up a trip wire around your camp before settling in for the night. Using glowsticks and mousetraps, you can build a simple, yet very effective, security system such as this one.

Priority #2: Assessing Health

Assessing the health of your bug out crew is of utmost importance; skipping a full evaluation can lead to severe problems down the road so make sure your assessment is thorough. In a survival situation, overlooking or ‘braving through’ a condition can threaten your long-term survival – as such, all injuries should be accounted for and treated accordingly. If the size of your bug out crew permits, this assessment can be performed at the same time as your perimeter search.

When assessing the health of your crew, you’ll want to look at both physical and emotional health:

Physical health

Even minor cuts can become a major problem if they become infected, so making sure everyone in your party has arrived unscathed is an important step. Of equal importance is immediately tending to any cuts or wounds crew members may have suffered to increase the chances of quick healing. If you’ve determined there are no pressing medical issues, scan everyone for minor injuries and ticks. Additionally, once you take off your packs, be sure to properly stretch in order to alleviate any soreness, and drink water to replenish lost fluids.

survival after bugging out
Your survival after bugging out greatly depends on your health and that of everyone in your group.

If there are any injuries, prioritize treatment based on severity, starting with the least severe. While it may be tempting to treat the most severe injury first, tending to those with minor injuries first will then allow them to assist with others. Also, patching up small cuts can prevent passing bloodborne infections. However, sequencing for treatment is always a judgment call; if a member of your crew is having difficulty breathing or experiencing severe bleeding, they should be tended to immediately.

To assist in situations where bug out crew members are injured, we recommend adding CPR and first aid training as a measure of preparedness. Additionally, always keep a first aid manual with your bug out gear as this will help when trying to administer treatment under stress.

Emotional Health

The emotional toll of bugging out can be just as debilitating as physical injuries, and many mental effects won’t manifest themselves until you’ve reached safety. As the adrenaline cools and the reality of what you’ve just endured and the fact that you may never go back to your old life start to sink in, fear and anxiety can take over.

survival after bugging out

Many people will start to wonder about the safety of loved ones and friends that are not with them and stress about their whereabouts; additionally, for those in a disaster situation, there may be extreme images that play through crew members’ minds. This can be a lot to take in at once, keeping everyone calm and minimizing discussions of the events will help your group focus on the tasks at hand. Arriving was an important step, but there is still work to be done in order to survive.

Bugging out with children can present its own set of emotional challenges. If there are children in your bug out party, make sure you designate a caretaker adult ahead of time who is able to comfort them and display a positive attitude. Older children can be kept busy with tasks such as gathering firewood or kindling and retrieving other items to help with camp.

survival after bugging out

The better prepared your children are ahead of time, the better they will be able to handle the rigors of survival after bugging out. The way you carry yourself and your demeanor makes a huge difference as even very young children can pick up on your stress level; by maintaining a level head and staying calm, you will benefit everyone in your crew.

Priority #3: Attempting Communication

Once you have secured the area and all injuries have been stabilized, your next priority should be to find out what’s going on by pulling out your emergency radio. Emergency broadcasts will provide you with current information and potentially the extent of the damage in a disaster scenario. This information will help you to better assess whether or not to stay at your bug out location as you will be aware of potential impending threats (such as bombings) or the scope of a natural disaster.

best emergency weather radio

If cell phone use is an option, you may be able to check in with loved ones to help alleviate some anxiety. However, should you be unable to reach anyone, don’t panic. Communication lines are often overwhelmed in the aftermath of a crisis; you can always check again later.

survival after bugging out
If your cell phone is still working, preserve battery by only turning it on a few times a day for short periods.

Priority #4: Setting Up Camp

There is no guarantee of what time of day or year it will be when you bug out; the more you plan ahead and establish roles, the smoother the process will be.

To properly set up camp for survival after bugging out, you will need to choose spots for your fire and shelter, assemble your fire and shelter, make arrangements for hygiene, and safeguard your food rations against wildlife.

Fire and Shelter

There are many options for bug out shelters; carefully assess the weather and conditions in your particular locale to choose which type is best. To learn about simple shelters you can build, CLICK HERE. Whichever means you choose, try and utilize natural structures for shelter and concealment, and locate the fire pit centrally in order to keep everyone warm.

survival after bugging out
No tent? No problem. There are lots of ways to build a simple shelter.

After establishing the locations for your shelter and fire, it’s time to start building your fire; this way, you can use the light from the fire to continue building or setting up your shelter. As a prudent measure, you should include at least two means for starting a fire in your bug-out bag; however, should you run into problems, here are six ways to make fire without matches.

survival after bugging out
At night, the light of the fire is less visible if you recess your fire pit.

One consideration for setting up your fire is whether or not it is visible from far away; if giving up your location puts you at risk, try to keep the fire small and obscured by brush (at a safe distance) or possibly wait until after dusk when rising smoke will be less visible.


Designate an area to serve as a bathroom that is downhill and 200 feet away from your main camp area and any water source. Digging individual catholes will work for smaller groups over a short period of time, but for a larger group, a latrine may be your best option.

To build a latrine, dig a six-foot trench that is about eight inches deep and use every inch from one end to the other, covering waste with soil as you go. When all the space is used up, you will need to choose another location as concentrating too much waste in one area decreases the decomposition rate and attracts wildlife.

survival after bugging out
Once the immediate needs have been met, you can start planning for long-term survival after bugging out.

Food Preservation

Another big attraction for wildlife: Food. Make sure to secure your food rations out of reach of animals. For a simple bear bag method, tie a 10-inch stick to the end of a rope and toss it over a high branch and then tie a bag with your food supply (and any other items that might smell tempting to animals) at the other end. Hoist the bag at least 15-feet off the ground and then secure the end to the trunk of the tree with the stick.

survival after bugging out
This branch was ideal for our bear bag because it was high off the ground and away from other branches.
survival after bugging out
Close up view of how the bear bag strap was secured to a nearby tree trunk.

