Best Bushcraft Essentials – Complete Gear and Kit List [2020]

| Last Updated: January 14, 2022

In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the bushcraft essentials you can't overlook. Below is a snapshot of what we cover. Then, we'll dive into the review and take a closer look at each item. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Bushcraft Essentials




Multipurpose Compass

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Best Overall

Multipurpose Tool

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Camping Hatchet

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Canteen or Steel Cup

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Bushcraft Fishing Tackle

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Review of the Best Bushcraft Essentials

Whether it's a routine trip up the mountain to check traps or a hike to the top of a fourteener, you want to know you're ready for whatever could happen. There are 9 essentials we keep on our bushcraft list, and since we don't want you to die we're going to share them with you.

Now this list won't cover every situation and climate, that's where your necessity for thinking comes into play. But we're going to give you our most reliable set of tools and information that could save your life in the bush.

Best Overall:
Multipurpose Compass

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If you were going to hike into the unknown with any hope of coming back alive, the one thing you would want to take with you is a compass. Because even if you have all of your needs met with food, shelter and water, you'll be in just as much trouble if you have no idea how to make it back without a sense of direction.

And while it's true that you can usually guide yourself by the stars or the sun, you're placing a lot of hope in the CHANCE that the sun or stars will be clearly visible at all times. So don't be a fool, bring a useful tool. (you might want to tattoo that on yourself and send it to us for a funny story)

So why not rule out the chance of a longer stay in the wilderness than needed by getting a compass that will easily guide you out and back to safety in no time! 

And if that's a simple magnetic boy scout compass then so be it, the important test is whether it gets you out alive or not. You don't have to tell people you used a pink compass to navigate your way back to safety, all they're going to care about is that you came back alive!

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Having your trusty knife is sure handy when all you need is a knife, but if you're in any situation that most find themselves in when it's do or die then you're going to want more than a knife. Which is why the good ol' multipurpose tool has landed a spot on the top bushcraft gear list!

Like we said, having a knife is great and all, but if you have a few more options for tools in the same amount of space then why not, right. The multipurpose tool we recommend is the Leatherman Skeleton CX. This bad boy has it all in a shell that will stand up to the harshest of conditions! Adventure racers and hikers want to keep weight and volume to a minimum without sacrificing quality and true functionality.

Enter the new Leatherman Skeletool™ CX: Minimal weight, compact size and endless capabilities. Winner of National Geographic Adventure Magazine's 2008 Best of Gear award. 154CM Stainless steel blade. Tungsten DLC Scratch resistant coating.

Carbon-fiber handle scales. Needle nose pliers that do the job of regular size pliers. Hardwire cutters. Carabiner clip that eliminates the need for a sheath and doubles as a bottle opener. Bit drive with included Philips #1 and #2, screwdriver 3/16 and ¼ in.. Weighs just 5 oz. but gets the job done.

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Having a knife is a great resource, having a multitool with a great knife is even better. But if you need to do some serious chopping you'll want to have a hatchet on hand. Whether you need a tool for hammering, slicing, or cleaving a hatchet will give you what you need!

Also you're going to want some sort of offensive weapon in the bush in case you run into trouble with some of the locals (lions and tigers and bears oh my!).

Whether it's an authentic hand shaped and smelted hatchet or one you bought from home depot, just get a reliable one that travels lite and gets the job done!

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If you can't tell yet, we're basically compiling a list of things to have on your person that would help you out in a worst case scenario. So it makes sense that one of those things would help you to get a resource that you can only live 3-4 days without. The water canteen (or water holding object of your choice).

Now this canteen can be made of any material you like, but for survival purposes it's a good idea to have a steel canteen that can be heated to boil water. this is a great thing to have in case you run into a situation with limited sources for water. The safest way to survive would be to boil it, which is why we suggest the steel canteen. 

But if you're more comfortable with keeping it as close to nature as possible, we recommend making a drinking cup out of wood. Assuming you're crafty enough to put that together.

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This is as simple as bending a sharp piece of metal to make a hook, or having a pre made pouch with your favorite fishing tools. However you want to do it is the right way! It's never a bad idea to have one of these around, and it will come in real handy when you're hungry.

Like we said, it can be a piece of string with a hook, or your own bushcraft design. If you have a neat way of fishing that gets the job done in the simplest way possible with minimal tools we'd love to see it!

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Now we're not saying that most of you aren't able to make a fire from scratch, because I'm sure most of you can with all the articles we've put out about it. But if it's just as easy to flick your wrist and have fire no matter what then why not go with that.

The ever strike matches are a must have if you're going to be kicking around in the woods on your own.

While there's no "authority" brand that has an excellent product yet, it's hard to go wrong with a cheap generic brand like this one to get the job done. As long as the matches have excellent reviews and some product videos of them standing up to the elements then who cares if they're the cheapest out there. Sometimes the cheapest is just that, the cheapest, they aren't always duds because there's no big price tag.

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Now we're assuming that if you're reading this then you're not already a survival expert who can make a fort out of branches and leaves, in which case it might be a good idea to bring your own shelter. You know just as a back up in case you don't have time or just don't feel like whittling out sticks to make a shelter that protects you from potentially life threatening conditions.

Which is why we suggest that you take a look at a simple, ready to use and veteran approved shelter in a bag!

Used by military veterans and avid outdoorsmen a fly, pup tent, lean to shelter that's basically a stretchable tarp is great to have in your pack for emergencies.  This type of ready made shelter is ideal for those that travel light and move fast. Something that measures 10 feet by 10 feet with grommets on each corner as well as numerous webbing tabs along each side is ideal for this quick shelter set up. 

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I can already hear the clicks as people scroll over to the "back" button or even a brazen move to the dreaded "close window", but hear me out! If you've spent any amount of time in the wild you know the importance of having the right lashing to hold things together.

So that should be reason enough to lay aside the stigma of trendy tools or city slicker options.

Just because the paracord bracelet has been made a mainstream tool that's consumed by the masses, doesn't mean it's got no place in a  bushcraftman's gear list. After all it was started as a trend to have in case of a survival situation. So let go of those old ways of thinking and embrace the ease of not having to weave together reeds for cordage.