Shelter Building Basics – What You Need to Know

 

Shelter building is one of the fundamentals of bushcraft. It is often more important for you to find shelter than it is to find food or water. Remember the rule of threes; three hours without shelter, three days without water and three weeks without food. This is obviously an extreme time scale, but it does show the importance of shelter building skills in bushcraft.

 

Basics of shelter building 

Read on to learn more about the basics of shelter building. For the sake of this blog, we are going to assume that you are in the woods with good tools and all the kit you should have.  Find out more about our guide to choosing a bushcraft axe here.

 

Basics of shelter building

 

 

What does your shelter need to do?

The first thing to consider when thinking about building your shelter is to ask, ‘what does it need to do?’. Think about the weather, how long you are likely to be staying in the area, how many people does it need to protect and how long do you have to build it? Asking yourself questions such as these before you start will save you time in the long run. 

 

 

Shelter building with wildway

 

Location of your shelter 

One of the most important considerations, once you’ve determined the purpose of your shelter, is the location. Long term shelters will need to be closer to a source of water than those that are just being used for a night or two. Your shelter also needs to be in close proximity to the materials that you will need to use to build it. Think about it this way, do you really want to be walking to and from to get water and materials or should you not just bring the shelter to the source. 

chose a location for your sehlter

Time and energy

The amount of daylight remaining and the amount of energy that you have left will also determine the type of shelter you should build. Late in the day and after a long walk you will want to build the simplist shelter possible. You can always work on it the next day if you are staying there for a while. 

 

Shelter building from Wildway Bushcraft

Natural aids 

Having chosen the location of your shelter and decided on what type of shelter you are going to build, have a look around at what natural features there are that could help you. Look for fallen tree branches that could make the basis of a lean-to, are there any caves in the vicinity that could shelter you? Natural features such as these can save you loads of time and make your shelter incredibly stable.  

How to learn shelter building basics 

The best way to learn shelter building is to join a course with an experienced bushcraft instructor. Our Weekend Bushcraft Course is accredited by the IOL and covers all the basics of bushcraft, including shelter building. During the course, we will teach you how to build a shelter in the woods and then give you the option of sleeping in it. If you would rather sleep in a tent or under a tarp then you are welcome to! 

Learn shelter building with Wildway Bushcraft

On the 8th -14th of July 2019 we will be running a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip, canoeing along the river Spey. This incredible trip will begin on Loch Insh and continue all the way down, through the beautiful Scottish countryside until we reach Spey Bay. Read on to learn more about this amazing trip and how you can sign up for more information.

 

Canoeing on the Spey

Gentle paddling

What to expect

Our river Spey canoe expedition starts at the beautiful Loch Insh in the Highlands region of Scotland. Situated seven miles south of Aviemore, in the heart of Badenoch and Strathspey. From there, we wind our way down the river Spey, camping under the stars along the river each night, until we reach Spey Bay.
As we canoe down the river Spey you will have a chance to pick up some bushcraft skills as we camp each evening. Alternatively, you can just relax and revel in the beautiful surrounding scenery.

Watch the video below for a glimpse of what to expect on your river Spey trip.

WATCH: a film of our Spey canoe expedition. This film shows the highlights of 2018's week-long canoeing expedition along the Spey. Click the link below to learn more about 2019's trip and to book your space: https://www.wildwaybushcraft.co.uk/product/river-spey-bushcraft-canoe-expedition/

Posted by Wildway Bushcraft on Monday, 16 July 2018

 

About the Spey

The river Spey is the ninth longest river in the UK and one of the fastest flowing in Scotland. Famous for its salmon fishing and use in whisky production, the Spey flows for 107 miles (172 km) from Loch Spey to Spey Bay.

 

Experience required

While you don’t need to be an expert paddler to join our river Spey trip we do ask that you have a reasonable level of fitness and are able to swim. All under 18s do need to be accompanied by an adult.

Chance to practice

You will have a chance to get up to speed and practice paddling on the loch before our adventure begins. While some previous canoeing experience would be of value it is not absolutely necessary. Throughout the trip, our expert and highly trained course leaders will be on hand to provide you with canoe tuition, no matter what your level of skill.

