The most basic and satisfying bushcraft skills to learn are building a shelter and making a fire. These skills are fun to master and you get to see immediate visible results from your efforts. However, if you want to take your bushcraft skills to the next level, you need to take the time to learn the three skills listed below.
1. Tree and plant identification
Bushcraft is about interacting with your natural surroundings, so being able to identify trees and plants is an essential, though often overlooked skill. Plant identification isn’t as fun as building a shelter or making a fire with your hands, but it is a skill that can vastly improve your bushcraft ability. Most dry wood will burn, but you need a deeper understanding than that. For example, you need to know that while birch burns well, it also burns quickly. This makes it great if you want to heat up a kettle, but not so good if you need to cook a meal. If you’re foraging for wild food, you need excellent plant identification skills. You shouldn’t eat anything you find in the wild if you’re not 100% sure it’s safe.
2. Water purification
Access to water can be one of the biggest barriers to wild camping and developing your bushcraft skills. We need 3-5 litres a day, but if you’re hiking through the woods with a lot of gear, you will need more than that. When you’re out for several days, you’ll also need more than you can carry. Far too many people think buying some water purification tablets is enough. It isn’t. What happens if you lose those tablets? At a minimum, you will need to understand the five contaminants and how to purify them. The five contaminants are:
• Chemical pollutants.
3. Outdoor cooking
Eating the same meal out of a can every time you go camping quickly gets boring. There’s no reason why you can’t eat a healthy and varied diet while engaging in bushcraft. There are many single pot dishes that you can create from fresh ingredients. If you’ve spent the time learning about plant identification, you can also add ingredients from your surroundings. Sausages and beans can be improved by adding foraged mushrooms, but you need to be able to identify which ones are safe to eat, as many varieties of mushroom are poisonous to humans. Practise making a variety of meals at home to determine what tasty but practical meals you can make.