Bushcraft vs. Leave No Trace (LNT)?

Feather stick making with Mora

I’m conflicted. I enjoy getting outdoors with my kids at the weekend, going on day hikes, and practicing our bushcraft skills like making firesticks, carving pot hangers, and learning how to properly build and start a camp fire. BUT – when I go on my multi-night or longer distance ultralight backpacking trips (typically without my kids) I’m careful to practice and adhere to the core principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) as much as humanly possible. However, it recently struck me that these two schools of outdoor ethics may actually be at odds with one another.

Bushcraft, in my mind, is about surviving and thriving in the natural environment. It’s about using natural materials to practice age old skills like fire starting, hunting, shelter building, foraging, twine making, and wood carving. It encourages us to use the available natural materials in a responsible way even though that may include cutting down and altering our original surroundings.

The seven key principles of LNT,  (plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors), preach a “touch nothing” ethic that must be adhered to at all costs. LNT practitioners will go to extreme lengths to ensure that they do not disturb or harm the natural beauty of their surroundings. I know several ‘hard core’ LNT’ers that openly scoff at Bushcrafters.

Small Wood Fire

Is there any middle ground? I want to teach my children to both respect their natural surroundings and know the basic skills of how to use them should they ever need to. Is it really necessary to follow the principles of LNT to the letter, or is it good enough to simply do your best to be responsible and respectful?

I’m struggling to find the right balance for myself and my children. What do you think about Bushcraft vs. LNT? Are they at odds, or is there a way that the two can work together to compliment each other? I’d love to hear your thoughts either way.

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  • LNTCamper

    As a Scouts Canada Outdoor/LNT Skills trainer in BC I try to emphasize that the Principles are just that. Principles. Not hard and fast rules that MUST be obeyed, but common sense ethics or values that make your interaction with the environment a more natural one. Teaching youth (and adults) basic skills is important if you intend to spend any time in the great outdoors, but doing so with the LNT principles always in the back of your mind will lead to a less intrusive experience. LNT says you don’t NEED a campfire, but on a clear summer night, just below the treeline, there’s nothing that feeds the spirit like sitting around the fire with friends and family. A small LNT friendly fire, that is!

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      You’re right. There are lots of things I don’t need, but to me many of them are precisely what makes the outdoor experience so enjoyable in the first place. It reminds me of people that pay a lot of money and buy a nice knife that can hold up to almost any amount of abuse, but won’t use it fully for fear of scratching it. Unless you’re a collector – use the damn tool and enjoy it.

      I want to enjoy my time outdoors, be respectful, and teach my children to do the same. I want to find a LNT Scouts Skills trainer for down here (North Carolina) now – had no idea the Scouts had such people – that’s awesome.

  • LNTCamper

    As a Scouts Canada Outdoor/LNT Skills trainer in BC I try to emphasize that the Principles are just that. Principles. Not hard and fast rules that MUST be obeyed, but common sense ethics or values that make your interaction with the environment a more natural one. Teaching youth (and adults) basic skills is important if you intend to spend any time in the great outdoors, but doing so with the LNT principles always in the back of your mind will lead to a less intrusive experience. LNT says you don’t NEED a campfire, but on a clear summer night, just below the treeline, there’s nothing that feeds the spirit like sitting around the fire with friends and family. A small LNT friendly fire, that is!

  • Andrew Downie

    I’ve always thought that you need both.  One should strive to LNT, but one should also be well schooled in bushcraft should the requirement arise. 

    If you teach your children the skills of bushcraft with the respect for the environment of LNT, they will be well suited to a life in the outdoors that takes only that which is necessary, leaves only those traces that are required and kills only the mosquitos which annoy…

  • Andrew Downie

    I’ve always thought that you need both.  One should strive to LNT, but one should also be well schooled in bushcraft should the requirement arise. 

