Mar 1, 2011 at 12:53 am #1269894
I am also a member of a bushcraft forum, and recently another thread on UL came up. Some good insights, some not so good insights, but overall an interesting read. As a bushcraft/lightweight hybrid (with a 1 season UL kit, I can now add!), I am always caught in the middle of these debates, but one thing I brought up in defense of UL people, is that from what I have observed here vs. the BC site, UL people seem to in general actually get out more.
So I pose the question to you UL peeps. What are your thoughts and observations on the subject?
Here is the thread in question:
And just for your own amusement, here is a thread with a base weight around 40lbs:
http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27116Mar 1, 2011 at 7:06 am #1702980
All I know is that over the years, the more I hiked and backpacked, the more my pack weight dropped and the more my gear list became more refined. And, as my pack became less bulky and heavy, the more I wanted to get out and camp. Now, several years later, my overnight pack IS my day pack. For me, this means that day "day hike" or walk I go on can, and sometimes does, become a safe and well-prepared overnight trip.
Personally, over the past 15 years, I can't really remember running into any real bushcraft types in the woods and maybe a handful of other UL backpackers. I don't think that means that either "group" gets out or doesn't get out more often, I think that it means that both are just small subcultures. If anything, I mostly see (a) small groups of hikers and (b) backpackers and the occasional group of dangerously unprepared day hikers. I don't think that what I've seen happens because traditional backpackers take more trips, I think that they're just a much larger overall population, so you're going to run into some of them in the woods.
I've done a bit of reading and played around with some things I've seen on bushcraft sites and books. My only concern with some of the bushcraft is when I see AXES and other tools that suggest that those people are not practicing LNT. If "backpackers" in this day and age began carrying axes and chopping up trees for debris huts and non-essential fires, then the woods were I travel would be a profoundly different place.Mar 1, 2011 at 7:44 am #1702994
I'm confused as to what exactly "bushcraft" even is these days.
The more I read, the more it appears to be (a somewhat tongue-in-cheek assessment):
-Backpacking with as much leather, cotton, wool, camouflage, and other vintage gear/materials as possible
-Carrying a fixed blade knife, firesteel, and PSK is the first commandment. The second commandment is that they have to be on your neck.
-Trying to perpetually carve your own tent stakes out of wood.
-Cooking exclusively on wood fires- unless in a barren, woodless wasteland, in which case the esbit tab, solar reflector, or magnifying glass in your PSK is acceptable.
-Great care must be taken to light fires in the least efficient (albeit traditional) way possible. Bic lighters are absolutely forbidden.
-Going to great lengths to constantly sharpen knives and axes, to the detriment of other personal obligations and relationships.
-Great ecstasy is found in chopping, carving, hollowing, sharpening, shredding, splitting, and felling all manner of wooden things.
-Much discussion and thought on eating bugs, roots, fungi, small animals, invertebrates, and leaves.
-Much time spent knowing you can handle it when the "$hit goes down". Whatever the $hit may be that causes you to suddenly wind up in the woods with nothing but a fixed blade and PSK.
I'm sure I missed some big ones.
As for whether "bushcrafters" get out in the woods more, I have no idea. I kind of hope not, given the emphasis on uprooting plants, snaring animals, and chopping things down.
:)Mar 1, 2011 at 7:54 am #1702998
@benwoodLocale: flatlands of MO
i don't know much about BC. What i do worry about is LNT, like someone said. I have seen pics of BC people felling trees for shelter. but just as with anything else, that does mean every BCer does those things. I don't really know or care who gets out more, I know I don't get out much and wish i was able to get out more. It would be my uneducated guess that BPLers cover more mileage on average. I know I generally try to go for high mileage days because I don't have a ton of time to get out, so when I do I want to see as much as possible.
Ok, so thoughts of interest: I like to see another perspective that is completely different than my own. I look at BC and think what an immense amount of time and effort go into accomplishing the same task of getting out an enjoying the wilderness. But I'd guess they look at a BPLer like me and would think "what a waste of time and energy to lighten your pack". Another thing I find interesting is the blend that occurs, I think it is funny (in a good way) that someone would go through lengths to use the BC techniques with modern equipment such as flint and steel stored in lightweight nylon pouch with quick release buckles. It seems to me that it would be stored in a canvas bag with a leather tie or something like that.
