At this time of year, when the days are long and the sun is high in the sky, keeping hydrated when out in the woods can be particularly difficult. In this blog, we’re going to look at what dehydration is and how to prevent it. We’re also going to look at what to do what you haven’t been able to prevent dehydration; how to recognise the signs and how to treat it.

 


What is dehydration?

Learn about dehydration and how to prevent it

Simply put, dehydration is losing more fluids than you can take in.  Water makes up at least two-thirds of our body, it plays a vital role in keeping our organs and therefore bodies functioning. Dehydration, losing more water than your body can take in, impacts on your body’s ability to function.  While mild dehydration can be pretty easily treated more severe dehydration can very quickly become life-threatening and may require immediate medical treatment. The key to ensuring that mild dehydration does not become anything more severe is in recognising the signs of dehydration. 

 

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Signs of dehydration 

Prevent dehydration with these tips
When out on the trail, backpacking or practicing bushcraft it can be easy to neglect one’s water intake and become dehydrated. That’s why it is important to keep an eye out for the following signs of dehydration – not just for yourself but for those in your group as well.  
With that in mind here are the following signs of dehydration.

 

  • Feeling thirsty
    This is a great indication of when you should drink. While some schools of thought might advocate only drinking at certain times not drinking when your thirsty may impact on your decision-making abilities. Therefore it is better to drink when thirsty rather than risk making a situation worse.
  • Dark yellow or strong smelling urine
    This is one of the best indicators of dehydration. Every time you go to the bathroom check the colour of your pee. If it is dark yellow or strong smelling then drink some water immediately after going to the bathroom.  If you are peeing little and not many times per day then this can also be a sign of dehydration.
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
    This is a warning sign of dehydration. If you start feeling dizzy or lightheaded then sit down immediately and drink water. In reality, though you shouldn’t ever let it get to this stage. By drinking water regularly and when thirsty you should avoid any feelings of lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Dryness of mouth and lips
    Dryness of mouth and lips is a key indicator of dehydration. Once again though it is better not to let it get to this point by ensuring that you are drinking regularly and whenever you are thirsty.

There are certain activities and/or conditions which can make you more susceptible to dehydration. These include, but are not limited to drinking too much alcohol; being out in the sun for too long, illness – such as vomiting or diarrhea. Diabetes can also make you more susceptible to dehydration.  

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How to treat dehydration

Prevent dehydration with these tips

Treating dehydration begins with prevention. Taking certain steps to avoid becoming dehydrated in the first place is the best means of treating it, as they say, ‘prevention is better than the cure’.

When you’re out in the woods it is important to either be carrying in enough water to sustain you or to be sure that there are nearby sources of water which you will be able to access. To find out more about how to source and purify water take a look at our blog post here.

If you have underestimated the availability of water in your location or on your walk and yourself or members of your party have become dehydrated then there are a few steps that you can take to treat it. Remember though, if signs of severe dehydration are present then ensure that the casualty receives professional medical treatment as soon as possible.

The best way to treat dehydration is to rehydrate the casualty. Ensure that the person suffering from dehydration takes onboard plenty of water, sweet, water-based drinks, such as squash can also help the casualty to replace lost sugars. Salty snacks can also help to replace lost salts.

 

Kit

Here is a run through of some of our favourite kit, at Wildway we often take this kit out with us in the woods.  

Further reading

Use the arrows below to navigate these related blogs.

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 Maximising the effectiveness of your sleeping kit means getting the most warmth out of the lightest set-up. This enables you to sleep out in nature in all seasons and carry less weight, in terms of backpacking this means that you can cover more miles. Maximising your sleeping kit does not, though, mean that you need to spend a fortune on a lightweight sleeping kit. While lightweight backpacking kit is, typically, more expensive by understanding how your current setup works you can get the most warmth out of it without spending any extra money.

As always, please feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most. We will cover the kit that we mention towards the end of our blog but it is not a definitive list, if you’re looking to buy new pieces of kit then it is always best to try it yourself rather than relying on recommendations.

 

Understanding your sleeping kit

Understanding your sleeping kit

Understanding how your sleeping kit works helps you to maximise its warmth. Essentially, your sleeping kit is made up of your sleeping bag and a sleeping mat of some kind, we’re not going to cover tents, tarps or bivvy bags in this blog. We will look at sleeping bags in more detail later in this blog but this section shall focus on the general details.

