Bushcraft fundamentalism; Are you a bushcraft purist or a techno camper?

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Eric_Methven

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 20, 2005
3,600
40
69
Durham City, County Durham
I'm a bit in both camps too. I have modern kit, way too much really and I only use a fraction of it. But that has come about by adding improvements with the passage of time. I now have amassed some really high quality bits of gear that will last me the rest of my life. It's stuff I could never have afforded had I just gone out and bought it all in one go. It's stuff I've got in dribs and drabs, swapped or bartered for other stuff, received as gifts from my wish list or got off ebay.

Now I can pick and choose gear suited to the environment, weather and seasons of my travels. I keep meaning to sell the older replaced stuff but have never actually got round to it. I am also slowly replacing stuff wherever I can with home made gear. I'd eventually like to be able to go out into the wilderness with only stuff I have crafted myself, and that includes clothing I have made on my own loom. It won't make a damn bit of difference to anyone else, but it makes me feel more bushcrafty if I'm using something I have made rather than bought.

Eric
 

Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
11,114
580
48
Wiltshire
an interesting idea.

how many primitives would have gone with it or did they trade for specialists to make their kit like we do??
 

woodchips

Member
Aug 30, 2006
34
1
43
Bristol, UK
techno camper - well yeah I guess so. My formative years have been spent living in an urban environment and I work in an office - I take a high tech stainless knife, gortex bivi bag, nylon hammock, titanium mug and spoon, merino and synthetic base layers, synthetic sleeping bag, ceramic/charcoal water filter, synthetic cord, synthetic rucksack, light emitting diodes, synthetic shoes, synthetic tarp, synthetic poncho and a synthetic horse to get me there. Oh, and I dont have a GPS, but I will when I do more hiking, I will ask it for help should my map reading fail me so I get get back out the next weekend and do it all again.

Why do I do this? Not because I don't want to learn the skills, it is because I want to get out side and enjoy the real world. I share my island with 60 million other people and tread the mill 9 to 5. I don't have the time or the natural resources to do it any other way. I hit the woods for the weekend and I am there, I gain new experiences and learn new skills and most importantly feel comfortable, i relax, I slow down and I enjoy myself and I go back out to do it again.

Is this somehow less ideal than taking just a metal mug and a knife, personally I don't think so. A metal mug and knife means you can make metal axes and chop down lots of trees to make more metal which you could use to mine coal, which you might use to make machines to drill oil and make more metal to harness chemical explosions to make more machines and before you know it you are in our modern world again.

So when I step off the mill I take my comforts and pay the world my respect and admire those peoples who live sustainably using the old ways and hope they survive the onslaught of "civilisation"
 

BOD

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Hey Shep,

I have to wonder if some of those "primitive" tribes use the stuff they do today, not only because of practicality, but also because of the lack of availability of other technologies. I reckon many of those people are not as advanced as us, primarily due to their isolation.

I suspect that a Celt of several millenia ago would have sold his mother for a modern knife and axe rather than his bronze exemplars. Or a titanium cook set rather than a heavy iron pot. Or things that never existed – binoculars, aerial photos, etc. Look at how quickly .

I cannot speak for ancient Celts but I do know for a fact that Papuan "stone age" tribesmen have rejected metal axes in preference over stone ones - a least until they have become more integrated and thus dependant on contact with the modern world. (And in the hands of an expert a stone axe is not that significantly slower in felling a tree than a metal one). See Stuarts video at the next bushmoot if he shows it.

Senoi Aboriginal scouts in Malaya rejected the clumsy submachine gun/shotgun and returned to their blowpipes when hunting Communist terrorists in the jungle. Why have one noisy ambush - giving away your position and getting return fire- when you can kill them silently one by one?

I have also found that an Iban selabit of rattan, and similar carriers, is a more durable and tough backpack than anything made of Cordura is. Would you get 20 years out of a bergen with regular use in the Borneo jungle? I have several jungle bergens from the 2nd Ghurkas which they disposed off before going to Afghanistan and they are looking quite worn in comparison.

There are also accounts of native American women rejecting metal pots in favour of bark pots and hides as these were not as transportable and compact.

I also understand that some pygmy groups leave almost everything behind when they move to a new location. The technology to replace the artifacts is all in their head. Now that is ultralite camping!

Granted that modern technology is more convenient but the real test of a technology is how well can it be deployed on a sustainable basis in any given environment over a long time.

Since most of our toys cannot be made without access to complex industrial processes and infrastruture and depletion of natural resources used as raw materials our technology is not sustainable. And sadly it is showing.

This does not mean that I am critical of those who rely on high tech gear but just to caution that we should be wary of trumpeting our so-called techological superiority.

Can any of us survive 30 years in the Artic, Australian outback, tropical rainforest with just what we can carry in our backpack with no resupply or contact with modern technology?
 

Minotaur

Native
Apr 27, 2005
1,131
23
Birmingham
I am really trying to think of my answer here.

