Whether you are new to bushcraft, on a tight budget, or just a gear junkie this list of proven budget-friendly gear is worth checking out.
These are honest recommendations from my own experiences. Many of these items remain in my bushcraft and survival kits today. I will continue to update this list as I come across commendable gear.
Common Man Criteria (Making the cut)
- I must have a good familiarity with it.
- I’d use it myself.
- Would recommend it to a friend.
- Made of good quality (a.k.a. bombproof).
- Considered to be high-value gear (a.k.a. best bang for the buck).
Axes & Hatchets (Cutting Tools)
- Husqvarna 13″ Hatchet – Hand-forged head with a hickory handle, decent out of the box, will need the edge touched up. I don’t believe you will find a better hatchet for the money.
- CRKT Chogan Woods Tomahawk – If you’re looking for a capable budget hawk, check out CRKT’s offerings. They offer a good variety of affordable hawks great for customization. These simple, yet effective, tomahawks are my top budget pick.
- Husqvarna 26″ Forest Axe – Hand forged head, good heft, many positive reviews. For the money, I don’t think you will find a better forest axe that fits the part.
- Council Tool 28″ Boy’s Axe – Council Tool has some excellent budget axe offerings, but they are not hand-forged. I do find these axes to be vary handsome though.
Bushcraft Knives (Cutting Tools)
- Morakniv Companion (4.1″) – These knives have a huge following in the bushcraft community for good reason. They are super affordable, come razor-sharp, and feature fairly comfortable handles. I’m not a super-fan, but I have my fair share of Mora knives.
- Morakniv Eldris (2.2″) – This one is the “new kid on the block” but has a huge following. The blade may be a tad bit small for some, but you can’t argue the amount of control you’d have with it.
- Morakniv Kansbol (4.3″) – This is one of my favorite bushcrafting knives. While on the high side of budget, I’d choose this knife over many other higher priced knives for my woodland companion.
Carving Knives (Cutting Tools)
- Old Timer Splinter Carvin’ Pocket Knife – These multitool style carving knives are great for anyone who enjoys carving out in the woods. I use this carver more that most of the tools in my kit.
- BeaverCraft Hook Knife SK1 – Comparable to the Mora 164 Hook Knife, these are great for carving spoons and small bowls.
Cook Pots (Containers)
- MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot – I like the 1.1l size, it’s great for 1-2 people. Features a locking lid that can serve as a plate.
- Snow Peak Kettle Cooker No.1 – If you’re looking for a kettle this one is unique. Features a pot style top for easy cleaning and the pour spout for a more traditional feel.
- Stainless Bottle Cup – You can’t just have 1, well I guess you can but I own many of these.
- Zebra Loop Handle Pot – I recommend these in the larger sizes (14-16cm) for use in 2-3 people camps.
- 550 Mil-Spec Paracord – Paracord is a staple in bushcraft, survival and just about anytime you need some good cord. Always buy name brand paracord. The no-name stuff isn’t as strong and doesn’t melt well either.
- Catahoula #12 Tarred Bank Line (Thin 1mm) – All bank line is useful, this one happens to be of the thinner variety.
- Catahoula #36 Tarred Bank Line (Thick 2mm) – All bank line is useful, this one happens to be of the thicker variety.
Fire Starters (Combustion)
- Bayite XL Ferro Rod (1/2″x6″) – This isn’t the only game in town, but these highly reviewed ferro rods are a top value.
Flashlights / Lamps (Candling Devices)
- Foxelli AAA Red/White LED Headlamp – A great little AAA battery headlamp decently bright and offers a red light, which is what I use the most.
- UCO Original Collapsible Candle Lantern – There’s nothing more “romantic” than the soft glow from a flame. These candle lanterns burn for hours from a single candle and offer a traditional camp experience.
Gear Maintenance / Repair
- Lansky Sharpening Puck – One of, if not the most, useful sharpening stones out there. Great for blades big and small, especially useful for axes and none standard blades.
- Gorilla 1″ Duct Tape – The best “duct tape” for the money. I really like the 1″ rolls, they store easily and are generally easier to use than the 2″ rolls. But both have their place.
- Singer Heavy Duty Hand Needles – Gear repair is inevitable, best to be prepared with a few good needles when the time comes. It’s always better to fix a small hole rather than a large one.
- Leatherman Rebar – This is the multitool I recommend to everyone. It has just about everything you need, costs less than others out there and is fairly small when closed.
- Leatherman Sidekick – If you don’t like the Rebar, this is the most budget-friendly Leatherman tool.
- WORKPRO Multitool – Here’s my super-budget pick, it’s a high-value leatherman alternative. It’s not perfect, but it ain’t bad and it gets the job done. Perfect for a toolbox or bug out bag too.
- Suunto MCB Mirror Compass – This is the least expensive compass I can recommend. If you have the money I would highly recommend the Suunto MC-2 Compass which is my favorite compass, and the last one you should ever need.
- Rite in the Rain 3″ x 5″ Notebook – Even if you’re not a “note-taker” it’s a good idea to have a notepad to write things down. Great for mapping, recording information, sketching, etc.
Packs / Bags
When it comes to bags I’m a big believer of the “buy once, cry once” adage, so I don’t have a “common man” recommendation. Chances are you already have a bag or two that will get the job done anyway. If for some reason you don’t, the military surplus market is a good place to start for modern tactical or vintage canvas styles.
Saws (Cutting Tools)
- Bahco Laplander 7.5″ Folding Saw – The saw that started it all! (not really), but this is a favorite among the bushcraft community. This folding saw fits into most bags/pouches and weighs little compared to the work it can do. Great for building shelters, camp crafts, traps, and processing firewood.
- Samurai Ichiban 13″ Saw – If you need more “fire-power” then check out this saw. It has twice the blade length of the Bacho allowing the efficient cutting of larger lumber.
Below I’ve listed a few contemporary solutions, but if you’re looking for a more traditional feel on budget, I’d seek out military surplus canvas tents/shelters.
- Grabber All Weather Blanket – This is NOT your typical “space blanket”, it’s much more durable. Designed for multiple uses, this blanket can serve as a tarp, signaling device, rain catch, blanket, and more.
- Grabber All Weather Hooded Blanket/Poncho – Just like the one above, but with a hood, I like this model a little more. It’s not quite as good when used as a shelter, but the hood makes it a great emergency poncho.
- Rothco 90% Wool Blanket – This surprising budget wool blanket is 90% wool, thick and heavy.
- UST Survival Blanket 2.0 – Yet another durable blanket tarp offering.
Water Bottles and Canteens (Containers)
There are countless water bottles available on the market today. Look for heavy-walled bottles that can’t easily be dented in with a firm thumb press.
- Stainless Steel Single Wall Water Bottle – There are many types of containers on the market, I like this one because of the stainless steel lid.
- Stainless Steel Nesting Cup – A great addition to any water bottle set, this cup can be used shand alone as a cook pot, or in conjunction with a metal water bottle to make char material.