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Tools of the Trade.

Tools of the Trade.


I’m often asked what tools are needed for the Outdoors.  Well, there aren’t as many as you think. For basic outdoor living, I would choose five basic tools. Once you’ve been out there and gotten more and more experience, of course there can be more. But this depends on what you want from your Bushcraft experience. And what you want to do in the outdoors.


If you are a primitive purist. Maybe you’d like to start out with no tools. And using only what you can find in the outdoors. Make your own. There are some great videos out there showing people doing just that. Primitive Technology’s Youtube Channel is the first I can think of, and his is probably the best. Sadly, he’s stopped making videos. But the one’s he’s made have made an impact.


If you are more of the modern outdoors man. And when I say modern, I am referring to tools that have existed for a very, very long time.



My first choice would be a good Fixed Blade Knife.


I find most questions about tools surrounding the Knife. What would you, as in those that use knives in the outdoors. Use?


I’ve firstly seen answers range from design, materials used to make the knife, and types of handles and steels used.


I myself prefer a fixed blade knife with a full tang.

What’s this full tang? A full tang refers to the use of one piece of metal that measures the full length of the knife. There are different types of knife, from a folder, ¾ tang, (that being where the blade only measure to ¾ of the handle to a welded blade to the part that attaches to the handle to the full tang which is one piece knife and handle. This being the strongest.


Then there are the blade designs. This is a long list. I suggest you look it up. But I prefer a Drop Point Scandinavian Blade.


The type of steels used. From Stainless, to High Carbon, Titanium. Damascus etc…


This depends on the price to are willing to pay, to where you live.

Example of location you plan to use the knife.  If you live in a more humid location than a Stainless Steel might be best for you. But if you are someone who takes good care of your tools, this is less likely to matter where a High Carbon Steel knife is easy to sharpen, hold an edge, and is over all stronger.


I myself find Damascus Steel more about esthetics than value for use. And a titanium steel knife is about weight.


There is always the question of length. I prefer a no longer than 6 inch blade. With a good thickness. Something that I will not be afraid to use and use hard. This also means a full tang knife.


Anyway, these are a few of the questions I ask, and look for in a good knife. I own and use a full tang knife. But I also use a very good ¾ tang knife.


Because of all of those questions. The main thing I believe to ask is price. You shouldn’t go out there and blow all of your money on a knife. Especially if you’ve never really used one in the outdoors. We are talking about not just cutting cord, and food wrappers. But using it to split wood, process animals and fish. And make other tools and objects you will need around camp. And maybe attach to a long straight stick and use it as a weapon or for hunting larger game.


But I always suggest buying a good knife for less money in the beginning. Like a good Mora Knife. With this knife you can do many of these things. Sure the plastic handle could break. Or the blade could snap. But in the end you only spent a few dollars.

 You can learn a lot , how to sharpen, and how to use the knife.


Once you’ve decided that you like the outdoors, and you want a better knife. Then look into buying a better knife. But it doesn’t mean you must spend hundreds of dollars. Think smart.



And avoid these tactical black knife with serrated edges. And avoid low quality steel knives or worst, very hard bladed knives. It’s very difficult to sharpen a hard steel knife. Victorinox is one of the worst. And I carry one. But I avoid any really cutting with it. I use mostly the tools on it.


So, that’s just a taste of knives. There is so many more questions.


After the Knife. I think of cutting wood. I think of a good saw.



Now I’ve been using a folding hand saw for many years. And it not being a bad saw, it is too short. And small for the work I find one needs to do in the outdoors. I would suggest a longer folding or bucksaw to use in cutting. It’s work cutting wood. Weather for fire wood, or building a shelter. I longer bladed saw id always best and makes easier the work.


Also think about blades that are best for green or dry wood. If you plan to only cut dry wood, then have a blade for that. If you are really thinking about this on a higher scale. Think about having a back up blade in your kit.



The hand axe is a great tool. There are loads of things to think about before making a purchase of an axe.


First. What I suggest is not buying a short handle axe. Or a Bell Axe. These are really too short for any real work you will need an axe to handle.


I carry and use mostly a medium length handle wood axe. I carry it more than the bell or the longer axe I own. If I am to be in a fixed camp. I will carry the longer handle axe. But if I am moving around, and weight is important, then the medium handle axe is there. Attached to the outside of my pack.


There are loads of blade options and styles. There are many, many brands. The two top we hear the most is the Gransfor and the Hultafors. But when starting off, and hard ware store that sells axes should have what you need to get started with. My first suggestion would be to by an axe with a wooden handle. Preferably a handle made in a dense hard wood. Oak, walnut, Beech, etc.. Never in Pine or Spruce. And never, never ever in Plastic. If you were to break your wooden handle axe, you can replace it yourself or make another in the field if needed. Not that hard to you. If you have your knife and saw this is easier than you think.


What I also don’t suggest is a light weight tomahawk. These don’t have the weight to cut, and are mort fighting tools than working tools.

Due to my living in the Northern hemisphere, I suggest avoiding some tools. Large knives, machetes. The wood is too dense. The Hand or Forest Axe is better.



This is a tool that many people don’t think much about. It’s an easy tool to carry and often enough you can make one if need be. I carry one on my Swiss Army knife. It’s a sharp pointed tool that is used to make holes in leather, bark, rubber, etc.. great for helping to repair something that you will have to sew. You can make one of these out of a large nail. Just grind the point into a thin sharp point. If you are interested in forging, this could be a first project. I carry mine in my possible pouch. Along with heavy waxed thread. And strips of cord and leather.


Curved Knife

I carry a curved bladed knife in my kit. This is great to have when you are making a bowl or spoon. It’s difficult to cut an indention into wood with a straight bladed knife. This does the job. So I have one along with a couple pieces  of folded sand paper in my kit. If I feel the need to make a spoon or cut or bowl in the field, I have what I need.


So, there you have it. My picks for the five important tools in my kit. There are other tools that are also recommended. But these depend on the projects and space you have in your ruck to carry.


Here are a few more listed.


Draw Knife

Auger Blade

Shovel (Although you can make one with a plank of wood using your axe, and saw.)

Leatherman Multi Tool


Also, make sure you have the proper sharpening tools to maintain your tools, and know and understand how to use them.


Last but not least. Don’t carry more than you need. I see people with 3-4 or more knives on them in the woods. One is enough. You know how to use it correctly, you  will not risk breaking it. If you are afraid of loosing it. Dummy cord it to yourself.


So, there you have it. Is this all. No. Is there more to know. Always.

Remember. “The more you know, the less you have to carry.”


Mike B.

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