I surpose when it comes down to it, I am a Scout, so I go into the outdoors intending to leave nothing but my thanks.

On the other hand, I really like open fires, and tarp camping.

Also I really like the ideas being put forward be the lightweight hiking movement, and wish I had been exposed to it years ago. I carried some heavy rucs, though some wonderful country.

I think the kit question is a bit misleading. A lot of modern kit is not as good, or as well made as it was, but I also think some modern ideas are so much better.

I remember the survival knife craze, having one, showing it off, and then using my Frost style knife for almost everything.

The one thing I am changing with my hi tech kit(Anything that needs batteries), is trying to get a universal approach to it, so I can stay out longer, and longer. Which is what I think is Bushcraft - 3 days is surival, a month has to be Bushcraft.
 

Karl5

Full Member
May 16, 2007
341
0
55
Switzerland
I guess I'm another one of those being a bit of both - purist as well as techie.
It all depends on where I go, what I'm going to do, why I do it and with whom am I doing it.
Being out with the missus tends to be more in the techie camp, as does going higher into the mountains. Going canoeing and into forest camping takes me more towards the purist side.
But I cannot say that I'm ever truly 100% on either side, but rather somewhere between the purist and the techie.

/ Karl
 

Viking

Full Member
Oct 1, 2003
961
1
44
Sweden
www.nordicbushcraft.com
It´s fun to read about all the comparison between modern man and the old natives. Natives lives in tribes were everybody has to help for the tribe to survive. Modern man goes often out alone with his tiny little pot so he can cook for himself and sleep in hiss hammock or under is small lighweight tarp. Everything is all about ONE person. People do not do like the natives did anymore, everyone cook for themselves and so on. People would gain more of helping each other out and work as a team (tribe) not until then will you ever be able to go out there an live. This is something that people on survival courses will learn very quickly otherwise you wont make it.

It´s a lot of talk about modern fabrics and natural fabrics, it all comes down to Dry, Warm and Fed so that you can enjoy the nature around you and to discover all that she has to offer. Buildning a shelter for one night and having a fire to keep you warm all night will destroy a lot of the woodland that is left on this planet. That´s why you should bring sleepingbag, tarp and so on.

Another note is that there seem to be a lot of people that should do reeneactment more then bushcraft. All the people I have met that work in the nature all use hi-tech clothes to keep them warm and dry. Look at the samii people working in every weather, modern clothes, but will still carry the kuksa and old style knife and sleep in a Kata to me thats the way to go.
 

rik_uk3

Banned
Jun 10, 2006
13,320
20
66
south wales
Bit of both for me. I grew up using ventile, got wet, so now use Gortex. My tents were Cotton, were strong, and never blew down or leaked, but were very heavy, so I now use a Hex 3, my stoves were traditional brass Primus, work very well, but my Nova does the same job and again is lighter. My old hand held torch worked fine, but was heavy on batteries, so I now use a small LED job. Would I use my old Joe Brown rucksack instead of a Bergen? No, the Bergen is better designed for my use. When I was a kid, I'd take a small transistor radio with me, now its a single battery powered MP3/radio.

What I'm saying is that new kit is not always 'better' than older gear, but its often lighter and sometimes more efficient so I use it. A hand made leather pouch is no better really, than a heavy duty zip lock bag, but the leather pouch has character and looks and feels good, so I use them. Gransfor axe, great piece of equipment, but to cut down a tree what would I choose, the axe or a £4.99 bow saw? The bow saw, its more efficient at felling a tree. Making a traditional lean to is a good skill to have, but a tarp is quicker, so I pick the tarp.

Traditional bushcraft skills are worth learning and practising, but to be honest, at my age I want ease of use and comfort, this often equates to more modern kit. As Mors said in 2006, you can spend hours thatching a lean to, or minutes attaching a sheet of plastic to the home made frame. I like his approach to camping, and at the end of the day, this is what the majority of us do; we go camping.
 

xylaria

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
It´s fun to read about all the comparison between modern man and the old natives. Natives lives in tribes were everybody has to help for the tribe to survive. Modern man goes often out alone with his tiny little pot so he can cook for himself and sleep in hiss hammock or under is small lighweight tarp. Everything is all about ONE person. People do not do like the natives did anymore, everyone cook for themselves and so on. People would gain more of helping each other out and work as a team (tribe) not until then will you ever be able to go out there an live. This is something that people on survival courses will learn very quickly otherwise you wont make it.

.

