bushcraft survival tips and tricks

Bushcraft & Camping Equipment Reviews

Why not browse through our pages and take a look for yourself. We are family friendly campers who love nothing more than a trip out into the wild for the weekend with the kids and the dog.

We look at everything from the latest tents and how to choose one for your next trip, to Tarps and Paracord and how you can build a makeshift shelter if you get stuck out in the woods by accident. We cover some of the basics on fire lighting and how to do this safely, how to look after and entertain your kids when on your next trip.

What do you need to pack when you bring your dog along for a camping trip, where does he sleep, what food do you bring along and how do you keep him entertained.

If you need to bring a knife along with you on the trip, how do you keep everybody safe, what skills can you develop that might come in handy in an emergency situation. How you can teach your kids some basic survival skills such as lighting a fire with just your knife etc..

How do you look after your kit and what you can do to make sure everything is kept in tip top working condition. How do you create an emergency shelter with just a tarp and a length of paracord.

There are so many things to talk about when it comes to camping and bushcraft. We don’t cover them all here but we have picked what we feel is important for your next trip and have thrown in a bit of fun along the way.

yes4all multi functional axe

YES4ALL MULTI FUNCTIONAL AXE

YES4ALL Multi Functional AXE

Coming in at around $25 this multi camping and survival pack is kinda awesome. The axe is great for chopping smaller wood or driving stakes without missing a beat.

If you are looking for a handy multipurpose camping hatchet, complete with a saw and a nifty fire starter then the Yes4All is just the ticket. The hand saw takes a bit of getting used to but also gets the job done.

at a glance

YES4ALL MULTI FUNCTIONAL AXE

Yes4All Multi Functional Camping Axe

RATING:
 (35 Reviews)


EDITOR RATING: 97


Verdict: Overall a great piece of kit. Handy axe, great for keeping in your pack or bug out bag.

Saw whilst effective is best suited for lighter work.

overview:

Nice and sharp straight out of the box. Very handy because the saw stores right inside the handle. Comes complete with its own fire starter.

Good and solid in the hand and comes complete with a mounded sheath.


FEATURES:


420 s/s black blade
3-inch cutting edge
Moulded Sheath included
Handy compact saw
Fire Starter included

PROS:

Sharp out of the box. Handy hollow handle to store the rest of the kit but still sturdy in your hand.

Axe is spot on and get through whatever you put in front of it. The saw is a great additional and the handy storage inside the handle is a great idea.

Comes complete with fire starter which is awesome.

CONS:

The only real thing to mention here is that the saw may be a bit light. Keep it for sticks under about 2 inches and you are good to go.

FINAL VERDICT 97

Would make a great gift for somebody into bushcraft or survival. Put it in your pack the next time you go camping. Its like a mini survival kit with the axe, saw and fire starter all in one.

yes4all multi functional axe
mtech Axe

M TECH HATCHET

M-Tech USA Stainless Axe

The M tech hatchet is a nice sharp out of the box camping axe. Reasonably priced and has a stainless steel single piece design.

Durable and gets the job done. Lightweight so great for in your pack or on a hiking trip into the woods.

The M-Tech USA is a great light axe fit for any camping or bushcraft needs. Fine in the hands of a survivalist as well.

The single piece steel construction gives you a sturdy feel and its razor sharp blade cuts through whatever you put in front of it.

at a glance

M-TECH USA STAINLESS AXE

M-tech USA Stainless Axe

RATING:
 (92 Reviews)


EDITOR RATING: 95


Verdict: Nice tidy well priced axe but may feel light in some hands. We actually liked it because you wouldn’t even notice it in the pack.

The sheath is not brilliant but does the job.

features:

440 Stainless Steel single piece construction
Compact and Portable Size
Nylon Sheath included
11 Inch Overall Length
Durable rubber handle

PROS:

Lightweight and razor sharp straight out of the package. Single piece construction gives you a feeling of reliability when its in your hand.

Can take a bit of a beating and holds its edge well.

CONS:

The sheath lets this down a bit. Nothing to write home about and you may be best to get another one if you want to hang this on your belt for a long trip.

It is light in the hand and while thats helpful to keep the weight of your pack down it does mean a bit of extra effort required to get a big job done.

