There has been a lot of spirited discussion in the comments this week so I thought I would try to throw another log on the fire and see what debate this article would generate. There seem to be two sides to this survival coin in terms of what people believe are the best tactics and skills needed to survive anything that comes your way. On one side we have preppers who tend to have certain interests and opinions. The other side is Survivalists or people who practice the art of Bushcraft. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but who do you think would fare better in a SHTF scenario? Who would win in the battle of Prepping vs Bushcraft?
Before I get into the main question I think it is a good idea to define what I mean by the two types of people. I am sure there will be those who disagree with my definition, but that is what I will use for the comparison of each.
Preppers are defined as people who take steps to ensure they will be ready to address, survive and thrive through any disasters they may face in their lives. Preppers will stock supplies in advance of shortages and I believe the primary focus comes down to Water, Food, Shelter and Security.
What are the traits of Bushcraft?
Bushcraft skills are focused more on living off the land using minimal tools and gear to survive with what you have access to. Bushcraft relies on what you can acquire in nature versus what you can purchase at the store. Some main concepts of Bushcraft are building fire, shelter and small game traps with not much more than sticks, whittled and assembled in the right configuration with cordage to supply the noose and lashing to connect your wood. Bushcraft can also be referred to as survivalism where the focus is on surviving using the elements you find yourself in.
Which one is Better?
As I came up with the idea of this article, I knew pretty much right away that there is no clear winner between people who label themselves preppers or people who believe Bushcraft is all you ever need. There are good points in both camps and determining which path would be the most successful really depends on what you are facing. Like so many other problems we try to address with prepping and Bushcraft, it comes down to the disaster.
I decided to think of three hypothetical disasters and contrast the two schools of thought.
Economic Collapse – Stock implosion worse than the great depression that lasts for 2 years.
Prepper: Most preppers start off with stocking up on food and water so you are able to stay at home while everyone else panics and loots. Stores are burned down and FEMA trucks are attacked. Eventually Martial Law is declared but you stay away from the chaos, live off your preps and plan your next move.
Bushcraft: Relying on your skills of foraging and small game hunting, you are able to catch food every day for the first couple of weeks. The two squirrels and a field mouse a day are not enough to feed your family though and seeing as how the Economy tanked in winter, there are precious few fruits, nuts or berries to eat. You are able to eat some wild roots, but spend hours each day searching for food with mixed results. Some days you aren’t lucky and go home hungry.
Virus Pandemic – Mandatory shelter in place rules are in effect for 6 months
Prepper: Using your preps like this was never how you envisioned it, but you have plenty of food and water supplied for several months. You also have personal protective gear so you are able to go out into the yard, tend your garden and collect rainwater from your rain barrel systems without fear of contracting the virus. The solar panels you installed right before the virus hit give you enough power each day to charge a laptop and your cell phones. Since the power outages caused by a shortage of workers who fell ill also, the laptop has come in handy playing DVD’s for your children and staving off the inevitable boredom of sheltering in place.
Bushcraft: The good news is that your wild plant and herbal remedy knowledge has prepared you to treat fevers your family experienced as they were forced to travel from your home in search of food, but the illness has seriously weakened two of them which leave fewer people to hunt and gather. Each of you have lost 20 pounds and the lack of nutrition is taking its toll.
Lost in the wilderness – A camping trip goes wrong, you are separated from your group and forced to spend the night in the woods.
Prepper: You became separated from your group but you didn’t panic and instead set up camp. You had brought along an extra day’s food and were able to fish from a small lake and filter drinking water. Your layers keep you warm into the cold night along with the roaring fire you were able to make with your fire starter and some wetfire cubes. The next day you are found by the park rangers and escorted out.
Bushcraft: You also didn’t panic and were able to devise a debris shelter and a fire. This consumed all of your time though so you weren’t able to set any traps or catch any fish. You are alive though and people can live without food for a long time. You are also rescued the next day.
Who is the winner?
OK, at first glance this probably looks skewed and opinionated. I will admit right now that Bushcraft skills are no joke. They are life savers if you are out in the wilderness away from all civilization. I don’t believe they trump prepping in every instance though and I tried to illustrate that here, however unfairly.
Prepping has a definite usefulness that can save millions of lives and it shouldn’t be looked down on by the purists out there who can whittle anything in the world. If we had a global apocalypse and everyone had to walk into the woods naked, I image Bushcraft skills would be far superior – in the long run. For most disasters though where we do cling to some civilization, I believe prepping offers just as many advantages without the luck you might need with Bushcraft. Is it the lazy way out? Perhaps, but I would rather have 20 lazy families who stocked up for a rainy day than 20 people who thought they were going to live off the land and in three days came banging on my door for a handout.
Maybe we should combine elements of both for the most well-rounded person. Preppers can definitely learn a myriad of Bushcraft skills that could keep us alive. Could preppers help bushcrafters out some too in the preparedness department? Bushpreppers? Prepcrafters?
What do you think? Who would fare better in a SHTF scenario, Prepping or Bushcraft?
by Pat Henry