    If you teach your children the skills of bushcraft with the respect for the environment of LNT, they will be well suited to a life in the outdoors that takes only that which is necessary, leaves only those traces that are required and kills only the mosquitos which annoy…

  • http://twitter.com/cooperhill Chris

    I think it’s important to instill a respect for nature and how we can lessen our impact on it. In the NH White Mountains, care for fragile alpine plants (walking on rocks and not grasses and plants), proper waste disposal, packing trash out are important LNT considerations for me. I’m not a strict practitioner by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s also important to try and gently educate others when out hiking if possible. Lots of visitors to the White Mountains don’t know about the fragile nature of the alpine ecosystem. RE: Bushcraft vs. LNT. I’m a trailworker and very proficient with an axe but I don’t do “bushcraft”. I’d guess you could limit impact by using downed or dead wood? Or cut fresh wood from the trailside where it is encroaching on the trail. I don’t consider fires done properly as a high impact activity. It’s an important skill to learn.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Thanks Chris. Waste disposal and packing out trash are the major considerations for me too and relatively easy ones to teach to a younger audience. Like you I try to do my best to educate others when I’m out on the trails. There have been occasions when my children have stopped and explained to other adults why they need to pick up their trash and be more respectful of their surroundings – so I know it is getting through to them.

      I recently saw a great YouTube video (can’t remember by whm, but if I do I’ll post a link) that showed how to make a quick and simple campfire and afterward clean it up so that there is no noticeable indications that there had even been one. It was so simple and easy to do, if done properly.

  • http://twitter.com/cooperhill Chris Garby

    I think it’s important to instill a respect for nature and how we can lessen our impact on it. In the NH White Mountains, care for fragile alpine plants (walking on rocks and not grasses and plants), proper waste disposal, packing trash out are important LNT considerations for me. I’m not a strict practitioner by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s also important to try and gently educate others when out hiking if possible. Lots of visitors to the White Mountains don’t know about the fragile nature of the alpine ecosystem. RE: Bushcraft vs. LNT. I’m a trailworker and very proficient with an axe but I don’t do “bushcraft”. I’d guess you could limit impact by using downed or dead wood? Or cut fresh wood from the trailside where it is encroaching on the trail. I don’t consider fires done properly as a high impact activity. It’s an important skill to learn.

  • http://www.trailsherpa.com Trail Sherpa

    I think I would echo what Chris said.  Using deadfall or harvesting wood in a sustainable way is my first thought.  I also think about where I am setting up camp and if that will have any lasting impact.  Much easier here in the desert but it still requires some consideration.  I talk with my son on the trail about the plants and how to avoid harming them during the hike.  We always take trash out that was left behind.

    I think nature’s carrying capacity exceeds what our impact might be in most cases if we just didn’t add anything to the mix…meaning we packed out what we took in.

  • http://www.trailsherpa.com/ Trail Sherpa

    I think I would echo what Chris said.  Using deadfall or harvesting wood in a sustainable way is my first thought.  I also think about where I am setting up camp and if that will have any lasting impact.  Much easier here in the desert but it still requires some consideration.  I talk with my son on the trail about the plants and how to avoid harming them during the hike.  We always take trash out that was left behind.

    I think nature’s carrying capacity exceeds what our impact might be in most cases if we just didn’t add anything to the mix…meaning we packed out what we took in.

  • http://pig-monkey.com Pig Monkey

    The trouble with LNT is that it takes a narrow, synchronic view. An LNTer may scoff at cooking dinner over a fire because of the impact of gathering wood and potentially leaving some mark or scar on the area. In that immediate situation, cooking dinner on a canister stove surely leaves less of a trace than the fire. But what about the whole life cycle of the product? What impact did the manufacturing of the stove and fuel have? What impact will the disposal of the fuel canister have? When you widen the lens, bushcraft activities tend to have a much smaller impact.

    As Jack Mountain Bushcraft says, it’s all about minimal impact vs. displaced impact.

    • http://www.trailsherpa.com Trail Sherpa

      That a great point.  You see the same debate around energy now too.  To truly compare the impact you have to include all factors.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Very nicely put, as always. When you scratch below the surface there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. Thanks for the Jack Mountain Bushcraft link too, I read his content all the time but had totally missed this – wish I had seen it before I posted mine :-)

  • http://pig-monkey.com/ Pig Monkey

    The trouble with LNT is that it takes a narrow, synchronic view. An LNTer may scoff at cooking dinner over a fire because of the impact of gathering wood and potentially leaving some mark or scar on the area. In that immediate situation, cooking dinner on a canister stove surely leaves less of a trace than the fire. But what about the whole life cycle of the product? What impact did the manufacturing of the stove and fuel have? What impact will the disposal of the fuel canister have? When you widen the lens, bushcraft activities tend to have a much smaller impact.

    As Jack Mountain Bushcraft says, it’s all about minimal impact vs. displaced impact.

  • PaulOsborn

    Parks have rules, but usually even protected areas or crown or state owned land allow for fires etc. I would try to balance it that way. Practice LNT in parks, but where permitted teach the bushcraft skills.

