by Kyt Lyn Walken
“Bushcraft is a term for wilderness skills and is the practice of surviving”
― Dave Canterbury
What leads us to the selection of our gear is not comfort, but experience.
In fact, only once we are experienced, can we then seek comfort. Experience comes from how much time we spend off-grid, far from any comfortable seat, without a roof, far from familiar ceilings.
To me, Bushcraft is home outside home. And my backpack is my ally, my companion, my second back, part of my clothing and, obviously, an outside home inside. I am sure you know what I am talking about.
Personally speaking, I saw, purchased and tested more than twenty different backpacks in my whole life. There's a long row of reasons behind, and I think a few words about them are definitely well worth sharing.
All about... our body
“You must master a unique skill set that includes firecraft, navigation, trapping, creating shelter, tracking, and the use of tools, both modern and primitive.”
― Dave Canterbury
Our body is in constant change. Hands down on it. As a child first and teenager later who spent quite all the weekend off in the woods with my parents, I can say that my very first backpack was a colorful, lightweight Invicta.
I still remember that, colored in orange and blue. We can say that was a real cult back in the Ninenties! In those years I used to pack only a waterproof jacket in it, along with a small bottle of water, and a couple of snacks. It used to be my inseparable companion.
Later on, my passion for the Great Outdoors led me into the selection of more structured backpacks. But I always used to be very skinny, with a weak back!
So, throughout the years, I opted for backpacks which was, from my perspective, a good compromise between efficiency and weight.
In few words, I let my body decide what was the best to look for. But later on I realized that was a huge mistake!
Instead of choosing comfort, I needed to work on my strength... and on my health too. I think most of you out there could share my story. For this reason I started to opt out for different gear, as I will soon explain.
On our mindset:
It goes without saying that our mindset plays a huge role into the selection of our gear. Depending on how much time we will spend in the Great Outdoors, we pick up the right stuff. One day, one week. We calibrate our decisions on the requirements given by circumstances.
In fact, it is pretty common inside the Bushcraft Community to have more than one single backpack. I consider the number of overnights, the distances I want to cover, and, obviously, which kind of particular equipment I want to pack in beside the essentials.
In fact, along with the Fire, Survival and Medi Kits, as a Tracker I add my Tracking gear as well as the proper cooking set, sleeping systems and so on.
On our knowledge:
The more we know, the less we carry.
I reckon that probably everyone of us did the very opposite at the beginning of our journey into bushcraft! We used to carry a lot of extra stuff we really didn't need.
Later on, thanks to courses attended and consequential enlargement of our knowledge, we tend to reduce. Less is more also in our Bushcraft activities.
Some items have just more than one single purpose and with this precious reason we learn how to compact our gear, and even how to better pack each single piece inside our backpacks.
This is of course a personal selection, and my poll couldn't match with your expectations. Indeed I always have a personal leaning towards tactical gear, because of its durability and reliability. Honestly, throughout the years, I have never been disappointed by this kind of equipment.
I carry everything I need inside my backpack and, ocassionally, inside external pouche. Due to my size (5,6 feet tall for 117 lb), I always found it very uncomfortable to wear a belt with pouches attached.
My backpacks contain the following items:
Survival Kit (with purification systems and navigation devices)
The Survival Kit and the Medi Kit are placed at very easy reach due to their importance.
A good Bushcraft Backpack should 100% fit your body as well as all your kit, but always being
Here comes my personal selection of the 5 Best Bushcraft Backpacks:
1. Ferrino "Tuscania"
Having a Ferrino Tuscania was a guilty dream of mine for a long time. I observed and tried it several times in tactical stores, until I could finally afford it.
This backpack is tall and thin, and it fits perfectly on my back and my shoulders. It has a main, central room you can reach from a top entrance or from an external zip. It also features a roomy bottom space where I usually place my sleeping system.
The back is completely breathable, as so are the shoulder straps. A large belt allows you to better distribute and hold the weight you are carrying.
The top part of the backpack is layered into two different rooms, joined by a solid zip.
It has been designed to attach several side pouches thanks to a well structured MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) system.
Tough, roomy, breathable back and shoulder straps. 50 litre
Expensive, thin belt, off size for hand luggage when travel by aeroplanes. The pouches need to be purchased separately.
2. Berghaus "Vulcan II"
The Vulcan II features a traditional alpine design, with two roomy side pouches for canteens and medi-kit, and survival kit.
It is more bulky and squat than the Tuscania, it has a central main room closed by the largest top pouch I have ever seen.
The shoulder straps are, according to my personal opinion, too thin for this kind of backpack.
I usually resort to this when I need to carry my bivy tent, due to the extra space I need. No MOLLE system provided.
Tough, roomy, solid zip, breathable back and good belt. 100 lt
Thin shoulder straps. The pouches need to be purchased separately
3. Defcon 5 "Bushcraft Backpack"
This 35 Lt is a good compromise between gear with tactical appearance and bushcraft internal design.
In fact, it features three internal fishnet pouches that you can also easily remove with asix plastic carabiners. The back and the shoulder straps are very breathable, and so the belt, which has also a tiny zip pouch. I tested it in different climate conditions and it never let me down.
Compact, roomy, breathable back, shoulder straps and good belt. 35 lt
Tiny pouch on the belt, closure at Y (it can open if stuffed too much!)
4. Helikon-Tex "Ratel MK2"
Tiny, compact, with quick release. It features two big and rectangular external pouches and a main one which make this backpack reliable and very comfortable if you don't have to carry so much weight.
In fact, the weak point is the thin belt, which could be quite useless in case you need to discharge the whole weight on your belly.
Tough, compact, breathable back . Good zip. 25 lt
5. Tasmanian Tiger "Range Pack MKII"
Somehow a little bit bulky for a thin girl like me, the Range Pack MKII is an old style backpack.
Unless you are a big guy, it doesn't allow you to raise the neck on steep slopes.
The poor visibility is exacerbated by the difficult to get to side pockets in an easy way.
In fact, you necessarily have to drop the backpack on ground in order to reach what you need.
Despite these cons, it is a super solid backpack, with a very big main room.
Side pouches can be purchased separately, but I highly suggest to test it as it is before rushing to buy extra space.
Tough, big, solid, breathable shoulder straps and back . Good belt and zips. 100 litre
Definitely bulky on skinny people.