 

Wildlife you might see 

Wildlife Scotland Spey

 

The beautiful river Spey is home to a wide variety of fantastic wildlife. While we can’t guarantee that you will see everything that there is to see – after all, nature is unpredictable – hopefully you will spot something.  In the summer Bottlenose Dolphins are regularly spotted in Spey bay; Atlantic Salmon swim throughout the length of the river, otters and seals dart from its banks and Ospreys soar overhead. Find out more information about the fantastic range of wildlife on the river Spey in our blog here

 

Equipment

 

Wildway Bushcraft river Spey

Throughout the trip, all safety and technical equipment will be provided by Wildway Bushcraft. If, however, you have your own buoyancy aid please do bring it with you. In addition to all the technical and safety equipment, we will also provide you with dry bags, these will help to keep your stuff dry throughout our trip. 

 

Camping equipment

Each night of the trip we will wild camp alongside the beautiful river. As such, you will need to bring your own camping equipment. We do have a comprehensive kit list which can be found here. If you have any questions about the kit required for this trip then don’t hesitate to email us on john@wildwaybushcraft.co.uk .

Sign up for more information 

If you would like to know more about our river Spey trip then fill in the form below. We won’t spam you, we hate it when companies do that, but we will keep you updated about this trip and send you relevant information.

Sign up for more information on our 2019 trip!

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We at Wildway Bushcraft are excited to announce the dates of our courses for 2019. It’s an exciting year ahead with highlights including our River Spey Canoe Trip, Women’s Only Bushcraft Course and our Intermediate Bushcraft Course to name but a few. Read on to find out more about our courses and click on the links below to book your space!  

Foundation in Bushcraft Skills and Wilderness Living Course Level 2 – Weekend Bushcraft Course. (IOL Accredited Course).

Course dates for 2019


8-10 February
8-10 March
12-14 April
24-26 May
7-9 June
26-28 July
9-11 August
13-15 September
18-20 October
22-24 November

One Day Bushcraft Course

Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire

9 February
9 March
13 April
25 May
8 June
27 July
10 August
14 September
19 October

23 November

Spoon Carving Course

Sharpen your bushcraft axe

30 March
21 September

River Spey Canoe Expedition

Seawater into drinking water
Takes your breath away.

27 – 31 May

Women Only One Day Bushcraft Course

Friction fire course

16 March
17 August

Friction Fire Lighting Course

family bushcraft course

17 March
18 August

Intermediate Bushcraft Course

Clothing for winter camping

28 September – 2 October

After a hard day walking in winter conditions, there is nothing better than a hot brew. That’s why, in this blog, we will be looking at how to make the most of your stove in winter conditions. When we’re looking at winter conditions we are looking at those in places of the UK such as the Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor, and the South West in general. We will not be considering winter conditions in mountainous regions or Scotland where winter conditions can be equivalent to the Arctic. Read on to learn more about maximising your stove use in winter.

 

Key considerations 

Making the most of your stove in winter


This blog is simply an overview of the different types of stoves and their effectiveness in winter. It does not compare stove types nor the enormous number of variations which can impact on the stove’s effectiveness. These variations include things such as, the altitude that the stove is being used at, the type of windshield being used, the temperature of the fuel beforehand, the wind speed/direction and of course the experience of the person using it. 

 

Solid fuel stoves 

Solid fuel stoves use either fuel blocks, such as ‘hex’ blocks or alcohol gels. One of the main drawbacks with these types of stoves is that the fuel is not readily available in your local camping store, nor can you control the heat output of the stove. The fuel is unlikely to be affected by winter temperatures but is obviously prey to the conditions that affect all stoves in winter.

TREAT SOMEONE TO A WILDWAY BUSHCRAFT VOUCHER.

 

Unpressurised liquid stoves

Unpressurised liquid stoves, such as the Trangia, typically run on a methanol, parrafin, or kerosene fuels. Typically these have a lower burning temperature than gas or multi-fuel stoves and, once again, the temperature can be hard to regulate. They can be impacted badly by cold weather although there are several things that you can do to improve their performance in winter. These include, insulating the stove from the ground, using more fuel to heat the stove first, keeping the fuel insulated and warm while carrying it and while at camp.