    The parks in Canada for example won’t allow for any gathering of firewood or kindling in any form. They say it destroys habitat for wildlife. I can understand that and I know they are protecting the parks from irresponsible individuals, but it does put a damper on family trips. There is a lot of “crown land” where individuals can harvest fallen timber and practice many bushcraft skills.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Paul, I think you and several others have hit on the right balance. Practice LNT where there is a need to lesson the impact, but practice considerate Bushcraft skills where permitted and sustainable. I like that, it’s simple.

  • http://profiles.google.com/orthotomeo Paul Osborn

    Parks have rules, but usually even protected areas or crown or state owned land allow for fires etc. I would try to balance it that way. Practice LNT in parks, but where permitted teach the bushcraft skills.

    The parks in Canada for example won’t allow for any gathering of firewood or kindling in any form. They say it destroys habitat for wildlife. I can understand that and I know they are protecting the parks from irresponsible individuals, but it does put a damper on family trips. There is a lot of “crown land” where individuals can harvest fallen timber and practice many bushcraft skills.

  • Qwiv

    I do not believe these 2 schools of thought are at odds with each other in reality and there is a place for both.  Bushcraft is the skills of old times, living with the environment and survival.  For thousands of years humans lived on this planet using bushcraft skills and the world was healthier then.  Today we have to deal with over population and a lack of open space.  It would be irresponsible for someone to go to Yosemite Valley and cut down a tree to make a fire because so many people use this land that there would be no trees left.  In Alaska where the population density is so low, cutting down a tree is of no issue because there are so many trees and so little people.  Part of bushcraft is using the environment and not destroying it.  Take what you need, not what you want.

    Someone that was practicing bushcraft would not cut down a tree in town center or go to the bathroom in the domestic water system.  They would not cut down all the wild flowers in a field to make a pretty flower arrangement, etc.  That is not to say that there are not people who say they practice bushcraft who go out and destroy the environment to practice a skill in bushcraft.  While they may be practicing a bushcraft skill, they are not practicing bushcraft.  Watch Ray Mears and you will see that he builds a camp fire then does everything he can to make the signs of that camp fire vanish.

    My basic view is that if I am going some place that is heavily used, I need to bring everything I need and practice LNT as best I can to preserve the environment for others, but if I am going out into the back country of a healthy wilderness, I am happy to bring my bushcraft skills with me.  I am not going to cut down a tree to make a huge fire for fun and I am not going to destroy vegetation/animals for show, but will use the resources in moderation.  I don’t want to scar the wilderness, I want to live with it.  How many pieces of wood used to make a tool are equivalent to the environmental impact of making a light weight version of that tool to carry into the back-woods?  Pretend you’re an Native American and keep their principles for life in your head.  If I am in a survival situation, the use of bushcraft skills could mean the difference between life and death, so you better know them.  When you practice your bushcraft skills you need to do so responsibly as well.  Want to practice making rope, don’t go to the local park and dig up all the tree roots.    Go to where there are plenty of trees and take a root from many trees.  

    I guarantee that a person living on this planet using only bushcraft skills is making far less of an impact than a typical American/European with a house, car, TV, Air Conditioning………. you get the point.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      This is great! “Take what you need, not what you want.”

  • Qwiv

    I do not believe these 2 schools of thought are at odds with each other in reality and there is a place for both.  Bushcraft is the skills of old times, living with the environment and survival.  For thousands of years humans lived on this planet using bushcraft skills and the world was healthier then.  Today we have to deal with over population and a lack of open space.  It would be irresponsible for someone to go to Yosemite Valley and cut down a tree to make a fire because so many people use this land that there would be no trees left.  In Alaska where the population density is so low, cutting down a tree is of no issue because there are so many trees and so little people.  Part of bushcraft is using the environment and not destroying it.  Take what you need, not what you want.

    Someone that was practicing bushcraft would not cut down a tree in town center or go to the bathroom in the domestic water system.  They would not cut down all the wild flowers in a field to make a pretty flower arrangement, etc.  That is not to say that there are not people who say they practice bushcraft who go out and destroy the environment to practice a skill in bushcraft.  While they may be practicing a bushcraft skill, they are not practicing bushcraft.  Watch Ray Mears and you will see that he builds a camp fire then does everything he can to make the signs of that camp fire vanish.

