Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Bushcraft Library 1

Bushcraft Books Review

I’ve given a link to the book where possible, followed by a short review and a rating from * to*****
The ratings are as follows
* = Not worth buying or reading, Books by Hugh McManners
** = Mostly derivative, not original
***= Worth a read but only buy if your keen on building a library
****= A really good book,
*****= An excellent book or a core bushcraft text

I’m also going to define the books by topic
- Primitive Skills
- General Bushcraft
- Classic
- Survival

Bushcraft - Mors Kochanski General Bushcraft *****
This book is the essential bushcraft book. It contains advice basic enough for beginners with information that is useful to all. Most of the information is also unique to this book. This is one of the must have books.

Outdoor Survival Skills - Larry Dean Olsen Primitive Skills *****
Not really a survival manual but this is the key text as far as primitive skills go. It is the primitive equivalent of Kochanski’s bushcraft and a Must have book.

Woodcraft - Nessmuk Classic ****
One of the most quoted books and a delight to read. This is perhaps one of the first true bushcraft books and is out of copyright so also available on the net here.

Wildwood Wisdom - Ellsworth Jaeger Classic ****
A personal favourite with many instructional line drawings and ideas for projects. Simple and straightforward and the influence of Nessmuk and Kephart is quite obvious.

Camping and Woodcraft - Horace Kephart Classic ****
This is one of the highest selling outdoors books of all time and has a wealth of information. It is not the easiest book to find what you want in and does not give clear projects. It is however a true handbook for old time bushcraft.

Gem SAS Survival Guide - John “Lofty” Wiseman Survival *****
The first survival book many of us read and still a classic. It is the original and best of the survival books published and comes in a handy pocket size format. If you want a survival book, get this one.

Scouting for Boys - Robert Baden-Powell Classic ****
A book which is one of the most important ever written and has had great cultural impact. A lot of the camping information is repeated or taken from elsewhere and the emphasis on character building and Empire is a little behind the times. Not a great bushcraft book but a great book.

Bushcraft: An Inspirational Guide - Ray Mears Bushcraft ***
A fine looking book but more of a coffee table tome than an instructional manual. It looks lovely but you are not going to learn as much from it as other books.

Participating in Nature - Thomas J. Elpel Primitive Skills ***
Not a bad book and a reasonable introduction into primitive skills. The author spends a lot of time advertising his other wares and talking politics. Some really good points on less covered skills such as felting though

Song of the Paddle - Bill Mason Bushcraft ***
Perhaps the definitive canoe camping book. If you are interested in that then it is a five star book, if not then it is still a good read with some interesting sections on tents and stoves. It has inspired a website here.

Camping for Boys -H.W. Gibson Classic **
Not a bad book but when compared to Dan Beard or Baden-Powell it feels a little dull. Maybe interesting if you’re a scout master otherwise not.

Primitive Technology II: Ancestral Skills Primitive Skills ****
Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills Primitive Skills ****
A pair of excellent books with many ideas for projects and skills. Truly inspirational but not as wide interest as the 5 star books.

Practicing Primitive- Steven M. Watts Primitive Skills ***
A very good book but quite a lot of the information is familiar from the Primitive Technology books and the appeal is not that broad. The section on preparing for a primitive skills expedition is very good.

The Best of Wood smoke: A Manual Bushcraft **
A collection of articles that doesn’t really flow very well. Some of it is primitive and some of it not. Not a bad book but no real focus.
Mountainman Crafts and Skills- David Montgomery Classic **
A tutorial book for 18th and 19th century re-enacting in America. The tutorials are brief though and only with line drawings. A lot of ideas but it would be hard to follow the projects without further reading.

Build the Perfect Survival Kit- John D. McCann Survival ****
The only real book of its type and the ultimate resource if you want to build a survival kit.

The Outdoor Survival Handbook- Ray Mears Bushcraft *****
Maybe Ray’s best book? Easy to follow projects and instructions with an emphasis on doing not kit. A proper handbook that has given me lots of ideas. Some bits very clearly inspired by Kochanski. The third must-have book.

Camp Cookery- Horace Kephart Classic **
A very large amount of overlap with his woodcraft and camping but still a good book to refer to.

Earth Knack - Bart and Robin Blankenship Primitive Skills ***
Quite a basic book but easy to read and well organised. One for the library rather than a key book as there are better books out there.

Prehistoric Cooking - Jacqui Wood Primitive Skills ****
A really well researched and detailed book going through types of food, cooking methods and recipes from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age. Bushcraft cooking at its best.

Camp Lore and Woodcraft - Dan Beard Classic ***
This book is roughly the American equivalent of Scouting for Boys but has more information on camping and bushcraft skills than it. There is less politics but a large section of the book is devoted to horses.

The Dangerous Book for Boys - Conn and Hal Iggulden Classic **
A great book but not a true bushcraft book but a lot of ideas for stimulating interest in traditional scout stlye activities. The sort of book you’ll probably get given as a present!

Snow Walker’s Companion- Garrett & Alexandra Conover Bushcraft ****
A thorough guide to getting out on snow shoes in the real cold. It is wonderful if you are going to be planning a snowy winter trip but too as it is specific not much use otherwise.


Pablo said...

Good stuff Sam. I'll certainly look out for the ones I haven't got.