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Gas Stoves

Gas stoves light instantly, without the need for priming, and are largely maintenance free. The fuel for gas stoves is generally widely available and can typically be found in local hardware stores as well as camping shops. Their performance in winter is more to do with the fuel that is being used than the stove itself.  

TREAT SOMEONE TO A WILDWAY BUSHCRAFT VOUCHER.

 

Butane/Propane

Pure butane is a poor fuel for use in stoves in winter as it stops vapourising (e.g. the gas will remain liquid) at around – 1 degrees celcius. Propane, on the other hand, can be used at temperatures down to – 42 degrees Celcius, making it an ideal choice. However, it is extremely difficult to manufacture pure propane canisters that are suitable for camping. This leaves us with a butane/propane mix, typically canisters of this type will use a 70/30 butane/propane mix.  Even using this mix, however, effectiveness can be reduced in cold weather as the stove empties.

TREAT SOMEONE TO A WILDWAY BUSHCRAFT VOUCHER.

 

Pressurised liquid/multi-fuel stoves

Stoves of this type, such as the MSR Whisperlite, are excellent performers in all but the most extreme conditions.  These stoves can be used with both gas canisters and a liquid fuel known as ‘white gas’, a pure form of gasoline. These stoves, however, can be difficult to use for novices as they typically require priming and can be prone to flare-ups, making them less than ideal for using inside one’s tent.

TREAT SOMEONE TO A WILDWAY BUSHCRAFT VOUCHER.

 

Fires

Cooking on a fire in winter


Provided that you are able to light a fire in winter (have a look at our blogs
here and here) then they can be a great source of heat, light and can be easy to cook on.  However, you do need to be mindful of the environment in which you are having a fire. Provided that you are not in a genuine survival situation where anything goes then you need to consider if you have permission, the environmental impact of having a fire and, of course, how you can have a fire without leaving any trace. 

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Kit 

Below we have listed a few pieces of kit that are essential for going out into the woods during winter or at any time of the year. 

 

Further Reading 

Here are some other blogs that might be of interest, use the arrows to navigate between them.

 

TREAT SOMEONE TO A WILDWAY BUSHCRAFT VOUCHER.

In this week’s blog, we will be looking at clothing to keep you warm in winter. There are a huge number of manufacturers out there, each offering a vast, and often confusing, array of garments for winter. With this in mind we will not be looking at specific clothing brands, but rather at one tried and tested principle behind keeping warm in the winter. Read on to learn more of skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

 

What is the layering system? 

Clothing for winter camping


The layering system is nothing new. From the days of itchy vests and seal skin clothing explorers of colder climates and mountainous reaches have been piling clothes on top of each other in an effort to keep warm. There is, however, a lot more to it than just putting on all your jumpers and hoping for the best. 

 

How the layering system works

The layering system is, in essence, comprised of a base layer next to the skin, insulating mid-layer or layers and then a protective outer layer which should be waterproof, windproof etc. While the minimum amount of layers that you want to be wearing is three you can add more mid-layers depending upon the situation. While clothing choice is personal and each one of us will have our preferred brands the principle remains the same regardless of who makes the clothing.

 

Base layers 

Clothing winter camping


A base layer is simply a layer that will sit next to the skin and should be as close fitting as possible. The purpose of a base layer is to wick, or take, the sweat away from the skin. For this reason, it should not be made of cotton – cotton retains moisture and will hold the sweat close to the skin. Typically, base layers are made from Merino wool or synthetic materials, both of which have certain anti-bacterial properties which will prevent one from smelling too much when they return from the wilds.

While it might be tempting to go for thicker base layers in the depths of winter it is important to balance warmth with a risk of overheating. For this reason, it is best to experiment and find the right base layer for you. Read on to learn about mid layers. 