Priority #5: Finding a Water Supply

If you’re wondering why finding a water supply is lower on the priority list, we assumed that you bugged-out with a 72-hour water supply as well as a means of purifying found water. If this is not the case, you may want to improve your bug out preparedness or move finding a water supply up to a higher priority.

When choosing your bug out location, you undoubtedly chose somewhere near a body of water; however, no matter where your water comes from, always be sure to purify any water obtained in nature to prevent contracting a parasite. If there is no water source near your bug out location, or it is unsafe to approach existing water sources, there are several ways in which you can harvest water from nature.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Intestinal parasites, such as giardia, can have devastating effects. Always purify drinking water!

Different ways to harvest water include tapping into trees and plants (think sap), collecting condensed water in a transpiration bag, and digging for water in geographical low points by looking for key indicators such as lines of shrubs. For more details on these and several other ways to harvest water from natural sources, please CLICK HERE.


Priority #6: Rationing Supplies

When bugging out, the supply of food you have on hand no doubt consists of MREs, high-density protein bars, dehydrated foods, and other items that are light and easy to carry. While these can be great sources of nutrition, try not to deplete your supplies too quickly – survival is not a three-meals-a-day holiday.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Ration your packaged food to last as long as possible to give you enough time to figure out a food source. Image via JaseMan on Flickr.

To get an idea of the amount of calories each of the members of your bug-out crew will need per day, check out this table that details the minimum daily caloric requirements for men, women and children. 

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Keep your energy up with high-calorie protein bars. Image via Richard Masoner on Flickr.

While children may have lower daily caloric needs, they will suffer from lack of calories sooner; feed children more frequent ‘meals,’ but keep those meals small. When rationing food supplies, keep in mind that you have not yet secured an alternate food supply, which brings us to the seventh priority: Finding food.

Priority #7: Finding Food

The time to start looking for food is as soon as possible, not when your supplies are low. You never know how long it will take you to find a food supply and should it take some time for success, your food supply may run out. There have been entire books written on how to scavenge for food in the wild, and we here at The Bug Out Bag Guide have covered the topic several times, including in our article Bushcraft Skills: Foraging for Food.

Foraging for Plants

One of the easiest ways to forage for food is to look to the plants and foliage all around you. Plants do not provide the same caloric value of meat or fish, but they do have a variety of nutritional benefits. Make sure to study your local edible plants and learn how to identify them in the wild before bugging out.

Hunting Game

Small game can be caught quite successfully in forested areas by setting traps. In particular, squirrels and rabbits tend to be abundant and can be easily caught using simple snares. Always ensure you mark the location of your snares on a map and check each one frequently; a struggling animal will attract attention from predators who may steal your meal before you even know it’s there.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
A deadfall trap is a simple yet effective way to catch small game.

Traps, such as funnels or corrals, can also be set to catch fish by placing the traps along the bank of a stream. Depending on your skill level and the type of weapons you have available, hunting for larger game may also be an option.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Inlets lend themselves well to building a corral for trapping fish.

Remember, the greater variety of methods you have in place for finding food, the more likely your chances of catching it!

Priority #8: Defending Your Camp

Once you’ve put in the hard work of getting your family to safety and ensuring you have the supplies needed to survive, it’s time to focus your attention on keeping your family, gear and supplies safe from predators and thieves.

survival after bugging out survival after bugging out
Be prepared – you never know who might stumble into your camp!

The first step in defending your camp is to set up a watch, ensuring someone is on the lookout at all times. Additionally, you can use thorny brush to build a fence around your camp to keep both human intruders and predatory animals out.

We also mentioned setting up a perimeter fence around your camp in order to keep intruders out; now is the time to decide what to do about it. If the intruder is an animal and you are equipped to take it down, that could be an easy dinner for your crew; however, with larger game, unless you have a suitable weapon at hand, you are better off to try and scare it away than risk injuring yourself.

Your group will also need a strategy to handle human intruders. Each situation should be evaluated reasonably; arming yourself with weapons and defensive tactics to protect against attackers is a smart move, but not every person you encounter will be out to get you.

Final Thoughts On Survival After Bugging Out

The most important thing to remember after bugging out is to stay positive and calm. Keeping a level head will help you to better handle all the tasks necessary to establish your bug out camp.

Foster communication and cooperation within the group so that you work together as a team and always be open to new and creative ways of completing tasks. Having your main tasks prioritized beforehand is an excellent way to ensure you’ve covered all the critical bases and that you are not expending unnecessary energy.

Your Thoughts

Do you agree with our prioritization of tasks for survival after bugging out? Is there anything missing that you feel should be addressed immediately after bugging out? Do you have any tips to share from your experiences setting up camps? Share your thoughts and questions with us in the Comments section below, thanks!

Read More

home aquaponics

Introducing Home Aquaponics: A DIY Way To Build An Endless Food Supply

home aquaponics

Food is one of the must-have essentials for preppers, as without it, you will not survive for too long. Building stockpiles is a great way to ensure adequate food for short-term emergencies, but in the long-term, even the most robust stockpiles will run out. The best solution is to find a source of healthy food that will never run out – this requires growing your own food.

When contemplating growing their own food, most people imagine it requires lots of land, daily watering, laborious tending, and a constant battle with pests – generally, conditions and labor requirements most of us won’t have access to in a bug-out scenario.

There is an alternative to outdoor gardening and agriculture; it’s an option that can produce an endless supply of organic, chemical and GMO free food in any space with minimal labor requirements. This ‘magic’ system? It’s called aquaponics, and every prepper should ensure they are familiar with it.

What Is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is an innovative combination of aquafarming and hydroponics. It involves creating a simple, self-sustaining ecosystem of plants and fish that yields an indefinite source of both fresh, healthy vegetables and protein for you and your family.