  • Sleeping mat

    Sleeping mats provide two essential elements of a good night’s sleep – comfort and insulation. Insulation is provided by keeping your sleeping bag, and therefore your body, away from the ground as no matter what the temperature the ground is going to be colder than the air around it and, obviously, colder than your body temperature.

     

  • Closed cell foam mats

    These are the typical ‘Karrimat’ style sleeping mat. They are pretty inexpensive and by and large indestructible. They are also very well suited to cold conditions as they do not compress easily. In very cold weather they are best used in combination with a self-inflating or blow up mat.

     

  • Self-inflating mats

    These mats work with a combination of foam inside an air-tight pocket. The valve, when opened, lets air in and inflates the mat. Mats that you blow up work in the same principle but without the valve.

  • Insulation

    When a warm surface, in this case, your body, comes into contact with a colder surface heat is conducted away from the warm surface. So in the case of camping, particularly in colder weather, the ground will slowly take heat away from your body. Mats of all types, closed cell foam mats, self-inflating, blow-up, provide insulation from the ground reducing the speed at which heat is conducted away from your body.

     

  • Sleeping bag

    Your sleeping bag works by trapping air between your body and the outside world. We will look at how to maximise the warmth of this air later. This trapped air is what keeps you warm, it is for this reason that it is important to look for a sleeping bag that has a good baffle, this is the piece of the sleeping bag inside the hood which can be tightened around your neck to trap the air in.

     

  • Pressure points

    When your sleeping the parts of the sleeping bag under your back and shoulders are compressed. This flattens the fill of the sleeping bag and reduces its effectiveness. This is why the mat underneath you needs to be good enough to keep all parts of your body away from the colder ground.

     

  • Understanding temperature ratings

    Sleeping bags typically have temperature ratings that are as follows;  comfort rating, limit temperature and extreme temperature. The comfort rating is the temperature at which the bag can comfortably be used, the limit temperature is the temperature at which a person can use the bag, in a curled up position without feeling cold.  The extreme temperature rating should not be used as a guide when choosing a sleeping bag, as it is the maximum temperature at which the bag can be used without occurring extreme cold injuries, hypothermia or, death. The majority of popular commercial sleeping bags use the EN ISO 23537 system.

     

  • Choose the sleeping bag that you need

    When it comes to maximising the effectiveness of your sleeping kit it is important to choose the sleeping bag that you need. Sleeping bags that have a lower comfort rating are typically heavier. Therefore you need to balance warmth against weight. If you’re mostly camping out in the UK summers then there is no need to have a bag that goes down to – 22.

     

  • Clothing

    Wearing a thermal insulating layer in your sleeping bag can help you to keep warm. Understanding this enables you to take a lighter and lower rated sleeping bag particularly in the early Spring and Autumn months where the temperature can fluctuate wildly. Don’t wear the clothes that you have been walking in the sleeping bag, they are likely to be damp through sweat and dirt. A dirty sleeping bag is less effective than a clean one.  Remember also to protect your extremities, wear socks and gloves to protect your hands and feet.

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Bushcraft course from Wildway Bushcraft

Warming your sleeping bag

Understanding how your sleeping bag works enables you to use a lighter weight, less warm bag, while still being comfortable. One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to sleeping bags is that they warm you. The reality though is that you warm the air trapped in the sleeping bag, this air in turn is what keeps you warm.

 

Ensure that the air is trapped in

Use the baffle of the sleeping bag, the padded part of the bag close to your neck, and the hood of the bag in order to trap the air in. It is important to do this in order not to create a bellows type effect, where the hot air is pushed out and the cold air sucked in. 

Use a hot water bottle 

There’s no need to take an actual hot water bottle with you, a metal water bottle can be filled with heated water, placed in a sock and put in your bag before sleeping. If you have the water and the fuel to spare this is an excellent way of keeping the bag warm. If you’re camping somewhere where you can have a campfire then simply fill the bottle with water and place it close to the fire.

Down vs Synthetic 

Ah down vs synthetic, it’s an age old debate. The correct answer, when it comes to which should you choose a down bag or a synthetic bag, is whichever one suits you. There are some key differences and considerations when it comes to down and synthetic bags which we will explain in the following section (if you’re going for down though make sure that it is ethically sourced). 

Down bags 

Typically down bags are lighter weight for warmth than synthetic bags. They compress down further than synthetic bags and are typically better at wicking than synthetic bags, therefore making them better in the summer months.