 

What to look for in a mid layer 

A mid layer, or mid layers are essential for keeping one warm when walking or camping in winter. The mid layer acts as the main source of insulation between the base layer and the outer layer. By trapping the heat from your body within your clothes the mid layer keeps you warm. Typical mid layers are made of fleece, which retains its properties when wet, and synthetic materials. Occasionally, in very cold winter conditions a down (or synthetic) jacket can also be worn. A wind and mid layer may help to keep you at an ambient temperature until the rain and the snow really begin coming in, at which point your outer layer can be added. 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

What to look for in an outer layer

Clothes for winter camping

Your outer layer is the main source of protection against the elements. They need to be waterproof, windproof and ideally breathable, a combination of qualities that can be hard to come by.  Additionally, this outer layer should come with a hood, one that can be worn over a wooly hat, and provide protection from the elements for your head.  

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Choosing your trousers 

When it comes to winter camping and walking then choosing your trousers is as important as choosing your top layer. Follow the same principles as those you use for choosing your top layers, pick a good pair of thermals for your base layer, soft yet hard wearing walking trousers for a mid layer and tough, breathable waterproof trousers for your outer layer. Also consider wearing gaiters in winter in order to keep the snow, and general muck, out of your boots and off your trousers.  

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Headwear and gloves 

Headwear in winter can consist of a warm, wooly hat, or a balaclava in extreme conditions. In instances where there is likely to be a lot of snow, such as in the Scottish mountains, then you might also consider goggles. Gloves are also an essential consideration in winter. Remember to carry several pairs, should you lose one, and use a system of thin, warm gloves under thicker fleece gloves. Waterproof or water resistant gloves should be carried or waterproof mitts can be worn over a pair of warm fleece gloves.

 

Kit 

Below we have listed a few pieces of kit that are essential for going out into the woods during winter or at any time of the year.

Further Reading

Here are some other blogs that might be of interest, use the arrows to navigate between them.

 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

In this week’s blog, we’re going to be taking a look at camping in the winter. Specifically, we are going to be looking at camping in the winter in the lower areas of England, such as the Brecon Beacons and the South West. We won’t be looking at winter camping in the higher areas, such as the lakes or in Scotland where winter conditions approach the positively Arctic. This blog will focus on camping in a normal backpacking tent, e.g. not a heated tent. Read on to learn about camping in the winter. As always, feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

Kit for winter camping

Winter camping considerations


When it comes to camping in the winter then a lot of the discussion revolves around the kit. The kit for winter camping runs along the same principles as the kit for camping in the summer. As long as the basic principles are followed then there is no need to spend a fortune on the kit.

Sleeping bag

A sleeping bag for winter in the parts of England that we are talking about needs to be rated down to the minus numbers. While certain people might sleep hot while others feel the cold there is, generally speaking, no need to splash out on anything rated below – 10. The down vs synthetic debate will rumble on, but generally speaking down is lighter weight for fill power whereas synthetic is better in damp conditions. When you’re considering purchasing a sleeping bag you should look for one that is rated along the lines of the EN13537 standards. When looking at the different ratings, you need to focus on the comfort rating, not the extreme or the limit rating. The ‘extreme’ rating is the “temperature at which the average woman can remain for six hours without risk of DEATH from hypothermia – but can still sustain cold injuries” (source: Alpkit). 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Work with your sleeping bag

No matter what the rating of your sleeping bag you do need to work with your bag to help it to achieve the maximum possible rating. If possible, don’t compress it to its smallest size when putting it in your bag but instead put it in a larger bag in order to allow the sleeping bag to retain its loft. Keep the bag dry at all times and consider carrying it in a dry bag in order to protect it. Consider wearing thermals inside your bag to boost its rating and never wear your wet day clothes inside the bag.

Sleeping mat

A decent sleeping mat is essential for a good night’s sleep. Your sleeping mat keeps you insulated away from the cold, wet ground. The more insulated from the ground you are then the warmer you are likely to be. Sleeping mats that have large chambers filled with air are likely to be comfortable but may be colder in winter conditions, whereas closed cell mats, like the classic Karrimat, are likely to be warm but uncomfortable. Perhaps it is best to consider a combination of the two types of mats.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Organisation 

 

When it comes to winter camping then a good level of organisation is key to enjoying yourself. Winter conditions in the parts of the UK that we are looking at are likely to be wet, snowy and generally quite grim.  With weather like that, it is important to keep organised, keep your wet and dry kit separate at all times. Store essential items that can be damaged by cold weather, such as phones or water filters, wrapped in something warm, like socks, or stored on or about your person. 