How It Works

The process works by virtue of the nitrate cycle. The waste from the fish is broken down in the water by nitrogen fixing bacteria and converted into nitrates and nitrites; too much nitrogen in the water will kill fish, but these particular forms of nitrogen are usable by plants as food.

The water from the aquarium is pumped into the hydroponic plant bed where the plants remove the nitrogen from the water; the filtered water is then cycled back into the aquarium. The basic premise is that the fish fertilize the plants while the plants clean the water for the fish.

home aquaponics

The system is completely self-sustaining except for the requirement of adding food for the fish and the occasional water chemistry maintenance. The only other time you will need to interact with your aquaponic system is when it’s time to harvest all the ripened vegetables.


The best part about a home aquaponics system is that it can be built to any size to suit your living space and consumption requirements, so even in a small space your survival plan can include an option for growing your own food source. Once it’s set up, you can essentially forget about it; there’s no need to water as the water is constantly being cycled.

This also makes it a highly efficient system as both water and fertilizer are cycled and not lost back into the ground. Despite its low maintenance, an aquaponic system provides a high yield crop as plants are constantly receiving needed water and nutrients. It’s the perfect system for those with busy lifestyles or working families.

The following is a quick list of some additional benefits of home aquaponics:

  • Easily alternate plants for added variety
  • No weeding – the bed is raised above the ground and does not contain soil
  • Produces organic, chemical-free, and non-GMO produce – much cheaper than buying organic at the supermarket
  • Helps decrease intake of preservatives, artificial coloring and flavoring, and refined sugar with fresh fruits and vegetables available daily
  • As a self-contained system, it is not susceptible to pollution, drought, or natural disaster, and does not affect or disrupt the natural ecosystem in the way that agriculture does
  • Easier and less hassle than a traditional outdoor garden with no bending required to weed or harvest, no digging, etc.
home aquaponics
Imagine having fresh organic produce every day without having to go to the market!

Getting Started

The Basics

When setting up a home aquaponic gardening system, you will need five basic elements: tank, grow bed, growth medium, plumbing, and power source.


The tank should be made from an opaque material, such as plastic, in order to block out the sun and prevent algae growth. For a small system, a deep Rubbermaid bin works well.

home aquaponics
You can see the algal growth in this tank due to its position in direct sun.

Grow Bed

The grow bed can be built out of wood for structure and lined with plastic for water tightness.

Growth Medium

The growth medium should be lightweight and have a good water-to-air ratio for water retention. The most commonly used growth medium is some form of clay formed into uniform pellets: Round pellets allow for air and water to circulate in the space between the pellets, with an 8-16mm diameter representing a good range.

Some brands come pre-rinsed and ready to use right out of the bag; look for those with a neutral pH as this will help prevent the growth of mold and fungus.

home aquaponics
Expanded clay pellets allow for optimal hydration and aeration in the growth bed.

Another option is to use crushed rock, but be cautious of rock containing limestone as it will leach minerals, affecting the pH of your system. A rock medium is much less expensive than clay pellets, but also heavier, something to consider if you plan on moving your system around.

A combination of the two can be used to save costs and still reap the benefits of clay; simply use a layer of rock at the bottom of the grow bed and top it with a layer of clay for planting.


The water in your aquaponics system will circulate via an electric pump, through either pvc or vinyl tubing. Regulators adjust the flow to meet the biological needs of the system.

Power Source

You will need a power source to power the plumbing system; this power can come from a traditional electrical connection or, for a completely self-sustaining system, from solar cells.

Setting Up Your Home Aquaponics System

The best part of any home aquaponics system is its versatility to fit any space requirement. If you start off small, you can always expand your system as your needs grow, or scale back if required.

When setting up your system, you will want the tank to sit lower than the grow bed, or directly below it, allowing water returning from the grow bed to be gravity-fed back into the fish tank. Rocks can be used as substrate, but stick to a large enough cobble that it will not interfere with the pump. Stay away from typical aquarium gravel, as it is usually too small and can clog your system.

home aquaponics
This aquaponic system circulates water from a single fish tank through two growth beds.

For the garden bed, ensure you locate your system in a place that receives adequate sunlight to support the plants. Remember, it is a drought-resistant system as the plants have constant access to water and nutrients, so full sunshine is fine.

As a contained ecosystem, you can set-up your aquaponic system anywhere that is convenient. If you live in a mild climate, it’s feasible to keep your system outside year-round on a deck, patio, or lawn. For colder climates, an outdoor system can survive winter in a climate-controlled greenhouse to continue food production through the colder months.

home aquaponics
Some fish, such as these tilapia, can thrive in high density tanks. This makes them ideal for smaller set-ups.

Small systems can function well indoors as long as they receive sufficient sunlight – either natural or using a grow light. There are even countertop systems available; these are great for growing herbs in the kitchen.

For a fantastic, informative video series on building and maintaining your own aquaponic system, click here.  

Customizing Your Aquaponic Garden

Choosing Your Fish

When first starting a system, you may want to use feeder fish, such as goldfish, to establish the water chemistry as they are inexpensive to replace. After establishing the correct water chemistry, you can then upgrade to edible varieties of fish.

The ideal fish should be a species that breeds well in captivity, grows to a decent size, is edible, and something your family will enjoy. Also, your chosen fish needs to be a freshwater fish as a marine environment is not suitable for plants and the water will be shared.

When stocking your tank, very young fish called ‘fry’ are cheapest but will take longer to nutrify the water as they produce so little waste; fingerlings, fish that have developed scales and working fins, are more expensive but will take less time to balance the water chemistry.   