    My basic view is that if I am going some place that is heavily used, I need to bring everything I need and practice LNT as best I can to preserve the environment for others, but if I am going out into the back country of a healthy wilderness, I am happy to bring my bushcraft skills with me.  I am not going to cut down a tree to make a huge fire for fun and I am not going to destroy vegetation/animals for show, but will use the resources in moderation.  I don’t want to scar the wilderness, I want to live with it.  How many pieces of wood used to make a tool are equivalent to the environmental impact of making a light weight version of that tool to carry into the back-woods?  Pretend you’re an Native American and keep their principles for life in your head.  If I am in a survival situation, the use of bushcraft skills could mean the difference between life and death, so you better know them.  When you practice your bushcraft skills you need to do so responsibly as well.  Want to practice making rope, don’t go to the local park and dig up all the tree roots.    Go to where there are plenty of trees and take a root from many trees.  

    I guarantee that a person living on this planet using only bushcraft skills is making far less of an impact than a typical American/European with a house, car, TV, Air Conditioning………. you get the point.

  • http://www.trailsherpa.com/ Trail Sherpa

    That a great point.  You see the same debate around energy now too.  To truly compare the impact you have to include all factors.

  • http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com Ross

    For me there are two considerations when thinking about LNT vs. bushcraft.

    The first, as others have stated, is that it is all about context. If I am planning a multi day hiking trip, where I will be sticking to the trails, I will keep my impact on the surroundings minimal. These are well traveled areas, and the only way they can be preserved is with some form of LNT combined with management by the people who work for the parks. I don’t go to extremes, as at some point it becomes silly, but I always keep in mind that every action taken on that trail will be repeated by thousands of people that month. On the other hand however, if I am backwoods backpacking (mostly what I do) I don’t have those same considerations. If I am in an area which is unlikely to be visited by another person for the next six months, even if my individual impact is significant, the overall human impact on the environment is minimal.

    The second consideration for me is that I do not think of people as separate from nature, or at odds with it. I see nothing wrong with humans impacting nature and the wilderness, as long as it is preserved in recognizable form. I get as upset when I see a tree chopped down by a person, as I do when I see one brought down by a beaver. As long as the use is not wasteful, and the first consideration is followed, I have no problem with it.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      “I do not think of people as separate from nature, or at odds with it. I see nothing wrong with humans impacting nature and the wilderness, as long as it is preserved in recognizable form.” – Exactly.

      If we are not permitted to interact with it at all, I might as well stay at home and look at photos of what it looks like. Balance and respect are key.

  • http://woodtrekker.blogspot.com/ Ross

    For me there are two considerations when thinking about LNT vs. bushcraft.
    The first, as others have stated, is that it is all about context. If I am planning a multi day hiking trip, where I will be sticking to the trails, I will keep my impact on the surroundings minimal. These are well traveled areas, and the only way they can be preserved is with some form of LNT combined with management by the people who work for the parks. I don’t go to extremes, as at some point it becomes silly, but I always keep in mind that every action taken on that trail will be repeated by thousands of people that month. On the other hand however, if I am backwoods backpacking (mostly what I do) I don’t have those same considerations. If I am in an area which is unlikely to be visited by another person for the next six months, even if my individual impact is significant, the overall human impact on the environment is minimal.
    The second consideration for me is that I do not think of people as separate from nature, or at odds with it. I see nothing wrong with humans impacting nature and the wilderness, as long as it is preserved in recognizable form. I get as upset when I see a tree chopped down by a person, as I do when I see one brought down by a beaver. As long as the use is not wasteful, and the first consideration is followed, I have no problem with it.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Very nicely put, as always. When you scratch below the surface there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. Thanks for the Jack Mountain Bushcraft link too, I read his content all the time but had totally missed this – wish I had seen it before I posted mine :-)

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    You’re right. There are lots of things I don’t need, but to me many of them are precisely what makes the outdoor experience so enjoyable in the first place. It reminds me of people that pay a lot of money and buy a nice knife that can hold up to almost any amount of abuse, but won’t use it fully for fear of scratching it. Unless you’re a collector – use the damn tool and enjoy it.

    I want to enjoy my time outdoors, be respectful, and teach my children to do the same. I want to find a LNT Scouts Skills trainer for down here (North Carolina) now – had no idea the Scouts had such people – that’s awesome.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Thanks Chris. Waste disposal and packing out trash are the major considerations for me too and relatively easy ones to teach to a younger audience. Like you I try to do my best to educate others when I’m out on the trails. There have been occasions when my children have stopped and explained to other adults why they need to pick up their trash and be more respectful of their surroundings – so I know it is getting through to them.

