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The Complete Guide to Bushcraft Cooking Gear

What is Bushcraft Gear?

Bushcraft gear, also known as survival gear, includes items that are necessary for survival in the wilderness, from dense forests to frozen mountains. Common examples of bushcraft gear include fire starters, knives, load carrying gear, water carriers, and navigation equipment.

The essence of bushcraft lies in using the most primitive survival skills to satisfy your basic needs of water, food, and shelter, without necessarily compromising comfort. While some may prefer to challenge the wild with just the clothes on their back and their skills, having a little preparation with a few essentials, including bushcraft cooking gear, can make the experience a bit easier.

Kettle hanging over fire

8 Bushcraft Cooking Gear Essentials

Bushcraft gear can be differentiated into categories, depending on their function, such as cooking gear. While some equipment is suitable for beginners and nice to have, others are essential when going into the wilderness.

Below, we have listed 8 things you should definitely be carrying with you on your bushcraft experience.

1. Canteen

The importance of water for survival is obvious. While our bodies can survive without food for a few weeks, experts agree that a person can only survive without water for about three days under somewhat favorable conditions.

Dehydration is probably the biggest threat you’ll face when trying to survive in the wild, which is why it’s important to be prepared for the worst. A canteen is, hence, something you can’t skip out on.

While we all use water containers and bottles on a daily basis, a water canteen is a special container made for surviving in the wild. Good canteens will keep your water sealed and insulated to ensure that it remains potable wherever you go.

Canteens usually come in plastic and metal variants. Choosing one comes down to preference and how much you want to spend. However, note that metal canteens are generally more durable but will cost more than their plastic counterparts.

2. Billy Can

For the uninitiated, a billycan, or simply a billy, is a small, lightweight metal bucket that doubles as a cooking and utility pot. It is commonly used to boil water, make tea or coffee, and cook food over a campfire.

Beyond being a bushcraft cooking gear essential for boiling water and food prep, the billycan has other uses as well. It can be used to store some of your other small equipment when not in use since you have that extra space anyway. You can also use it to collect rainwater runoff from your tent/tarp.

A billy also comes in handy when you’re foraging edibles in the wild, or picking bait for fishing. Bushcrafters also use it to collect water from a water body such as a stream or lake.

3. Fire Starter Kit

Starting a fire in the wild is a crucial survival skill. You will need fire to stay warm at night, keep predators at bay, and of course to cook.

While you can definitely start a fire with what nature has to offer such as wood and tree bark, a backup never hurt anyone – and backups are definitely important when you’re new to this world.

A fire starter is therefore an essential item that you should consider carrying with you on your bushcraft adventure. Because nature is often unpredictable, you never know when you might need one.

There are various types of fire starters that you can choose from – you can take the bare minimum box of matches (waterproof, of course!) or a more technologically advanced instant fire starter. Most fire starting kits will include a Ferro rod and a striker or flint and steel.

Bushcraft Knife

4. Bushcraft Knife

The next item on the list should come as no surprise. Even for someone who prefers to take the bare minimum with them to the wilderness, you will never see a survival expert without their bushcraft knife.

A bushcraft or survival knife is not your regular kitchen knife, obviously. The tool is a one-of-a-kind essential that is built for durability and longevity. It is useful for a variety of tasks, from helping you prepare food and starting a fire. It can also come in handy when you want to carve out hooks and stakes for fishing or hunting.

Bushcraft knives can be made of different materials such as high-quality stainless steel or carbon. Find the blade that suits your needs, but also consider how comfortable the handle feels when wielding it.

5. Metal Mug

A metal mug is similar to a billy can, except that it’s usually smaller and used exclusively for eating or drinking (unlike a billy, which can be used for storage, foraging, cooking, etc). Unlike regular ceramic cups, metal mugs are more durable and lighter.

A metal mug is a great companion to have when you need to heat up your food or boil some water. Just be careful while handling it so you don’t burn yourself!

6. Utensils

Having portable utensils and kitchenware can definitely enhance your bushcraft experience. While they are not quite an essential part of your bushcraft cooking gear, utensils can make cooking and eating much more pleasant.

If you’ll be hunting or fishing for food, it can be a big help to have something like a pot or pan to cook it in. While roasting it over a campfire would be alright, it won’t be as efficient as cooking it with the proper tools.

You will find a lot of portable utensils such as pots, pans, forks, and spoons that are lightweight, and yet durable online or in specialty shops.

traveler pours water from a bottle into a metal mug

7. Water Bottle

As mentioned earlier, water is your number one resource when attempting to survive in the wild. Having a reliable, durable, and specialized water bottle on your adventure makes it much easier to boil and purify your water wherever you go.

The best quality bottles are usually made from high-quality titanium or steel and feature single-walled designs to allow you to boil them over a fire.

8. Water Filter

The water you find in the wild is only useful if it is drinkable – and this is where a water filter steps in.

While boiling your water is a sure way to ensure that it’s safe to drink, this can take some time and there may be situations when it’s not possible. For example, you may lack the appropriate equipment or you may need clean water urgently for an emergency.

You can find a variety of different portable water filters online or in specialized stores. These filters prevent the passage of the majority of bacteria and microplastics present in the water, making it safe to drink and use for cooking.

DIY Gear vs Purchased Gear

While the heart of bushcraft lies in braving the wild, making do with the bare minimum tools, and using what’s available in nature, it does not mean you have to start out completely empty-handed. However, if push comes to shove, you forgot some of your bushcraft cooking gear you purchased, or you really want to challenge yourself, you can cobble together some DIY gear in the wild, especially to help you cook.

Here is some DIY bushcraft cooking gear you can try for yourself.

DIY Cooking Gear

Bushcraft camp set-up in the forest.

DIY Cooking Tripod

A cooking tripod is perfect to slow cook your dinner after a long day of bushcraft.

Making one is easy – get three fairly straight tree branches that measure around 2 meters in length. Keep them standing up and bind them together using twine a little below the top.

Once they are bound securely, spread them apart evenly, with around 1 to 1.5 meters between each branch. Place the tripod directly above where you plan to start the fire.

DIY Grill

A DIY grill is much easier to make than you think. All you need are four Y-shaped (forked) branches. Fix the branches into the ground around your campfire to create a square.

Now, place a decently thick straight stick across the Y-branches that are opposite to each other. Make sure it’s thick enough to bear the weight of whatever you’re cooking. Then, put smaller sticks across each straight stick – and your grill is ready!

Pro tip: Use green wood instead of dry wood, which does not burn up as quickly.

DIY Rotisserie

Skewering your meat helps you cook it more evenly and thoroughly than just placing it on a piece of stick. You can create a DIY skewer by splitting a stick from the center and giving it a sharp edge with your knife.

Then, take two Y-shaped sticks and fix them into the ground on opposite sides of your fire. Place the skewered meat on them, and your DIY rotisserie is now ready!

Wild With Bushcraft Cooking Gear

When you’re in the wild, it is important to be as efficient as possible. Carrying essentials, such as cooking tools, on your bushcraft trip can help ease a lot of tasks that would otherwise take a lot of your time and energy.

Before heading out into the wild with your bushcraft cooking gear, check out 5 Bushcraft Skills Every Survivalist Should Know.