Recommended species

There are many types of fish that will work well with a home aquaponic system. Goldfish and koi are hardy, ornamental, cold-water fish that breed well in captivity but are not particularly desirable to consume. It’s probably best to stick to species that are edible – and enjoyable – as this will provide maximum enjoyment for your family.

home aquaponics

Tilapia: A popular choice as they breed well in captivity, are large in size, and hardy in terms of water conditions. They typically prefer warm water, so you may need to set up a heat source in the tank. Tilapia eats plants and duckweed, which can be grown right in the tank, or high quality fish food can be used. Nile tilapia are commercially farmed and produce a white meat with a mild flavor that is low in fat; they typically reach plate size in four months.

home aquaponics

Crappies: These are good-tasting, smaller fish, that are hardy and easy to raise. However, it will take two years for them to mature to reproductive age and the tank cannot be stocked with larger fish as they will eat your crappies.

home aquaponics

Trout: These fish have a fast growth rate, are suited for cold water, and follow a carnivorous diet that includes insects, molluscs, worms, and feeder fish (you can choose to breed these yourself or purchase pelleted food). The downside for trout is that they are less hardy and require very pristine tank conditions.

home aquaponics

Catfish: The channel catfish (pictured above) and blue catfish are the most common varieties used for consumption, as they are fast-growing and a good source of vitamin D; however, catfish must be skinned before eating as they do not have scales. As they are bottom-feeders and large enough not to be prey, they typically cohabitate well with other species.

home aquaponics

Carp: These fish are adaptable to environmental changes and breed well in captivity. Typical species raised in fish farms for consumptions are the bighead carp, grass carp, mud carp, and crucian carp (pictured above).

home aquaponics

Largemouth Bass: These hardy, cold-water species are popular as gamefish. The flavor of the younger (smaller) fish is preferable to larger fish due to the difference in diet; this means that they can be consumed before they are fully grown. A carnivorous fish, the largemouth bass feeds on shrimp, insects, and small fish.

Compatibility / Multiple Varieties

When it comes to mixing the variety of species in your aquaponic system, be aware that some species of fish can co-habitate while others prefer a monospecies environment. When cohabiting, be sure to choose fish with the same requirements for temperature and water conditions.

Choosing Your Plants

You should choose the plants for your system based on their nutritional benefits and your family’s tastes, as well as their compatibility with your water conditions. Plants that require a pH much higher or lower than 7 are not suitable, as highly acidic or basic water does not support fish life.

home aquaponics
Some plants are naturally faster growing, such as beans. It is good to have a variety in your garden so you will always have ripe vegetables to eat.

Leafy plants, such as lettuces and herbs, do quite well in aquaponic systems and are the easiest to grow. Fruit-bearing plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, and beans, will require a higher nutrient concentration and therefore do best with a well-stocked aquarium.

Subterranean plants can be grown, however, the hydroponic substrate makes it difficult for the root vegetable to achieve typical shape. The end result is that you can grow healthy potatoes and carrots but they may not look as you would expect them to!

Plant-to-Fish Ratio

Balancing the plant-to-fish ratio in your system is the biggest challenge; it is essential that you have the right amount of plants to filter the waste for your fish, as well as enough fish to supply adequate nutrients to your plants. The water ratio is 1:1 for water in the grow bed and water in the tank. The general ratio of plants-to-fish is four plants for every pound of fish, but this may need adjusting depending on the species of fish and types of plants.

In order to properly maintain the water chemistry and achieve a healthy system, a water testing kit is a must. Once you have it figured out, the system can be expanded to increase the food supply by simply adding another grow bed and adjusting your tank water volume. You can also add multiple tanks of fish for variety.

Different Types of Aquaponic Setups

There is no ‘right’ way to set up a home aquaponics system; in fact, a successful system can be set up in many different ways. The following are examples of different types of setups you can try yourself, or use for inspiration to create your own:

home aquaponics
This growth bed is made primarily from gutters and downspouts instead of a traditional bed.


home aquaponics
Separating plants into pots works well in this larger system. The turbulence of the gravity-fed water return system helps to keep the oxygen level up.
home aquaponics
A decorative approach to home aquaponics that requires more complex plumbing but also takes up very little room. The columns are filled with growth media and the plants grow out the slit toward the sunlight. The fish tank can be concealed or displayed next to the vertical growth bed.

Need Help Getting Started?

Aquaponic systems can be daunting for beginners; they sound complicated and many first-timers find it difficult to know where to begin. Setting up your own home system is actually quite easy if you start out with the right knowledge.

Click here for a complete guide on everything aquaponics – it will teach you how to get started, how to maintain your system, and how to make crucial improvements and adjustments to accommodate your family’s changing needs.

home aquaponics
Click the image to learn more about the home aquaponics video series.


A home aquaponic system is a viable, sustainable solution to an endless food supply and a positive step toward developing a self-sufficient home. The versatility of the system, along with its efficiency, make it a good choice for any household as it can provide a dependable source of food (both protein and vegetable) in almost any space and climate.

While the concept may seem daunting at first, many resources and studies exist to help get you started and maintain your system. Once it’s up and running, you’ll have a dependable, cost-effective source of food you can rely on.

Your Thoughts

Do you have experience growing food with an aquaponic system? Do you have any questions about home aquaponics gardening? Let us know in the Comments section below, thanks!

Read More

primitive fire making

Primitive Fire Making – 6 Ways To Make Fire Without Matches

primitive fire making

In a survival situation being able to start a fire can mean the difference between life and death.

Hopefully your bug out bag or survival kit has the fire starting tools that will help you start a fire quickly and reliably. But what if this gets wet, lost, or used up?  Then you will need some primitive fire skills to build your fire. Primitive fire making is a bushcraft discipline that uses simple tools and natural materials to create fire.

By being able to make fires quickly and effectively in any weather conditions, you will be better prepared for emergency situations.  In this article I am going to show you how to start a fire using primitive skills as well as compare and contrast the various methods to help you decide which one is best for you to learn first.

