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6 Bushcraft Basics For Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Whether Alone in the Wilderness or Car Camping with your Family, Here are 6 Great Tips for Staying Safe in the Outdoors!

a bushcraft expert utilizes his survival skills to set up a shelter with all the necessities to survive outdoors in the forest

Bushcraft Campsite - Photo Credit: Kiki Pol


Wintertime may not leave you feeling inspired to get outdoors to go hiking or camping, but it's the perfect time to start planning trips for the warmer months! Pathloom is here to help - Use our All-in-One outdoor adventure travel planning app to discover new hiking trails leading to new developed and dispersed campsites throughout the entire country! Click the link to join thousands in our open BETA testing today!


How relevant is bushcraft knowledge today? This is a particularly crucial question as hiking and trekking grow in popularity. Hiking was cited to be the second most popular outdoor sport in North America, with 75% of men and 70% of women picking it as their favorite outdoor activity after running. This trend is echoed internationally as officials attempt to cater to the increase in demand by providing safer options in the wilderness. Biodiversity hotspots like Mt. Kitanglad in the Philippines offer bunk beds at the peak for climbers, much like the Kitadake no Koya mountain hut does for adventurous travelers at Mt. Kita in Japan. The Under-the-Rim Trail at Bryce Canyon even takes care to include a free shuttle service (with shuttle tracker!) near Rainbow Point all to make sure that visitors get home safely. However, no matter where your trail or trek, no matter what safety options are provided, it never hurts to be prepared - you never know what can happen while out in the wilderness! An injured man, notably an experienced hiker, spent 14 days stranded in Santa Fe National Forest before he was found by another hiker by a creek. The hiker would not have survived for that long if he hadn’t known some survival basics, such as prioritizing his liquid intake by situating himself by a nearby stream and relying on his filtering water bottle. As outdoor activities become more popular, so too does the importance of survival and bushcraft basics grow. Whether you’re staying on trail or exploring off the beaten path, be prepared for any survival situation in advance with our basic bushcraft tips below.

a makeshift bushcraft version of a water filter using two bottles, rocks, gravel, and anything else on hand to help filter out impurities and make the water a bit safer to drink

Makeshift Natural Water Filter - Photo Credit: Jim James

Prioritize Hydration

A dehydrated body cannot last more than three days outdoors, which is why knowing where to secure a reliable source of water is essential bushcraft knowledge. The injured hiker cited earlier was lucky to have a filtering water bottle on hand. If you don’t have a filtering bottle on hand, try to follow The Manual’s tips for creating an emergency water filtration device. Items like spare clothing or a neck scarf can be made into a simple filter for sediment removal, and you can then boil the water to kill off bacteria after filtering out that large sediment. Creating fire in the wild is an advanced skill that takes even the most rugged bushcraft experts years to perfect. Without fire to boil off bacteria in natural water sources, you must maximize what you have available.

You can create two containers with bamboo or a hollow log, and fill one with water. Put a piece of cloth over the other container, and layer this with pebbles before filtering your water and pouring this over the stones. After you've done this, remove the pebbles and put a finer material, like sand, on top of the cloth to filter the water again.

This method isn’t perfect, but when done properly the side effects of water-borne pathogens can take at least a week to start impacting you - buying you valuable time to find help or get to safety.

a man utilizes a hand drill, rubbing a stick against another stick vigorously to produce enough friction to create a spark that ideally will help him create a fire in the wilderness

Hand Drill Fire - Photo Credit: Tim Smith

Building a Fire

Fire can be used to boil water, cook food, scare off predators, smoke bugs away, help you stay warm, signal for help, and even cauterize wounds. This makes building fire a critical bushcraft skill to have to heavily increase your chances of survival.

It is no easy feat to build a fire from scratch, but it isn't impossible with grit and the right materials. Gather everything you'll need ahead of time. This includes the tinder, which could comprise of either dry grasses or pine bark, and the kindling, consisting of wooden branches in different small sizes.

You can attempt friction-based fire making with the hand drill, where you build your tinder nest and place this into a notch within your primary piece of fireboard. Carve another small depression adjacent to this notch. Afterwards, you can take your second piece of wood, or your spindle, which should be about 2 feet long, and position this into the depression. Start rolling the spindle between your hands to maintain pressure on your fireboard.

Doing this consistently and persistently by rubbing your hands from the top of the spindle down while spinning will generate heat from the friction. Once a glowing ember is formed, you must tap the fireboard to drop this ember onto your tinder nest. From there, you can gently blow and feed more tinder or kindling to grow your fire. Blowing into a hollow reed to concentrate the airflow can be incredibly useful for this step.