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Tent management

 

Winter camping involves a good deal of tent management. Consider opening ventilation flaps in all but the worst of weather in order to reduce condensation and prevent your sleeping bag getting damp. We will look at how to make the most of your stove in winter in a blog post later this month. If snowfall is heavy then you may need to get up in the night to clear snow off your tent, less it weighs on the fabric and damages it. 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Recap 

When it comes to winter camping it is essential to upgrade your sleeping kit so that it is suitable for use in lower temperatures. Don’t just focus on the sleeping bag but also consider the quality of your sleeping mat and thermals. Organisation is also vitally important when it comes to winter camping. You need to keep your wet and dry kit separate and items that can be damaged by the cold wrapped up somewhere warm or on your person. Look after your tent, be careful of mounting snow on the side of the tent and try to pitch it with the end into the wind so as to reduce its impact on the tent. 

 

Kit 

Below we have listed a few pieces of kit that are essential for going out into the woods during winter or at any time of the year. 

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Further Reading 

Here are some other blogs that might be of interest, use the arrows to navigate between them. 

 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

When it comes to bushcraft in the UK there are several additional considerations that you need to be aware of before building a shelter in autumn. Not only will it be colder at night and in the morning, additionally, there will also be less green foliage around to use and it is likely to be damper. Read on to discover some key considerations when building a bushcraft shelter in autumn and winter.

Type of shelter 

shelter autumn


Shelter building can be a long and time-consuming task. It needs to be completed alongside other essentials camp tasks such as creating a fire, stockpiling firewood and sourcing water. In autumn and winter, with daylight hours being limited, it is important to build the shelter that uses energy and resources most economically. One of the shelters best suited to bushcraft in autumn and winter is the lean-to.  This type of shelter, along with the correct type of fire, can provide comfort in cold and even sub-zero temperatures.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Location and resources

Shelter autumn

Choosing a suitable location is a cornerstone of any successful bushcraft shelter building exercise, this is even truer in the autumn and winter when materials might be in short supply. A lean-to shelter can require a lot of resources; small trees will need to be felled and split into suitable lengths and more wood will need to be gathered for the fire. While there is the adage ‘wood will warm you twice, once when you collect it and again when you burn it’; you need to be careful not to exhaust yourself as this could have serious consequences, especially in colder weather where hypothermia is a risk. Look for a location that is rich in trees, such as pine or birch and close to a source of water. The dense tree cover of a UK woodland will keep your lean-to shelter relatively free from snowdrift.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

Tools

Shelter autumn

As we previously mentioned lean-to shelters are resource heavy, needing either the felling of several small trees of the cutting to size of fallen dead wood. For these purposes, you’re going to need both a reasonable size bushcraft axe and a hand-held saw, such as a Silky saw or a laplander.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

Fire 

Shelter autumn

 

The construction of a lean-to shelter in autumn and winter conditions also requires the construction of an appropriate fire.  For warmth in a lean-to shelter, it is hard to beat a long-log fire. The logs that you are using for this fire (once it has been started) should be of a fair size, akin to the thickness of a telegraph pole,  so that they will burn through all night. Finding logs of this size will most likely require the felling of standing dead wood. We will be showing you how to build a long log fire in more detail later in the year.

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Environmental considerations 

One of the often overlooked considerations of building a bushcraft shelter in the autumn, or at any time of the year, is the environmental impact of your shelter. Of course, in a genuine survival situation then this should slide down your list of considerations, however, bushcraft is not about survival. Rather, it is about living in harmony with nature in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. The proficient bushcraft person is at home in the woods, working without haste or panic and in harmony with their materials.

 

Use what is readily available

With the above in mind, you should consider the environmental impact of building your shelter. Do you need to fell trees or can you use what is to hand? Is there a natural feature which can help you in constructing your shelter? Is the location of your shelter close to any wild flowers or plants that it might damage? Look around you and see the woods as a whole, use what is easily available to help you to achieve your aims.

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Kit 

Below we have listed a few pieces of kit that are essential for going out into the woods during winter or at any time of the year.