FINAL VERDICT 95

The m tech hatchet is light and razor sharp. Worth the small money you pay for it. Handy on a trip into the woods as it fits nicely into your pack without the additional weight.

m tech hatchet
m tech hatchet
coleman steel camp axe

COLEMAN STEEL CAMP AXE

Coleman Steel Camp Axe

For years the Coleman company have been producing quality gear for camping and bushcraft adventurers.

Their steel camp axe is a straightforward very reasonably priced hatchet that should accompany you on your next trip out into the wilderness. This sturdy camping axe should be part of every camping or bushcraft pack. The drop forged head will hold an edge and it is fairly easy to handle because of the rubber non slip grip, making this a great entry level axe.

at a glance

COLEMAN STEEL CAMP AXE

coleman steel camp axe

RATING:
 (211 Reviews)


EDITOR RATING: 90


Verdict: Cheap and cheerful but a work horse that you can rely on. The extra weight in the forged head makes chopping a breeze.

You will need to work on the blade to keep it sharp but what do you expect for the price point.

overview:

If you are looking for a cheap reliable axe for your next camping or bush craft trip then the Coleman camp axe is just what you need.

Costing about $10 you cant really go far wrong. One thing you might have to do when you get it is fine tune the blade a bit to get it razor sharp.

 


FEATURES:


Drop-forged carbon-steel axe head
Forged steel handle and nonslip grip
No Sheath included
Great for chopping wood
Rubber shock proof grip

PROS:

Price. At under $10 there is no reason why you shouldn’t have one of these. Even if its to keep as a spare or in the shop.

Cheap, reliable and can take a good beating.

CONS:

Weight. Some have commented that this is a very heavy axe given its size. This, to some may be an issue but it makes chopping wood a bit easier because of the additional weight in the head.

Curved handle. It takes a bit of getting used to and some may prefer other models with straight lightweight handles.

FINAL VERDICT 90

You get what you pay for but still this is a very handy axe. Keep it sharp and look after it and it will serve you well.

coleman steel camp axe
estwing survival axe

ESTWING SPORTSMANS AXE

Estwing Sportsmans Axe

This Estwing axe is a firm favourite amongst our bushcraft and Survival friends. Razor sharp and you can clip it onto your belt with the included sheath.

We never leave home without ours, neither should you.

When it comes to quality you really can’t go wrong with Estwing. This axe, used by foresters, bush crafters, campers and survivalists alike is definitely one for the pack.

Built to the highest standards you can trust in the Estwing Axe when you next head out into the Wild.

at a glance

ESTWING E24A SPORTSMAN’S HATCHET

survival axe

RATING:
 (663 Reviews)


EDITOR RATING: 98


Verdict: Manufactured from 1055 carbon steel with special bar quality the Estwing Sportsmans Axe is heat treated to ASME safety requirements, giving it a 45-60 Rockwell standard grading.

Made in the USA since 1923…

features:

All steel quality construction
One piece Head/Handle forging
Fully polished with sheath
Genuine leather grip (very grippy)
14-Inch overall length
3-1/4-Inch cutting edge

PROS:

Estwing have been in this game for a very long time and are still one of the most popular brands today. That says a lot for their quality.

This Axe is no exception. A great feature of this particular model is the single piece construction. Never worry about a loose head flying off into teh woods again.

CONS:

The only issue we found on this axe is that the coated leather handle tends to loose its varnish coating over time.

The easiest way to overcome this is to remove the varnish and to treat the handle with some oil. That way it will last for years.

FINAL VERDICT 98

If you are in the market for a new survival or bushcraft axe then you should get yourself an Estwing. USA made and top quality.

estwing survival axe

Back to the Best Axe Review

Here is a great review by Black Owl Outdoors to give you an idea of the quality of this Eswing axe. Sharp, versatile and definitely one for your outdoor pack.

best fire starters

The Five Best Fire Starters for the Modern Caveman

Best Fire Starter for the Modern Caveman

Since the dawn of time man has relied on fire for warmth and cooking. Nothing has changed in the millennia that have passed. We still used it in some shape or form to survive on a daily basis. Sure there are a multitude of modern appliances and stuff that we use that does not directly need fire to function, but you can be sure that fire was used in its lifetime somewhere along the way.

