Bushcraft vs Survival? What's The Difference?

a pile of bushcraft tools

Dan Wowak January 18, 2017

What's the difference between bushcraft and survival?

Many times these two words are used interchangeably but probably shouldn't be. So what is the difference between the to activities of bushcraft and survival? Is there even a difference? 

A lot of individuals probably never really thought about this but I believe that as modern bushman we should be using the correct terms, not only so we can promote our craft properly, but it allows us to better devise a concrete gameplan.

Survival Definition

Survival is the state or fact of continuing to exist.

Bushcraft Definiton

Bushcraft is the act of crafting or devising items in a wilderness setting.

Why do survival and bushcraft get confused?

Looking at the definitions we can see there is a difference so why does the public get them so confused? Well it is somewhat confusing until you lay it out.

A survival situation is something an individual is going through and in the outdoor community we attach the skills needed to sustain human life along with the word.

Preparing fire and shelter, to protect our body from the elements, securing water and disinfecting, it due to our need for it, and even possibly securing a food resource for the energy our body needs to work properly.  

Attaching these skills doesn't get us to a point of bushcrafting but it gets us awful close.

How is Bushcraft Different Than Survival?

Bushcraft comes into affect when individuals surviving begin to craft items for longer term sustainment or to fulfill a need they find in their situation outside of fire, shelter, water, and food.

So you can see that's a fine line and one can possibly argue that those bushcraft skills are directly affecting survival but although that is a valid point, these skills are secondary to what we need to sustain life.  

Bushcrafting encompasses longer term living needs, items that make life better and easier, and skills that allow us to further extend our reach in the wilderness using what it has to offer to make life their easier.  

Bark baskets, bone tools, creation of repair supplies, axemanship, carving, the list goes on and on, are bushcraft skills that allow us to thrive and make life easier.  

Understanding where that line is and what separates the two terms and ideas allows you as a modern bushman to develop a more sound strategy during a true survival situation and if you are teaching others it is a great point to think about so you are educating them on the hard skills they need to know rather than the softer skills (the more fun stuff in my opinion) that make living off the land easier.  

Coalcracker Bushcraft offers high-quality survival classes and bushcraft classes in Pennsylvania.