I’m sitting here at my campsite and started wondering, what’s the difference between bushcraft vs camping? This could come as a surprise to many but the differences between the two are not as big as you would originally think.
There are very strong similarities between both activities. Both activities require you to think about the same things such as food, fire, shelter, etc. Let’s get right to your answer.
Bushcraft is the harder of the two and requires more skills than camping. Camping is more of a vacation for most people, whereas bushcraft is a lifestyle. Bushcraft is the procurement of knowledge and different skills used to thrive in the outdoors. Your camping gear and bushcraft gear will look a little different, for camping you will pack heavier, while for bushcraft you will always pack lighter.
Bushcraft vs Camping Gear Comparison
When trying to find the differences between Bushcraft vs Camping, gear is a good starting point.
Gear for both camping and bushcraft can often intersect and have a lot of similarities, as both are outdoor activities you will need the basic outdoor necessities. There will also be differences in the gear you pack for both camping and bushcraft.
I’ve compacted both a camping essentials list and a bushcraft essentials list, so we can take a look at the differences between the packing done for both activities.
Packing the wrong things for camping isn’t a big deal, as you can often just drive to a close town and pick those things up. If you forget something or pack the wrong things for your bushcraft trip, however, that can have serious consequences. Typically, when on a bushcraft trip, you hike miles and miles into the desolate wilderness with nothing and no one around you.
When you get to your destination, you are completely on your own, with no one to call and no store to stop off at. Therefore, it is imperative that you always have a bushcraft checklist and double, even triple check your rucksack before you head off on your adventure.
Camping Essentials List
Now let’s take a look at some of the essentials you would bring on your bushcraft trip
Bushcraft Essentials List
- Pack Axe
- Bushcraft Knife
- Water filtration system
- Bushcraft Backpack
- First Aid Kit
So, what can we take away from the comparisons in the gear you would bring both camping and for bushcraft? Both activities require you to bring an axe or a hatchet, a first aid kit, and a good fire starter. For this list, anyway, that is where the similarities stop.
You can see for bushcraft you wouldn’t want to bring a tent normally unless it was very lightweight, most practitioners would bring a tarp and use that to create a bushcraft shelter.
Notice I listed toilet paper in the camping gear list but not in the bushcraft gear list. That’s for a good reason, even something as seemingly light as toilet paper adds to the weight of your gear and when you are packing for a bushcraft trip you always want to be sure you are packing as light as possible and only the essentials, you can wipe your butt with leaves.
Just watch out for leaves of three, or you will have a bad time, how does the saying go again? “Leaves of Three, Leave Them Be”.
Camping is a laid back recreational activity involving staying overnight or even a couple of weeks at designated campsites.
Often times people go camping with their friends and family to get away from the noise of the city and to breathe in the fresh natural air, that is if you aren’t assigned a campsite next to the toilets, anyway.
My fondest memories and what actually got me into bushcraft today is the time I spent camping growing up with my family, every summer we would head up to northern Ontario for 7 days of outdoor fun. It was a family tradition, I guess you could say, one that I hope to continue one day when I have a family of my own.
Camping isn’t for everyone, not all people are suited for sleeping on the cold hard ground with nothing but a sleeping bag underneath you and a fire to fend off the cold/predators.
I find it’s always similar-minded people I encounter when out camping, which is nice. Camping is a wonderful activity to meet new people, some of my lifelong friends I have met at different campgrounds throughout the years. You rarely ever run into problems with people camping, other than the odd group of rowdy drunks of course.
Unlike bushcraft, there is really no limit as to what you can bring camping. You can pack whatever you can fit into the back of your vehicle or RV and have most of the comforts of home. Many people tend to bring games such as horseshoes or cornhole with them as a fun family activity.
Traditional campsites include a fire pit and some sort of shelter whether it be a tent or the RV you rolled in with.
Many folks go camping and forget they are in the wild, the home of wild animals. It is important to keep track of your food and where you keep it or you may end up with an unwanted visitor in the form of Mr bear knocking on your door in the middle of the night for a snack.
Never and I mean NEVER bring food into your tent or the area you plan on sleeping. It is important to respect both your environment and the animals that are in it, this is their home after all.
I have actually written a complete what is bushcraft breakdown on this site already. But to put it simply, bushcraft is the learning and demonstration of wilderness survival skills. Where camping is more of a leisure activity, bushcraft is more serious.
Bushcraft is about being in nature and being able to not only survive in the wild but THRIVE in the wild with nothing but the gear you pack on your back.
You never stop learning in the world of bushcraft, that’s the fun part. There is always something you could be doing more of or even better. The excitement of the unknown and endless possibilities when out alone in the bush is what draws a lot of people to it.
To me, there is no better gratification than knowing I am okay if anything should happen and I am forced into the wilderness to live out my life, I know I am prepared and have both the skills and the equipment to thrive in any environment.
Typically bushcraft trips are rigorous and taxing on the mind and body. You are throwing yourself deep into the wilderness and to put it bluntly, seeing if you can survive. I would recommend practicing your bushcraft skills close to home before adventuring out into the wild on a solo trip.
Before I started going out on solo bushcraft trips I would go out with a small group of friends who were also interested in learning about bushcraft, this is safer and a lot less lonely to be honest. Bushcraft doesn’t always have to be so serious though. Many people enjoy learning and utilizing their newfound bushcraft skills for fun around their home area, it is a very useful hobby to partake in.
Some People even choose to live the bushcraft lifestyle permanently, this means completely off-grid disconnected from society. They often build log cabins that have no running water, no grocery stores nearby, and no electricity, living the way humans have lived for thousands of years.
They go out and hunt and process their own food and often grow their own fruits and vegetables. This is what I someday strive to live like, completely self-reliant and dependent on no one but myself.
Bushcraft skills vary, some of the main skills you need to succeed in bushcraft include the ability to start a fire with nothing but a Ferro rod, building a shelter that can withstand the elements, hunting and preparing food, and wood-crafting to create things such as chairs for comfort or bowls to eat out of. All of these skills take time and practice to master whereas when camping anyone can set up a tent with instructions and cook the food they brought with them.
Both activities have striking similarities in that they are both done outdoors and in remote areas. This is where the similarities end however, camping is an activity that everyone no matter their survival skills knowledge can partake in whereas bushcraft requires a specific set of skills and amount of experience to be successful.
You can find yourself in some sticky situations if you head into the bush on a bushcraft trip unprepared while if you are unprepared when you arrive at your campsite, there tend to be things like camp stores around for you to purchase anything you may have forgotten.
I prefer bushcraft as it tests your fortitude, you get a sense of accomplishment at the end of your trip. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to go camping or practice bushcraft, both are an amazing experience. I hope this blog post answered all the questions you had surrounding bushcraft vs camping.
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Hey I’m Josh! I have been practicing Bushcraft for a little over 6 years now! I Started this website to review awesome bushcraft gear that I love as well as share information I have learned along the way!