Bushcraft refers to the practice of effectively surviving and even flourishing in the wilderness. It’s been a hobby and—in more dire circumstances—the difference between life and death for those who have braved the bush. One of the most noteworthy outdoorsmen in America’s history was Teddy Roosevelt. So great was his affinity for exploring the wilderness that he, in conjunction with the Sierra Club, strengthened the protection for over 200 million acres of American wilderness. Due in part to Roosevelt’s efforts, Americans began to rediscover the joy that comes from stepping away from the noise and distractions of daily life by immersing themselves in nature. Early-twentieth-century American writers began commenting on a growing trend they termed “camping” or “woodcraft”—a practice that has never been completely abandoned, thankfully.
In an age that celebrates convenience and increasingly allows technology to define stability and sane behavior, many find the idea of leaving the comfort of home and our electronic devices behind counterintuitive or at least not worth it. What would possess someone to head into the woods? Is the simplicity worth the potential dangers and discomfort? Yes. To unplug from the highly connected world and decompress away from an environment of mounting social pressure is invaluable. Moreover, these skills may prove vital in unforeseeable situations of disaster or crisis.
With the right tools and the skills to use them, you can succeed in the wilderness and experience the thrill of accomplishing this primal, largely forgotten feat.