I collected the best bushcraft tools and gear and listed them in this comprehensive guide. If you like short and sweet, this is the guide for you.
While some items are essential, others will make your time in the woods much more comfortable and enjoyable. These items can also be beneficial for survival since most bushcraft gear is also helpful in survival situations.
I have been spending time in the woods for over 40 years so I have lots of experience with bushcraft tools and gear. While I certainly haven’t tried everything, I have talked to other outdoorsmen and survivalists over the years. I feel this list is one of the best you can find. If you see anything I missed, let me know!
I have linked each section to our comprehensive guides if you would like to read deeper.
Keep reading to find some tips on purifying water without fire and which food is the easiest to carry to camp!
Best Bushcraft Tools
These are the bushcraft tools that you should consider before you head into the woods on a bushcraft trip. From there, you can craft everything you need if you absolutely had to.
Cutting tools are the most important, above all other bushcraft tools. With so many knives, saws, and axes out there, how do you choose? We have a list of the most important bushcraft tools below, with guides to accompany each.
These guides detail how to select the best tool for you depending on all the variables. While we could just tell you to buy the most expensive tool, we took care to find the best value.
Best Bushcraft Knife
The bushcraft knife is the most important tool to have in the woods. While it is not as effective as an axe or saw for some tasks, you can make do with just a knife if you have to.
The usefulness of a good knife in the woods is endless. From building a shelter to cutting firewood, a knife is the single most important bushcraft tool to have.
It is so important that we recommend you have a backup in your pack. You should also keep your primary belt knife on your belt in case your get separated from the rest of your gear.
A bushcraft knife should be a fixed-blade, full-tang knife around 5 inches long. For a full explanation, see our buying guide and review in my best budget bushcraft knife guide.
Best Bushcraft Axe and Hatchet
An axe is an important tool for bushcraft since you can process a large amount of wood. Most of the tasks around camp involve wood, from shelter to fire.
A bushcraft axe has particular characteristics to focus on. The length of the handle and the weight of the axe head should be big enough to fell a tree if needed but small enough not to be cumbersome for smaller tasks.
For a full guide on what to look for, see our Best Bushcraft Axe and Hatchet article. After we review the best axes, there is a full buying guide with pictures and diagrams.
In some areas, especially in the US, cutting down live trees may not be allowed. There are some cases when you may not need to pack an axe, and just a knife or a small saw is sufficient.
Some reasons to just take a saw and not an axe are:
- Your bushcraft trip is short
- You have a tent or tarp for shelter
- You are not allowed to have a fire
- You have a stove for cooking
- You can use deadfall for firewood
Here are my favorites.
Council Tool Hudson Bay Belt Hatchet
5160 Steel Head
Wide Edge Design
Metal Handle Wedge
Best Bushcraft Saw
A saw is an essential tool for quickly breaking down small pieces of wood for firewood. Saws are also useful for making notches and cutting limbs quickly.
Folding saws and bow saws are safer to use than an axe. Larger saws can break down a large log into manageable pieces to split much faster than an axe. They also take less energy to use.
There are a wide range of sizes and types of saws that are useful for bushcraft. To find out what to look for in selecting your saw, check out the buying guide in our best bushcraft saw article.
Best Bushcraft Backup Knife
Multitools and Swiss Army knives are other essential bushcraft tools. They are not only a backup to your main knife, but they also have many other tools that are useful at camp.
There is usually a great debate on which is better, a plier-based multitool or a Swiss Army knife. I have a few different versions of both, and I can say from experience that it depends.
Best Bushcraft Gear
After you have your main tools, there are a few pieces of gear that you need before you head into the woods. While some of these are not necessarily essential, they will make your time in the woods much more enjoyable.
Best Bushcraft Shelter Gear
Depending on where you are camping and how long you plan to camp, it may not be practical to build a full bushcraft or survival-type shelter.
Also, check out our guide on the best tent stakes, especially if you plan to use a tarp. A tarp is pretty useless without quality stakes.
I live in an area that has a lot of hills, and the ground is rocky. I prefer to sleep in a Haven Tent hammock since it gets me off the ground where I can sleep comfortably. See my full Haven Tent Hammock Review to see if it is right for you.
Haven Tents Hammock XL
Lay Flat Design
Includes Sleep Pad
Save 10% with code “SURVIVALSTOIC”
Best Bushcraft Cordage
Cordage can be used for many things around camp, but it is essential for pitching a tarp. I use paracord to make a ridgeline for my tarp before I head out into the woods. I also have 6 utility lines about 12 feet long for staking down my tarp, hanging my pack from a tree, and other uses.
