Survival – Bushcraft – Prepping: Differences and Similarities

Autonomous provision and open-fire cooking, the feeling of independence outside big cities, and the knowledge about methods for self-preservation: all these are common features of Survival, Bushcraft & Prepping. Often these terms are, therefore, used synonymously. However, there are differences in the basic approaches in these forms of outdoor adventures. Here you can find out what is meant by the individual directions, what kind of motivation lies behind them, and, most important, what kind of equipment is best suited.

Survival – The Ability to Survive

Survival describes just this: Staying alive in emergency situations with as low an energy input as possible. Only the tools and utensils that you carry with you on your body are used. They are easily transportable and are partly complemented by natural or other material from the surrounding area. Therefore, survival specialists train their skills for emergency situations, scenarios such as loss of orientation in the wilderness, a vehicle breakdown in the middle of nowhere, shipwreck, and stranding in unknown surroundings. For in a critical situation it is assumed that one has little equipment or none on hand at all. Hence, materials from the surrounding area must be used: a piece of glass thus becomes a knife, an empty can is transformed into a pot. Consequently, a survivalist must be able to primarily rely on his experience, his intuition, and his survival skills. It is all about life preservation until one locates help or finds one’s way back into civilization.

Feuer im Hobo-Kocher bring Feuertopf zum Kochen_fire inside the Hobo Stove

Food – shelter – water – tracking:

Methods for orientation in the surrounding area, for acquiring water and food, for making fire, and for the choice of a sheltered sleeping space are significant. The pocketknife and a fire starter – such as the Petromax Fire Plunger – can be useful companions for survival. With a special survival knife, you can build traps and gut your catch or chop wood for your fireplace by means of batoning (a technique for splitting wood).


Checklist Survival Equipment

  • Survival knife
  • Fire Plunger
  • Hobo stove or Fire Box
  • Tactical / survival backpack with rain cover (30l to 45l volume)
  • Water bottle and water filter to sterilize and transport water from the area
  • Tarp or canvas cover as waterproof base as a rain cover or sun protection
  • Sleeping bag
  • Emergency rations (energy- and protein bars)
  • Dressing material and medical kit
  • Torch/headlight (waterproof)
  • Compass

Bushcraft – Originality in the Open Air

Am Zeltlagerfeuer kochen mit der Feuerpfanne und Teakessel_cooking in the middle of the campfire with Fire Skillet and Tea Kettle

In contrast to survival, a bushcrafter deliberately decides on an outdoor experience. This can last for several days or even weeks. For bushcraft, the feeling of freedom in and with nature is most paramount. It is about setting up one’s outdoor camp as properly as possible and cooking on a fire and doing manual labour the original way. At bushcraft usually a fixed campsite is chosen and set up. Frequently bushcrafters build real shelters or huts, dig cool pits or set up an extensive cooking and fireplace. Also, they try to only take along the most essential parts of equipment. However, a certain amount of comfort and standard modern tools has to be included. Basic survival techniques such as hunting of animals or water treatment are not necessarily essential, because usually, one brings one’s provisions along. Proximity to nature and the return to original crafting methods are vital for enduring in the wilderness.

Bushcraft is for anyone who wants to experience nature.

Edelstahl Perkolator wird auf Raketenofen erhitzt im Lager_Stanel

With every successive adventure trip, advanced bushcrafters will try to leave off some more of the modern equipment to really get closer to the original life outdoors.

Checklist Bushcraft Equipment (in addition to Survival Checklist)

  • Axe, saw, folding spade
  • Tent and sleeping mat/air mattress (alternative: hammock)
  • Petromax Fire Bridge, Fire Anchor or Tripod
  • A selection of cookware (Dutch Oven and Wrought-Iron Pans by Petromax are excellently suitable for outdoor cooking)
  • Enamel tableware
  • Provisions and enough drinking water
  • Petromax Percolator and Tea Kettle

Prepping – Prepared for the Ultimate Emergency

Prepping (engl. to be prepared – dt. vorbereitet sein) ist eine organisierte Krisenvorbereitung, eine Überlebensstrategie bei z. B. Umweltkatastrophen, Terroranschlägen, Epidemien, Kriegen oder dem Zusammenbruch wirtschaftlicher oder politischer Systeme. Der Ursprung des Prepping liegt in den USA des 19. Jahrhunderts zur Zeit der Bürgerkriege. Andauernde Lebensmittelknappheit veranlasste die Bevölkerung dazu, größere Nahrungsvorräte für Kriegs- und Krisensituationen anzulegen. Während der historischen Börsenkrise 1929, des Zweiten Weltkrieges, dem anschließenden Kalten Krieg und der damit verbundenen Angst um eine atomare Katastrophe, wurde das Prepping in den USA immer populärer und verbreitete sich auch weltweit stärker. Die Motivation ist also vorrangig der Selbstschutz sowie die Sicherung der Familie gegen unvorhersehbare Bedrohungen von außen.

More than bushcraft and survival

The approach for prepping contains many elements of bushcraft and survival: in exceptional situations methods for survival are just as vital as methodological skills and craftsmanship to build housing or shelters. In addition, food storage for emergencies, prepared luggage and escape plans, protective clothing, knowledge about independent self-sufficiency, and the handling of weapons all play a significant role.
Hence, if one plans a trip into prepping or a corresponding adventure one ultimately tries for some sort of emergency plan. One has to settle in nature for a number of days and be able to build a complete camp, ration the food provided, exploit sustainable food sources, and train one’s reactions for immediate danger.


Checklist Prepping Equipment ( in addition to Checklists for Survival and Bushcraft)

  • Guide about “Edible wild plants and fruit”
  • Map of the environment / GPS device
  • Radio
  • Full and lasting food supplies
  • Petromax Fire Kettle for simultaneously boiling water and preparing food on the top
  • Water container and water treatment tabs
  • Solar charger
  • Petromax Loki Tent Oven as a combined cooking place and heat source
  • Glue, lighter, multitool, mirror
  • Petromax High Pressure Lamp HK500 as efficient light and heat source
  • Protective clothing (and for real preppers: respiratory masks)

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