What is really interesting to me is that I think both groups are really going for the same thing in many ways and that is doing more with less. both group have very different ways of how to do that and exactly what that means. We both have learned skill sets that allow us to depart from the traditional backpacker in different ways.Mar 1, 2011 at 8:25 am #1703010
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
Meh, in the end it doesn't matter. If you're getting out enough to suite you, not wrecking the enviorment, and having fun who cares how or how much you get out.
Expeditions, bushcraft, lightweight, ultra light; just hike your own hike.Mar 1, 2011 at 8:34 am #1703012
@websterjLocale: Kansas City
The only difference I see between a ULer and BCer is a Mora knife (4.5 ounces), and certain skills/knowledge.
I see bushcraft as an activity just like fishing. It requires additional gear for a specific type of activity. If you plan on practicing making a hand drill fire, or making a bush pipe a razor blade won't cut it.
I agree that BCers need to do a better job of communicating and respecting LNT principles, but I think some of that has to do with the BC community absorbing the brunt of the Bear Grylls wannabe crowd.
People like Ray Mears consistently communicate the importance of LNT.
Regarding the question in the OP, I would think backpackers will always get out more than bushcrafters. Bushcraft can be done in the backyard or while getting out. Backpacking always means getting out.Mar 1, 2011 at 9:12 am #1703020
This is an interesting thread. My own gear evolved from 35 lbs for 3 season use that included many bushcraft items. When faced with the prospect fo a thru hike of 2,665 miles I quickly realized I relly did not want to carry any more gear than neccesary. In one year my base weight came down to 10lbs.
The one thing I refuse to drop from my "Bushcraft" ways is an alternate means of firestarting. I carry a bic light but also a firesteel and birch bark tinder.
I ditched my fixed blade knife for a tiny vitorinox classic for my first thru hike and that was really all I needed on the PCT.
It was while on my second thru hike, the CDT, when I realized; the remote Montana wilderness with it's extremes of weather, rugged landscape, and large wildlife was a whole different place altogether.
I felt naked without my fixed blade knife.
The golf ball sized hail that fell from the massive thunderstorms along the Idaho/Montana border could have shredded my ultralight shelter. I reverted back to carrying a fixed blade knife capable of getting at the inner bark of deadfall, cutting limbs and small branches to make a debris shelter, and shaving sticks down for tinder.
I never had to do those things on my CDT hike. But the remote nature of the trail in Montana made me glad i had the ability and skills from my bushcraft days to do so.
I think this is where LNT and the choices of gear we take collide.
As UL hikers we take a calculated risk that our gear will be enough for the expected terrain and conditions to allow us to safely pass without creating a burden on the landscape.
However, the ability to make fire and shelter from the resources found in a wet forest are skills I think every wilderness traveller, regardless of type, should develop for themselves even if they never intend to use them.
If Bushcraft folk are a "bulldozer", SUL folks are a "teaspoon". Somewhere in between is the shovel we all must find (each for ourself) to dig the proper sized hole.Mar 1, 2011 at 9:26 am #1703028
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
There is absolutely no difference between a bushcrafter and an ULer except for clothing worn and equipment used.
UL Pot: Evernew 900
Bucraft Pot: Army GI canteen cup or stainless Zebra billy.
UL shirt: Merino wool longsleeve or Supplex.
Bushcraft shirt: Swanndri Ranger, Olive color.
UL knife: Victorinox classic
Buscraft knife: Mora etc
UL Pack: GG Mariposa or similar
Buscraft Pack: Karrimore Sabre or equivalent, must be olive drab.
UL footwear: Inov-8 2xx
Buscraft footwear: Army boots
UL shelter: Cuben tarp
Bushcraft shelter: Camo tarp, 70 denier or higher thread count.
No real difference, just uniform worn and equipment used.Mar 1, 2011 at 9:50 am #1703039
@websterjLocale: Kansas City
Yes, there are differences between the stereotypical bushcrafter and an ultralight backpacker. However, it is possible to practice bushcraft and ultralight backpacking at the same time. None of things you listed are required to practice bushcraft expect maybe the Mora (or other fixed blade), and that's not even a requirement.Mar 1, 2011 at 11:52 am #1703081
@zehnmmLocale: southern New Mexico
I am one who has only recently started to lighten my load. Not quite at the UL level yet, but still a whole lot lighter than I used to be. Right now, I have got my base weight in the 11 lb. area. Not bad. As I near age 64, carrying a 55 pound pack for 4 miles with 3000 vertical elevation gain ain't gonna happen again. With a 15 lb. pack, I can still do it and perhaps live to tell the tale.
