husqvarna hatchet and mora companion

Budget Bushcraft: Gear for the Common Man

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.
mora kansbol
  • 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

Cook Pots (Containers)

MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot
  • 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.

Cordage

550 Mil-Spec Paracord

Fire Starters (Combustion)

Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel

Flashlights / Lamps (Candling Devices)

Foxelli LED Headlamp

Gear Maintenance / Repair

Lansky Sharpening Puck
  • 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.

Multitools

leatherman rebar
  • 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.

Navigation (Compass)

Suunto MCB Mirror Compass
  • 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.

Notes

  • 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 Folding Saw
  • 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.

Shelter (Cover)

Rothco Wool Blanket

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.

If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know by leaving a comment on this post. 

2 thoughts on “Budget Bushcraft: Gear for the Common Man

  1. I’ve spent years coming up with as lw and compact a shelter/sleep/clothing module as possible for my BOB. . I used a couple of casualty blankets to make a 3.5×8 ft bag, with 3/4″ muslin strip sewn (one edge only) all around and a big snap every 5″. Same for a 3×8 ft clear PEVA shower curtain. I also enlarged an SOL Escape bivvy, making it 6″ wider at the shoulder, mummy configuration for the lower legs, velcro seam all around, a detachable (velcro( hood with drawstring and another drawstring at the neck. I also have a gillnet (minus the lead weights) hammock, cordage and stakes and a bugnet bag.. 4.5 lbs total. Add-in extra clothing, a USO candle lantern (beeswax candles ONLY) and I can handle 20F degrees without a fire by means of stuffing debris between all the layers of the covering gear and between the layers of my clothing. I can handle 10F with the candle, or with Dakota firepits at night, heating rocks and water and an aluminum foil “reflector” set up on the far side of the fire, which draws away the smoke and reflects a bit more of the radiant heat. I can use ab-crunches and knee-ups to generate metabolic heat inside of the sleep gear at night, and do my sleeping from 11 am to 4 pm. That’s enough rest when you’re not doing much of anything. Even without the debris, the air that gets trapped between all the layers does a pretty good job of insulating. With complete enclosure, in the hammock, there’s almost no heat lost to conduction or convection. The US military says that enemy activity almost ceases at 10F, cause everyone’s focus has to be on not dying of hypothermia. 🙂 When there’s enemies around, you can’t have a fire during the day and fire has to be down in a pit at night, to limit the risk that comes from the light of the fire.

    The PEVA is much more transparent to radiant heat than is the usual transluscent construction plastic. If I set up the covering gear as a Korchanski supershelter, with a Siberian fire lay “projecting” heat at the shelter, I can handle near arctic conditions for as long as I’ve got firewood. My “extra” clothing (beyond office wear( is a boonie hat, a lw plastic rainsuit, 2 sets of longjohns (buttons hold the pants and shirt together in back) One is poly, one is knit. Then a hoodie, a beanie, leather gloves, glove liners, a shemaugh, a bandanna. 2 pairs each of poly and wool socks, one pair of gortex socks. This and the lantern total 3.5 lbs. It’s all useful in warm weather, rain, etc, too, unlike nearly everyone else’s winter set up. In hot weather, the longjohns, etc, become padding. If I can’t find trees needed for the hammock, I can rig it as a slingchair and sleep sitting up/reclining. Timed Release Ambien is the best thing going for crisis-management. 🙂 I carry a heavy duty pair of trekking poles, which can serve to hold up the cover element in a rainy environment. The PEVA of course sheds water just fine. The casualty blankets WILL soak thru a bit, if water is allowed to puddle upon them long enough. So there needs to be a ridgeline or some such arrangement creating a slope for shedding the water. Ditto, there needs to be a trench dug around the shelter, to handle the runoff, so that it doesn’t soak into the ground under you (if you’re not up in the hammock, of course).

    1. Sounds like you’ve developed a good kit for your environment, skills and types of activities. I’m liking that LW shelter, admittedly I carry a bit more sheltering materials. Usually a tarp, hammock, insolation and a UCO candle lantern in the cooler months.

      Never thought of using a shower curtain, usually just used the heavy mil painters plastic. I’ll have to try that.

      I don’t see many “bushcrafters” too concerned about weight. While I’m not into the canvas tarps and packs I usually have like 10 cutting tools, books, and a camera…

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