Starter Kit recommendations

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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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Yes, or one can wear the clothing I recommend in the list, cotton T-shirt, and polyester cotton mix clothing with 65% cotton directly on the skin.
That's issued also in the Austrian and German army because it's relatively fire retardant but fast drying.

That's a nice example. Here you can see the difference between a responsible official position of a developed state, and the win maximising explanations of commercial outdoor brands.

The Solognac clothing I recommended are very well made copies of NATO uniforms, but in a chic French cut.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,035
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Berlin
Instead of going without compass one could take this here.
SMALL ITEMS SHOULD BE BOUGHT IN BRIGHT COLOURS IF POSSIBLE.
ORAGE IS THE BEST, RED ALSO VERY GOOD, BRIGHT BLUE AND PINK OK TOO.
YOU WILL FIND THEM BACK IF YOU DROP THEM.


Of course it doesn't play in the same league as the Finnish made Suunto M-9.

This head lamp is fine in warm weather conditions. After 6 to 10 month of continuous use the switch will break, but that happens usually slowly and not suddenly and totally. If the switch starts to make problems you replace the lamp as soon as possible.
(I know that very well because this is my standard car camping head lamp for professional tours and I bought for me and my colleagues surely 10 of it over the years.)


Of course the Petzl e+ lite plays in a totally different league.

In the beginning one can work with plastic bottles from the supermarket, for example Volvic wide mouth ice tea bottles 1 litre.
You can't disinfect them with boiling water because they will shrink if you try it. You need to clean them with detergent, rinse them and dry them out well at home. But for the first outings they are fine.
You should change them after 4 weeks of continuous use because afterwards the screw closures will break.

Instant coffee works also with cold water. You don't need a stove to get some coffein in the morning.

Bread, hard cheese, some kind of salami in a piece not slices, a nut fruit mix and in cold weather conditions chocolate work well as an outdoor meal.

It isn't sensible to cook with water that you have to carry into the woods anyway. Weight wise it's only sensible to carry noodles and dehydrated sauce if you can take the water from a spring or clear stream.
That means, that for the first outings you don't need cooking chaine, stove and pot. Any plastic cup or mug for cold made instant coffee will do.
The instant coffee I carry in a small wide mouth bottle from the supermarket, you find such things in the refrigerators filled with expensive fresh fruit juice (0,2 or 0,25 litres) or can take a 0,5 litres Volvic wide mouth bottle for the instant coffee.

The chaine you can replace with a large wooden hook that you made in place anyway. The same with tent stakes. I didn't carry metal tent stakes for decades and nowadays just carry three very small ones to be a bit faster. But that's mainly sensible for touristic camping grounds.
You can carve simple tent stakes in the woods within a few minutes.
You can do that every evening or simply take them with you of course.

Nowadays I carry three of these. They are very light and big enough for the poncho. (For sand ground I always carve them in place.)


Before you start the first time, you make little loops of 5 cm diameter into the grommets of the poncho. They stay there. The tent stakes never go through the grommets but always through the loops which you make with the fishermen's knot.
You have to count in, that you can't get out the tent stakes and need to give up them. In this case it might be necessary to cut off the cordage loop.

The Italian army poncho that's sold new by Defcon 5 is a great piece of equipment. It weighs only 350 g.
And different to most civil ponchos in army stile it's wide enough to cover the arms of adult men and can be used as an emergency bivvy bag too.

For half the price you can get a used German army poncho in usually nearly new conditions. They are extremely robust but weigh between 750 and 900g. They are a bit larger than the Italian ones. The Dutch ones as well.
With the Dutch ones you have the risk that you get one in bad conditions, because they are used more and less robust but lighter than the German ones.
(US army ponchos in good conditions I didn't see offered in Europe for many years. What they sell here regularly in surplus shops is usually rubbish.)

If you want the Dutch one you need to talk to the seller, that you want one in very good conditions. The risk to get a bad German army poncho is very very low, as they usually weren't used as raingear in the army but rarely for training for chemical attacks. That's why they look like new.
The Bundeswehr used the cotton tent sheet as raincoat and the poncho was the spare multi purpose item.
That's why you get a nearly new olive green German army poncho for 20 €.
For a relatively strong beginner who doesn't want to hike extremely long distances they are a good and cheap option. A bit ugly though. But the forest is no cat walk in Paris.

It's more or less the same with the used British army bivvy bag. It weighs 800 g and is very robust. Soldiers can destroy every thing in use, because they don't need to pay it. If you get one, get the best you can get! A waterproof item with holes is useless.
Put it always onto the roll mat, like this it will last you very long.

The Snugpak Special Forces bivvy bag weighs 340 g and is sold new for the double price. (Availabke in large and incredibly large size by the way.)

