Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mandatory books on bushcraftskills...

.. or so it seems.

Many folks in the bushcraft/outdoorworld will know these books, either because they have them or have been told or heard them.
Names like Mears or Kochanski will come up almost at once and probably Jaeger or even Bradfor Angier and Col. Whelen too.
So I thought I'd give my own short views on these books, so potential buyers will have some idea of what they might expect. That might save or cost them a handfull of cash. I'd prefer "cost them", since each of the following books contains a vast amount of knowledge. Knowledge that I think should not be lost!
So in random order I present to you;
Ray Mears - Outdoor survival handbook
Mors Kochanski - Bushcraft
Ellsworth Jaeger - Wildwood wisdom
Bradford Angier and Col. Thownsend Whelen - On your own in the wilderness

Softcover, 240p. ISBN 0-09-187886-1
Ray Mears, one of the "Great and Knowledgeable Ones of Bushcraft".
This is one of my alltime favorites, and not just because it was one of my first books.
The book reflects Mr. Mears' calm and sophosticated British nature, way of speach and presentation, yet it is very understandable and enjoyable as well.
The book is divided into the four seasons as a guidance and gives many hints, tips and how-to's in relation to those seasons; gathering food, like berries or game, creating a comfortable living space with shelter and fire, hygiene, use of resources both animal and plants, cordage, fire.... you name it. Given the many subjects, this book does not go into great depths on the subjects, but what is addressed is also richly illustrated with b/w drawings and, as we all know, pictures call say more than 1000 words.
You could do very well out there, just knowing the subjects this book addresses.
I can highly recommend this one.

softcover, 300p. incl. a colourphoto supplement, ISBN 1-55105-122-2
Another book I purchased fairly early on my path through the outdoorlife and assosiated world is Kochanski's "Bushcraft".
This man is another "Great and Knowledgeable One", allthough his approach is rather different. Far less British and "sophisticated" but much more basic and down to earth.
This book is divided into "craft"-sections, like firecraft, axecraft, knifecraft, sheltercraft and this book is based upon the use of tools and the creation there of. A lot less images, which in themselves are not as elaborate as in the afore mentioned book, yet they still bring across the message or clarify it. The explanations however are much more in depth than in Mear's book, since the spectrum of subjects is a lot more limited. The book feels a bit..... technical.
Where Mears' book teaches us how to be, Kochanski's book is about how to do. For me these two books complement one another very well.
Another very highly recommended book!
In fact getting both these books will get you a long way!

softcover, 490p. ISBN.978-0-936070-12-4
If I had to make a top 3 of bushcraft/outdoorskills books, I'd most certainly add this one!
A lot thicker, a lot more subjects and a lot more fun! This book combines good knowledge with a dash of humor.
A lot of skills, which are clearly based upon the North American heritage. In fact the first chapter is called "the woodsman of yesterday" and this book draws the skills and knowledge from the era of the trapper, cowboy and native American. This, of course, places the focus on the northern half of the Americas, but that doesn't necessarilly make it less usefull to us, Europeans.
A large proportion of the book and skills are based around camp and comfort. Food and cooking return regularly, but also utensils and clothing. What makes this book so good, is that it explains and show how to do and make things, step by step with added, simple lines drawings. The use of resources comes along regularly, yet the use of tools is not as elaborate of Kochanski's for example. If anything, this books is about what to use.

softcover, 277p. ISBN.08055-0292-0
Book nr.4.... Maybe it is comparing apples to oranges, since this one is from the mid 70's and the above ones are recent ones, but.....
The focus of this book is not so much the skills of really living outdoors, but more from a recreational point of view. Or at least that's the feeling I got from it. It addresses the American holidaycampers and hunters of "these days", people living in the city and gowing out to relax, with the information focussed on those groups. The basic outdoorskills and knowledge is, of course, a part of that too, but it also provides hints and tips on gearpurchases and the use and caretaking of modern conveniences. Navigation is an important part of this book and I found it very helpfull and instructive.... if it only would have been written less dry. A great deal of very usefull information is packed within the covers of this book, but I found it not to be the easiest book I have gone through. Not my style, I guess.... A lot of text, a few instructive linedrawings and some b/w photo's.
Still, if you can get your hands on it, take it!


  1. i am currently reading kochanki's... and i really like it! to my standards he is a little bit hardcore (like the perfect shaving to start fire should have 12 loops) but the drawings are very neat, and explanatory

    thanks for the recommendations, ray mears' looks like it could be the next one!

  2. Good tips, I've also written an article about recommended books and Kochanski's Opus and the one of Mr Mears where also mentioned. :) I'm now reading a pretty cool book that you might like, it's called: The Land of Feast and Famine by Helge Ingstad.

    1. Thanks for the tip.
      Skaukraft recommended me Vinland by the same author, so I probably will look into both of them.

      I am always open to suggestions in order to extend knowledge and library...;)