Right, history lesson over and lets get back into the wild, caveman style…

Today we want to review a list of the best fire starter devices that get the job done.  Nothing fancy or any marketing rubbish. Just honest reviews that will help you decide on your best fire starter choice.

[bctt tweet=”Best Fire Starters for the modern Caveman”]

best fire starter

Best Fire Starters Top 5

First up is the this little beauty. Cheap and cheerful is always a great option and to be honest if you are looking for something basic to meet you needs or just throw in the bag then you can’t go wrong with the SE.

Because Magnesium burns at over 1000 degrees and lights when even the smallest spark hits you could consider this more reliable than a simple butane lighter.

All in all a great option at a very cheap price.(Customer Reviews)

 


light my fire firesteelNext up we are going to look at the Light My Fire Original Swedish FireSteel Army 12,000 Strike Fire Starter.

This is a high quality firesteel and works extremely well, even when wet. It does take a little practice and you need to understand the basics of fire building to be able to use it effectively.

You will need to use good tinder and perhaps practice your technique a few times before you head out and have to rely on it to get a good shower of hot sparks right where you need them.

Works like a dream once you understand the basics (Customer Reviews)

 


Our Favorite Fire Starter

You cant really review any camping or survival gear without considering the Gerber 31-000699 Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter. This design features everything you need in a high quality fire starter without the massive price.

Very easy to use and comes with a waterproof compartment in the handle to store some dry tinder to get your fire started quickly. Very important in a survival situation.

Check out the video below to see just how easy it is to use.

Overall a great budget fire starter that should be in every pack (Customer Reviews)

 


Aurora Fire Starter 440CNext up is the high quality awesome Aurora Fire Starter 440C. To be honest this is one of the best magnesium fire starters on the market today.

Made in the US by Solo Scientific you are getting a fire starter that will outlast most others on the market. Built from high quality materials the Aurora Fire Starter 440C sports a reversible hardened steel striking blade that gets the job done quickly and efficiently every time.

It is strong and sturdy (made from Aircraft grade Aluminium), can take a bit of a kicking and will be suitable in all survival or weekend warrior situations. It comes in at 3.6 inches in length and is 16. oz in weight. Handy design that can fit on a lanyard around your next or just clip it to your belt.

Comes in at around $20 but well worth the investment. (Customer Reviews)

 


Exotac nanoSTRIKER Ferrocerium Fire StarterThe last fire starter in our arsenal is the Exotac nanoSTRIKER Ferrocerium Fire Starter. Now here is a tool that comes in a neat and tidy bundle.

Handy to hang off you key chain so you always have it with you and will even work in the wet. It is self contained as it just pushes back into itself. Made in the USA as well so the quality is top notch. Reckon you would get about 1000 fires out of this one without any hassle.

One thing to not is that the striker is very small – hence the nano name, so make sure you are comfortable with this. I have hands like shovels so found this a bit small in my hands when trying it out.

Overall a very handy fire starter and looks cool. (Customer Reviews)

 


Using a fire starter to start a fire

So now that you have decided on one of the awesome fire starter kits above you need to know how to get a fire going so you can heat yourself up, cook dinner or just look cool in front of the kids…

We will break this down into three easy to follow steps so as not to confuse you.

 

Step one is to find a suitable location where you want to light the fire. There is no point in trying to light a fire if you are facing a gale force wind or sheet rain… Try to find a sheltered area out of the elements – as long as it is a safe area to light a fire (use common sense for this bit).

Don’t try and light a fire in bushes or you may cook more than just your dinner. A pro tip here is to build your fire close enough to a suitable source of material because you don’t want to be wandering around all night looking for firewood to keep it going.

Step two is to clear out the area at ground level where you intend to light the magnificent caveman style fire. I prefer to scrape everything back to bare earth and give myself enough clearance around the base of the fire so it does not spread.

If you are working in a wet or frozen area then chop up some lengths of branches a couple of inches thick and lay them out under where your fire will go to keep it up and off the wet area – Fire burns much better when its not in a puddle.

You might also need to build yourself a wind breaker to shelter your fire from un-avoidable winds. This will also help to direct the heat of the fire back into your camp and keep you extra toasty.