    I recently saw a great YouTube video (can’t remember by whm, but if I do I’ll post a link) that showed how to make a quick and simple campfire and afterward clean it up so that there is no noticeable indications that there had even been one. It was so simple and easy to do, if done properly.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    “I do not think of people as separate from nature, or at odds with it. I see nothing wrong with humans impacting nature and the wilderness, as long as it is preserved in recognizable form.” – Exactly.

    If we are not permitted to interact with it at all, I might as well stay at home and look at photos of what it looks like. Balance and respect are key.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    This is great! “Take what you need, not what you want.”

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Paul, I think you and several others have hit on the right balance. Practice LNT where there is a need to lesson the impact, but practice considerate Bushcraft skills where permitted and sustainable. I like that, it’s simple.

  • Johnpsmith19

    I have been a hiker/climber for 35+ years and started off learning bushcraft in Alaska far away from crowds, in fact we call it the ‘Bush’ in Alaska.  I have also worked with Boy Scouts for about 15 years now and when working with them I focus largely on LNT with some bushcraft thrown in. I do this because the vast majority of these kids are never going to do much more than car camp and an occasional jaunt into the woods once every few years on well-traveled trails.  I want their impact to be minimal if possible.

    Living in Washington I have never been all that remote here so I have to consider that anything i do will be visited soon by others and I often am following behind others as well.  So I do more LNT now than bushcraft but always am trying to develop my personal skills in this area. 

    I believe bushcraft allows a more personal involvement with nature where as LNT is more like visiting a museum where you are not allowed to touch the art and always have to whisper.  Each has there place but in more traveled areas I think LNT is more appropriate.

    john the xcar

  • Johnpsmith19

    I have been a hiker/climber for 35+ years and started off learning bushcraft in Alaska far away from crowds, in fact we call it the ‘Bush’ in Alaska.  I have also worked with Boy Scouts for about 15 years now and when working with them I focus largely on LNT with some bushcraft thrown in. I do this because the vast majority of these kids are never going to do much more than car camp and an occasional jaunt into the woods once every few years on well-traveled trails.  I want their impact to be minimal if possible.

    Living in Washington I have never been all that remote here so I have to consider that anything i do will be visited soon by others and I often am following behind others as well.  So I do more LNT now than bushcraft but always am trying to develop my personal skills in this area. 

    I believe bushcraft allows a more personal involvement with nature where as LNT is more like visiting a museum where you are not allowed to touch the art and always have to whisper.  Each has there place but in more traveled areas I think LNT is more appropriate.

    john the xcar

  • PaulOsborn

    I wonder what the impact of sustainable bushcraft is vs. the impact of the lifecycle of modern, synthetic gear… 

    • http://korpijaakko.wordpress.com/ Korpijaakko

      What is “the impact of sustainable bushcraft” when performed by nearly 7 billion people? In this case I’d prefer the LNT i.e. birth control as Brimstone put it. ;)

  • http://profiles.google.com/orthotomeo Paul Osborn

    I wonder what the impact of sustainable bushcraft is vs. the impact of the lifecycle of modern, synthetic gear… 

  • Brimstone

    “LNT”…reminds me of something that happened when I was in the Army Rangers.  We spent most of our time walkin’ around the woods trying not to be found.  “LNT” was a profession. Once a guy unknowingly dropped a gum wrapper from his C-rations. His squad leader found it…he spent his weekend digging a 2′ by 6′ by 5′ fox hole to bury it.

    The only way to truly “LNT” in a wilderness area is…DON’T GO THERE.  Stay home.  Trust me, no matter how hard-corps your LNT fanatic friends might be, there are guys who CAN find their trace…

    So my point is “LNT” is worthy but unattainable goal. A journey, not a destination. So have fun, do your best, learn and teach, constantly improve. Once you’ve mastered selecting perfect wood for fuzz sticks move on to finding perfect wood from places no one will know you took it. You never know when your squad leader is watching.

    BTW, the most effective form of “LNT” is…birth control…

  • Brimstone

    “LNT”…reminds me of something that happened when I was in the Army Rangers.  We spent most of our time walkin’ around the woods trying not to be found.  “LNT” was a profession. Once a guy unknowingly dropped a gum wrapper from his C-rations. His squad leader found it…he spent his weekend digging a 2′ by 6′ by 5′ fox hole to bury it.