You have made a very important point about how societies are structured to help those in it, but it is not a concept that is understood by modern Britians. The Shona (zimbabwae) have some lovely phases such as "it takes a village to cook a meal" "it takes a village to raise a child", these seem like an very alien way of thinking in modern britian. 20 years ago Margret Thatcher said there was no such thing as society just individuals, that is very true for britain (and very sad)

I love contributing to communal meals, i like foraging, my cooking is not much cop though and I wish someone else would come and do better but hey. My husband is better at fiddling about with the fire to get the temprature right. I like getting children involved in what I am doing and been involved in what they are doing, the children i have meet at bushcraft meets seem to be more used to this than the average kid on the street. So there is quite of few of us here that do a 'we' rather than a 'me' when talking bushcraft, but there is very little understanding of tribal thinking in this country.
 

rik_uk3

Banned
Jun 10, 2006
13,320
20
66
south wales
Zimbabwe, great country, Africa'a food basket, but that was back in the good days, shame there is no oil there, or we (the UK) and the yanks would have gone in and made things better by now and removed barking mad Robert:cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing: :cussing:
:AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :AR15firin :tapedshut :tapedshut :ban:
 

commandocal

New Member
Jul 8, 2007
425
0
UK
Im both - if im in the mountains or going to a camp site i take EVERYTHING and sometimes when i wild camp in the woods etc i take alot of gizmo's but i could and sometimes go with just basics only part of bushcraft i lack in is the food bit :lmao:
can hardly never caught/find nything
 

fred gordon

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 8, 2006
2,099
19
74
Aberdeenshire
Life is too short to be just black and white. I would have a foot in both camps too. Keep thinking that a fire was once a new invention as was the flint arrowhead or the MP3!:)
 

big_swede

Native
Sep 22, 2006
1,452
8
38
W Yorkshire
I honestly don't think there is a single person who doesn't belong to both groups. The right tools for the right job, so to speak. If I go to the mountains or go skiing in winter I (almost) have to take a lot of stuff with me. On shorter forest hikes it's usually just the necessities. But as someone mentioned, of course I could make a lean-to and make a big logfire (and viking knows I do :)), but how sustainable is that?

But at the end of the day, I often end up with carrying very little.
 

Grey Owl

Tenderfoot
Nov 26, 2006
93
1
46
Canada
voyagetothebay.cauc.ca
On various excursions I find myself feeding and sheltering myself in different ways. There are many times when I hunker down inside of a 4-season tent that is able to withstand howling winds and piling snows. Food is cooked over a trustworthy and wellused Dragonfly. Warmth is provided by a combination of fossil fuel created fabrics and the finest goose down. Throughout the experience I am confronted with the beauty of the natural world, apply various tools to block the forces of the elements and make decisions that impact my immediate comfort.

But there also the trips where I revel in the comfort of bulky natural fibers. Shelter is created from either a tarp or a leanto made of natural materials. Warmth is provided by a wool blanket and a fire that is fueled with wood harvested from the forest around me. Food is mixture of freshly caught fish, oats, flour, sugar, dried fruit and wild greens and fruits in season.

The difference for me comes down to a philosophy of approach to The Land. And the philosophy is reinforced by my experience through the filter of my equipment. When I travel with modern fabrics and equipment I live within a technological bubble that is kept inflated by my skills. My experience is one of travel through a region, but I am insulated from direct interaction by technology.

Conversely, when travelling with traditional foods and equipment I feel much more in tune with my surroundings. My skills and knowledge of The Land enable me to remain comfortable and my clothing, shelter, equipment, technology and food each bring me into direct contact and interaction with the natural world.

This realization of my dependance on technology, and the subsequent shielding from The Land that I had come to visit was very important in my life. Now when I travel in my modern bubble I am now aware of how it limits my experience, and resultantly, I intentionally open my senses to nature and try to reach through the shield. With each excursion I find myself, for aesthetic reasons, moving towards equipment that fits within the natural world, reinforces my values and encourages direct interation with our true home. Each has its place in my life and each has better informed my own philosophy of wilderness travel and living and allows me to walk and paddle with greater respect and intention.

This thread has given me more to think on than a week of reading. Thank you to each person who has respectfully shared their opinions. The building, questioning and reorganizing of our personal philosophies is how we become wiser travellers with our wilderness home.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,337
329
-------------
Zimbabwe, great country, Africa'a food basket, but that was back in the good days, shame there is no oil there, or we (the UK) and the yanks would have gone in and made things better by now and removed barking mad Robert

Then after removing barking mad Robert, we would have installed an equally power mad despot who's only saving grace was the fact that he sold oil to us...
 
I agree with stotRE I Like comfort and that means carrying kit.

I can and have survived with not much more than the clothes on my back and a knife for an extended period.

If I went to the woods every other weekend chopped down some trees made myself a nice leanto, nice reflector fire, a adaquit pile of fire wood and comfortable cotwall bed then set out my snare traps etc and foraged what I could, made a burn bowl collected rainwater or from a vegitation stil etc.... it would be great...

But the reality is after afew months there would be no trees left, no wildlife and no wild edibles. and thats just in my area, then if everyone in the bushcarft scene done this our hobby wouldn't last long.

I have the knowledge and skills to survive when I have to and the wisdom to know when I dont.

When I was in the army we had a saying, "anyone can rough it for a night or two but it take skill to rough it in style and comfort"

Well thats my rant over thank you for reading.
 

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