Further Reading 

Here are some other blogs that might be of interest, use the arrows to navigate between them.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

In this blog, we’re going to have a look at some of the things that change in our woods in autumn. As all skilled bushcraft practitioners know being in tune with nature is the key to improving one’s skill set. Every time we go out into the woods it is important to look around and take it all in, this blog will help you do just this by providing you with some autumn characteristics of UK woodlands to look out for.

 

Animal behaviour 

autumn in the UK woods


Autumn doesn’t just bring with it a change of colour in the leaves, it also brings a change in animal behaviours. Here are a few to look out for.

  • Birds
    Falling temperatures and declining availability of foods cause some species of birds to migrate throughout the autumn.  Keep an eye out for birds such as Swallows which migrate from Europe to Africa in the winter, returning to their feeding grounds in spring.  There are other less long-distance migrants, altitudinal migrants – those that migrant short distances from north to south – include Skylarks, Meadow pipits and Snow buntings.
    For more information see the RSPB’s website here.
  • Hedgehogs, dormice, and bats
    Hedgehogs, dormice, and bats consume large quantities of fruit, nuts, and insects in the run-up to winter in order to increase their proportions of body fat and prepare for their hibernation.
  • Deer and Boar
    For larger animals, such as deer and boar, autumn can be a busy time of the year. These animals are all seeking mates, so while it is a good time of the year to see them it is best to keep your distance.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Fungi 

Mushrooms in autumn in the UK woods


Autumn is a great time of year to spot fungi. Remember though, never eat anything that you have not 100% positively identified as safe. The kingdom of fungi is an enormous one, with over 15,000 species in the UK alone. The Woodland Trust outlines several of the most common types of fungi found in the UK,
here on their blog

 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Trees

Alder trees for bushcraft 

The UK woodland is a fantastic sight in autumn. The deciduous trees are losing their leaves and the woods are carpeted with an amazing array of colours. Identifying deciduous trees in autumn and winter is a key bushcraft skill that will help you with other bushcraft skills including friction fire lighting and shelter building.  The Woodland Trust has an introduction to identifying trees in the UK in autumn and winter in their blog here. 

 

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Kit 


Autumn is a fantastic time to get out into the woods and practice your bushcraft skills. We’ve listed some equipment below that might come in handy when practicing your autumn bushcraft.
Please note that aside from Bear Blades Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the brands or pieces of equipment listed below – we don’t get anything extra if you choose to purchase one of these items!  

 

Further Reading 

Here are some other blog posts that might interest you. Use the arrows to navigate. 

As autumn draws in around us and thoughts turn to winter our bushcraft practices adapt and change with the seasons. Though we might not have as much snow this year as we did at the start of 2018 there still might be enough to practice one of the most essential winter bushcraft techniques; lighting a fire on snow. In this blog, we will briefly recap the basics of fire lighting and then discuss some techniques for lighting a fire on snow. Read on to learn more or skip to the section that interests you the most.

 

Fire lighting essentials

Lighting a fire on snow
We’ve covered the basics of fire lighting in detail here, but essentially it comes down to correctly gathering and preparing your materials, not rushing or skipping any stage of the process and ensuring that you have all of the materials that you will need before lighting your fire.


If you are interested in more advanced fire lighting techniques then why not join us on our one-day friction fire lighting course or our weekend bushcraft course.

 

Is it worth the effort?

Before starting to attempt to light a fire on snow it is worth asking yourself it is worth the effort. If you are already cold, tired and wet, in short, if it is coming close to a survival situation, then you need to be sure attempting to light a fire will not exhaust your remaining energy reserves. You will need to judge each situation on its own merits and make your own decisions based upon the situation and your confidence in your skills.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Lighting a fire on snow

When it comes to lighting a fire on snow the key thing to remember is that it melts. This means that building a fire directly onto the snow itself will not only get your tinder wet but will also, should you manage to get it lit, melt the snow beneath it and disappear into it.