Primitive Fire Making Techniques

Flint and Steel

This is the easiest of all bushcraft fire starting methods. All that is required is a flint and a piece of carbon steel (such as your survival knife). Flint and carbon steel should be a part of every wilderness survival kit as it will allow for easy primitive fire starting in virtually any conditions:

  1. The friction formed by striking the steel against the flint will form sparks.
  2. You want to strike the steel against the flint with a loose wrist. It may take a bit of practice to get the technique down.
  3. Have tinder ready to ignite as the sparks start to fly from the flint.
  4. Gently blow on the sparks that land in the tinder or char cloth until it ignites.
  5. Make sure you have your kindling nearby and ready to add to the tinder once it catches.

primitive fire making

This method of bushcraft fire starting is relatively easy to execute. It requires the least amount of physical strength and energy to perform and can be done with only two items. We recommend the SurvivalSPARK Emergency Magnesium Fire Starter as a trusty flint and steel tool. However, if find yourself in a situation without carbon steel or a flint available, which is why it’s important to know as many primitive fire making techniques as possible.  This will better perfect your wilderness survival skills, preparing you for all situations.  Here is a video that shows you how to find flint in the wilderness:


Fire Plough

This is the simplest form of primitive fire making using only natural materials.  It is essentially an optimized way to “rub two sticks together” with the base board being one and the plow stick being the other.

Start by procuring a flat piece of hardwood at least a couple of inches thick to use as your baseboard.

  1. On the flat side, cut a straight line down the center using your survival knife.
  2. Hollow out this line to create a shallow, thin groove, about ¼-inch wide.
  3. Find a softwood stick, at least 1-inch thick. Use your bushcraft knife to carve the end of the stick to a rounded point, with the tip being small enough to fit into the groove on your board.
  4. To cause enough friction to generate sufficient heat to ignite a fire, we will now rub the two crafted parts together.
  5. Applying continuous force, rub the stick through the groove in the wood, starting at one end and going toward the other.
  6. This will require a bit of strength in order to create the friction necessary to form a spark.
  7. As the stick rubs against the baseboard, wood will slowly shave off.
  8. The friction you are causing will create heat and tiny embers, which will ignite the wood shavings.
  9. Have your kindling ready and, as before, gently blow on the sparks within the tinder to ignite a flame.

The fire plough method of primitive fire making is simplistic in design, allowing it the versatility to be applied in virtually any location. It’s an ideal wilderness survival tactic due to sheer simplicity.

Nonetheless, it does require quite a bit of physical force and energy to create the spark, someone who is weakened by starvation or exposure may have difficulty getting the fire plough to work. As with all primitive fire starting methods it is essential to practice in order to perfect the technique.  Here is a video demonstrating the fire plough method:

Hand Drill

A hand drill is a bushcraft technique that is simpler to build than the bow drill, but it will require greater energy, patience, and skill to implement. All that is required is a drill and a fireboard.  The stick being used for the drill is spun between two hands (instead of using a bow to spin the drill) to generate enough friction to create embers.

  1. In the same way as the bow drill’s drill was constructed, find a softwood stick and carve one side to a rounded point.
  2. Cut a small hole in the softwood fireboard, about an inch from the edge of the board.
  3. Cut a v-shaped notch connecting the hole and the edge of the board, with the point of the v connecting with the hole.
  4. Fill the v-shaped notch with tinder. Position the point of the drill into the hole on the fireboard.
  5. Place both palms flat on either side of the drill. Press your hands in firmly, and rub them back and forth.  Apply downward pressure as you spin the drill for added friction.
  6. Continue to spin the drill in the fireboard until smoke and embers form.
  7. As with the bow drill once the embers start to make the tinder smolder gently blow to develop a flame.

primitive fire making

This method is easy to construct in a pinch, making it a valuable bushcraft skill. Be sure to practice often because it can be difficult to implement.  Persistence and endurance are required to make it work.  Here is a video showing the hand drill fire starting method:

Bow Drill

This method is more complicated to build than either of the previously mentioned methods. However once a bow drill is built it requires less exertion to create a usable ember. Lets take a look at how to build a bow drill fire starter:

  1. Start by finding a piece of hardwood, rock, or bone that contains a divot or shallow depression. This will serve as the socket that the drill rests in.
  2. Next, find straight stick that will serve as your drill. The drill will need to be a piece of hardwood about ¾-inch thick. One end should be blunt and the other end will be chiseled to a rounded point.
  3. Make a flat piece of softwood, at least 1-inch thick, to use as a fireboard. Cut a tiny hole into the board, about one inch from the side, barely big enough for the tip of the drill to rest in.
  4. Cut a triangular notch connecting the hole to the side of the board, with the point of the triangle connecting to the hole in the board.
  5. Find a bendable, green stick to craft into a bow.
  6. Tightly tie a piece of sinew or paracord to the bent ends of the bow.
  7. Place your tinder into the triangular notch in the fireboard in step 4. This is where the sparks will form.
  8. Place your foot firmly on the fireboard to hold it in place. Loop the bowstring around the drill and place the point of the drill into the hole in the fireboard. Grab your socket from step 1, and place the depression in the socket on top of the drill to hold it firmly in place.
  9. Pull the bow back and forth rapidly. As you do so, this will drive the drill into the wood, creating friction.
  10. As the embers begin dropping into your tinder nest, gently blow until it ignites.

primitive fire making

Although a bow drill is more difficult to build than a fire plough it should create fire faster and with less effort.  If you are able to make your tools you can use them multiple times, making your investment pay off again and again.  Here is a video demonstrating the bow drill technique:

Pump Fire Drill

The pump fire drill is the most difficult to construct of all the primitive fire starting tools.  This is due to its more mechanically complicated nature.  This is compensated however by requiring nearly no effort to generate embers and a fire once the pump fire drill is constructed.  Lets take a look at how to build one:

  1. Find a round piece of hardwood and cut a small hole in the center. Using sinew, cordage, or paracord attach a sharp rock or arrow to the end of a hardwood stick.
  2. Drill a hole through a rock at the same width of the stick, and push the stick through the hole, with the arrow resting about one to two inches below the rock. The rock should fit snugly, without moving.
  3. Find a slightly curved piece of hardwood and drill a hole through the center, the same width as the stick.
  4. Insert the curved piece of wood onto the stick, an inch above the rock, so the bow in the wood is facing upward.  It should fit loosely so the device will easily rotate inside of it.
  5. Etch two notches on the ends of each side of the bowed wood so that a string can be tied around easily. Tie a piece of sinew, cordage, or paracord to connect the edge of each side of the bowed wood to the tip of the stick, in the direction away from the arrow.
  6. Grab the bow wood as a handle. Press the arrow to the hole in the firewood and spin the device to wind it up.
  7. Allow the device to unwind itself. As the arrow is driven into the fireboard, embers will form.

primitive fire starting

This bushcraft fire starting technique requires almost no effort to create a fire and is great for people of smaller stature and strength. However, the pump fire drill itself will take some time to build so it should be practiced or built ahead of time and then brought out when needed.  Here is a video showing the pump fire drill technique:

Fire Piston

The fire piston is a primitive fire starting technique that is a bit more complicated to make, requiring the use of hardware to build.  The fire piston uses the pressure created by quickly ramming the piston down a chamber to generate enough heat and pressure to ignite a piece of charcloth or other tinder.

  1. You will need a piece of copper or strong plastic pipe about 10 centimeters long. Sand the ends so they are smooth.
  2. Plug one end using a brass end cap, piece of metal, or wood. Glue the cap on so it fits snug.
  3. Take a 10-millimeter thick wooden piston and cut it so that it is a couple of centimeters longer than the tube.
  4. Insert the piston into a power drill. Run a file on the end of the piston, a couple of millimeters from the end and run the drill until the file carves a smooth indented line around the piston.
  5. Insert a 10-millimeter rubber ring around the ring in the piston. Drill a 5-millimeter hole into the end of the piston on the side with the rubber ring.
  6. Apply a thin layer of glue to the end of the piston to clog the pores of the wood. Drill a 10-millimeter hole into a cylindrical wooden knob and glue the bare end of the piston into the knob.
  7. Fill the hole at the end of the piston with charcloth.
  8. Lubricate the rubber ring and insert the piston into the copper tube. Forcefully push the piston into the tube quickly, pulling it back out immediately.
  9. Do this repeatedly until the charcloth ignites, then transfer the ignited charcloth to your tinder.

While the fire piston method does require some effort to build, creating a fire with it is incredibly easy.  Although it can’t be built out in the woods with simple tools it is still useful to learn.  Once a fire piston is built it’s a light weight and compact addition to any fire starting kit.

Bonus Method: Fire Starting Tools You Can Depend On

While primitive fire starting is a huge asset in your survival skill set, being prepared with the right tools can make your life a lot easier.

I recommend the SurvivalSPARK Emergency Magnesium Fire Starter as mentioned above. It is a fire starting tool that you can count on getting a fire started quickly in an emergency situation.

The other interesting survival fire starter worth checking out is the Everstryke Pro Waterproof Emergency Lighter which integrates a wick and striker wheel in a small waterproof housing.

What is the Best Primitive Fire Making Method?

In an ideal world we could just go out and master all of these 6 techniques and be ready to build a fire no matter the circumstances. However not everybody has time to master all these survival skills. What I suggest is picking one, or 2 at most and practicing it until you can create a fire using it in your sleep.  Picking which method to learn comes down to several factors including:

  • What resources are available
  • How much time you have
  • How much energy you want to expend

Feel free to try out all 6 methods to find which is the best for you.  Once you have that figured out practice, practice, practice.  The time invested improving your primitive fire starting skills will pay huge dividends if you ever need to start a fire without matches.  Always remember, Chance Favors The Well Prepared.

Your Thoughts?

Do you have a favorite primitive fire making method?  Have any tips for starting a fire without matches?  Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

Read More

what is bushcraft

What Is Bushcraft: Survival Skills, Tools, & How To Learn

what is bushcraftThe old saying goes “The more skills you have the less gear you need”.  This is a great mindset to have and it provides a clear path on the journey to preparedness.  Today I am going to share with you a set of skills and tools that all add up to the overall field known as “Bushcraft”.  If you are an old hand at wilderness survival or are just asking, “What is Bushcraft?” this article will show you what skills to learn and tools to use when growing your bushcraft knowledge and survival abilities.

What Is Bushcraft?

Bushcraft is the art of using the resources provided by our natural environment to survive and thrive in the great outdoors.  It combines the knowledge of how to best use the plants and animals at your disposal with some basic bushcraft tools to make outdoor living easier and more efficient.  In learning bushcraft skills we benefit in many ways including:

  1. Increasing our ability to adapt to new challenges
  2. Becoming more self sufficient
  3. Growing our confidence
  4. Increasing our survival skills
  5. Becoming better prepared to face unforeseen problems

Bushcraft is not just one thing to learn.  It is a group of related skills that help you survive and adapt to overcome obstacles.  Although traditional bushcraft is focused on wilderness survival, its mindset of using the world around you can easily be applied to an urban or suburban setting.

bushcraft skills

Learning bushcraft survival skills will go a long way in making you better prepared the next time a disaster strikes.  Many of the skills and projects within the field of bushcraft can be directly applied to survival situations and are immensely useful to learn.

What Are Bushcraft Skills?