Step three is to make sure you have sufficient materials to hand to (a) start the fire and (b) to keep it going for as long as you need it. You will need the following to get set up properly and I suggest you gather as much of this before you light anything:

1. Tinder. This can be anything from shaving off a dry branch, birch bark if you can find any, dried moss, chaga fungus or use some of the cotton wool that you got in the handle of one of your firestarters…

2. Fine kindling such as dried grass. This will be step two and you place the tinder directly in a loosely formed ball of this material to get things moving. Blow on it until the grass or whatever material you decide to use catches a decent flame.

3. Twigs and small branches are next up and can be place right on top of the burning pile of kindling to really get the fire going fully.

After that the choice is yours. I tend to have a good supply of thin logs cut from deadfall (dry) piled up a ready to go. These will burn for much longer and produce plenty of heat for warmth and cooking.

Make sure when you are ready to leave camp that you fire is fully extinguished and you clean up any mess before you go. If you think about it – you started a fire with just a spark so make sure there are no burning embers left in the fire than could potentially start a new fire without you.

And finally if you are going to have fire at your camp make sure to keep children at a safe distance and don’t take your eye off them for even a second…

[bctt tweet=”Best Fire Starters for the modern Caveman”]

If you have a go to fire starter then let us know in the comments below and we would really appreciate it if you click the tweet or one of the social buttons to help spread the word about us.

Happy camping!

paracord bracelet

Paracord and Knots for Camping, Bushcraft, Survival

paracord braceletParacord and Knots for Camping, Bushcraft, Survival

An essential piece of kit for any camping, bushcraft or survival experience is good quality paracord.

Often one of the cheapest items in your pack it is one of the most valuable in terms of its multitude of uses.

The multi strand cord is so versatile that it should be on every kit list on the planet – simply because it does so much.

Now not all cord is equal. Military grade cord MIL-C-5040H for instance must be made from nylon and pass a list of stringent criteria to qualify.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to go for the best quality paracord on the market but for the money involved you are better off spending those extra few dollars and go for a decent brand. You don’t want it to let you down when you are in the field.

First lets look at the top four popular paracord options online and see if you can find one to suit your needs.

recommended paracord for bushcraft and camping

Paracord Planet Type III

paracord planet type paracord

Titan Military 550 Paracord

Titan Military 550 Paracord

MilSpec C-5040H

Guaranteed MilSpec C-5040H paracord

Military 550 Paracord

Military 550 Paracord

Most useful knots for bushcraft and camping

Half hitch. Both the half-hitch and double half-hitch are probably the most useful of any knots used in Bushcraft or Camping. There great for tying off the loose end of your paracord thats wrapped around a tree or tarp, plus you can set them to be very easily opened for quick release when its time to pack up.

 

Siberian / Evenk knot. This knot is great when you are setting up your hammock or tarp and is most commonly used when you are tying up your ridge line to a tree or post. A simple knot to master and once you are confident I’m sure you will use this every time you head out camping. A simple pull of the loose end releases this knot. If you want additional security with this knot tuck the loose end back through the loop to lock it in place.

 

Adjustable hitch. I use this knot all the time to add tension to tent guylines and to adjust the tension on my tar ridge line. Some people go for the common taut-line hitch but from years of use I prefer the adjustable hitch because it holds better and is easier to tie.

 

Clove hitch. The clove hitch knot is a knot also used to tie up guylines. This knot can be made adjustable as well so you can make slight adjustments to how your tent or tarp sits even after its tied off.

 

Bowline. The running bowline knot is a greta knot for tying paracord to trees or tying off branches. Easy to tie and easy to undue after a weight load this knot some be one of your more used knots on camp day.

 

Figure eight on a bight. If you are looking for reliable loop knot for the end of your paracord or somewhere up the line a bit then you should really know how to tie a figure eight knot. Simple to tie once you get the hang of it, this is a very handy knot for camping and bushcraft alike.

 

Stopper knots. The overhand and double overhand are great knots for tying off one end of a length of paracord when you want to lock the line in place.

 

Jam knot. The jam knot is a great knot it you want to tie off a bundle of branches or tree limbs when you are building your shelter. Popular in Bushcraft this knot is a simple knot but has many great uses.

 

Lark’s head or cow hitch. I use this knot frequently when I’m doing work with paracord.  I use it to tie my knife lanyard onto my belt or to tie support lines to the end of my hammock.

