View Full Version : Mikes guide to budget bushcraft

08-08-2011, 10:52 AM
Hi guys,

I am and probably always will be an advocate of budget bushcraft and being thrifty.

I don't like paying more than I need to and If I can make it myself cheaper then that is what I will do. So I thought I'd put together a few words based on my own budget bushcraft experience.
Now please don't think this is the ultimate guide to bushcraft on the cheap, this is just some suggestions on where to find a good deal on kit and a few ideas on a few DIY projects that maybe of use.
I will state now however that some things are worth spending a few pennies on.

What follows is pretty much my kit list and where or how I got it from.

So to Start, something to carry your kit in.

I use a cheap Airjet NI lookalike pack its 35l and I got it from E-bay for about 25. It is pretty tough and I find it pretty comfortable. Finding a good pack is pretty important and making sure it fits your back even more so. Be careful when getting militry style packs though as many are designed to sit on top of a belt kit.

Sleeping. Sleeping bags / quilts, Hammocks, ground mats / Self inflating mats. I use a highlander challanger bag that I bought off of amazon, and a highlander Self inflating mat that I saw cheap on E-bay.

I also have a DIY hammock made from fabric that I again bought off of ebay. However when it comes to buying hammocks, you don't always need to get the all in one super covered top of the range hammock, some times the basic model will do, and with a little ingenuity can be used with bug headnets or even standard bugnets. Simple two layer hammocks can be as cheap as 9.99.

Builders Tarps and other sheeting materials make good short term shelter sheets, however I would always suggest spending a little money here to get something a little more durable and lighter in weight, the DD tarps and Tenth wonder tarps are fairly good quality and are a good price in my opinion.

If you are going to be a ground dweller then I would definitely suggest spending a little more money on a fairly tough bivi bag as well. I have used the cheap Gelert ones before and found them to be reasonable, but easy to damage, you also get a little sweaty in them too. I've just picked up an Alpkit one at a show for a significantly reduced price and I must say so far I'm impressed.

Cooking kit - All I can say here is DIY, DIY, DIY. I have a little wood burning stove made from an Ikea/Morrisons utensil holder and a small billy can made from a Tea Caddy. All stainless steal cost me less than a tenner! You can make the old pop can meths stove, but equally you can pick up trangia copies for 4.99. Micro Gas stoves are always on sale somewhere so look for a bargin at clearnce stores and sites - I have a coleman F1 which I paid 8 for a few years back.

Cutting tools - You don't need the best looking, most expensive handled sharps to cut wood. In fact in my opinion, you want the reverse. I bash my cheap handle and blades with batons and generally abuse it as much as is possible, something I wouldn't do to with a pricey implement. A Mora Clipper Carbon Steel knife can cost as little 8.50 and will last. If the plastic handle does crack or break, you can always have a go at making yourself a new one. You can also spruce up the blade by making your own sheath from leather or bark or even carve a wooden one.
As for saws and axes, Cheap folding pruning saws can be picked up at most garden centres/ Diy stores and the like. I picked up a nice beech handled one for 4.99 off of E-bay about 3 years ago, still works wonderfully. As for axes, second hand axes and re-conditioned axes are your best bet. Look for names like Elwel, Brades and Gilpin, with a little TLC these 'old' axes can be made into extremely good axes that rival some of the modern equivalents. I'd rather pick up on of these and spend a little time re-vitalising them than get a cheap plastic handled thing from B&Q for essentially the same price.

The main thing to remember with sharps is that you want a good quality blade, the rest can be altered or replaced with your own materials if need be.

A few examples of DIY/Moddified Budget kit.
Blades and Fire steels, DIY billy with Bean can Hobo and Pop can stove, Diy Hammock and Bugnet.

Clothing - This is a tough one, you want good durable items, however the price of some of these can be ludicrous - Paramo Pajero jacket 300+!!!! madness. Military surplus is good here, but not everyone wants to sport the DPM look. I personally have a mix of Olive drab shirts and t-shirts picked up a military surplus shops, but also green and brown civillian jackets and trousers picked up at various clearance sales and shops. I bought a Karrimor outer jacket for my waterproof layer for 20 at sportsdirect. Craghopper trouser for 9.99 at a weekly deal in go-outdoors. German windproof shirts and Olive SAS smocks on E-bay - I think the Smock is about 60.

The key to budget bushcraft is to be creative and inventive with available materials and with where to shop.

Hope this gives some food for thought, Mike:D

paul standley
08-08-2011, 07:48 PM
Nice piece Mike.

I am also a budget bushcrafter and there several reasons for this..

- I get a sense of achievement in being able to manage my interest in bushcraft cheaply when there is so much expensive kit out there
- I love making stuff and I'm a good improviser so it fit's well with my other DIY & craft interests
- I like sharing my 'make do and mend' ideas with others

I'd add to Mike's piece by mentioning tents - if bivvi bags aren't for you then there are many tents out there that will cope well that cost less than 20. I have 3 tents, a light weight hiking tent from LIDL, a small 2 man general purpose dome tent bought off the internet and a small 3 man tent with a small porch from TESCO for when i really want to stretch out and these cost me 13, 20 and 15 respectively...! - Throw in a can of water-proof spray and a tube of seam sealer and you'd be pretty much covered unless you are thinking of going up into the mountains.

08-08-2011, 09:45 PM
Cheers Mike. Same mentality with me again although there are a few bits of kit that I did splash out on as these are going to get some more serious use.

My tent is the Banshee 200, 90 as this tent will have to put up with my woodland outings, serious walks and Scout camps.

Rucksack is a Vango, 60 as this again will have to put up with all sorts.

Trangia 25, this I had as a birthday present and has already seen some use.

All the above items I expect to last me for a good while and were carefully planned expenses (even the Trangia as this 'present' still came from the joint account!) The only other 'expensive' item is my Dave Budd knife which is a bit of luxury and as far as I am concerned a bit of a must have item.

13-08-2011, 06:40 AM
wow thanks for all of the ideas

22-09-2011, 01:19 PM

^^ very cheap website...
They use to have the meths stove on there for 1.99 (what I paid for it...) but I went on to buy one for a mate and now it is 2.99 but still very good priced website!