    The only way to truly “LNT” in a wilderness area is…DON’T GO THERE.  Stay home.  Trust me, no matter how hard-corps your LNT fanatic friends might be, there are guys who CAN find their trace…

    So my point is “LNT” is worthy but unattainable goal. A journey, not a destination. So have fun, do your best, learn and teach, constantly improve. Once you’ve mastered selecting perfect wood for fuzz sticks move on to finding perfect wood from places no one will know you took it. You never know when your squad leader is watching.

    BTW, the most effective form of “LNT” is…birth control…

  • http://korpijaakko.wordpress.com/ Korpijaakko

    From a Finnish hiker’s perspective the whole question of bushcrat vs. LNT seems irrelevant and artificial. It might be that because of our history we have closer connection to nature and utilizing it’s resources on daily basis. For me the terms bushcraft and LNT are new and somewhat weird, even unnecessary. For me bushcraft would just mean the typical traditional wilderness skills and it’s good to know those skills if you spent a lot of time outdoors. On the other hand LNT would just mean common sense and if something is worth having it’s common sense.

    From my point of view both hard core bushcrafting and extreme LNT are only the opposite extremes and usually the extremes are bad in someway. Despite the middle ground being bland, that iss what I mostly see happening in the woods. You don’t have to be “part of a gang” to be able to enjoy the outdoors and if someone requires that and scoff others for not doing what they do, it’s their loss.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Very well put. Although many LNTers may be upset with being called part of an “extreme gang” :-) I’m with you in that these both seem like new terms to what we had always simply referred to as wilderness skills.

      I’m comfortable with my middle ground and will most likely keep on doing what I am doing. Thanks for your feedback!

  • Dexey

    I see bushcraft as a form of re-enactment and largely unnecessary if you are equipped with modern kit.
    The skills of bushcraft are useful to know if the modern kit, and I think of a Kelly Kettle as modern, fails but not normally necessary for a camp in this century.
    Otoh, I don’t see it as something to get over excited about either. I expect that your average RV user does much more damage than any bushcrafter :0)

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      I didn’t even want to bring up the subject of RV campers! OMG, where to start?

  • Perkunas

    LEaving no trace should be started by demolishing down all the human made structures and fixing all eco catastrophe marks we have created in last 200 years or so :).

    Some bushcrafter who has brains to use already fallen dead branches to make his small fire, is nt the major problem in my eyes. If you think about some carbon prints etc, i think that a guy who relies on only the latest hiking gadgets and wardrobe, and changes it all the time, might have actually a bigger issue against nature that a person who makes a fishing rod from willow and a pot holder from branch etc in his old 10 yr old worn clothing that is replaced only when it cant be fixed.

    BTW, bushcraft Aint about survival, in my opinion. Its about making the best of it, making your stay in the woods comfortable with natures offerings,but with a strong respect to nature, with as less gear and especially Tech, and learning the old and useful skills to make it happen. Survivalism is has common areas with bushcraft but survivalism is more about getting hell out of the bush by any means,opposite to bushcraft that is about going to bush and stayin there.

    The re-enactment bushcraft….i dont like that either. Its more like childs play and collecting perioid correct stuff that aint actually used. In many ways, bushcraft suffers also from commercialism,when all kinds of television series celebrities make guys buy all sorts of crap endorsed by this and that popular figure of your choise. But a simple,durable kit, and plenty of skills to replace the need of every commercial gear offered,aint bad hobby in my opinion.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Thanks Perkunas, I think the carbon footprint issue is definitely one of the ones that not everyone is considering fully – I get it. There will always be an over commercialization of what’s currently popular. Bushcraft is no exception. What used to simply be called wilderness skills is now a formal craft with a name that sells gear – unfortunately that’s nothing new.

      Many people will fall for the Bear Grylls or Ray Mears branded gear, but just as many will know the difference. Part of what I try to do here on my blog is dispel the myth that you have to buy specialized gear for every task. Durable and reliable gear will win every time as you say.

  • http://twitter.com/MattOutside Matt Souveny

    I grew up with a “take only pictures and leave only your footprints” philosophy and didn’t see Bushcraft or LNT as distinct separations until recently. Considerations such as packing out your garbage and cat-holing seem common-sense in order to keep wilderness areas clean for others and for nature’s sake. However, if required for warmth or comfort I also wouldn’t have hesitated cutting down some spruce bows or starting a small fire.
     
