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Home Blog Camping Trips Dartmoor 8 Item Bushcraft Challenge

Dartmoor 8 Item Bushcraft Challenge

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So it's that time of year! Time to enjoy ourselves and embark on what has become a personal, annual Dartmoor Challenge. Last October was our first year, the challenge was set: Camping on Dartmoor for 3 Days with just 10 items, food/drink & clothes were considered free items but everything else including things like your Rucksack, Toilet roll etc. counted as an item! You weren't really allowed to share items so you had to take everything you needed...


Last year I think it was fair to say none of us struggled and we all had a brilliant time, the weather looked atrocious on our journey to Dartmoor but we were blessed with wonderful weather for most of the trip. I remember looking forward to shooting a fair bit of film last time so that I could make a nice video when I got back to share with others, however on the first day of the trip my battery broke and I didn't get to video much!

Luckily Martin had his trusty Flip-cam and I still managed to put together a video when we got back. Once I knew my camera was knackered I decided to compensate by taking lots of photos on with my Canon 450D, I'm glad I did because I took some fabulous shots, some of which I'm really proud of.

If you haven't seen last year's video, here it is:


So, one year on we have decided that the challenge will drop by 2 items each year, so very soon we will be off to Dartmoor for 3 days and only taking 8 items.


We do carry a First Aid Kit & phones but these aren't used to aid our survival, they are there in case of emergencies.

This trip creates a lot of friendly banter weeks in advance, who's packing what, deciding what you need and what you can do without. Finding multiple uses for things and continually swapping items on your list whilst you imagine different combinations of kit.

We use a Google Document which is shared online between the four of us, it allows us all to see each other's kit list and unfortunately it also allows for mischief! For example someone today changed my number one item (Rucksack) to "The finest quality camping chair" and other various items were swapped out for rude items of which I cannot repeat here!

Believe it or not picking just 8 items is a lot trickier than picking 10. I would say 9 or 10 items is actually a sweet spot for living life comfortably in the wilds. Whereas trying to reduce it down to 8 I find myself wishing I could have just one more item.

Last year I didn't take a head-torch, I could have if I wanted (I had enough space on my list) but I thought it would be interesting to try make do without. Whilst I knew a headtorch could be an incredibly handy tool I also thought it'd be nice to try camping on Dartmoor for the first time without a torch and surely it's just a matter of getting your camp fully in order and laid out so that you don't really need light when it's dark right? Well after last year I'd say you could do with a torch, it's do'able without but it's just immensely helpful to have in the evenings.

Matts-kitSo here is my kit list so far:

  1. Rucksack
  2. Tarp (3x3m Tatonka)
  3. Hammock (DD Travel 2010)
  4. Knife (Fallkniven F1)
  5. Lighter
  6. Cocoon (SnugPak Cocoon)
  7. Toilet Roll
  8. Billycan
  9. Torch
So I have to drop one item off my list. What would you loose?

What would you take?

If you're interested to know what others think about this trip you can follow the forum discussion here.

Here is the blog-post from last years trip.
Comments (29)
29 Friday, 25 October 2013 20:17
Ryan L.E
1, 5 inch Fixed blade carbon steel knife
2, Ferro rod
3, wool blanket,
4, Forest axe
5, small pot
6, rucksack
with those 6 items i could live comfortably, however to finish the list.
7, folding saw/bow saw
8, Wet stone or diamond stone for honing
i would never leave home without the top 3, i could get by with just those 3 items, i personaly find the more minimal you go, the better the expirience, and the funner it becomes, aswell as the story, sure things might get annoying or tough, but to go with just those? thats something to be proud of
28 Saturday, 19 January 2013 16:32
Martin S.
OMG, this is such an awesome idea! I really need to do this challenge as soon as it's getting a little warmer here in Austria :)
Thank you for this cool idea!