Synthetic bags

The key difference between down and synthetic bags is that synthetic bags are better in damp or wet conditions. When wet or damp down bags will typically lose the majority of their thermal properties, synthetic bags, however, will retain more of their thermal properties. They also tend to be cheaper than down bags. 

 

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advanced fire lighting

Kit 

We’ve mentioned some kit above and aren’t going to touch upon it here. When it comes to sleeping kit though it is a matter of personal choice and finding out what works for you.  What’s outlined below is a brief run through of our choices of knives, axes and tarps.

Further reading 

Use the arrows to navigate between posts.

 

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Glue making has a long and rich history, possibly dating back to the Neolithic period and beyond.  Not only was it used in weaponry, fastening arrowheads to arrows and the like, but there is also evidence that it was used to repair broken pottery. In this blog post, we will look at two types of primitive glues, hide glue and resin glue. As always, please feel free to read the whole blog or just click on the section that interests you the most.

Remember, the only way to truly learn these techniques is to practice them in a real-world situation. Join our intermediate bushcraft course to learn more about these techniques.

Making hide glue 

Preparing hide for making hide glue
This section will give you a brief overview of the what, why and how behind hide glue. At its essence hide glue is made from extracting collagen from the hide, bones, sinew, etc. of an animal. It has been used throughout the years in everything from hunting bows to furniture and has even been found in Egyptian caskets.

Advance your bushcraft

 

Softening up the rawhide

The hide needs to be softened first. The method of doing this depends on where you are sourcing the hide from. The best method of doing this is to cut the hide, if you’re taking the glue from the hide, into small pieces, put it into a pot and cover it with water. The water should be allowed to reach a gentle simmer, not a rolling boil, and allow it to remain simmering until the hide becomes semi-transparent. This can take up to several hours so be patient.


Remove the pieces of hide

Use a strainer or the like to remove the pieces of hide from the substance. Leaving the liquid in the pan, strain out the big bits of the hide using a sieve or the like, then strain the liquid through a finer mesh, such as a cheesecloth, in order to remove the finer particle.


Cool the liquid

Allow the liquid to cool naturally. You will be left with a congealed, rubbery substance. This can then be broken up into small pieces and put aside to dry. These crumbled up bits can then be stored away somewhere waterproof and relatively airtight.


Using your glue

When you need to use your glue, take out as many of the small crumbled up bits as you think that you need and warm them slowly using as little water as possible. The more water that you add the thinner, and therefore weaker, the glue will be. 

Advance your bushcraft

Making pine resin glue

Making pine resin glue

Mix ash with your pine resin glue to make sure that it sticks.

Pine resin glue is, arguably, somewhat easier to make. It relies on using the pitch, or resin, that is excluded by some trees in order to help heal cuts in their bark.

Gathering the pine resin

As mentioned above, pine trees secrete resin in order to close cuts in their bark, and in doing so, reduce the risk of the tree becoming infected. Remember, treat the trees with respect and do not do anything which could damage them. The pine resin that is needed for glue can either be collected from dried, previously secreted, resin or from fresh running resin. If you’re collecting the hard resin, simply lever it off the tree using your knife. If collecting fresh, running resin, take it from trees that have been naturally grazed.

Prepare the pine resin

The pine resin should be prepared before use. In order to do this, heat the pine resin on a stone next to your fire and mix in some fine ash powder from the fire.

Using your pine resin

When it comes to using your pine resin glue it should be remembered that it dries very quickly. This means that the item that you’re intending to glue should be ready to receive the pine resin before you come to use the glue. In order to use the glue, simply heat up the ash and pine resin mix and then apply it to what you are hoping to glue and then let it cool.  

Advance your bushcraft

Kit

Intermediate bushcraft course

There are a few key pieces of kit that you will need for making primitive glues. These are outlined below, remember though, you need to choose the kit that suits your purposes and abilities.

  • Fallkniven DC4
    Fallkniven DC4
    This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  
    https://www.fallkniven.com/en/knife/dc4/
  • Knives
    Bushcraft knife Bear Blades
    Wildway Bushcraft uses Bear Blades.
    “Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
    http://bearblades.co.uk/  

Further reading

Use the arrows to navigate related posts.