    It does seem that in more recent times there is a growing distinction between the two schools of thought. And now I would certainly shy away from chopping down trees unless it was indeed an emergency. As an individual who has worked and volunteered in SAR we tend to practice LNT principles while out training, but also try to have a good understanding of Bushcraft for survival if required.
     
    If you are going to get out and enjoy the backcountry I think it’s important to at least have an understanding of what nature can offer you in terms of survival in a worst case scenario situation. It’s great to get your kids out there and I’m certain with your guidance that they won’t abuse the natural environment. I think having some experience in Bushcraft such as properly constructing a lean-to or responsible ways to build a fire are arguably more important skills to have in the backcountry and will likely increase a person’s appreciation for nature overall.

    I’m headed out on a nine day survival course next week and may have some broader understanding of how to balance LNT and Bushcraft upon my return.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Thanks Matt, nicely said. Have a great trip and please let us know what you come up with regards to the balance between LNT and Bushcraft!

  • pedro alves
  • Chris Anderson

    I have been formulating my response for some time now and I think I am ready.  But I’m going to post it on my blog because I fear I may get a touch long winded…

  • Chris Anderson

    Done! Bushcraft vs. Leave-No-Trace: A Response

    Excerpt from Midwest Bushcraft: “Bushcraft for me is the act of participating in nature while taking an “extreme” (my words) view of the LNT principles is the act of passing through nature. I believe that following the LNT principles as they are written makes them completely compatible with bushcraft. In order to prove my point we are going to explore the 7 principles and my interpretation of them with the juxtaposition of how some LNTers interpret them.”

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Thanks Matt, nicely said. Have a great trip and please let us know what you come up with regards to the balance between LNT and Bushcraft!

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Thanks Perkunas, I think the carbon footprint issue is definitely one of the ones that not everyone is considering fully – I get it. There will always be an over commercialization of what’s currently popular. Bushcraft is no exception. What used to simply be called wilderness skills is now a formal craft with a name that sells gear – unfortunately that’s nothing new.

    Many people will fall for the Bear Grylls or Ray Mears branded gear, but just as many will know the difference. Part of what I try to do here on my blog is dispel the myth that you have to buy specialized gear for every task. Durable and reliable gear will win every time as you say.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    I didn’t even want to bring up the subject of RV campers! OMG, where to start?

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Very well put. Although many LNTers may be upset with being called part of an “extreme gang” :-) I’m with you in that these both seem like new terms to what we had always simply referred to as wilderness skills.

    I’m comfortable with my middle ground and will most likely keep on doing what I am doing. Thanks for your feedback!

  • http://twitter.com/MattOutside Matt Souveny

    I grew up with a “take only pictures and leave only your footprints” philosophy and didn’t see Bushcraft or LNT as distinct separations until recently. Considerations such as packing out your garbage and cat-holing seem common-sense in order to keep wilderness areas clean for others and for nature’s sake. However, if required for warmth or comfort I also wouldn’t have hesitated cutting down some spruce bows or starting a small fire.
     
    It does seem that in more recent times there is a growing distinction between the two schools of thought. And now I would certainly shy away from chopping down trees unless it was indeed an emergency. As an individual who has worked and volunteered in SAR we tend to practice LNT principles while out training, but also try to have a good understanding of Bushcraft for survival if required.
     
    If you are going to get out and enjoy the backcountry I think it’s important to at least have an understanding of what nature can offer you in terms of survival in a worst case scenario situation. It’s great to get your kids out there and I’m certain with your guidance that they won’t abuse the natural environment. I think having some experience in Bushcraft such as properly constructing a lean-to or responsible ways to build a fire are arguably more important skills to have in the backcountry and will likely increase a person’s appreciation for nature overall.

    I’m headed out on a nine day survival course next week and may have some broader understanding of how to balance LNT and Bushcraft upon my return.

  • Perkunas

    LEaving no trace should be started by demolishing down all the human made structures and fixing all eco catastrophe marks we have created in last 200 years or so :).

    Some bushcrafter who has brains to use already fallen dead branches to make his small fire, is nt the major problem in my eyes. If you think about some carbon prints etc, i think that a guy who relies on only the latest hiking gadgets and wardrobe, and changes it all the time, might have actually a bigger issue against nature that a person who makes a fishing rod from willow and a pot holder from branch etc in his old 10 yr old worn clothing that is replaced only when it cant be fixed.

