Survival Vs Bushcraft

For many,  the distinction between survival &  bushcraft is somewhat unclear; most likely because the overlap between these two sets of skills & knowledge is significant. I’m writing this brief article not as the definitive word on what constitutes survival training or bushcraft, but rather as an aid to learning about the similarities and differences between them in order to help decide which type of course is right for you.


Let’s begin by looking at “Survival. Picture a plane crash, shipwreck, lost hiker/skier, stranded motorist in winter or group of capsized canoeists; these situation have in common the potential to become (if they’re not already) survival situations. Think “Life or Death”. If that sounds extreme, it’s because it is!

A well-made quinzhee, which is just one type of winter shelter.

A well-made Quinzhee!

The end goal of survival is to minimize harm to yourself & your group until you’re either rescued or can resolve the situation yourself. A survival situation  happens by accident; you want it to be over as soon as possible. While our bushcraft courses tend to include some basic survival training, our “Survival Weekend” course focuses entirely on the skills and mindset needed to get yourself out of a survival situation. An emphasis is placed on building solid hands-on skills, decision-making, and the ability to assign priorities to your personal or group needs.


Bushcraft is more about learning to live in harmony with the natural world. The term often refers to the traditional skills and knowledge required to not only survive, but live and thrive in the outdoors. With Bushcraft, the time spent outdoors is intentional; you’re able to enjoy your stay or trip because of the skills, knowledge & confidence you possess. Bushcraft can help you to get out of a survival situation; better yet, it can help you to recognize when a potential situation is developing and avoid it if at all possible.

Our bushcraft courses focus on helping you towards becoming  self reliant in the outdoors, often crafting the things you need from locally available resources using simple but extremely versatile tools like the knife, saw and axe.

A Student proudly holds up his hand-made bow saw.

Hand-made Bow Saw

Learning to identify plants and animals and asses your environment for food/medicine, shelter/camp furniture resources, hazards and more are all a part of bushcraft, as are the ability to use the tools of the woods. It is important to realize that bushcraft will look different depending on where it is being practiced. Different environments, flora/fauna, climate and ecology call for different tools and methods of achieving similar goals. If you’re wondering how much the land can provide you with, consider that First Nations people throughout the world provided for all of their needs in this way!

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Nick FurfaroSurvival Vs Bushcraft

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