One of the key differences between bushcraft and survival is that bushcraft is about being comfortable in the woods. Working and living in harmony with nature, rather than trying to overcome it. Part of this involves the creation of shelters for more long-term, or intermediate-term, living in the woods. This blog is based on some of the skills that will be covered in our intermediate bushcraft course. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

Considerations for long-term shelter building

Intermediate bushcraft course

Provided that you have some form of temporary shelter established then you and your group can look at building a more semi-permanent structure. This will enable you to live out in the woods for a longer period and in more comfort. While the following considerations, location, hygiene, etc. should always be considered they become of critical importance when staying in the woods for more than a weekend.

It should also be said that you need to consider your priorities when building a longer-term shelter. Having constructed a temporary shelter, sourced water and started a fire you can then start thinking about building a more permanent structure (provided that your food is covered). Don’t rush into building a long-term bushcraft shelter until these priorities have been met. Doing so will only burn unnecessary calories and exhaust you and your team.

Remember though, the only way that you can really learn and improve your bushcraft skills is by attending a bushcraft course. Take a look at our bushcraft courses here, or click the link below to book your space on our intermediate bushcraft course.

Advance your bushcraft

Location

Long-term shelter building

As with building any type of shelter, building a long-term shelter begins with choosing a good location. This should not only be somewhere where materials are abundant, the ground is free from plants that could cause irritants, such as Giant Hogweed, and the key to long-term bushcraft shelter building, close to a source of water. With a temporary one-night or weekend shelter, you may be able to carry in the water that you need for the duration of the trip you are extremely unlikely to be able to do the same when staying in the woods for a week. We’re going to look at more of these in detail in the following sections.

Water

It is best to build your shelter as close to a source of water as possible, without putting your shelter in danger of flooding. You will want to be within easy access of water as it is likely that you will need to make the trip to your source of water at least once a day.  Be aware of building your shelter on tracks and paths used by animals to access water. 

Materials

You should look to build your long-term bushcraft shelter where there is an abundance of building materials and firewood. The amount of material needed will be dependent upon the number of people in your group and the type of shelter that you are looking to build. A group lean-to for five occupants would obviously require more materials than, say, a simple tripod structure. 

Sun

The sun can provide warmth and light, great for morale when living in the woods for an intermediate period of time. Be sure to try and locate your long-term bushcraft shelter in a position that either shades you from the sun, useful in summer, or maximises your exposure to it, useful in winter.

Wind

Look at the trees in the surrounding area. The way that they are growing can help to give you an idea of the prevalent wind direction.  You will want to build your shelter in a position that is out of the wind and ideally has the prevalent wind direction passing across (e.g. not into or behind) the front of your shelter. This will help to keep the smoke from your fire out of your shelter will ensuring that you benefit from the fire’s heat,  it will also help you to minimise draft.

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Hygiene

Long-term shelter building
Hygiene is a hugely important and often overlooked aspect of bushcraft. Keeping your camp clean and organised is key to avoiding upset stomachs, contaminated food and, in a worse case scenario, the spread of disease.  
We look at organisation in bushcraft, particularly in terms of food, fire, and hygiene in our blog here.

Latrines

When building a long-term bushcraft shelter it is very important to consider toilet arrangements, this is particularly true if in a large group. Latrines should be dug far away from the camp and dug deep. Toilet paper should be burned or carried out with you. Be sure not to burn your toilet paper on the communal fire but instead burn it by the latrine and carry a Bic lighter or similar with you for this express purpose.

General hygiene

Keeping clean in the woods can be vital for boosting morale. When on a backpacking trip it is also vital to keep your feet in tip-top condition. A daily washing routine, downstream from where you source your water, can do wonders for lifting the spirits.  Be aware though that even natural shampoos can upset the delicate balance of the river so avoid them if possible. 

Advance your bushcraft

Fire

Long-term shelter building


The type of fire that you will need will be dictated by the type of shelter that you have built. A large group lean-to for five or so people will require a different fire to a lean-to or tripod structure for a single person.

Fuel

Fuel should be in abundance, something that you will have ensured when choosing the location of your bushcraft shelter. Firewood should have been collected and stored in your temporary shelter before you start work on your long-term structure. This will stop you having to collect it at the end of the day when you’re tired and the light is fading.

