The wild can challenge even the most experienced outdoorsman. This list will help you ensure that you have all the essential bushcraft tools you need to survive.
Spending time in nature can be an interesting and humbling experience. If you prefer to travel off the beaten path, you want to make sure you cover every situation you can.
I camped for years throughout the US and the United Kingdom and have used many different saws, axes, bags, knives, and other bushcraft tools. I’ve used my extensive bushcraft knowledge to develop a list of essential tools to survive in the wild.
Often, weight and space become the limiting factors when deciding what to carry with you into the wild. Where possible, I have chosen tools that can cover multiple purposes or serve a function so essential that I couldn’t leave them off the list.
Whether building a survival pack from scratch or just wondering if you’re missing one essential bushcraft tool, this list will provide you with the guidance you need.
This list starts with one of the best bushcraft tools; the backpack that carries everything.
What you need depends on your preference. Small or large? Extra pockets? Molle-compatible? External frame? It all comes down to what you plan to pack.
24. Solar Charger
There are not many tools on this list that require an electrical charge, but for the ones that do, you need something to keep them powered.
Find a solar charger with easy-to-use settings that can deliver reliable power to your devices.
A pair of small, high-powered binoculars can make all the difference in the wild. Use them to plan your routes, spot animals you’d like to hunt or animals you want to avoid contact with before they start hunting you.
If your situation gets desperate, you can even use the lenses as a signal mirror.
It should go without saying that making intelligent choices with clothing is of the utmost importance.
Whether it’s a warm GORE-TEX coat and winter gloves, a pair of waterproof hiking pants, or a breathable full brim hat to keep the sun off your face, you need to plan when it comes to clothing.
A survival shovel with a sharp blade might seem redundant when combined with an axe or a knife.
But have you ever unexpectedly needed to clear brush or fill a large hole in the ground? A knife makes a poor substitute for this vital tool if you have one.
20. Sewing Kit
A sewing needle and thread can be an afterthought for some people, but rips and tears happen. For example, nothing is worse than spending a rainy night under a leaky tarp.
Given its small size and lack of weight, a sewing kit with a strong needle and good thread can serve you well in many scenarios.
19. Insect Repellant
Picking up a can of bug spray from your local store is a smart choice when planning a trip to the great outdoors.
A repellent that works against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs is good for the best all-around protection.
18. Bear Spray
This heavy-duty pepper spray is powerful enough to ward off any predators you might encounter and is designed to deliver its payload from long distances to keep your life or the lives of your family out of harm’s way.
17. GPS Beacon
If you do end up lost in the woods, a GPS locator beacon is a helpful tool to help a search party find your location.
Sometimes you can find special offers on expensive brand models with a wide array of features and settings, but even an entry-level model with basic settings deserves a place among your survival essentials.
16. Signal Mirror
A signal mirror might seem outclassed by other emergency tools, but that is far from the case.
A signal mirror never runs out of power, and on a clear, sunny day, some signal mirrors can be seen from upwards of 15 miles away.
15. Emergency Whistle
Just as a signal mirror maximizes the advantages of long-range sight, an emergency whistle can deliver a high-pitched, piercing sound to contact a rescue party from up to a half-mile away.
Sure, in a pinch, you could always use a rock or piece of hardwood for cooking your food, but why make camp tasks more primitive than necessary.
There are many quality options for camping cookware sets that stack together and provide you with gear like pots, strainers, mugs, bowls, and even silverware.
One of the most versatile tools on this list, a sturdy, waterproof tarp will cover a variety of purposes.
Use it as a makeshift shelter or a blanket. Craft it into a poncho or a secondary backpack. Only your creativity limits the list of uses for a good tarp.
12. Fishing Line and Hooks
Fish are one of the most accessible and nutrient-dense food sources nature offers. A high-tensile fishing line and a couple of hooks make catching dinner much more straightforward.
You can also use the fishing line as spare cordage when necessary. And if you happen to be in need of more hooks, it’s worth noting that you can make improvised hooks with wood, wire, pins, bones, or even thorns.
11. Dry Bag
If the weather turns to rain or you need to cross a body of water, having a waterproof bag that keeps your gear dry and secure is critical.
A dry bag is easy to pack and can be used to carry whatever you want.
A steel knife is one of the most valuable survival tools a bushcraft enthusiast can own.
You can prepare wood for your fire, sharpen a stick, skin or scale your dinner, or do a hundred other tasks with a good camping knife.
This extra-durable style of rope is easy to pack and should be included in every bushcraft kit.
Try a paracord bracelet that can be worn and then unraveled when you need it for even easier transport.
Some people might prefer a flashlight, but it is nice to have a light source that leaves your hands free when you are working or moving around after the sun has set.
Contact your local outdoor supply store and find an LED headlamp that can swivel and fold so you’re never lost in the dark.
7. Sleeping Bag
Even in temperate climates, nights can get cold. That’s why you want something to keep you warm after falling asleep.
Some bags are rated for temperatures as low as -40°F, but what you need will depend on where you’re traveling.
6. Hand Axe or Saw
Axes or machetes A saw or a hatchet. No matter which one you prefer, these survival tools are an essential part of bushcraft living.
You might have a preference for a hatchet or a love of machetes, but it might be wise to shop around for an axe/saw combo.
A good steel saw or axe might be dull when you first buy it, so be sure to sharpen the blade or saw teeth before you try chopping firewood.
A multitool is one of the best items you can take into the wilderness. Different models will vary in the types and number of tools they provide.
Accessories commonly found on a multitool include pliers, saw, scissors, screwdrivers, blades, and files.
4. First Aid Kit
You never know what will happen in the wild, and if you are miles away from civilization when a medical emergency occurs, you need a first aid kit to ensure you are safe.
Shop the wide array of bushcraft-focused first aid tools available on the market to find quality medical tools and accessories that are suited to you.
3. Compass and Map
You should always practice proper navigation and develop good location awareness. Advanced devices such as GPS have their place, but nothing can replace a good map and reliable compass.
2. Water Purifying Bottle
After shelter, water is the next most crucial basic need when surviving in the great outdoors. A canteen is good as long as you have or can create a clean water source.
Another good option is a bottle that can purify water. This effective piece of gear will filter out dangerous elements and provide you with clean, safe water to drink.
In the wild, fire is an outdoorsman’s best friend. You need fire for warmth, cooking, and purifying water.
Sure, you could use a friction bow and all-natural materials to start your fires. Still, there are a plethora of firestarters, including flint, char cloth, tinder, waterproof matches, or Ferro rods, that make building a fire much more effortless.
This list features 25 essential bushcraft tools that anybody would be happy to have in their pack while out in the wild.
Use this list as a handy bushcraft guide, check out prices and be on the lookout for special offers online. Above all, take your time to consider what tools matter most for your next bushcraft adventure.