Editor’s note - we are in no way, shape, or form denying that building a fire using these methods isn’t an incredible pain in the !&$#%. Therefore we at Pathloom strongly advocate bringing multiple fire sources with you whenever exploring the outdoors - lighters, matches, flint & tinder, etc. Having both a fire source and a failsafe with you at all times will save you tons of precious time should you ever become stranded in the wilderness for any reason.

a makeshift lean to shelter uses a tree as a support system with a layer of branches and leaves to keep inclement weather out

Makeshift Lean-To Shelter - Photo Credit: Hugo VK

Bad Shelter is Better than No Shelter

You can only survive for 3 hours without shelter in harsh environments. Exposing your body to extreme elements makes you more vulnerable to life-threatening conditions such as hypothermia or heatstroke.

If you are stranded without a tent, create a rectangular frame with logs or other materials, and make use of branches, leaves, and even moss to fill this up. The leaves and absorbent moss can act as a roof and barrier to rain, but utilizing large rocks or fallen logs to act as a natural wall is even better to help stabilize your makeshift shelter. This can help keep you dry, protect you from the cold (or heat!), and even shield you from the sight of wild animals.

edible plants harvested from the wilderness. proper recognition of these plants is vital when looking for something to eat when stuck in the wilderness

Edible Plants - Photo Credit: Masterclass (blame them not us)

Edible (and Absolutely Inedible) Plants

There are many plants that are safe for consumption in the wild. Aggregate berries found throughout the world, such as raspberries or mulberries, are 99% edible. There are also edible weeds like chickweed, dandelion, clover, and more. However, a single mistake can be dangerous and lead to plant poisoning - so be incredibly careful when foraging. Telltale signs of poisonous plants include milky sap, fine hairs or spines, umbrella-shaped flower clusters, and waxy leaves. Never risk eating something that you aren’t 100% sure is safe. According to Healthline, survival time may extend up to 2 to 3 months without food, as long as you have a reliable source of clean water.

Pine sap has several incredible first aid properties, but can be difficult to harvest in sufficient quantity. This photo shows an excellent method of gathering enough from a live tree to utilize

Harvesting Pine Sap - Photo Credit: Larrousiney

First Aid Survival Skills

Familiarize yourself with natural first aid remedies that are abundant in the wild as well. In the wilderness, a simple cut can expose you to a wide variety of harmful bacteria. This can infect your wound and contaminate your body.

Natural News highlights pine sap as a natural antiseptic that can be used to disinfect cuts with its antibacterial, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Otherwise, we’ve featured butterbur or stinging nettles in Pollen Problems that can act as natural remedies for allergies to prevent your symptoms from worsening even without an antihistamine.

Just be sure you know exactly what to look for - applying the wrong plant product in the wrong manner can make things way worse!

Ants on a log! But not the raisins and peanut butter and celery kind, these are actual ants on an actual log. well, branch. you get the idea

Ants! Aaaaaaaants! - Photo Credit: Porinimm Athithawatthee

Be Cautious of Insects

Insects can host a wide range of diseases that your body may not have the natural resistance for. A single mosquito bite alone can carry the risk of malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and more.

Creating fire or shelter can help, as previously referenced, and you can also look for wild plants that contain natural bug repelling compounds. Examples include pawpaw, which is commonly found along rivers and waterways throughout eastern North America, or catnip, which can be found throughout the more temperate areas of the country.

Otherwise, covering yourself with mud can be a drastic but helpful solution for certain bug-infested environments.


Be patient as you learn about bushcraft and refine your skills. If you hope to discover more about the outdoors and check out some different campsites where these new bushcraft skills may come in handy, head on over to Pathloom. We have enough tips and tricks to teach you skills that will help you create memories for a lifetime.


Guest Blogger Rosy Jeffersen is a freelance writer who is passionate about getting out in the world and sharing her experiences with readers. Deeply interested in social and climate issues, she believes that stories must be both informative and empathetic to get a message across.


Wintertime may not leave you feeling inspired to get outdoors to go hiking or camping, but it's the perfect time to start planning trips for the warmer months! Pathloom is here to help - Use our All-in-One outdoor adventure travel planning app to discover new hiking trails leading to new developed and dispersed campsites throughout the entire country! Click the link to join thousands in our open BETA testing today!


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