Both are a good recommendations for British weather conditions. Already in France, Holland and Germany you need the zipper of the Snugpak Special Forces bivvy bag in summer times, if not it can get too hot inside. That's why the black version is a nonsense idea.
Black is no muted colour anyway and should be avoided for stealth camping.

More static the British army version is a good idea in Britain, as well for the canoe of course, for hiking and international journeys the Snugpak SF bivvy bag is the better choice.
Also for aged persons, because it's easier to enter. And f you want to use it additional in a tent, what I usually do if I use a tent, it's more comfortable as well.
But you probably don't need a tent. I usually don't carry it around for recreational outings.

For a poor but strong young man who stays in Britain anyway for now the army version is the better choice. Although MTP doesn't work so good as a camouflage pattern in Britain as plain olive green or DPM I would choose a bivvy bag in MTP because they are younger and surely will last longer. But otherwise my olive green ones are still OK. That's perhaps worth an own thread in this forum.

I wouldn't buy a used army sleeping bag for hiking, as they keep the weight but get less warm if they become old and used a lot.
If you can afford it get the Snugpak Special Forces 1. Together with adapter and SF2 it becomes a very comfortable sleep system for extremely cold weather. You don't need it now, but if you start with the very light and compact British made high end quality SF1 you keep all options open. You later could borough in Autumn for example the SF2 to your girl friend but go alone with both for hardcore winter camping at -20*C if you want. I admit, that this isn't so realistic in Britain, but if you buy new, just buy the best! And the Snugpak Special Forces 1 is a bargain by the way!

If you are even too poor to buy this, just use an old blanket in summer times and save up your money!

Or get a used military sleeping bag. But don't expect that it will perform like a new one.
You can get, apart from most currently issued army boots, nearly all and everything as also even hard used military surplus and will get a good value for your money. But padded clothing and sleeping bags are an exception from that rule. They aren't the best deal if you see them as hiking equipment.
For exclusively static camps, for canoe, construction trailer, car and cottage they are a good recommendation because they are cheap, still warm and will last very long with the worse performance. But they are bulky and heavy like a new good sleeping bag that has the double warmth retention!
Or you can say: The similar warm new high quality sleeping bag has half the weight and volume compared with a used army sleeping bag.
And what fills your rucksack and presses you down is the sleeping bag!
If you can afford it, buy a new sleeping bag!

Generally the equipment that I recommended in the packing list has - apart from the very light Opinel No8 Carbone - half the weight from the also very good (military) equipment I talked about here. You save approximately half the money but have to carry the double weight.

A sport student or 25 years old building site carpenter would even laugh about the here mentioned heavier stuff on his shoulders. If you pack just a few relatively heavy and robust items you can carry that of course.

But who only works at a writing desk and is neither tall nor sporty or a woman should choose the more expensive lightweight stuff in the list.

I am tall and strong and used to carry rucksacks. I have absolutely no problem to carry 16 kg all the day or 18 kg for a few hours.

But my own summer equipment is even lighter than the stuff in the list, just 6 kg all together for several month long tours. Because although I can carry a heavy equipment easily, I prefere to carry a light rucksack. That's simply comfortable!

(But I don't want to recommend my own summer rucksack to beginners. It's too complicated to pack and use my stuff.
Most of it I wrote into the list but some I didn't for different reasons and replaced it with easier equipment.)
 
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Woody girl

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There is a whole industry out there to make you think you need special gear to be able to "do bushcraft"
To be honest, as long as you have the ability to light a stove or fire, matches or a lighter will do.
If you want to sleep out, the tent in the cupboard along with other normal camping gear will suffice to start off.
Then you can go from there, fancy a hammock? Try one out and see if you like it .
My basic purchases for bushcraft are a tarp, a pot a knife and small saw, along with a sleeping bag groundsheet and mat.
Water container, A means to cook your food, be it a small gas stove, or a small fire, and you are good to go.
Oh, and a small first aid kit, just in case of rips tears and burns in your skin.
The less you have, the more you learn, as you will find yourself improvising and working out how to stay warm and dry, or eating nettles because you forgot/ate all your food!
For me, a hammock is vital because of back and spine problems, but I spent years sleeping under the stars without a bivvy bag or tarp.(..made for some exciting adventures at times!, ) or in a small tent.
You will find yourself turning the spare room into a kit room eventualy!
Many of us have several different kinds of one thing if we are honest.(i have at least 6 different stoves for instance) its called kit monkey syndrome... very contagious. :)

A good idea of basic kit needed is to look at kit lists for courses at bushcraft schools.
 
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Kadushu

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Jul 29, 2014
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The "buy once, cry once" concept usually falls apart once you really get into a hobby. How many of us have just one of each type of item?
 