    BTW, bushcraft Aint about survival, in my opinion. Its about making the best of it, making your stay in the woods comfortable with natures offerings,but with a strong respect to nature, with as less gear and especially Tech, and learning the old and useful skills to make it happen. Survivalism is has common areas with bushcraft but survivalism is more about getting hell out of the bush by any means,opposite to bushcraft that is about going to bush and stayin there.

    The re-enactment bushcraft….i dont like that either. Its more like childs play and collecting perioid correct stuff that aint actually used. In many ways, bushcraft suffers also from commercialism,when all kinds of television series celebrities make guys buy all sorts of crap endorsed by this and that popular figure of your choise. But a simple,durable kit, and plenty of skills to replace the need of every commercial gear offered,aint bad hobby in my opinion.

  • Dexey

    I see bushcraft as a form of re-enactment and largely unnecessary if you are equipped with modern kit.
    The skills of bushcraft are useful to know if the modern kit, and I think of a Kelly Kettle as modern, fails but not normally necessary for a camp in this century.
    Otoh, I don’t see it as something to get over excited about either. I expect that your average RV user does much more damage than any bushcrafter :0)

  • http://korpijaakko.wordpress.com/ Korpijaakko

    What is “the impact of sustainable bushcraft” when performed by nearly 7 billion people? In this case I’d prefer the LNT i.e. birth control as Brimstone put it. ;)

  • http://korpijaakko.wordpress.com/ Korpijaakko

    From a Finnish hiker’s perspective the whole question of bushcrat vs. LNT seems irrelevant and artificial. It might be that because of our history we have closer connection to nature and utilizing it’s resources on daily basis. For me the terms bushcraft and LNT are new and somewhat weird, even unnecessary. For me bushcraft would just mean the typical traditional wilderness skills and it’s good to know those skills if you spent a lot of time outdoors. On the other hand LNT would just mean common sense and if something is worth having it’s common sense.

    From my point of view both hard core bushcrafting and extreme LNT are only the opposite extremes and usually the extremes are bad in someway. Despite the middle ground being bland, that iss what I mostly see happening in the woods. You don’t have to be “part of a gang” to be able to enjoy the outdoors and if someone requires that and scoff others for not doing what they do, it’s their loss.

  • http://twitter.com/nicknumber Temp Login

    Only take the minimum you need, but remember nature takes it all back in the end. I live in a remote part of the UK where single tracked metalled roads meandered their way through the countryside, now often replaced with two lane roads, sometimes taking the same route, sometimes not. Nature has reclaimed those single tracked roads left behind inch by inch. There are no trees on our hills here; it’s just too windy. imagine having no tree to tie your tarp to, nowhere to take twigs from for your fire, nowhere to take shelter. That’s backpacking in Shetland.

    No matter how you do it, just enjoy it.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      What part of the Shetland Islands are you from? I haven’t been there since 1993 when I did a couple of day hikes out of a town called Brae? One of my friend’s had a relative that lived just across from the high school. Beautiful place, but brutal and harsh at the same time.

  • http://twitter.com/nicknumber Temp Login

    Only take the minimum you need, but remember nature takes it all back in the end. I live in a remote part of the UK where single tracked metalled roads meandered their way through the countryside, now often replaced with two lane roads, sometimes taking the same route, sometimes not. Nature has reclaimed those single tracked roads left behind inch by inch. There are no trees on our hills here; it’s just too windy. imagine having no tree to tie your tarp to, nowhere to take twigs from for your fire, nowhere to take shelter. That’s backpacking in Shetland.

    No matter how you do it, just enjoy it.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    What part of the Shetland Islands are you from? I haven’t been there since 1993 when I did a couple of day hikes out of a town called Brae? One of my friend’s had a relative that lived just across from the high school. Beautiful place, but brutal and harsh at the same time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cwiellis Idris Ellis

    Wherever I am, I am part of Nature, not a visitor. Live & let live, do as you need, yet take care to do no harm. Bitter the heart that must preach perfection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Brooks/730179359 Chris Brooks

    We should try to find ways to leave as little trace as possible using as natural a method as possible. Who knows when you might end up trying to survive without be tracked.

  • Yellow

    LNT is a mistake. It drives disconnection. “Look but don’t touch” is not a way to engage humans in their habitat.

  • Yellow

    “I want their impact to be minimal if possible.”

    Maybe this would work better: “I want the impact on them to be as massive as possible”

    Let them touch, let them smell, let them crush and break, let them experience something natural without screaming “Don’t touch that!!!” “Get off the grass!”