 

Sheet bend. The sheet bend knot is used to tie cord or rope of different diameters together. If you need additional strength in the knot use the double sheet knot. Just remember that the thinnest line is always fed through the bite of the larger rope.


So why do you need paracord in you pack when you are out and about. Lets look into some of the many uses first and then check out the knot tying guide below to see how to put this into practice.

Tarp Shelter with Paracord

camping tarp usesFirst up is slinging a tarp to make a basic camp or shelter. As you know keeping out of the elements in a survival situation is critical to well, your survival. Having a tarp and a length of paracord is enough to build a basic shelter to keep you and your kit dry.

The shelter can be put together in a matter of minutes but can really be a life saver. Sling a length of paracord between two trees, pull it taut, throw the tarp over the top, tie it down and thats it. A simple shelter that would do you for a night in the bush.

The taut-line hitch knot will be good enough to secure your paracord for the ridge line of your tarp and you can adjust it to remove any sagging.

You can find more information on Tarp shelters and the use of tarps when camping on this post.

How to tie a ridgeline for your tarp

One of the most common uses of paracord when bushcrafting or camping is when you need a ridegline for your tarp. Quite a simple setup and this video explains it all for you.

 

First thing we always do when we decide where to setup camp is to rig up our tarp. It gives you a focal point for the rest of your camp and keeps you gear dry in the event of a sudden rain shower.

Essential Items required for bushcraft tarp setup

First up you need some reliable paracord to rig up your ridgeline and tie offs for your tarp.

There are any amount of brands and styles available online.

We use this one all the time that we picked up on Amazon. Great quality and a nice price as well. A 50 foot lenght will cost you about six dollars and thats it.

paracord planet type paracord

You are also going to need to invest in a good sturdy tarp. Again you have any amount to choose from.

 

Lightweight is best in our opinion because we like to travel light and they compact right down into a very small space inside your pack.

Remember when you are loading up your pack to keep the paracord and tarp right near the top as this is the first thing you are going to use when you hit the camp spot.

 

We recommend this one and found it on Amazon for about 70 dollars. Overall a great tarp and its treated so rain resistant.

a frame tarp shelter

Paracord Survival Bracelet

Friendly Swede Survival BraceletA handy way to make sure you always have some paracord handy is to get yourself a paracord survival bracelet. This will mean you always have some available and you never know when you might need it.

This one comes complete with a fire starter and about 17ft of paracord. Enough to do quite a few things in a survival situation.

It also has a small knife as part of the setup so its definitely not for kids.

It is made by The Friendly Swede and as always with this brand the quality is top notch. Makes a great gift for somebody – once you get yourself one first…

How to tie popular Paracord knots

How to tie an Overhand knot

The first knot we are going to look at is probably one of the most common knots used not just in camping and bushcraft but for everyday use. Its called the overhand knot and has a great array of uses.

How to tie a double Overhand knot

Quite similar to the basic overhand knot the double overhand knot is just an additional pass through of the loose end through the knot. A great stopper knot and can come in handy when out in the field.

How to tie a figure eight knot

If you are looking for reliable loop knot for the end of your paracord or somewhere up the line a bit then you should really know how to tie a figure eight knot. Simple to tie once you get the hang of it, this is a very handy knot for camping and bushcraft alike.

How to tie a running bowline knot

The running bowline knot is a greta knot for tying paracord to trees or tying off branches. Easy to tie and easy to undue after a weight load this knot some be one of your more used knots on camp day.

How to tie a granny knot

When you want to make a single loop out of a length of Paracord or join two different piece together you should use a granny knot. Straightforward enough to tie, strong and won’t let you down.

How to tie a sheepshank knot

I often use the sheepshank knot when I want to shorten a length of paracord without cutting it. Takes a bit of getting used to but will save you ending up with loads of short pieces of useless cord. Don’t use it this knot if you are going to be putting a lot of load on as it will slip and let go.

How to tie a square knot

Often confused with a granny knot the square knot is really easy to tie and has a multiple of uses. But use it with caution. If your cord or ropes are different diameters, are wet or will come under heavy load then this knot will slip.

How to tie a bowline knot

Are you looking for a knot you can trust not to slip? A knot that will easily come untied after use no matter how much weight is put on it. The bowline knot is the most common working knot around the world and is useful in every situation where a rope is required.

