Bushcraft or Survival? The[b] Question[/b]

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Here in the States, if you were to start cutting down trees for bashas and skinning bunnies for dinner as in a true "Bushcraft" experience you would have a number of outfits (PETA, Sierra Club, ASPCA, Humane Society, WWF, Greenpeace, EarthFirst to name a few.) that would file legal motions to get said Bushcrafters banned from the wilderness.

The Treadlightly program even recommends natural colored kit for "Bushcamping" so as not to upset the wilderness aesthetics for other campers.

Not that there is even enough wilderness left for everyone to go out and practice the craft.


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As a founding EARTHFIRST! member and past SEA SHEPHERD volunteer I can take you to blasted hillsides beyond 'the beauty strip' The bleaching skeleton of the whale killed by Maka indians on probation for drug use yet allowed to use .50 Browning rifles and any additional number of wounds to my ,yours and our home. The sometimes sillyness and poor judgement of your listed organizations is at least motivated by conservation. Nobody besides those groups and individuals seem to equally point fingers of condemnation at the Charles Hurwitz's, Japanese 'cultural commissions' arguing whale killing for psuedo science is justified on a 50 year old dietary wartime expediency or countless other greedheads who dart from airconditioned 10th floor office to airconditioned luxury car behind anonymity gifting tinted windows in both. If you don't know who your allies are, at least know the real enemies.


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May 27, 2005
South Wales
Fire Starter said:
I know the term bushcraft has been around since the 1800s but has been treated more as a brand name in this country for the last few years.
It's true that 'Bushcraft' has also become a brand. Like other brands it has an ideology (publicly put forth by RM, I suppose). The negative aspects of a brand as a consumerist object do not take away from the positive aspects of the brand's ideology.

For me, this is what differentiates Bushcraft from Survival. As has been said in different words here already, the brand Survival has many negative connotations which some people do not like (knives, guns, german para boots, etc.). It's the image and brand peole don't like, not the skills. The Bushcraft brand, on the other hand, has an image and brand more akin to environmentalism. RM's always banging on about respect and being amazed at the quality of primitive knowledge (and making little spoons). The skills involved in these two ideologies are basically the same, their application is slightly different (as outlined in the 'emergency' comparisons above), but the main difference is the ideological change of Bushcraft a la Mearsy, and the image this has created.

That's why people have flocked to bushcraft as a 'hobby', because the image it has created of itself (repackeaged if you like) is acceptable to a wider public.

(Additionally, I think Stuart's excellent unpicking of Mors Kochanski's quote puts the ideology of Bushcraft accross perfectly.)

Well, that's my two shilling's worth anyway. ;)



New Member
Sep 10, 2004
I think that the term Bushcraft has definitely become Ray's brand name and I'm sure he has a lot of fans and followers - but its' worth remembering that all the knowledge and skills he practices have been around for a long long time, before Ray hit our TV screens and enlightened the masses !

People by nature like to belong to groups, and to model themselves (to an extent) on their heros, so I imagine this is where the bushcraft uniform comes from, but I don't have the inclination, or the cash to buy one.

All the stuff that goes on about kit on here, I think, is just boys and their toys (no offence boys) - I for one can't get excited about knife tangs (I probably got that wrong) or which brand of stove or hammock is currently in vogue. I just enjoy being outdoors as much as possible and learning and using as much from nature as I can. You can live quite happily without a £300 knife after all.


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 15, 2005
Fire Starter said:
I know the term bushcraft has been around since the 1800s but has been treated more as a brand name in this country for the last few years

When I was a scout it was always called "backwards camping" now days though the same badge is called "Survival" something.

I think that the connection between bushcraft and survival is the number of skills and methologies that are the same to both. But bushcraft expands on them to make it an art form rather than just a how to get by.

But as already mentioned..