Bushcraft encompasses several primitive skills to shape the world around you and meet your survival needs.  In this article I am going to focus on the fundamental bushcraft skills that are most related to survival:

  • Food Foraging
  • Trapping and Hunting Game
  • Water Gathering and Purification
  • Shelter Building
  • Fire Building

Now we have discussed many aspects of these skills in other articles (such as this one) but remember, bushcraft teaches you how to do all these things with just a basic tool and the knowledge in your head.  Each of these bushcraft skills have many smaller subsets of tasks and abilities that make them up.  Let’s take a look at what you need to learn to become proficient at these fundamental bushcraft survival skills.

Food Foraging

  • Knowledge of local plants
  • Camp cooking
  • Avoidance of toxic plants
  • How to efficiently harvest

Trapping and Hunting

  • Tracking and stalking game
  • Reading animal signs
  • Building snares
  • Using lures
  • Hiding human scent
  • Tying knots
  • Making cordage
  • Cleaning and cooking game

Water Gathering and Purification

  • Foraging for water
  • Making a water filter
  • Purifying water
  • Fire building (for boiling)
  • Container making (for carrying water)

Shelter Building

  • Felling trees
  • Batoning branches
  • Harvesting other materials
  • Thatching or weaving grass or bark
  • Knot tying
  • Making cordage
  • Natural insulation and waterproofing

Fire Building

  • Collecting wood
  • Gathering tinder
  • Batoning branches
  • Building a bow drill, fire plough or other device
  • Building a fire pit
  • Types of fires and their uses

Everstryke Banner

How Long Does It Take To Learn Bushcraft Skills?

As you can see there is a lot to learn!  While becoming a bushcraft master can take several years or longer the good news in that there are many small skills that can be quickly learned to get you started.  Additionally, some of the more basic skills like making cordage and batoning branches have many uses and can be applied to more than one discipline.

what is bushcraft

If you are just starting out

If you are starting with no base of bushcraft knowledge it is best to begin with one of the easier skills to learn.  Many of these can be learned in a matter of hours and be further developed whenever you have the time to practice.  Some basic bushcraft skills to start out with are:

  • Batoning wood
  • Carving simple tools
  • Lashing basic camp structures such as a tripod
  • Knot tying
  • Basic fire starting

If you have a basic knowledge already

With some basic bushcraft knowledge under your belt you can start to learn some of the more intermediate skills such as:

  • Foraging for food
  • Primitive fire building (no matches or lighter)
  • Shelter building
  • Basic snares and trapping
  • Water purification

For the pros

If you have a working knowledge of survival or outdoor living you can start to take on some of the more advanced bushcraft projects and skills such as:

  • Making rope and cordage
  • Advanced structure building (camp oven, beds, thatching)
  • Advanced foraging and trapping
  • Land navigation
  • Tracking

 What Are Bushcraft Tools?

At its most basic level bushcraft is the art of going out into the woods and surviving with nothing more than the clothes on your back and an edged tool.  Nearly every skill and most bushcraft projects use a bushcraft tool to make your labor easier.

bushcraft projects
A solid bushcraft toolkit will make most projects easier and faster

Bushcraft Knife

A fixed blade knife is the most common bushcraft tool.  Finding the best bushcraft knife (Check out my guide for picking the best fixed blade knife here) for your kit will make many camp tasks easier and faster.  Bushcraft knives are best suited for light and medium duty tasks:

  • Batoning branches smaller than your wrist
  • Carving or whittling wood
  • Skinning game
  • Making snares and traps
  • Preparing food

Here are my favorite knives for bushcraft:

KnifeSizeCostFeaturesBlade Material
KA-BAR Becker 22

Overall: 10.5"
Blade: 5.25"
Weight: 14.6oz
$$$Glassbreaker/hammer pommel. Extreme heavy-duty construction, ergonomic grip.1095 Cro-Van steel
Tom Brown Tracker

Overall: 11.90"
Blade: 4.25"
Weight: 28oz
$$$$Serrated back and multi-level main edge give this knife maximum versatility. Heavy duty, high quality construction.1095 High Carbon Steel
CRKT Ultima

Overall: 10"
Blade: 5"
Weight: 8.3oz
$$Patented Veff serrations, pry tip in pommel, fantastically designed grip melds to your hand in any conditions.1.4116 Stainless steel
ESEE-6 Survival Knife
Overall: 11.75"
Blade: 6.5"
Weight: 12oz
$$$$Textures handle with contoured design provide excellent grip when wet. Glassbreaker/hammer pommel.1095 High Carbon Steel
Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Knife

Overall: 8.9"
Blade: 4.1"
Weight: 4.8oz
$The king of basic knives. Far better performance than expected out of such a low price point. These knives have been used by cost conscious hunters and campers for many years.High Carbon Steel
Fallkniven S1 Forest Knife

Overall: 9.7"
Blade: 5.1"
Weight: 6.7oz
$$$$Straightforward knife built using some of the best materials available. High corrosion resistance.VG-10 Stainless steel

Tomahawk or Hatchet

As I discussed in my article “How To Choose The Best Tomahawk” (check it out here), a small axe is a highly versatile bushcraft tool.  Generally the design of a bushcraft axe makes it best suited for heavier duty tasks:

  • Chopping wood
  • Felling trees
  • Splitting logs
  • Butchering large game
  • Digging
  • Hammering stakes or posts

Here are some of my favorite bushcraft axes and tomahawks:

Fiskars X7 14 Inch Hatchet

1.4 lbs
$FiberComp handle is nearly indestructible. Designed with power-to-weight ratio for efficient splitting and chopping.
CRKT Kangee

1.5 lbs
$$$Sharpened spine and beard, multiple grip options
Cold Steel Frontier Hawk

1.5 lbs
$Also available with flat butt for pounding. Basic, cost effective hawk.
WatchFire Camper's Hatchet

13.6 oz
$Large head, compact handle.
Gerber Gator Axe II Saw Combo

1.8 lbs
$$Saw is hidden in the axe handle. Glass-filled nylon handle is extremely strong.