I prefer to use the 550 paracord from Paracord Planet. You don’t need the expensive “survival” paracord or anything special.
A couple of rolls of #12 and #36 coated bank line is also useful. I use the #36 thicker line on my ridgeline and for lashings. The thinner #12 line can be used for bindings, making nets, or any other light-duty tasks.
You will notice that my ridgeline has toggles that I made at home. These make it super easy to pitch a tarp, and I do not have to tie even one knot. While these certainly are not required, they save a lot of time.
Best Bushcraft Pot
A pot or some type of cooking container is essential at camp. I find that around 2 to 4 quarts is a good size. To save space, you can nest a water bottle or other items inside the pot when you pack it.
When it comes to choosing cookware materials, aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium are all reliable options. I tend to go with stainless steel since it is durable, affordable, and distributes heat well. A stainless steel pot is a good choice and works well for most people.
Aluminum and titanium are lighter in weight but are not as durable. They also tend to have hot spots and are more likely to burn your food over a campfire.
Obviously, if you camp with your family, you will need a larger one or a few of these.
The Pathfinder School 64 oz Bush Pot
Lid with Handle
The Pathfinder School 120 oz Bush Pot
Lid with Handle
Best Bushcraft Stove
In cases where you are on a bushcraft trip, and fire is not allowed, you can bring a small backpacking stove. I like the lightweight backpacking-style stoves that use the small isobutane fuel containers.
These are lightweight and easy to use. You can quickly boil water and make a quick meal on the go without worrying about starting a fire and then extinguishing it when you strike camp.
This is especially useful if you are hiking to your bushcraft campsite and must stop to boil water or make a meal.
Best Bushcraft Food
As I discussed in the bushcraft skills article: hunting, trapping, fishing, and even foraging may not be allowed in certain areas. This is especially true in national forests or parks where picking plants is often illegal. In this case, you must get creative and pack your own food.
One way to do this is to buy prepackaged rice meals like Rice-a-Roni or something similar. You can add beef jerky to these as they cook for added protein. They don’t take up much room and are easy to make. Just make sure they don’t need ingredients other than water.
Trail mix is also a great option. Mix some nuts, dried fruit, and even M&Ms in a zip-lock bag.
Dehydrated meals are the lightest and most compact food you can carry since all the water has been removed. Full meals are great since you don’t need to mix and cook with multiple containers and carry a bunch of ingredients.
The best pre-packaged meals I have found are from Nutrient Survival. They have dehydrated meals that just need hot water. Their grab and go packs contain a full day of meals and even include coffee to have with breakfast. (If you drink coffee every day, having some source of caffeine while camping is a must.)
See our full Nutrient Survival Review for the meals we like the best.
Nutrient Survival Grab and Go Packs
Full day of Meals
Just add Water
Best Bushcraft Clothes
Most people I talk to out in the woods have clothes they like to wear. After all, most of us have been wearing clothes all our life! We should know what we like.
I get the most questions on the pants and hats that are the best for bushcraft, hiking, and just being outside.
Clothes are a personal decision, and everyone likes different styles and materials. The weather also dictates what is the best most of the time.
These guides contain something for everyone for different weather conditions.
Best Bushcraft Fire Starting Kit
When the weather is dry, starting a fire is a simple task. However, in wet conditions, lacking the proper equipment and expertise can lead to some serious trouble.
We mentioned that firecraft is an essential bushcraft skill, having a proper fire kit goes hand in hand.
Our guide to the best bushcraft fire-starting kit contains gear for the beginner and experienced bushcrafter. We put together what we felt was the best value to keep in your kit and also included some pre-built kits.
Best Bushcraft Compass
To go along with learning how to navigate in the woods, you need a good compass.
We put together a comprehensive guide on the best bushcraft and survival compasses. This guide describes what to look for and how to pick a good compass.
Getting a compass is just the first step. Learning how to use it takes some time and is best learned in the woods with someone with experience.
Best Bushcraft Sleep Systems
After you have your shelter, you have something to sleep under. Next, you need something to sleep on and in.
We have a guide to the best bushcraft wool blankets to help you choose what to sleep under. Wool is great since it holds up well and is very warm.
Unless you are in a hammock, you need something to sleep on. You can always just use heavy trash bags stuffed with leaves as a mattress.
I prefer to carry a waterproof survival blanket like the Arcturus Survival blanket. This blanket has a reflective back that can be used in multiple ways. It is a great insulator against cold ground and can be used to reflect the heat from a fire or even to signal for help.
There are other options like sleeping bags and bivys. I also particularly like the Klymit Versa Packable blanket. This blanket collapses down into a bag but expands out into a full-size blanket. It works great in my hammock and works well in mild weather above freezing.