Tony said:
I was talking to Jonny Crocket of Survival School the other day and he said something quite pertinent. I cannot remember his exact words but it has left me with the thoughts that When we are in a situation we chose to be we are practicing bushcraft, when we are in a situation forced on us we are practicing survival. I know that there are exceptions to this and there are some hard core people at either end of the spectrum. But this can be a useful definition.

bushcraft is a choice whereas a survival situation is one where you can't just walk back to the car and go home again.

For instance you don't just snap your leg to see if you can make a splint. :lol:


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Sep 8, 2004
Sutton (Surrey, UK)
This thread is a long conversation over several years it seems so it's quite likely you are going to say something already said before, possibly several times over...

but I'll take this risk and just say that one of the differences that comes to mind immediately between these two concepts, "Survival" and "Bushcraft" is that one is about necessity and the other about satisfaction and pleasure...even deep joy and fullfilment...

Although some or many of us do enjoy the challenge and minimalism of survival situations, and also see mere survival as an art in its own right, may deliberatleychoose to live on the brink, for awhile or for longer, the idea behind the word is of bare necessity. Not necessarily hardship, but no idea of pleasure, apart from the satisfaction (which can be deep, often is!) of having survived when it's all over.

Buth then I am a woman, and perhaps men take more pleasure than I do in mere challenge and overcoming obstacles...and I may underestimate the fullfilment they get from it. So its' all relative...

Bushcraft is more straighforwardly something that is enjoyed or has enjoyment and pleasure as one of its main goals, its core.

Enjoyment contains the word "joy"...Could be because it is in our genes..goes back to the 99% of our time on earth spent before agriculture, following herds around...we are the living proof these guys had a good time!

To come back to these two ideas, bushcraft is more strictly about living in the wild as the word indicates.

And survival a concept not strictly limited to living in the wild. Living in large cities, living in the early, predominantly modern 21st century, the word "survival" springs to our minds more often than we would wish it did...!

Is it the same "survival" as we mean when talking about the Bushmen in the Kalahari desert? Well yes if you consider the threat on their future by people who want to allocate their land to mining...

I wouldn't say that their way of life "on the brink" as such is more "survival" than "bushcraft". On the contrary I would say it's more on the bushcraft side because it gives them joy and fullfilment. It wouldn't be so ancient if it didn't...

No wonder this is a long thread...the reflexion gets endless...interesting though!


You’re right Chris, I have worked with Sea Shepherds in Alaska and at least they weren't hypocrites like Greenpeace…picketing the Alaska Pipe Line in DIESEL boats and endangering Research Vessel Aloha & Coast Guard Cutter Citrus during foggy weather in Oregon.


Full Member
Sep 12, 2003
<puts moderators hat on>

raiderrescuer, this is not a political discussion on the merits of one environmental group over another, it is a discussion on whether there is a difference between the study of survival and the study of Bushcraft, and if so what individual people think the differences are. Lets keep it to that.
I too am tempted to push the staying on topic because even with doing that it seems endless!

I don't know whether most of us are simply interested in definitions of words. I think that a lot of us are really interested in finding out just why we go out (beyond practising for the end of world, carving some spoons or whatever), what we get out of it, and how it changes us.
I tend to think by going out, that we get something far different from the skills that we went out to practise.
I also tend to think that if a person goes out enough, that they won't look at the world the same way. They may become a fervent environmentalist, but I believe that it goes much further than wanting to save the wilds so that they can keep going out into them - or anything else that's easily expressed. In my case, to give a simple example - while I'm surrounded by thousands of square miles of country that I could visit, I tend to go to the same places over and over. Years ago I'd have quickly gotten bored - but now I see something new to add to a puzzle, each time I go.


My apologies to the group, my original intent was that Bushcrafting is becoming a dying breed because of land or resource use restrictions.


New Member
Feb 21, 2005
Just to chip in my twopence worth I think most of us are actually saying the same thing really. The differnce between the two is terminology, circumstance and intentions.

In "survival" some thing has happened and you want to stay alive using what ever means necessary until you can get away from it and back to "normal".

In "bushcraft" you create your situation and your intention is to enjoy it using the resources that you have until you want to go back to what is "normal".