Keeping the fire going

The decision to keep the fire going throughout the day and night, perhaps working in shifts to do so, or to relight it every morning and/or evening is often down to how easy it is to light. If you’re able to ignite the fire using a fire steel and, say, birch bark, cotton wool or such materials then perhaps you would choose to regularly relight your fire. On the other hand, if you were forced by circumstances to light your fire using a bow drill, a method which can be highly energy intensive then it might be a better idea to save your strength and ensure that your fire remains alight.

Advance your bushcraft

Kit

Intermediate bushcraft course

There are a few key pieces of kit that you will need for building a long-term bushcraft shelter. These are outlined below, remember though, you need to choose the kit that suits your purposes and abilities.

  • Fallkniven DC4

    Fallkniven DC4This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.  
    https://www.fallkniven.com/en/knife/dc4/
  • KnivesBushcraft knife Bear Blades
    Wildway Bushcraft use Bear Blades.
    “Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
    http://bearblades.co.uk/
  • Axebushcraft axe
    A small axe, such as the Gransfors Bruk’s Small Forest Axe is indispensable for building a long-term bushcraft shelter. These axes weigh about 900 grams and have a handle length just shy of 49cm.
    https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/product/gransfors-small-forest-axe/  

Further reading

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This year, we’ve introduced our Intermediate Bushcraft Course. This course is designed to help you to improve your bushcraft knowledge and practical ability. It is a great progression for all of those that have taken part in our accredited Foundation in Bushcraft and Wilderness Living Skills Level 2 Course.  

 Our intermediate bushcraft course runs over five days and provides the foundation for intermediate to longer term living in the woods. This blog looks at what you will learn on the course and how this provides you with knowledge for intermediate-term living in the woods.

As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

What will I learn on the course?

Bushcraft courses from Wildway Bushcraft

 

In short, too much to cover in just one blog! More broadly speaking though our intermediate bushcraft course will cover the following topics; skinning and butchery of large game, primitive food preservation techniques including smoking and curing, how to make glues, long-term shelter building, green woodworking, spoon carving, advanced fire lighting, traps and snares, foraging, basketry and much, much more.

We can’t possibly cover all of these topics in this blog but we will touch on a few of them in the sections below. The best way to learn these skills though is to sign up for our Intermediate Bushcraft Course.

 

Long-term shelter building

Intermediate bushcraft course

On our intermediate bushcraft course, you will be living in the woods for five days. This requires that you build a longer term shelter, we will also look at shelters for winter survival.

By the end of our course, you will have a shelter that is not only wind and waterproof but that is also equipped with a bed, a stool, and a table to work off. Remember, our intermediate bushcraft course is designed so that you can unlock your ability to thrive in the wilderness.

It is not a survival course! Instructors from Wildway will be on hand to give you advice, assistance and more than a few cups of tea and coffee.

 

Large game butchery

Large game butchery

While our IOL accredited Weekend Bushcraft Course covers the butchery of small animals and birds, our intermediate bushcraft course covers, in more detail, the butchery of large game.

In this case, it is likely to be a deer, one of the most commonly available large game animals in the UK. Our course is designed to provide a complete overview of woodland living, therefore the large game butchery lessons will also cover the skinning of large game and the preservation of food using primitive skills. Read on to find out more about primitive smoking techniques.

Primitive smoking techniques

Primitive smoking and curing techniques are just one of the elements of wilderness living that you will learn on our intermediate bushcraft course. These are some of the oldest techniques for preserving meat and fish and help you to maximise your food supplies.

Advanced fire lighting

advanced fire lighting

Building on from the fire lighting techniques we demonstrate and teach on our weekend bushcraft course our intermediate bushcraft course covers more advanced techniques. This includes traditional fire lighting methods, including the bow drill, and teaches this technique from a complete basis – from wood selection to getting an ember. Our instructors work closely with you to help you get the most out of your time in the woods.

Traps, snares, and foraging

Living in the woods on an intermediate to long-term basis means being able to find, catch and prepare your own food. We will cover trapping, snaring and foraging so that you are better equipped for living in the UK woods on a long-term basis.

Book your place

Book your intermediate place

Our Intermediate Bushcraft Course runs from 24th to 28th of September. Places are £335 for the entire week. If you would like to discuss payment plans or the opportunity to put down a deposit and then pay the outstanding balance later, please contact John Boe on john@wildwaybushcraft.co.uk.

In this blog, we share the following video from Flint and Pine in which John Boe, founder of Wildway Bushcraft, talks about what bushcraft and being in the woods means to him.