Woody girl

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It gets harder to pack for a bushcraft trip the more kit you get.
Deciding which tarp , which pot, which stove which sleeping bag, which knife ? perhaps I'll try a Dutch oven for cooking..... the list goes on!
I'm going to have to sell some stuff soon or I won't be able to do anything as I will be paralysed by indisicion!
I've been "doing bushcraft" all my life and its only in the last 10 years I've been getting "proper" bushcraft gear. It starts small, a ferro rod... then a flint and steel, then a hammock, then a better one, then a better underquilt, but I'll keep the old ones just in case.... and so the kit monkey syndrome strikes. Aaargh! I'm hooked! :)
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
I think most people graded up sooner or later because they bought non convincing middle priced civil stuff in the beginning.

As an active boy scout leader I bought a lot of old school equipment, also in order to borough and sell it later. I still own such historic stuff, and all the group equipment like 20 and 8 man tent, eight, six and four litres pot and so on. It got less and less used but that probably will change, as my nephew and niece slowly come into the right age.

Afterwards I slowly bought a very well assorted modern high end quality equipment for one or two persons use and owned and used indeed only this and bought very very long nothing else, because I knew that I simply owned the best of the best and there was no need to buy additional less good equipment and throw money out of the window without any reason.

Nearly 20 years later I started to try out modern low budget equipment, just to inform myself about it and to become able to recommend such versions to others, colleagues, young people that I meet on my journeys and in internet forums, and also bought a few in between new on the market appeared very light weight items with convincing construction and high practicability, but my older top quality equipment stays in use of course. A few cheaper bought items like simple bags that I bought without thinking about for inner organisation of the rucksack fell in pieces during the years and I replaced them with civil high end and NATO equipment.

I own a lot of stuff, for winter hiking, skiing, cycling, paddling and solo summer hiking specialised equipment, but I indeed own (apart from a bit good old stuff that I inherited from my father, my old WW1 / WW2 equipment and the old group equipment that I use from time to time at meetings with the traditional Scouts) every modern item for my own regular private use just once and usualy since many years. But yes, I own a one man and a two man tent for example. Horses for courses. And as we use such stuff also professionally, I own a simple low budget version for summer use that I can borough to a new colleague if needed. But this I didn't buy for myself, but for others and also tried it out myself for others in order to talk about it in internet forum threads like this here, in youth hostels and on camping grounds, to become able to recommend a good low budget equipment to beginners.

But for myself I use just one equipment.
I own for myself one full tang knife. One Swiss Army knife, one pair of in my individual measures custom made hiking boots, one pair of high winter boots, one two man tent, one one man tent, one poncho and so on. And this I use 99% of the time and in daily use.

I own a bit stuff like a smaller at home very handy metal cup, a small chopping board and an in France handmade iconic Lagiole folding knife that I mainly use at home (because if I am at home I always keep my hiking equipment packed ready to start). These items replace what other people have in their over loaded kitchen drawers and cupboards, but also are originally outdoor equipment. My own household is relatively small and fits well in another few rucksacks too.
I don't need a lorry to moove and I moove my "basecamp" from time to time, what also has to do with my job as concert manager.
I own 3 nesting folding handle steel mugs for my use at home, not 12 porcelain cups like others. They get used outdoors as well but have nothing to do with my own private rucksack travel equipment. I use them sometimes for car camping with my colleagues at postering tours in France.

What I mean is : Although I mainly live outdoors, or perhaps because I mainly live outdoors and usually travel all the time around for my job, and although I perhaps own a bit more equipment than others, for me the "buy once, cry ones" concept works very well since decades.
I use one and the same Hilleberg Nallo 2 tent since nearly 30 years for example, and most of my other modern stuff has the same age.

But yes, the Hilleberg Nallo 2 is in my opinion the best 2 man tent in the world. And I knew it when I saved up my money as a student to get it. I will not buy another trekking 2 man tent for sure.
It's like driving an old Porsche 911.

And my other first bought modern equipment plays in the same league.

But to be honest, I didn't cry when I bought it. I was always very glad when I had saved up enough of money to be able to afford it and was very very glad when I could carry it out of the shop in the end!

And I am still very very glad if I use it, and thank the dear God that he leaded me on this way and set me in the position to walk it.


If you play in outdoor forums, there is of course the risk that you suddenly wish to try out something that people talk about.
You simply need to learn to resist.

But otherwise you also have the chance to get here the needed informations that you buy immediatly what suits you the best.
In the long run the best equipment is the cheapest, simply because it doesn't break and usually serves you a lifetime.
You just need to think through very well what you really need and inform yourself very well before you buy something.

Only like this you can avoid expensive miss purchases, like a for your needs and area by far to warm and bulky winter sleeping bag, a too large and heavy igloo tent or a useless Bowie knife.
 
