American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What You Haven't Got, You'll Have to Improvise

I was watching Ray Mears this morning on his way to a jungle camp and he said the line above. It struck me as especially fitting as I continue to reduce what I actually need to carry with me into the woods.

This 10-item challenge is going to have to be geared toward that end. Bring items you'd have a hard time fashioning in the woods and place more value on those items which can be used to make what you don't have. A good example would be the axe.

The axe provides you with a cutting edge and a hammer. This allows you to build shelter, construct traps, and to make tools to build other items. You can even choke up on the head and use the axe for detail work and food prep.

The improvisation, I think, is one of the great challenges answered by bushcraft. By learning how primitive people solved life's mysteries we should be able to come up with solutions to our problems. Forgot your sharpening stone? Use a flat rock from a stream bed or load your belt with dirt and use it as a strop. No cordage? Make some from dogbane or split spruce roots or use thinly split pieces of basswood.

This will be my personal challenge this summer at Briar Patch. I'll be taking only my 10 items for one of George's week-long classes and I'll have to improvise those things I don't have.

Sounds like fun... :)

Thanks for reading,



At 12:12 PM, Anonymous George Hedgepeth said...

THis is an interesting idea- if you want, send me the list when you decide on it and I will comment.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Wildcat said...

10 items. that's quite a challenge. sounds fun. is the first aid kit "one" item or do you count each item in the kit?

At 2:17 PM, Blogger American Bushman said...

FAK will be one item. A firestarting kit will also count as only one item but will fit into a pocket.


At 5:05 PM, Blogger Donald said...

I'll first presume that knowledge is a given and not counted as one of the physical items on the list. Perhaps the list should also be considered by category, size, and weight. After all, I have five items on my key chain which arguably could be counted as zero, one or as five. If you are counting the first aid kit as one, I suppose my PSK or wilderness support package (DUSK) could also count as one and not the 36 items in the Altoids box. ;-) It is small and with its outer covering weighs in at 5.3 ounces.

Lists are best for remembering the important items, as differing environments and conditions can vary the importance of any particular item. A cutting instrument (such as a knife or other member of the sharps category) would have to rank at the top of my list of physical items as it can be used to more conveniently satisfy other needs. Yet it could be improvised. Second I would want a ferrocerium rod, hopefully with a piece of tinder. Third, a billy (pot) would make life so much easier, can fulfill a multitude of purposes, and is so difficult to improvise (not counting finding a can or other junk in the wilderness. And the list goes on. :-) I look forward to seeing you list and the reasoning behind it.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger backcountrybowhunter said...

Ferro rod
50' of 550 cord
Billy can
Watch cap
Wool blanket

At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anders J. said...

This is really interesting...
This would be my ten:

-Fire making kit
-Compass, and a map if I may...
-Kleen Kanteen 40 oz bottle

I have been planing a hike next weekend and I think I´m going to try this setup.
Let me hear what you think.
Thanks Brian, you are really inspiring me!

Anders from Sweden

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Donald said...

It might be interesting to compare any list to that of Ötzi – the Iceman › The Iceman’s Clothing & Equipment or

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous said...

I feel the big one is fire, especially in my area where cold is often a factor even in summer. Once you can build and keep a fire, you've got it made for even a couple of weeks as long as you keep a cool head. So a FireSteel is a good idea to always have.


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