Skills Evolution

A well-known survivalist once asked what my outdoor philosophy was at the start of a three-day class. I was stumped. I had never really thought about it. I told the truth, I did not really have one. That question stuck with me all day through the class. Even in my wool blanket that night, I laid awake thinking about that question. The next morning at breakfast, I had an answer for him. I said that after watching him move through the woods yesterday. It was different from me. He walked but never in a straight line. He flowed like a breeze through the wilderness. He took what was given and made it work. It was beautiful, and I could never do it. I was more destination driven. Take each task and accomplish it until I get to the end of the journey. I took the gear and tools I needed to carve out what I wanted. I paid respect to nature and did no more to it than was necessary but I kept in a straight line moving towards a goal when I entered the woods. I am not the person to hope for a sharp rock, or dry materials for a bow drill. I never rely on making natural cordage. I have all those skills and practice them regularly, but I do not go on adventures with that as my primary tools. With this new understanding, I began to realize that with each video, class, or new gear item, my pack had grown larger and heavier. I had tried to fit a mold of what I believed a bush craft-survivalist-camper should be while trying to accomplish my own goals.

There are distinct differences between camping, survival, and bush craft. How you plan, pack, and prepare are all considerations. While you may end up being all three of these during a trip, you cannot be all three at once. I believed I had to be prepared to be all three every trip. I could never find the sweet spot of gear that made me feel comfortable filling all three rolls. I labored under the belief I had to have a fixed packing list that served as “my kit”. It actually took me a long time to break the habit of carrying minimal bush craft gear for a camping trip or over packing for a bush craft overnight while searching for the perfect packing list. Now, before trips I think about what I am doing, where I am going, and what level of comfort I want to achieve. Then I think about any skills that I want to use or practice. The contents of my pack now change almost every trip. Even my emergency survival pack has gotten smaller and lighter as I embrace its true purpose. I no longer box myself into a rigid gear list mentality and not only has this improved my enjoyment of the outdoors, but my skills as well.