My list:
1.) WildSteer Bow Rucksack (but without the attached quiver and the bow...)
2.) Cocoon Hammock (basically a hammock with a tarp already attached, so i spare 1 item)
3.) Glock Feldmesser (Austrian Army field knife.)
4.) Fire rod
5.) Canteen
6.) Sleeping bag
7.) Billy can
8.) Petzl Headlamp
9.) Map
10.) a compass
27 Saturday, 20 October 2012 23:11
Cody Haines
1. waterproof bivy
2. sleeping bag
3. knife
4. magnesium steel stricker
5. home made wood stove and alcohole stove. (i made a DIY alcohol stove/ windscreen that doubles as a gas wood stove. i count it as one thing because it is all attached to one another, other than the bottom lid. you can either put wood in it or fuel if you took any with you. both are pretty efficient at cooking. I'm planning on doing a video on it at some point. it weighs in at 9.4 ounces.)
6. metal water bootle. it doubles as my pot
7. backpack
i could also take either some chlorine dioxide drops with me or some fuel for my stove. but really i don't think you need them.
26 Wednesday, 18 April 2012 22:20
Mark Massey
This is my normal carry

Irresponsible to leave behind
1st aid kit
Mobile (for emergencies)
Map + compass

1. Tent or tarp and hammock or tarp and bivi but tent is 1 less item I guess
2. sleeping bag
3. mess tin
4. Spoon (too lazy to make stuff and anyway if you make it on the 1st day surely that would become an item on the 2nd day unless you make a new one each day)
5. stove
6. gas
7. rucksack
8. water bottle
9. Toothbrush
10. toothpaste

Things I take but can do without
11. Lighter (just in case the piezo stops working)
12. torch
13. water filter
14. sleep mat

15. camera
16. thermometer

You said food and clothes are free items, I'd assume that includes waterproofs, if not I got to add 3 items to the list
17. Waterproof Jacket
18. trousers
19. gaiters

So if I just took what I class as essential kit and left the rest behind I normally take 10 items including my wash kit.
25 Wednesday, 18 April 2012 11:15
Dano D
Knife (Mora Clipper)
Sleeping Bag
wood stove
640ml pot
I'd carry a poncho tarp, the wood stove as a single unit. Fire (lighter) and knife would be my first priority
24 Saturday, 24 December 2011 20:45
Marc Benson
Sorry but this doesn't relate to items but I've been searching for a long time how to attach a sleeping bag to a daysack ( as in picture) if you could let me know that be Awsome!
23 Friday, 28 October 2011 18:08
Hi - Could I ask, other than cooking on an open fire, rather than a stove, how you would distinguish your challenge from an ordinary camping trip, particularly as you took food? Perhaps the distinction will become clearer when you drop to 6 or 4 items?
22 Thursday, 20 October 2011 15:17
Lose the toilet roll! Since water is easily available, make do with washing instead of wiping. Like most of the rest of the world.
21 Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:20
+1 on using the hammock as a rucksack.

most folks seem to underestimate the time req'd to do improvising stuff with natuarl mat'ls. it's fine in a base camp.
20 Friday, 14 October 2011 11:28
Chris Barts
What about an 8 item challenge where 4 items have to be items you have made yourself from entirely natural/primitive materials?
19 Thursday, 13 October 2011 16:11
Ashley Cawley
@Joel - the Knife & Firesteel would count as two items even if they came together.
18 Thursday, 13 October 2011 12:28
if you had a knife with a flint in the sheath you wouldn't need the lighter?
17 Wednesday, 12 October 2011 20:55
Ashley Cawley
@alvino78 - Yeah a Poncho would be classed as clothing (and therefore a free item)

@Dan - Food and Drink is free bud, so your tea-bags and cous cous wouldn't have to count as items :)
16 Wednesday, 12 October 2011 20:44
Dan XF
What to take?
1 Bergen
2 Knife
3 Buffalo sleeping bag
4 Billy can
5 Loo Roll
6 Lighter or fire rod
7 Red Bush tea bags
8 Jar of flavouered cous cous
personally I always pack too much and try to get away from it all by taking it all with me.
15 Wednesday, 12 October 2011 18:36
is a poncho classed as an item of clothing? lol
14 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 21:03
Kieran Broadfield
Please make sure you video and take lots of photo's!
13 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 20:56
Ashley Cawley
@Christopher - I think a lot of people aren't realising the lack of time we have to work in camp actually, we spend most of the days walking on the moors so don't have a whole lot of time in camp. Building a group shelter obviously takes hours. I think if we drop to a lower amount of items like 6 or 4, then we would start building group shelters and the way our days would be spent would be different, we would do a lot less walking and more time spent around camp building and crafting etc.

Thanks for leaving a comment :)
12 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 20:53
Ashley Cawley
I can't believe it but after last night's meeting the lads convinced me to leave my knife at home! I can't say I ever remember going on a camping trip without a sharp so I'm a little nervous! lol.

