The bushcraft prepper and the suburban prepper, two types of preppers with very different approaches to survival. But which prepper is better equipped for survival?
Who is the Bushcraft Prepper?
Before we begin describing the bushcraft prepper, let’s first define exactly what bushcraft is…
Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include fire craft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter-building, navigation by natural means, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, water sourcing, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, and rope and twine-making, among others.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushcraft
The bushcraft prepper focuses his/her primary skill development on these “primitive skills” (a phrase used interchangeably with “bushcraft”). There are certainly women interested in bushcraft, but based on YouTube videos and social media sites, bushcraft is generally a male-dominated interest.
Related post: What is a prepper?
While bushcraft preppers may have an interest in various hand tools, they are often less interested in buying “stuff” for survival. They want to make things in the wild: shelter, fire pits, animal traps, etc. They are concerned less with storing water and more with finding water in the wild.
Who is the Suburban Prepper?
The suburban prepper is just what you’d imagine, people who work day-to-day jobs, are raising a family, and preparing for what might come. According to City Lab, the majority of Americans live in the suburbs:
About 52 percent of people in the United States describe their neighborhood as suburban, while about 27 percent describe their neighborhood as urban, and 21 percent as rural.
There is no data to support this, but it’s probably safe to assume that the majority of preppers are suburbanites, and their focus on prepping is fundamentally different. It is a generalization, but these are people who focus their efforts on food and water storage, home security, bug out or get home bags, emergency communications, back up energy sources, etc. They may have a garden behind their house. They may have a membership to the local shooting range. They may go camping. But they are not going to spend time figuring out how to make a debris hut.
Bushcraft Prepper vs Suburban Prepper
Which prepper is best equipped for survival? The easy-out answer is “it depends,” and that is true, but I would argue that – generally – the suburban prepper has an edge.
First – it depends. Their respective ability to survive depends on the survival situation at hand. Lost in the woods? Needing to bug out through remote areas? The bushcraft prepper is most comfortable in these scenarios. They know how to not get lost in the first place, how to get found if they do get lost, and how to survive in the wild.
What would the suburban prepper do lost in the woods? They have less/no experience with survival fishing. They do not know how to make a shelter to escape the rain and avoid hypothermia. They may not even know how to effectively use a map and compass!
An ice storm rolls in, power goes out, the grocery stores can’t get replenished for a week, and there are four hungry mouths to feed. The suburban prepper has the edge here. They have food and water stocked, they have a back-up generator, maybe a wood stove, and probably enough supplies to help a neighbor out.
What would the bushcraft prepper do in an ice storm? They are not going to leave the house to seek shelter in the woods; and if they spent all their time learning how to make a fire with a bow drill and set animal traps, it will not help them heat their house and safely feed hungry kids in the dead of winter.
Most Events – Suburban Prepper Wins
Are primitive skills necessary for survival in the modern era? Do you need to know how to start a fire with sticks when you can buy hundreds of matches for a few bucks? Should you invest time learning to make a shelter from branches or just buy a tarp and some rope? Why spend weeks learning to hunt with a spear when a rimfire rifle could put food on the table for months?
The suburban prepper has the advantage, because we live in modern times. The notion that a SHTF event hits and you’ll just go live in the woods is a fantasy. There are increasingly fewer remote areas as land gives way to development. The threats we face — natural disasters, pandemics, or civil disorder, to name a few — are all threats more easily met by the well-prepared and knowledgeable suburban prepper.
Note: I put the “and” in italics, because prepping is more than just the collection of things. A suburban prepper who only collects “stuff” lacks the skills needed to complement the supplies.
Total Apocalypse – Bushcraft Prepper Wins
The bushcraft prepper, on the other hand, focuses survival skills on fewer things. Here they have an advantage. They just want a knife, an ax, and a desolate area. Bushcraft preppers have focused on building skills to get by on little. For that reason, they are more likely to have the mental fortitude to survive extreme conditions.
If we are talking about a Mad Max-style TEOTWAWKI wasteland, the bushcraft prepper has the upper-hand. Stored food supplies eventually run out. Ammunition eventually runs out. Can the suburban prepper survive without supplies?
The best approach, of course, is to blend the two worlds. Build the supplies to survive more common disasters, and learn the primitive skills to supplement those supplies. Even if your bushcraft skills are never used for actual survival, going through the process of learning them will strengthen your mind, build your confidence, and make you a better prepper overall.
P.S. Three Bushcraft Books and Two Tools
Want to learn more about bushcraft? Nothing beats going into the field and getting hands-on experience, but you can begin with a few books I’d recommend:
- Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival
- Bushcraft Illustrated: A Visual Guide
- Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival
Of course, you’ll want to supplement those with two basic tools:
- Marakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife (or something similar)
- Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet (or something similar)