How to tie a double sheet bend knot

The double sheet bend knot is ideal for tying ropes or cord of different diameters together. Popular in sailing this is a really strong and useful knot. Just remember that the thinnest line is always fed through the bite of the larger rope.

How to tie a sheet bend knot

The sheet bend knot is used to tie cord or rope of different diameters together. If you need additional strength in the knot use the double sheet knot. Just remember that the thinnest line is always fed through the bite of the larger rope.

How to tie a double carrick bend knot

Also known as the pretzel knot the double carrick bend knot is a great way to tie two pieces of cord together. This knot is often used in the construction of paracord bracelets so you should definitely know how to tie it.

camping, bushcraft and survival knots using paracord

OK now that you have geared up with some paracord you will need to understand how to put it to good use. Below is a very handy infographic from http://www.blackpointoutdoor.com/ that shows you the main knots you are going to be using when out camping or in a survival situation

 You have plenty of strength in the paracord itself especially if you went for the military grade cord so make sure the knots you use are up to scratch.

camping knots guide

10 great paracord bracelet projects

We grabbed a few videos from youtube on paracord projects you can make today with just a length of paracord, a lighter and a few miscellaneous bits and pieces. If you are looking for a great paracord tutorial on weaving paracord braid to buckles or handles, making a strap for your watch out of paracord braid or just want to try something different then check out the videos below and have a go yourself.

fishtail/switchback paracord bracelet

Single Strand Trilobite Buckle Watchband

Cloverfield Paracord Bracelet

Bones Bar Paracord Bracelet

Thin Blue Line Paracord Bracelet

Mated Solomon Bars Bracelet

Paracord Handle Wrap

Reflective Paracord Dog Leash

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife

at a glance

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife

Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife

RATING:
 (619 Reviews)


EDITOR RATING: 98


Verdict: If you’re in the market for a tough heavy duty Workhorse of a knife then this is the knife for you. A lot of knife for the price.

A fair bit larger than your standard knife but if you need something with a bit more grunt then go for a Schrade…

overview:

The Schrade SCHF9 is a beast of a knife. It weighs a fair bit but you know you have a serious piece of lit in your hands when you are trying to chop through branches and putting a camp together.

The grip is superb. Multiple positions and you can really lock your hand in there when you need to.

 


FEATURES:


Total Length 12.1″ Knife
6.4″ 1095 High Carbon Steel Blade
Blade thickness of 0.25″
Full Tang with TPE Rubber Scales
Total weight of 15.9oz
Comes complete with Ballistic Nylon Sheath

PROS:

If you are looking for a big tough knife for your next wild adventure then this may well be the knife for you. Its big, tough and up to the most difficult of jobs around the camp.

Plenty of grip with the plastic/rubberish handle surrounding the monster full tang blade. Get one today – you wont be sorry.

CONS:

No complaints here but if you are looking for a neat and tidy knife for the campsite that you can comfortably carry around all day then this is probably not the knife for you.

The sheath is about 14″ long and overall it does weigh a bit more than your ‘standard’ knife but we love it…

FINAL VERDICT 95

A very solid heavy duty knife that is up to all kinds of hardship. Probably not the best knife if you want something neat and tidy. Go for a smaller Mora if thats what you are after.

view on amazon
Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife

Tarp Shelters For Family Camping

use a tarp for camping

Tarp Shelters for camping

In this post, we address the most versatile item of kit on the campsite: The tarp.

The tarp is waterproof, opaque, and handy for absolutely everything. Need a sun-shade over the lunch table? Use a tarp. Pitched a tent? Tarp above, tarp below, you’re staying dry no matter how hard it rains. Forgot your tent? No biggie, the tarp is here to save you.

Tarp materials for camping

There are a bunch of different options when tarp shopping. Treated Canvas is the great-granddaddy of tarps. Moisture resistant, until it gets packed away, canvas is tough material that will last a long time. Make sure it’s absolutely dry before storing it. That might mean hanging it in the basement for a few days after getting home.

Poly tarps like this one are probably the most common. Woven polyethylene layers make for a durable, waterproof layer. Not readily susceptible to moisture like canvas, poly tarps are available in a multitude of patterns, colours and sizes. Good value and excellent protection, poly tarps are notoriously difficult to refold after using. They’re also quite noisy in the wind.