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Building a platform

One of the easiest ways to construct a fire on snow is to build a platform, either consisting of split logs or stones and place your tinder on top of it. This will give you a dry and firm base on which to light your fire.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

Digging down

If the snow is of a reasonably shallow depth, like the kind that we might experience in the south of the UK in winter, then it is a better idea to dig down. Removing the snow until you have reached the level of the earth and then constructing a base on this earth (so as to keep the moisture out) will not only insulate the fire but will also ensure that it doesn’t melt the snow.

Preparation for lighting a fire in the snow

Lighting a fire on snow

Successful fire lighting depends on good preparation, in any weather, however, this goes double when there is snow on the ground. Ensure that you have plenty of dry tinder with you, and ideally keep it in your clothes where it can’t get damp, and plenty of firewood to keep the fire going throughout the night.

LEARN FIRE LIGHTING, SHELTER BUILDING, AXE SKILLS AND MORE ON OUR WEEKEND BUSHCRAFT COURSE.

 

Kit 

Lighting a fire on snow

Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when lighting a fire. Please note that aside from Bear Blades Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the brands or pieces of equipment listed below – we don’t get anything extra if you choose to purchase one of these items!

 

Further Reading

Here are some other blog posts that might interest you. Use the arrows to navigate.

In certain situations, the ability to source clean, drinkable, water from seawater is an essential survival skill. This blog looks at this vital coastal survival skill in more detail, as always feel free to read the whole blog or skip to the section that interests you the most. While we don’t yet cover desalination on our current courses we do look at water sourcing and water purification on our weekend bushcraft course and our intermediate bushcraft course.

 

What is the problem with seawater?

Seawater into drinking water

‘Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink’ as the Ancient Mariner said, but what exactly is the problem with sea water? Basically, seawater contains salt and humans can only ingest so much salt. The salt content of seawater is much higher than what we can safely consume. Our kidneys have to produce urine that has a lower quantity of salt than salt water, therefore in order to get rid of the amount of salt consumed by drinking salt water we would need to urinate more than we drink. This would mean that we slowly dehydrate ourselves while becoming thirstier.

Removing salt from salt water

Seawater into drinking water
Removing salt, from salt or rather saline water, involves separating the salt particles from the water particles. The easiest way to do this in the field is through evaporation. This process involves heating the water in one container until steam forms and can be collected in another container. The easiest way to do this is to run a piece of tubing from the first container through which the steam condenses when entering, into the second container.

This may not always be practical though so be prepared to improvise the tubing with plastic sheeting angled so that it catches the steam from the first container and allows the water to run into the second.

 

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Weekend bushcraft courses UK Dorset Hampshire


Other considerations

Drinking water in the bush
Desalination is a complex and energy-intensive process. It can be difficult to get right and consumes fuel supplies. When looking for sources of water in coastal area desalination should be a last resort. Some other methods of gaining fresh water are outlined below.

  • Transpiration
    Water moves through plants, including coastal plants, from its roots through to its leaves, stems, and flowers where it evaporates. If the coastal area in which you are looking for water has a lot of vegetation or there is nearby vegetation inland then these plants are an excellent source of water. Simply throw a bag, such as a survival bag over the leaves of a nearby plant. Tie the bag off at the opening over the branch, then wait. In a few hours, the water from the plants should have evaporated and gathered in the bottom of the bag.
  • Search for other water sources
    Coastal areas have water running to them, through the form of rivers or streams. Finding where one of these water sources comes out and then tracing it back upstream will provide you with a source of freshwater. Be warned though that if you select water from a stream close to the beach then it is likely to be saline.

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What to expect on our bushcraft course 

Discover our weekend bushcraft course
On our weekend bushcraft course, we will introduce you to the principles of water filtration. Although we won’t introduce you to desalination we will show you how to source water and create a basic filter using natural materials.

We will also introduce you to the principles of shelter building, friction fire lighting, food preparation (fin, feather, and fur), knife skills, axe skills and many other bushcraft essentials. If you would like to develop your bushcraft skills further then our intermediate bushcraft course is for you. 

 

Click here to find out more about our intermediate bushcraft course. 

Kit mentions 

Here is a run through of some of our favourite kit, while we don’t use this for water purification we do take it out in the woods with us. 

 

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

Intermediate bushcraft course

Further reading 

Use the arrows below to navigate these related blogs.

 

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