 

What the woods and bushcraft mean to John

Learn to live in the woods

Learn to live in the woods on our intermediate bushcraft course

This year, Wildway Bushcraft are offering an intermediate bushcraft course. This course gives participants all the skills that they need to live in the woods for a short-medium term. Spend five days living in the woods, learning skills for large game butchery to basket making.

This course is all about unlocking your ability to thrive in a wilderness setting, it is not a test of endurance. We will provide you with food, water, tea, and coffee so you get the best possible outcome from this course. You will cook your own meals in your personal camp or around our communal fire, where we will spend the evenings winding down with a drink and a chat.

 

Weekend bushcraft course

Weekend bushcraft course

For more of an introduction into bushcraft try our weekend bushcraft course. This course runs from the Friday evening to the Sunday morning and is a great introduction to bushcraft as well as a way for more experienced practitioners to hone their skills. IOL accredited this course also provides you with an opportunity to come back and take your level two IOL accreditation.

A bushcraft axe can be one of the most important tools that you can take out into the woods with you. In our previous blog, we looked at how to choose a bushcraft axe. Now in this blog, we’re going to look at how you can keep your axe sharp while in the field. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

Equipment for sharpening your axe

how to sharpen an axe

Keeping your bushcraft axe sharp is an essential skill. A blunt axe is not only difficult to use it can also be dangerous it becomes cannot easily split wood. Here are our tips on how to sharpen an axe in the field.  

TAKE YOUR SKILLS TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH OUR WEEK LONG WILDERNESS LIVING COURSE 

    • Inspect the edge or ‘bit’
      Inspect the edge of the axe blade, this is also known as the ‘bit’. If the edge is nicked or damaged then any nicks need to be removed using a bastard file.

    • Find the bevel
      Use a sharpie, or marker pen, to mark the edge of the axe. This will help you to keep an even and consistent bevel. Place the axe between your knees with the head of the axe facing away from you. Place the sharpener against the edge of one side of the axe, holding it at the correct angle for the bevel start the sharpening process. Remember to push away from the edge and not pull into it. Once a rough edge has been established it is time to move on to the puck.
    • Using the puck
      Start with the coarsest edge of the puck, match the bevel angles, and use small circular motions along the whole length of the edge. Count the number of strokes that you use on edge side and then repeat the same number on the other side.  Make sure that the axe is sharp enough to cut paper before turning the puck over.
    • Finishing off the axe
      Using the finer side of the puck, repeat the step outlined above. This will help you to establish a really sharp and consistent edge.

Sharpen your bushcraft axe

How to test the sharpness of an axe

It is important to test the sharpness of your bushcraft axe before finishing the sharpening process. The sharpness of your bushcraft axe can be tested by trying to shave off thin pieces of wood, the same way as you would if you were making fire sticks.

How to sharpen an axe in the field

Keeping your bushcraft axe sharp is an essential skill. A blunt axe is not only difficult to use it can also be dangerous. Here are our tips on how to sharpen an axe in the field.

Sharpen your bushcraft axe

Kit list

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.
Please note that Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

Further reading

Sharpening a bushcraft axe

Have a look at these related blogs.

 

 

LEARN HOW TO USE AN AXE, BUILD SHELTERS, AND MORE ON OUR IOL ACCREDITED WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.


A bushcraft axe is one of the most useful tools that you can have in the woods. Probably even more useful than a knife. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the different types of axes available, how to choose the right axe for the right job and what, in our opinion, is the best all-round bushcraft axe.

As always, please feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

Choosing a bushcraft axe


Key considerations

Not all axes are created equal and likewise, not all jobs are the same. At the end of the day choosing a bushcraft axe is a personal matter. It comes down to what you want to use it for, chopping, carving, splitting or general duty, the extra weight that you are prepared to carry, how you want to carry it and even your height. Those that are taller will probably find that an axe with a longer handle is easier to use than one with a short handle. Remember, an axe is a key element of your bushcraft kit. It needs to feel comfortable in your hands. So before rushing out and buying the first one you come across, spend some time with it and decide if it feels like the axe for you.

 

LEARN HOW TO USE AN AXE, BUILD SHELTERS, LIGHT FIRES AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Understanding different bushcraft axes

Choosinga bushcraft axe


There are many different types of axes for many different jobs. In theory, you should use different axes for different tasks, but the reality of the situation is that when out in the woods practicing bushcraft you are only ever going to be able to carry one, or possibly at a push, two
bushcraft axes with you. Read on to learn more about the different types of bushcraft axes.