Silicone tarps like this one are newer and more flexible than their predecessors. Silicone impregnated nylon makes for a quiet, waterproof, easily packable tarp that has excellent durability and versatility.

camping tarp uses

 

But how big should this tarp be?

A great question! sized to your needs of course. A tarp that’s 20’x30’ doesn’t fit well on a small campsite where the trees are 10’ apart. Similarly, a 5’x7’ tarp won’t fully cover a 14-person tent. (more on tents here). Each campsite will have different objectives and needs. Have a variety of tarps on hand during the packing phase of a trip. When deciding on what to pack, consider these three basics:

1- dining shelter tarp

Eating in a dry, shaded area is more pleasant than in direct sun. Added bonus: stuff from the trees won’t fall into your food. Keep the cooking appliances well away from the tarp so it doesn’t melt.

2- over each tent

Even the best rain flies have their limits. Add a tarp for better rain and dew protection. Bonus: your tent won’t get as dirty or hot.

Pro Tip: In the rain, put the tarp up a few feet above the highest point of your tent. Then set up your tent under it. Tent stays dry through the whole process, and ends up exactly where it needs to be under the tarp.

 

3- inside each tent

The best way to keep a tent dry in the rain is to assume it will get wet. By putting the tarp inside on the floor, and folding the corners up (keep some clothespegs handy to keep it in place) water can run in and out as needed without getting the gear inside wet.

Depending on the weather, keeping firewood dry might be another priority for your tarps. Their use is limited only by your imagination.

The Trusty Tarp – It’s in the bag

Each tarp comes in a factory package. Ditch it as soon as possible. Put each tarp in a stuff sack with its own accessories:

 

Guylines are adjustable, and need to adapt to their surroundings. Braided poly rope (any kind will do, this is one example) will secure the tarp to a tree or pole, or to stakes in the ground. Bring lots. Don’t cut it if it can be avoided. Fewer pieces are better. Guyline tensioners like these keep the tension on to keep the tarp taught and avoid flapping.

 

Pegs keep the free-ends in the ground when not tying off to a tree. These are one example. Keep lots of pegs on hand. 6-8 per tarp is a good number.

 

By keeping a ‘kit’ for each tarp ready to go (mark the outside of the bag with the tarp material and size instead of unpacking it every time) it’s one item that doesn’t need a lot of thought in the haste of packing for a camping trip.

 

So now what?

 

Now that the size, material, accessories and locations are chosen, it’s time to set up a tarp. First rule: always set up a tarp with an angle. Moisture will build up on the top from dew or precipitation and it’s important to give that moisture somewhere to go. Put the ‘down’ edges of the tarp away from where people will gather, and downhill if needed. Face the ‘up’ edges into the prevailing wind if possible. Ideally, a ridge-line will keep the tarp taught. A ridgeline runs between two trees or poles. The tarp is folded over it (not always in half) to add tension. Tensioning the fabric in all directions will keep the wind noise and movement to a minimum.

 

For a tarp dining shelter, add a few inches above the tallest person in the group for hanging height.

 

When putting a tarp over a tent, consider the weather. In cool weather, the extra layer above will help trap warm air from the campers inside. Keep it close to the top of the tent (even sitting right on it) and stake the ends down low to the ground. In warm weather, allowing air to circulate between the tarp and tent will help keep it cooler. Get the tarp up as high as possible to shade the tent but not trap heat.

 

In the right climate, a tarp can take the place of a tent. A triangular tube with one end going to the ground makes a quick one-person tent (use your trekking pole or hiking staff at the high end to keep it upright). This will keep the inside mostly dry, but not free of bugs nor especially warm. A wind/sun shelter at the beach is another great use for a tarp. A 6 foot ish pole driven into the sand with guylines coming off in all directions and a tarp stretched against them will quickly provide shade and a little privacy, while blocking the wind.

 

The use of tarps is limited only by your imagination. By having the right size on hand with the right accessories, campers will be comfortable, dry and ready to play all day.