The shock isn't just that I'm not taking a knife but infact now none of our group are taking a blade!
11 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 12:59
Christopher Zerdzinski
You could drop the hammock and cocoon. You will slow yourselves down building a basha but with the tarp and a natural wall/felled tree etc am sure you could bed yourself in. A shared fire...
10 Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:41
Michael Wilkinson
Ditch the Toilet Roll, Moss or dock or other Leafy substitutes abound where your going. I would say take the lighter out as well and use a bow drill, but I can see your point about the time taken to make a fresh one ,would be about an 1 hours work to get a fire going, including making the bow and drill set + you would still need some Cordage to make the Bow. Unless you consider making the cordage too, however that is another hour. How long have you got in Camp???

Can't wait till you get down to the one or two items challange - Almost naked into the wilderness!!
9 Monday, 10 October 2011 21:53
simon butroid

I have been looking at your list and agree that it would be hard to loose any one of these items.

If you were to sleep with a long fire in front of you with A tarp shelter you could loose
the hammock and snugpack cocoon and replace it with either 100% wool army blanket or A nonflammable
sleeping bag. Once you're in the sleeping bag / 100% wool army blanket you could slide your feet into your
rucksack as a foot warmer.

As I have never used a long fire before I could not tell you how warm it would keep you during the night
But knowing how warm a well kept fire can be it should keep your toasty bits toasted.
I'm guessing the fire would take some upkeep and inherently has it's own risks ( i.e. AAAHHH FIRE BURNS!!!).

Another idea would be to combine two items together I have seen a knife that has a built in torch but I would
Consider this a cheat tho
8 Monday, 10 October 2011 20:02
Paul Pruzina
What you should lose? Get rid of the toilet roll and find some moss
7 Monday, 10 October 2011 16:48
Ashley Cawley
It's all well a good hoping to collect sap and putting together a few torches however based on last years trip I might struggle for time, we did a lot of walking last time and time around camp was limited.

@Bernie Well for starters you'd want a knife if you were making a bow-drill kit, but then you run into the time problem again; bearing in mind I wouldn't be allowed to bring along my own pre-made bowdrill kit (unless it was listed as an item), I would have to make one and that can take a long time in terms of sourcing and preparing the materials on the day. It's a shame time is an issue, I would prefer to do less walking this time and spend more time around camp for craft :) but I don't think I'll get my way. Looking forward to it!
6 Monday, 10 October 2011 15:43
1. Fallkniven A2 2. Rucksack 3. Bivi bag 4. Sleeping bag 5. Ferro rod 6. Water bottle 7. Pattern Metal Mug 8. Tarp

I can use moss to wipe my arse!
5 Monday, 10 October 2011 13:04
Bernhard Hofmann
Item three I presume is a typo. If not, do you care to explain what you get up to in the dark of night with a "Hammcok"? :P

I too would leave the torch and make a fire torch. Then again, if I was as good as you with a bow drill, the lighter might be threatened.

What will you use the knife for? Just wondering. I love my knife so it's always on my list, but then I'm not pressed for items. All I ever seem to use it for is carving anyway :)
4 Monday, 10 October 2011 12:51
Hi Ashley, I can appreciate wanting to walk and carry in comfort. I've been tempted to try something like IAWoodsman demonstrates in this video: But like you, I have been concerned about carrying a load that rides funny or makes the walk a chore.

I think Nigel has an interesting point about going with no torch. If you'll be somewhere where pine resin is easily collected, then perhaps this would work for you:
3 Monday, 10 October 2011 06:55
Nigel Jones
Stay with your concept of no torch and hone your bushcraft skills by making burning brands/torches for light, or try going native and leave the toilet roll at home!
2 Monday, 10 October 2011 06:00
Ashley Cawley
Hi Patrick, funny you should mention that I have been thinking about something like that; I was toying with the idea of putting everything inside my hammock with the Tarp laid out inside first, roll it up in the Tarp, zip-up the hammock and criss-crossing it over my shoulders. I wouldn't want to do it with the cocoon on the outside as that is my only bedding and it would be bad to get that wet.

The thing that puts me off is I know that last time we walked quite a few miles and a comfy/working pack would have gone a long way to making the trip enjoyable. I'll have another play :)
1 Sunday, 09 October 2011 23:50
That sounds like a challenging list. Any thoughts on losing the rucksack and making a swag roll out of your tarp & cocoon?

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