  • General bushcraft axesThese are the types of axes that you want to be looking for if you’re only going to take one out with you. General bushcraft axes, also known as forest axes, are designed to be used for everything from felling trees to splitting small logs. Forest axes, such as those from Gransfors Bruk are designed to cut across the grain, this is useful for felling and limbing trees.
  • Splitting axes

    Splitting axes are designed, as you might have guessed, to split wood. They have a large and heavy head with a relatively thin edge on the end of a concave wedge. They are designed to cut along the grain, as opposed to general bushcraft axes. With splitting axes the edge is designed to go straight into the wood while the broader section pushes into the wood, splitting it.
  • HatchetsHatchets are, essentially, small axes that are used for smaller jobs. They have a much shorter handle than axes and can, at a push, be used for splitting and chopping – though this is much harder with a hatchet than with a small bushcraft axe.

 

LEARN HOW TO USE AN AXE, BUILD SHELTERS, LIGHT FIRES AND MORE ON OUR IOL ACCREDITED WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

Bushcraft axes that we recommend

 

Choosing a bushcraft axe

At Wildway Bushcraft we use a variety of axes on our courses where we teach people how to use them safely and for a wide variety of jobs.  For personal usage, we carry the Gransfors Bruk’s Small Forest Axe. This axe has a 49 cm wooden handle and weighs less than a kilo. It’s small enough to fit into a rucksack but it still provides enough chopping power for most bushcraft jobs.

Kit list

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.
Please note that Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

Gransfors Bruk Small Forest Axe

Bushcraft axe

Copyright Gransfors Bruk
https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/product/gransfors-small-forest-axe/


                             Wildway Bushcraft uses a small forest axe from Gransfors Bruk. You can find out more information about Gransfors Bruk via the link below.
https://www.gransforsbruk.com/en/product/gransfors-small-forest-axe/ 

 

Further reading

Read these following blogs. Use the arrows to navigate between them.

 

 

 

LEARN HOW TO USE AN AXE, BUILD SHELTERS, AND MORE ON OUR IOL ACCREDITED WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

 

“You’re only as sharp as your bushcraft knife” might not be exactly true, but it does have an element of logic to it. When out in the woods looking after your knife and maintaining its edge can make the difference between and enjoyable and miserable experience. In a survival situation looking after your bushcraft knife becomes an even more serious affair.  In this blog, we’re going to look at what we mean by ‘bushcraft knife’, and how to keep it sharp at home and in the field. As always, feel free to read the entire blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

Before we go any further though, take a look at our blog on knife law in the UK.

What do we mean by bushcraft knife

Bushcraft knife Bear Blades

At Wildway Bushcraft we look at knives like tools. Provided they do the job that they are intended for then we’re happy. We don’t fetishise knives and we believe that the best bushcraft knife is the one that does the best job.  It is also about skills, in the hands of a knowledgeable woodsman more can be achieved with a penknife than with a machete in the hands of an amateur. When we talk about bushcraft knives in this blog we’re talking about knives such as the Morakniv Heavy Duty Companion. This will only set you back about £25 and is all you need to get started in Bushcraft.

 

What do we use? 

We’ll cover the kit that we use at Wildway Bushcraft at the end of this blog but we use knives from Bear Blades. If you’re interested in one of these knives, let us know and we will see what we can do. 

 


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Equipment needed to sharpen your knife in the field

Bushcraft course from Wildway Bushcraft

It is most likely that you will need to sharpen your knife in the field, especially if you are out in the woods for an extended period of time. In order to sharpen your bushcraft knife in the field, you will need, apart from a knife obviously, a small sharpening stone. The one that we would recommend is the DC4 from Fallkniven. This small sharpening stone easily fits in the pocket, doesn’t weigh much at all and is perfect for sharpening your knife in the field.  

 

Sharpening your knife in the field 

Alder trees for bushcraft

The principle of sharpening your knife in the field is the same as to sharpening your bushcraft knife at home. The knife should be placed on the sharpening stone so that the bevel is flat against the stone. In the case of using the DC4 in the field hold up the knife, place the sharpening stone against it, so that the bevel of the knife is flat against it. Then move the sharpening stone in small circular motions on the blade of the knife. Be sure to swap sides so that both sides are sharpened equally. One tip to help is to draw along the point of the blade with a marker pen. Once the marker pen has been erased you will have sharpened the blade equally.

