Bushcraft doesn’t have to stop just because it’s winter!

For many, winter means less time outside, but it doesn’t have to stop you completely. Yes, if you are juggling work and family commitments around your time out in the woods, the reduced daylight hours can make it feel more limiting and restrictive. But you have a head torch, right?

It sounds flippant doesn’t it, because yes, it is far harder to get out and get some decent time out in the woods at this time of year. But it can be really beneficial to push on and do it anyway

Time outside in winter, not only breaks up the routine of your daily and weekly schedule, but it can take your skills and knowledge base to a whole new level!

We can practice, and fully enjoy the warmer months with the longer daylight hours, but putting your skills to the test in the darker colder months can show you what you truly know. Because let’s face it, lighting a fire in the dark wet woodland mid winter is a very different experience to a beautiful dry summer’s evening.

Prepare yourself though, this might turn out to be a humbling experience, putting you back in your place and getting you to really concentrate more than you thought you needed to. We can all get a little cocky at times, but nature has a way of checking our ego and bringing us back down to earth…sometimes with a bump! So have a back up plan, a Plan B, in case your skills aren’t quite there yet. And that isn’t a bad thing, it will just give you something to focus on and work towards, so it’s a win win!

But you also might surprise yourself. It is easy to get wracked with self doubt and feel like you haven’t got the knowledge base and skill set that you actually have. So pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and testing those boundaries can really show you what you truly know. And you may even surprise yourself! And the more we practice, the better we can become.

As well as testing your skills and pushing you out of your bushcraft comfort zone, winter is a great time to truly test your kit, and making sure you know how to use it. It’s great to have stuff that does as it says it will, and that really works – but does it really work?

Just as it’s good to know where our own limits are, the edges of our skill set and boundaries of our knowledge base, it’s good to know to what point you can fully trust and rely on your kit. And it’s good to find this out when you are just out on a short local trip, rather than on a bigger adventure further afield. 

And again, make sure you have a back up plan in case you push yourself, or your kit too far!

Bushcraft through the winter months also tests your organisation skills and general camp admin. If you leave something out during the daylight hours or drier summer months, it’s not good practice but it’s not a huge problem either…but if you leave it out in the wet and it stops working, or need it in the dark and can’t find it, then it becomes a big problem. And you will only make that mistake once!

So get into good habits. Keep good routines. Tidy up and put each piece of kit back in a place where you can find it… even in the dark. This not only stops you losing stuff, reduces injury and incidents, but will also make camp life far more comfortable and enjoyable. 

But some of the biggest benefits to winter bushcraft are the health benefits we can gain. The longer dark hours can bring about better sleep, helping you to fully recharge, and get back into a good deep sleep routine – something many of struggle with in our everyday lives.

And for many people the incentive to get outside when the weather is dull or cold and wet can be lower than normal, but giving yourself the focus of heading out to improve your skills and get to know the environment better in the winter months can be all the incentive you need to pack your kit and get your boots on.

Also as we all know, and often talk about, time out in nature is so incredibly good for our mental well-being. Don’t wait to battle the demons, head outside on a regular bases to keep those mental health demons away. Winter time can be tough for many people mentally, so taking action and heading out into the woods with all your kit, practicing and working on your skills and knowledge, is a great way to keep yourself in a good place…physically and metaphorically speaking. 

So don’t hibernate on the coach. Get your kit together, pack those winter essentials and extra layers and head outside – you might just surprise yourself. 

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