Functionally a machete is a hybrid between a large knife and small axe.  It can be used for many of the tasks I mentioned above.  The long, heavy blade of a machete is best used for medium to heavy cutting jobs:

  • Clearing Brush
  • Batoning large branches
  • Chopping wood
  • Digging
Woodsman's Pal

Designed as a bushcraft tool from the ground up. Heavy duty blade cuts branches up to 1.5" thick in a single stroke and sickle hook on the back side easily cuts vines and briars.


The saw is a more specialized bushcraft tool as it is only used for cutting branches.  It is however highly efficient at this task.  This advantage should be considered if you are planning on working on any bushcraft projects that will require you to cut lots of wood such as building a:

  • Platform
  • Hut
  • Camp table or chair
  • Bush ladder
Sportsman Pocket Chain Saw
Lightweight and ultra-compact. Can be used as is or combined with a branch to make a basic bow saw.$
Bahco Laplander Folding Saw

Good basic folding saw. The 8" blade has a safety lock for both opening and closing and is coated with a rust inhibitor.$
Sven Saw

The original classic! I used one of these in Boy Scouts 20 years ago and they are still chugging along. Packs down very compact but quickly assembles to a full sized bow saw.$$

Bushcraft Backpack

Lastly we have the pack that you carry all your bushcraft tools and other gear in.  As highlighted in my article on how to choose a backpack (read it here), make sure you pick a comfortable bag that matches your body type and that you can comfortably carry.  It is also important that your bushcraft backpack is waterproof and has multiple compartments rather than one large sack.  This makes it far easier to efficiently organize and then find your gear when you want to use it!

Global Assault Pack
Large, versatile bag with many organization features. Can carry all your cushcraft tools, clothes, and other gear for a weekend in the woods.$$
Alice Frame Pack

Alice Frame Bug Out Pack
Great basic pack with a time tested design. 1 huge main compartment and 6 smaller pouches easily organize your gear.$$$
Long Range Patrol Pack

Modern military style day pack for shorter bushcraft trips. Hydration ready, lots of storage, and multiple handling options make this a highly versatile bushcraft bag.$

OK but what is the BEST bushcraft tool?

Any of the bushcraft tools mentioned above can be used for nearly every bushcraft project or task.  Remember that one of the core ideas of bushcraft is to be adaptable in approaching problems.  The best bushcraft tool is really whatever you have with you!  Nearly every bushcraft project can be made easier by using a knife, hatchet, or saw at some point so either choose your favorite or bring more than one.

bushcraft tools
The best tool is the one in your hand

Think about what you are going to try and accomplish as well as what the trees and other resources are in the area you will be working.  Will you be doing lots of heavy chopping?  Make sure to bring an axe!  Will you be doing detailed carving for snares and traps?  Having the best bushcraft knife will be an essential tool.

If you have time to plan your bushcraft project out it never hurts to carry all the items you think you will need.  It is better to have a piece of equipment with you than wish you had brought it along!

What beginner bushcraft projects I can try?

As you can see from the bushcraft skills list above there is a huge range of tasks to learn and try.  Starting off with some simple bushcraft projects is a great way to get your feet wet and start learning some useful new skills!  Lets take a look at a beginner bushcraft project from each of the 5 skills we talked about earlier.

Food Foraging Bushcraft Project:

Go out in the woods and try to forage one edible plant.  Make sure you read up on what local plants are edible and palatable and then give it a try!  Check out this video for some tips:

Trapping and Hunting Bushcraft Project

Find and identify one set of animal tracks.  Again, read up on animals in your area and where they tend to travel.  Focus on common animals to increase your chances of success.  Here is another video to help get you started:

Water Gathering and Purification Bushcraft Project

Learn and practice one water purification method.  This can be boiling, building a solar still, filtering, or any other.  The important thing is that you actually practice doing it.  Note for this beginner bushcraft project I suggest practicing with bottled water just to be safe.  Here is a video to get you started:

Shelter Building Bushcraft Project

Build a basic shelter such as a debris hut.  This is an extremely useful bushcraft survival skill and can save your life if you are ever caught outside overnight.  Pour a bottle of water on the completed shelter to judge whether to not it would keep you dry.  Extra bonus points if you actually sleep in your shelter to test it out.  Here is a video on how to build a debris hut:

Fire Building

Build a small fire.  This encompasses many important fire building skills including gathering wood, finding and preparing tinder, and actually building your fire.  If you already know how to build a basic fire try building an upside down fire (how to article here)

Good luck!

Good luck with your bushcraft projects!  If you choose to do any or all of these you will be well on your way to growing your bushcraft survival skills and making yourself more prepared.  Get out there and take action!

More Bushcraft Resources

As you can see bushcraft is a huge field with many skills and activities to learn.  I have provided a basic overview to answer the question of “What is Bushcraft?” but there are lots of great resources out there to help you explore further.

Bushcraft Books

BookWhat It's Good For
Bushcraft by Richard Graves

This was my first bushcraft book. Great explanations of skills and how to apply the bushcraft mindset to problems. Lots of hand drawn illustrations, including some of the ones in this article!
Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury

A good beginner book. Focuses mainly on the survival aspects of bushcraft.
Essential Bushcraft by Ray Mears

Covers survival, projects, and crafts. Lots of color illustrations to help you along.
The Forager's Harvest by Samuel Thayer

Great for an intro to foraging. Many tutorials and over 200 color photos.

Bushcraft Community and Instructional Sites

Conclusion: What is Bushcraft?

Bushcraft is a diverse and extremely useful skill set to add to your survival arsenal.  This guide should help get you started but there is no teacher better than experience.  I challenge you to go out into the world and practice your bushcraft skills.  You will make yourself more confident, adaptable, and better prepared for whatever fate throws your way.  Always remember, Chance Favors The Well Prepared.

Your Thoughts?

Have you tried a bushcraft project?  Do you have a must have bushcraft tool that you love?  Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

Read More