Sharpening your knife at home

sharpening your bushcraft knife 

The same principles used when sharpening your knife in the field applies when sharpening your knife at home. The primary difference is in the sharpening stones. Without taking into account weight considerations when sharpening your knife at home you can use water stones. We suggest waterstones such as the Ice Bear Waterstones , choose two of different grits, for example, the 1000 and 6000. Before using the waterstones they should be submerged and filled with water. Again, place the bushcraft knife on the stone, with the bevel flat against it, push the knife away from you in smooth strokes. It is easiest to sharpen your knife in strokes of eight, eight on one side, eight on the other. For a more practical demonstration watch our video in the section below.

FOUNDATION BUSHCRAFT AND WILDERNESS LIVING COURSE IOL ACCREDITED

A video demonstration

The video below is taken from our series of Facebook live videos. If you would like to vote on the topics of our live Facebook videos then join our Wildway Bushcraft Facebook group here.

Posted by Wildway Bushcraft on Wednesday, 31 January 2018

 

How often to sharpen your bushcraft knife

Sharpening your bushcraft knife

When it comes to how often you should sharpen your bushcraft knife the simple answer is, as often as it needs it. You should always check your equipment before heading out into the field and keep in maintained to the highest possible standard while out there.  

 

Kit list

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.
Please note that, with the exception of Bear Blades, Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.

Further reading

You might also be interested in the following blogs. Use the small arrows to navigate.

 

TAKE YOUR SKILLS TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH OUR WEEK LONG WILDERNESS LIVING COURSE

We’ve just got back from another fantastic canoeing expedition along the river Spey in Scotland.

In case you don’t know, each year we offer a guided canoe and bushcraft expedition along the beautiful river Spey. Paddling from Loch Insch all the way down to Spey Bay and wild camping along the trail. We offer land-based bushcraft courses that paddlers can take part in, but everyone is also welcome to just sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  

These trips are always corkers and this year was no exception. Here’s a selection of photos, images, and thoughts from the trip…

 

Canoeing the Spey

Bush craft and canoeing

Hazel approves of the tarp set up.

Our 2018 river Spey canoeing expedition gets off to a strong start. Tarps are incredibly useful and light-weight bits of kit, we camped under them the whole way. You can read our review of the DD Tarp here, or learn about tarp set-ups here.

 

First fire of the trip

Bushcraft fire lighting on canoeing trip

First fire of the trip

 

There’s always something special about the first fire of the trip, even more so when it’s on the banks of the beautiful river Spey. Learn more about bushcraft and fire lighting in our blog posts here and here.

 

Last minute canoeing prep

Canoeing prep

Hazel helping out with some last minute canoeing prep.

Just double and triple checking everything before we set off on our fantastic adventure. Learn more about packing for a long distance canoeing trip here.

 

Morning brew

bushcraft and canoeing in Scotland

Can’t beat a morning brew.

It doesn’t get much better than the first brew of the morning, in a hammock, in Scotland.

Another day on the river

Canoeing preparation

Getting ready to hit the river

After cups of tea, it’s time to get on the river. Learn about navigating on Scotland’s rivers in this blog post here.

 

 

 

Brief pause

canoeing and bushcraft on the river spey scotland

Taking a little break

Just us and the river. You can’t beat it.

Stunning scenery

Stunning views from our bushcraft camp

Takes your breath away.

Stunning views canoeing in Scotland

And another shot

 

 

Navigation is essential

Canoeing and bushcraft navigtion

Hazel knows where she’ going.

Hazel leading the way.

 

Gearing up for some white water

 

This stretch of water is ‘affectionately’ known as ‘The Washing Machine’.

Relaxing on the river

Canoeing on the Spey

Gentle paddling

Some of the guys taking enjoying the river.

 

Dinner is served

Firepot Outdoor Food.

Delicious!

Firepot, who are in no way formally associated with Wildway Bushcraft, produce some fantastic stuff. You can find out all about them here.

The end of our epic trip

Canoeing into Spey bay

The end of our epic trip

Our epic trip ends in Spey bay. A fantastic expedition with a great group of people. If you’d like to reserve your place on our 2019 expedition click on the link below.

BOOK YOUR SPACE ON 2019’S TRIP NOW