Defining your basics is knowing what you need
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. It’s always like that. It goes for cooking as well as for all those wilderness survival and bushcraft basics.
Stepping into the wilderness, trekking in backcountry areas, experiencing outdoor life: it will be a more successful experience with the suitable skills and equipment at hand. In the end it all comes down to knowing what you need, in order to do whatever you’re up to. It is like preparing a meal, a daily or routinely activity for most of us. Choose dish, select and buy ingredients, cook, serve. It is as simple as that, isn’t it?
Starting point is that you know what you’ll like to have for dinner. In order to get the dish on the table, one has to list the ingredients needed which subsequently have to be purchased. What follows is handling those ingredients in such a manner that the result will be that delicious dish you had in mind. Experience comes from learning only. While watching YouTube instructional videos may be entertaining and helpful at the same time, personal success or failure isn’t disclosed yet. Meaning that you’ll have to pay a visit or two to your own kitchen. Subsequently, your cooking skills may let you serve the best pudding ever, or at least an edible version that won’t chase away your shocked dinner table companions.
Outdoor basics require the same attitude towards thinking over what you need and why, knowing what to take along and learning the skills that are essential to your capability of fulfilling necessary tasks and handling various situations.
The 5 preliminary questions: location, season, skills, clothing, equipment
So, before taking any actions, a pleasant mode of operating is sitting in the chair and ponder over a few questions:
- where will I go: location, climate, type of natural surroundings
- when will I go there: season, specific weather conditions
- which skills will I need
- which clothing is essential
- which equipment do I have to bring
Answering number one and two are easy. General information may be found everywhere. For more specific facts on natural environment and weather conditions, the regional or local websites often present valuable details. In mountainous regions almost always additional information is provided on snow conditions, avalanche risk factors, wind chill and more useful data. Obviously, the more remote and wild the area, being adequately informed will form into a routine.
Most important tool: the brain
Good outdoor habits will stick, simply because acting contrary to what is functional will be of no assistance. Looking into the subjects listed under 3, 4 and 5 may benefit from taking into account the most important survival and bushcraft skills. Numerous lists, commonly titled in such a way that the adventurous souls are served, are inspiring indeed and certainly fun to read. Yet, what it all comes down to is the brain. Outdoors there are basic needs to be met and your mindset will prove to be the most relevant and valuable tool. That is, by the way, Darwin in a nutshell.
“Bushcraft is what you carry in your mind and in your muscles.” (Ray Mears)
The basic needs
What would you need if you’d start from scratch, meaning there’s only nature as surroundings? The list, in non compulsory order – except for safety and shelter, and water comes before food – could be endless. However, these needs have to be fulfilled, acknowledging the will to survive, or to put it more mildly: to succeed, hence enjoy more than just one adventurous occasion.
- safety: always comes first
- shelter: comes second
Books on outdoor survival, especially when referring to life threatening situations, will often provide the following list:
Skills have to be practiced, unless you want to rely on a theoretical sense of security only. To overcome the unexpected: (again) use your brain. Protecting yourself from being harmed therefore may be defined as a prerequisite for outdoor adventures. It applies to the most experienced as well as newcomers to the scene. To conclude: nature may surprise us and therefore it works well to prepare like a pessimist and enjoy the outdoors like an optimist, not the other way around.
With a passion for nature and wilderness, we take care of what we love. See also Getting started – 1pack2go, in fact an outdoor credo.
Featured image: Olivier Overberg