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Broch

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In the long run the best equipment is the cheapest, simply because it doesn't break and usually serves you a lifetime.
You just need to think through very well what you really need and inform yourself very well before you buy something.

Agreed, but 'best' does not mean the most expensive, or the best advertised, or the most promoted by well known 'bushcraft' instructors, or the most lauded by 'kit enthusiasts'. The best is what does the job you need, to your satisfaction, and doesn't let you down, for the budget you've got - that's a personal thing and one that no one else can solve for you. I started 'wilderness living' in my school trousers and an ex-army poncho - I don't regret a moment of my learning experience :)
 

TLM

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Nov 16, 2019
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I really can't disagree with Erbswurst we probably would have different preferences on some things but not on the main items. Still there are lists for different kinds of treks and walks. My wilderness list doubles on the important things but I have been known to forget the soap. I have always extra food if far from roads and mobile field is zero.

EB's list is for a mobile urban nomad, interesting in itself as I don't think all that many people follow that kind of life while still working regularly.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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Berlin
Yes, the in my experience best stuff often is pretty cheap. For example the German army poncho that they throw behind you every corner for 20 €. Or the Solognac trousers Steppe 300 for 20 € new, the Opinel No8 Carbone for 12 € new, the British army bivvy bag, the army roll mats, a lot of military rucksacks, that they also throw behind you every corner, the Solognac Fleece jacket 300 for 18 € and a lot of other well made mass produced stuff. To be honest, most NATO surplus falls in this category.

Or even the stainless Morakniv Garberg with leather sheath for 100€, that is compared to others also pretty cheap because it's a mass product.
You work approximately a day and can buy it and it surely will last you a lifetime and could save your life in a wilderness survival situation.

Or look at the Fiskars X7! I use such a hatchet since 30 years and it's still good. 1 € per year until now! And I used it a lot!

The best products usually have a pretty fair price, because the makers obviously count in the long run. Compare for example the British made Snugpak products with Asian imports of the competition! The Snugpak Special Forces 1 sleeping bag is a bargain! Hand sewn in Britain and made with a Swiss filling! I get it brand new in Germany for only 140 €. That are 14 packages of my cigarettes!

The horrible expensive items usually are simply overpriced rubbish, (apart from a few exeptions like Hilleberg tents which really have a different quality and handmade high quality all leather boots, if we count in the lifetime of these products they are also everything else than expensive).
 
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Woody girl

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You can get all sorts of stuff that costs a fortune. And a cheaper "copy " will be just as fine.
Some fair few years ago, I bought some cheap poundland tin plates bowls mugs and knife fork spoon sets ,as I had left part of my kitchen at home on a family camp. Each item cost a pound... obviously, ..... and its still going strong 15 years or thereabouts later. Not so the plastic head torches though. They lasted a week with constant use and were thrown away. So don't turn your nose up at basement bargain stuff, just use common sense. If something "looks" cheap, and costs pennies it won't last usualy, but it might do for a few trips untill you can afford better stuff.
I regret the head torches, but not the tinware. I've bought more expensive tinware that chips when you look at it. Still regularly use the poundland stuff every year. No chips yet!
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,035
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Berlin
A good stainless steel spoon you can find at every flea market for 30 cent.

But if we talk about cheap well working copies of outdoor equipment I disagree.
Usually it doesn't last very long and isn't worth the money.
Believe me, I bought a lot of cheap stuff in the last years and most of it failed pretty soon. It is a quiet expensive hobby to play around with cheap outdoor equipment that's offered everywhere in town. After a few years I got tired of this and stopped that.

What you can find, and perhaps you mean that, are house brands from pretty large sport shop chains, that sometimes offer a great value for the money.

Solognac is in my experience example No 1 in this category. But I also got surprisingly good outdoor equipment from Tchibo, Germany's biggest coffee dealer!
I bought it just for fun for a few Euros and the stuff lasts and last and lasts!
Rainsuit, waterproof fleece cap, usual fleece cap, turtleneck fleece undershirt, fleece gloves, rip stop dry bags, shirts in the G-1000 mix for 12 €. They sell all and everything, one after the other in spring and summer.

I'm not far away from calling Tchibo a serious high quality outdoor brand!
For a German beginner who has just a low budget these outdoor clothing, dry bags and surely also the other stuff is really a good option! I wear a 20 € Tchibo battery watch in Rolex Submariner design since 10 years every day also under the shower and it simply doesn't break! The rubber wrist band broke after 9 years!

If I talk to people about their mechanic swiss watches, they usually ask me afterwards what kind of interesting watch I have there. And they are very surprised! From outside it looks also for experts like an expensive quality watch.

Aldi and Lidl outdoor equipment is in my experience NOT worth the money. I tried also that and it all failed soon.
The sleeping bags might be a summer option if one needs time to save up for a quality product. They usually are worth the low amount of money.
 
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