But, I should like to weigh in on the BC stuff. I see similarities between BC and the SHTF crowd. (SHTF = when the brown matter hits the metal whirling blades…) The latter group often refers to "BOB" (bug-out bag) and some other acronyms. They include not only some of the older survivalist-militaria types, but also some thoughtful folks who just want to be prepared in case of natural disaster and other events. Some of those who frequent survivalist forums are worried about zombie attacks, or whatever in heck that is. As I understand it, they believe that there is a chance of economic/social breakdown which leads to "WROL", or "without the rule of law" events. This could include people trying to hurt you and rob you to get food and supplies for themselves. In my eyes, this latter group reminds me of the older survivalist types back in the 1970s and 1980s.
For me, I like the general notion of being prepared. I have a BOB which I put in my truck. It is a Maxpedition Versipack bag that has quite a few things in it. Pistol, ammo, flashlights, batteries, firestarting, emergency blanket, emergency poncho, paracord (and that is another thing — to be really part of the WROL rowd, ya gotta have paracord!), water, compass, SOG Revolver knife, maps, compactor bag, vaseline soaked cotton balls, firesteel, altoids emergency tin, and other goodies. My wife and I have just gotten started volunteering for moutain search and rescue in my area. Hence, many of the things in my truck BOB are going to do pretty well in my new volunteer activity. I got to talking with the local S&R leader about my new effort to learn about UL approaches. He was very interested and we plan to get together and go over that some more. I now have my UL pack (in this case a ULA Conduit) already packed up and ready to go on a moment's notice whenever I am called to be a ground beater.
FYI, I also see that the BC/SHTF crowd has quite a bit to learn from the UL community. I will go out on a limb and say that, while we can learn from them, they have more they can learn from us. The reason I say this is that in a true SHTF situation, just hiking a few miles to your outdoor BC practice area probably is not going to happen. The hiking might be more like 15 to 20 miles a day. A lighter approach is for sure going to be better.
And to address the original question: I believe that the UL folks get out more than the BC crowd.
Blessings to all.Mar 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm #1703131
As a kid I had an interest in BC and BOB kits but now am much much more interested in UL backpacking (and am getting addicted to gear). The biggest difference is that as a youngster I could not go backpacking, only day hiking whereas years later now I get to go backpacking in some neat places. For me, UL backpacking is more practical and fits into the modern world with everyone better. Having some BC skills is something we should all have though.Mar 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm #1703132
@ktimmLocale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
I would say the UL crowd gets out more, mainly due to the thru-hike / section hike mentality.
I personally think there is a lot more in common with the various crowds (UL, Bushcraft, UL hunter) than they care to admit and they are way different from the casual camper. It seems, and perhaps this won't be popular stance that often times it LNT that gets in the way. Does anyone really LNT ? Take a tracking class and there is no such thing as real LNT. Perhaps that is an extreme example, but the woods are alive, changing and being used by animals that don't practice LNT. Elk mark the trees for years.
I don't like garbage, or initials in trees, or anything like that, (and I usually pick up garbage I see and carry a garbage bag just for that purpose) but starting a small controlled fire doesn't bother me. In a couple years the marks will be gone and really it's often good for the soil. Breaking a branch, big deal, Elk do it.
KevinMar 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm #1703184
@maynard76Locale: New England
Bushcraft is about learning traditional outdoor skills.
Meaning before nylon tents and polyester tees.
Thats why traditional materials like canvas, pack-baskets, and leather is used. The "destruction" and axes are part of the pre nylon era. Instead of destroying some far off third world country and exploiting its poor workforce and oil reserves to put your LNT gear on the outfitters shelf, they concentrate on keeping things like native shelter and tool making alive.
People who do this seriously also avoid public land because its not the appropriate place to do most of this stuff.
bushcraft = traditional pre industrial out door skills, simple as that.
Bushcrafting is not hiking so its no surprise you don't see too many on the trail (if you can identify one?).