I received the Klymit blanket in a Battlbox subscription box. See my complete Battlbox Review for the other bushcraft and survival gear I received.
Best Bushcraft Packs
There are hundreds of packs and backpacks out on the market today. I prefer a top-loading bucket-style pack but have used the full front-load zipper types as well. Like clothing, this is mostly a personal decision, and you just have to try what works best for you and your budget.
We have a full guide to the best bushcraft backpacks that have both traditional bushcraft packs as well as modern backpacks.
My favorite is the Osprey Kestrel 38. It is a top-loading bucket-style pack with a lower zipper a divider and a side zipper. So, it is the best of both worlds. It is not the biggest pack but has plenty of room for a week-long bushcraft trip.
Best Bushcraft First Aid Kit
A first aid kit should be at the top of your priority list. Most don’t talk about them much since they are not exciting and don’t get used to much. But if you need one, you really need one.
Most injuries in the woods are from falls. It never fails; you step in a hole or on a loose rock with a heavy pack on and twist your ankle.
We also use sharp tools in the woods, which can eventually lead to a cut. Having the proper first aid kit could save your life, especially if you are deep in the woods.
Make sure the kit you choose has trauma items like quick clot and a tourniquet. A few Band-Aids and some ointment really don’t qualify as a first-aid kit.
Don’t buy a cheap off-brand first aid kit. They are loaded with inferior and useless items. I only recommend My Medic or Mountain Man Medical gear. Do not purchase tourniquets from Amazon, as most are made in China and have a high fail rate.
For more on the kits that MyMedic offers, see our full MyMedic Review. You will also find an exclusive discount for our readers!
Mountain Man Medical “Yellowstone” Trauma Kit
Choice of Tourniquet
Quick Clot Gauze
My Medic Sidekick Pro Kit
Best Bushcraft Water Purification
Just because water looks clean doesn’t mean it is safe to drink. You should always purify water before you drink it.
One way is to boil it. You need a metal container as we discussed and a fire. This is a time-consuming process since you have to wait on the fire and wait on the water to boil.
This can be an issue if you are on the move or need water in a hurry.
A solution is to use a commercially available water filter. The best I have found are Sawyer and Grayl water filters.
The Sawyer mini water filter is a compact filter that is great if you are on a budget or don’t have a lot of space. It is only a filter, though, so you need a container. The mini comes with a bag that you can collect water in and then squeeze through the filter into a water bottle or pot.
The Grayl Geopress is actually a water purifier, not just a filter. It contains an activated filter that will remove some chemicals and heavy metals from water. It also has a built-in container. All you have to do is fill the container and press the top of the bottle down into the container. In less than 10 seconds, you have clean drinking water.
I like to carry my Grayl with the Pathfinder nesting cup that I can use to cook my dehydrated meals. It takes up little room since it nests with the Grayl. The Grayl is a little more expensive than the Sawyer, but the convenience is worth it.
Best Battery Charger
While not thought of as bushcraft gear, electronic devices are a big convivence these days.
I like to turn off my phone while in the woods. But, I like to check in with the family at least once a day, and there is often the chance to get a great picture while I am out.
There are also camp lights, headlamps, my GPS watch, and countless other devices that need to be charged. While I don’t really need them, it makes my time in the woods easier and more enjoyable.
If there ever was an emergency, either at home or in the woods, I can use my phone to find out or to get help coming if I need it. A dead phone isn’t much more than a paperweight.
Here is one of the best field battery chargers that I have used.
Best Bushcraft Bandana
Bandanas are often forgotten about. They are great for many uses around camp, from filtering debris from the water before you boil it to marking a waypoint.
While any old 100% cotton bandana will do, I like these since they are multipurpose.
One has info on beneficial plants that you can forage. However, it is focused only on North America. The other is bright orange and has reminders of the priorities that you should focus on in a survival situation. I like that it is bright orange and makes a good signal flag or trail marker.
Since they are 100% cotton, they are great for making charcloth as well.
Wazoo Foraging Reference Bandana
Shows 12 Common Plants
Large 22″ x 22″
Colter Co. Stayin’ Alive Survival Bandana
When I spend time in the woods and bushcraft, it is to relax and focus on the basics of living. Having the best bushcraft tools removes some frustration from using inferior tools. A broken knife or axe will certainly not make my time in the woods very relaxing.
The best bushcraft gear makes my time in the woods more comfortable. A good bushcraft pack and water filter give me more time to move around and see more of the woods.
This list of tools and gear is also great to consider for a survival kit, bug out bag, or get home bag. While bushcraft is not necessarily the same as survival, many of the same items will be just as useful in a survival situation.