What To Pack For Several Days Bushcrafting In The Late Spring, Summer And Early Autumn in The United Kingdom
Written by Phil Brown, Badger Bushcraft Blog Wednesday, 29 June 2011 13:04
In this Badger Bushcraft Blog article Phil Brown, Badger Bushcraft Head Instructor, revisits an article that he wrote some years ago and was published by "The Bushcraft Magazine".
The contents of my pack for this article, which was first published by The Bushcraft Magazine in 2009, are based on what I take for a warm mid-spring through to early to mid-autumn weekend trip when practicing bushcraft and survival skills in the south east of the British Isles.
There are obvious factors that dictate what items are required when out in the woods and the contents of my various rucksacks obviously vary from day to day and from season to season. There are, however, some items that are always packed without fail.
I have a mental tick list, as well as a written kit list, that I work through as I prepare and pack my kit and I consider factors such as:-
- WHERE – where I am going to?
- WHEN – seasonal temperature, weather, daylight hours, etc.?
- WHO – who I am going with?
- WHY – what is the purpose of the trip?
- HOW LONG – period of time I will be out?
- WHAT IF – being prepared for the worst!
Needless to say I am always dressed correctly in fast drying clothing that also protects me from the sun and yet keeps me warm as the evenings cool off and I always wear stout water proof leather boots. The boots I prefer are made either by Lowa or Danner.
Rucksack – Snugpak 40 litre capacity with two mesh side pouches and two zipped top compartments and a zipped bottom compartment containing a waterproof covering for the rucksack. This is a bomb proof sack that I bought second hand from a friend and have used on a daily basis over the last four years. I have attached several small carabineers that allow my axe and folding saw to be safely attached and stored in the mesh side pouches for easy access.
Drybags – I like to pack all of my kit into water proof dry bags. Exped foldable drybags are my personal choice.
First Aid Kit – this is based around a Life Systems Mountain Leaders F.A.K that I have adapted and added to. I also always take with me a very absorbent military first field dressing, an OP (orpharyngeal) airway, a flexible splint and an emergency sleeping bag.
Water Proofs – with the weather getting better and having always checked the immediate and long-range weather forecasts I am happy to leave the Gore-Tex at home and take a lightweight smock. I have been using smocks made by a UK based company for a number of years and I have been using their “Special Air Service Windproof Smock” for some years which is made of dense Oxford weave cloth which is windproof and waterproof – but most importantly it resists the odd stray spark from the fire!
Water – at 1kg per litre water is a heavy yet essential resource. I am very familiar with the area I am staying in I know there is a spring that is accessible year round. A “gypsy-well” will provide me with an ample supply when I have purified it with my Pre-Mac Travel Well Tracker or by boiling over the campfire. For storage I use a 1 litre Osprey military bottle.
Phone – this normally remains switched off, stored in a dry bag but always accessible when I am away.
Wash Kit – tooth brush, floss, sun cream, lip salv, toilet tissue, wet wipes, personal medication, antibacterial hand gel, etc.
Torch and Spare Batteries – I prefer an LED head torch and normally take a spare for backup or to lend when someone else’s torch or batteries fail.
Food and Drinks – I like to take a modest amount of food with me and supplement my needs with what I am able to find. Again prior knowledge of the area allows me to forage young beech leaves, nettles, ransoms, jack-by-the-hedge, hop tops, hog weed, alexanders, primrose flowers, etc. My brew kit is mainly coffee sachets and Chai tea bags.
Cooking Kit – this is kept simple with a Zebra stainless steel billy can that has seen much use. For eating I just take a spoon.
Mug - the stainless steel military crusader cup is another reliable piece of kit that is easy to pack as it fits onto the osprey water bottle and can be used to boil water and cook in if needed.
Tarp – I prefer to use a heavier polycotton tarp to anything else I have tried over the years. Like my smock this material is resistant to the errant spark which allows me to have a small controllable fire near to my shelter. This particular tarp is the Tatonka TC2 which I have been using since 2007 and it has never let me down nor leaked a single drip of water. The colour is also a subtle green that blends well into the environment.
Bivi Bag – British army surplus Gore-Tex bivi bag keeps me and my sleeping kit dry and protects me from the wind.
Sleeping Bag – I prefer synthetic filled sleeping bags that need no specialist cleaning and can be put through the washing machine and line dried. For this trip I took a Snugpak Softie 3 Merlin bag that packs down nicely and is relatively lightweight. I have had this bag, which is part of the Snugpak SF Combo System, for several years and it has been used, abused and washed regularly and is still as good as new.
Sleeping Mat – full length Exped Downmat DLX9 – which is more comfortable than my bed at home.
Additional Clothing – I am a big fan of wool. I use merino wool garments as a base and mid layer and wear a wool shirt as my outer layer. A merino and possum fur hat keeps my head warm as the nights get colder and a pair of merino long-johns and shirt at night allows me to “sleep warm” if the nights are cool.
Spare Clothes – for a weekend trip I only need underwear and socks. I always take a Shemagh as it is a useful garment that has a myriad of uses.
Fire Kit – a small watertight plastic tub, wrapped in several metres of duct tape for emergencies, contains essentials for successfully fire making in all weathers. The antibacterial hand gel I use is flammable and can be used to start a fire if needed!
Paracord – I always have a hank of 10m of 550 paracord in my rucksack and it never fails to amaze me at how often it is used.
Knife – like a lot of bushcrafters I have tried, tested and collected many knives over the years and my preference is for well made fixed blade knife with a full tang. Several years ago I bought a second hand “Bison Bushcraft Knife” made by Roger Harrington which has proved to be an excellent all rounder that I have put to task time and time again; it has never let me down and is now my daily knife of choice.
Axe - Gränsfors Bruks small forest axe.
Saw - Bahco Laplander folding saw.
Japanese Water Stone – 800 grit stone cut in half for sharpening in the field.
NOTE: - Whilst using the bushcraft tools listed above I was on private land with the land owners permission. Please be aware of legislation that could land you in trouble in the eyes of the law including, but not exclusive to, the Knives Act 1997.
Please put plenty of thought into what you take on a trip. I tend to have spreadsheets of kit that I take with me in different environments and climates. I often revisit my kit lists when returning from a trip and frequently go through what I took, what I used and what I would have liked to have taken but did not.
This article is by no means a comprehensive kit list for anyone either entering into bushcraft or exploring the outdoors; it is merely an article about the kit that I take with me for a comfortable weekend living in the landscape.
Many of the items I have used and have plenty of experience with in some of the wilder places that the temperate world has to offer and they are well looked after and trusted companions on the trail. I have no personal interest in recommending kit, brands and makers of equipment but I do know what works for me.
As a final caveat – always go prepared for your adventure and never make a compromise when it comes to packing for safety and first aid.
I hope the above has been of interest. If you have any comments or would like to leave your thoughts please register and log in to our Badger Bushcraft Blog here.
All the best,
PS – Don’t forget your camera, you never know what you might see!