The ignorance of the "backpacking" crowd on this is a little sad. Why would you be against someone learning basketry? And why would someone think that a person would axe down a tree and make a shelter on the side of the AT -just because they know how?Mar 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm #1703200
Brian Maynard for the win.Mar 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm #1703206
I don't see too much bashing in this thread which is refreshing, UL folks occasionally get bashed on bushcraft forums and likewise "them" here
the "we vs them" never seems to serve much of purpose IMHO
there are folks on almost any site, pick a subject, that make you cringe some- beyond those few folks, it's normally just a community of folks sharing what they like to do
there are certainly folks on this site who aren't exactly fans of hunting for example, but that doesn't seem to hinder a level headed discussion about gear or any other topic
we'd be a little self centered and naive to think there weren't things that we could learn from the "bushcraft" crowd and vice versa
<– proud owner of too many knives, axes and saws :)Mar 1, 2011 at 5:26 pm #1703209
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, will a UL backpacker still blame a bushcrafter for it?Mar 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm #1703243
i suspect that once the inevitable zombie invasion comes along … youll see those BC people go out a lot more
on the plus side, theyll be so overloaded with axes and saws, that you can outrun them with yr 5 lb base weight … remember its the same as with bears, you just need to outrun the other guy …
at the end of the day, worry about how much time youre getting outside, not about some grizzled survivalist milita redneck ;)Mar 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm #1703275
@ Dave, Nice Bear-shark!Mar 1, 2011 at 7:54 pm #1703282
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
I don't really know what a bushcrafter is, but I do know there is someone in my area who has been hunting deer with a bow and arrow, even out of deer season, and building "survival" shelters by chopping down bushes. I don't think this is cool at all.
I do enjoy learning more outdoor skills. I have been learning to identify mushrooms. I found two kinds this weekend, both technically edible although only one was palatable. I also have been learning to identify wild greens and have been harvesting and eating them. I would like to get a fishing pole. I used to be a fisherwoman. I'd like to learn how to hunt, too. Perhaps this will get me out more, or more likely, will give me other things to do when I'm out besides take pictures.
I learned to make baskets a long time ago. It was the strangest thing. The instructor was showing us how to do it, but I had this strange, vivid sensation I was being reminded, not taught. I could even see myself somewhere in some time past making baskets, sitting on the floor, wearing something white. The instructor taught many kinds of basketmaking techniques but it was only one of them that triggered "memories."Mar 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm #1703296
Why thank you sir.Mar 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm #1703318
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Here are the answers you all seek…
Some BC people get out a lot.
Some BC people get out fairly often.
Some BC people get once in a while.
Some UL people get out a lot.
Some UL people get out fairly often.
Some UL people get once in a while.
No comment on BC and LNT, I don't know much about BC and cannot make a blanket statement, but suspect the run the gammit of impact. Not all UL hikers are LNT focused. A lot of UL hikers buy gear that does not last and ends up in land fills. No one is perfect.Mar 2, 2011 at 12:16 am #1703364
Without speaking in general terms and being the most logical, Nick has answered the question. So well put, Nick. :)
But of course, we rarely speak in absolutes, so I see little harm in using some blanket statements in order to pragmatically communicate about paterns and trends in a group or groups. All rational and reasonable people understand (or ought to understand) there is no "better" or "worse" but "different."
I do think there are bad apples on both sides that spoil things for many. BC people often view some UL people as elitist, and UL people often (see: above) view some BC people as destructive barbarians. A good point was made with the popularity of Bear Grylls, which has brought about a whole slew of posers and wanna-bes, which will make claim to the BC side and thus BC is often unfairly made guilty by association with these clueless/destructive people. There is no famous TV show with an UL persona that I am aware of.
But for the record, there are more and more hybrids such as myself being made. And also for the record, I do follow LNT as best as I can, and this includes the firewood I harvest with my knife/axe/saw when I do, which is either fallen or standing dead wood.
Altogether the threads both here and on the BC site have been very interesting reads.Mar 2, 2011 at 5:45 am #1703390
drowning in spamMember
UL is about the gear. BC is about skills. The first can be fully achieved at home with a credit card, but the latter is awfully difficult to achieve without spending time outdoors.Mar 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm #1703512
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
I wouldn't say that Eugene. That is unless you're a bushcraft guy trying to look all manly. If that's the case though why are you here on a UL website. Maybe not manly enough for the bushcraft sites? :P
I think going UL can require a good deal of skill. Sure headding out with nothing but a knife, some cord, and the clothing on your back is going to require more skill than UL backpacking but then agin I don't know of many bushcraft people who do that either.Mar 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm #1703519
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