Bear Grylls Gerber Camping Knife

Best Bushcraft & Camping Knives

The Best Bushcraft And Camping Knives

A good bushcraft knife is a critical piece of kit for every avid camper and even the weekend warrior.  I don’t know whether it is because of the multitude of uses it has or because we can revert to cavemen when we have a good knife in our hands.  Either way no camping trip itinerary is complete without one.

Now I’m not going to be covering commando style huge knives in this post, more the tame utility style functional ones that are somewhat safer in the hands of normal Joe’s like myself.  Always remember safety first when there are kids with you so don’t leave it lying around where small hands can get hold of it.

Leatherman Wingman Multi Tool

My Leatherman – Great Camping Knife.

First up on my list is the trusty Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool.  While not your typical camping or bushcraft knife it still has a place in my bag wherever I go purely because it can do almost every small job I need it to.

I have had one version or another of these for years and they have never failed me.  I have lost a few and thats the only reason I have ever needed to buy another one.

While there are many variations in the range of Leatherman knives I find this one the best value for a camping expedition or just using around the house for small everyday tasks.  I suppose thats the advantage of a knife like this. It has multiple uses so won’t stay locked away for only camping trips.

All in all a great intro or general purpose camping knife you should have with you on each trip.

Born To Survive In The Wild – I Wish

Next we want to look at something a bit more specialised for camping and bushcraft trips. I really love the Gerber brand and they have produced a series of knives linking up with Bear Grylls.  Now I know we all like to think we are extreme survivalists when we go camping but for the majority of us your knife will be used for cutting ropes, bushes and whittling up the odd tent peg if you run short.  While I have no doubt that this knife could be used in extreme survival scenarios I will be most likely using it for some of the things mentioned above and maybe cutting into a block of cheese to look cool in front of the kids – caveman style.

camping knife guideThis knife in particular comes highly recommended and at a great price point too.  You can pick it up on Amazon.com here for a bargain.  Last time I looked it had over 50% off list price with free shipping so definitely worth checking out.

Its nice and compact and folds up to fit in your pocket so you can carry it around with you all the time without looking like a commando.  One feature I really like is the grip.  Nice contours so you can keep a good hold of it when hacking away at something that well, needs to be hacked away.

My final though on this knife.  A great all rounder and at this price its something you should definitely consider for you next camping trip or venture out into the wild.

BlizeTec Rescue Knife – Now We’re Talking

The next knife we want to look at is so much more than just a knife.  The BlizeTec Rescue Survival Knife is a 5-in-1 tactical companion.  This knife comes with a nice little extras that are perfect for many camping and even emergency occasions. See our full review here

BlizeTec Survival KnifeFirst up it has a built in LED light. This feature in itself is great because if like me when camping you always carry your knife with you then you also now have a light at all times too.  Great feature if you are wandering back to the camp late and nightfall catches up on you before you reach your destination.

Another great feature is the built in Fire Starter made from magnesium Alloy. When out camping or in the wild you never want to be in a position where you cannot keep warm. You might be out on a ramble, misjudge the time and get caught away from your camp when it gets dark. If you can’t find you way back with the LED flashlight then you might have to hold up for the night in some temporary ‘accommodation’. A good fire starter is a must when in the wild and the one included in this survival knife setup is perfect for the job.

The blade itself is razor sharp and made from high grade materials so will always hold an edge. The knife while extremely functional is not too big either and will fold up and fit into your pocket so you can bring it along with you and not have it sticking out looking like some sort of commando.

There are other features on this knife that are ideal in an emergency situation so I suggest you check it out. As a camping knife you can’t go wrong and it offers so much more.

 So there you have it. Three great knives of varying styles that would be perfect for any camping or bushcraft adventure. There are hundreds to choose from and we could write about them all day. The focus here was to give you a flavour of what is available and why you might pick a certain type of camping knife. The is not an extreme survival knife review more of a great camping companion knife review.

If you have a preferred knife you won’t go camping without then let us which one and why. The more information we can get on here the better for our readers.

Knife Safety When Camping

Remember: Always take extra care when bringing a knife on a camping trip. Small hands and adventurous kids should not be allowed to handle these unless supervised and in a safe environment. Safety first at all times folks.

Keep you knife with you in your pocket when out and about camping. You never know when you might need it. Oh and if you see a wild animal approaching don’t go waving your knife around – it’s probably best to run, very fast in the other direction.