First Time Training? Not Sure if its for You?

First Time Training? Not Sure if its for You?

Dan Wowak March 06, 2024

Article by Sergio Lamboy

So, you've done it and you've signed up for the first of hopefully many Coalcracker courses to come. Now the anxiety sets in as the day of the course you signed up for gets closer and closer. You begin to ask yourself so many questions and start to tie yourself into knots, thinking of all the possibilities, like what gear should I bring and what are they going to expect me to know and do while I'm there? But hey, we've all been there and there is nothing to worry about. We are here to get you through it, and this journal entry should set you in the right direction.

The first piece of advice I can give you is to read the course descriptions and follow the recommended gear lists. I'll tell you; the lists are the baseline of the gear that will be needed, but the items on these gear lists are absolutely necessary. I will say this again - the gear on the lists is absolutely necessary to fulfill the evolution of training you'll receive here at the Appalachian Bushman School.  Of course, there may be more gear that you will need to be comfortable, and that is up to your needs and experience in the outdoors.

Consider that substitutions for certain pieces of kit may be needed to get through one of our courses. For example, utilizing a sleeping bag over a set of wool blankets. I will say that learning how to utilize a wool blanket properly will only enhance your experience. There is so much more utility in a wool blanket than in a sleeping bag. I will also suggest that if you feel anything that you would normally bring on an outdoor excursion is missing from any of our gear lists, please feel free to bring it. We've had a few students in the past say that a knife is not on the required gear list for our Basic Bushcraft course. Bring it; because I must ask, what is bushcraft without a knife?


Preparation is key for the courses here at Coalcracker. Consider that we, as instructors, are constantly honing our skills and knowledge so that we can provide you with the best training and experience while you spend your time learning with us. Of course, we expect some preparation from you as well. You need to be sure the tools you are asked to bring are ready for the tasks that you will have to perform and complete with them. This means that the axes, knives, and equipment you bring into the field should be sharp and ready to handle the rigors of the outdoors. You don't want to be the student that keeps the class from moving forward because your axe was not sharp enough to carve a tent stake.

Preparation physically for our courses can also be beneficial before you arrive. We move about the school property quite a bit. Now, I wouldn't say that the terrain is tough, but it's not flat by any means. So, a few weeks before a course, prepare yourself for a good amount of walking while here. Hit the park path and get your heart pumping a few times a week before showing up for a course. Remember that we want this to be a fun experience for you and your course mates. The last thing we want is for any student to feel like they are holding others behind. 


There is no such thing as bringing too much gear. I know as a student at my first course, I had no idea what to expect and brought way more than I needed. But as the adage goes, "It is better to have and not need, than to need and not have." Plus, during most courses we allow you to have access to your vehicles, so if there is something you need to retrieve or dump back into the car, you can. I ask that you also consider the time of year you’ll be attending a class and take into account the weather and bring the appropriate clothing for the environment. By the way, if there is a ten percent chance of rain you can be guaranteed it will, and more than likely it will be more than expected.  Also, remember that if you make accommodations with Dan and the team at the warehouse, the exceptional gear that you purchased from our website can be waiting for you when you arrive at the school.

I hope this journal entry helps you get ready for your experience with us. If you feel like you need more information on gear selection or recommendations of what to bring, check out our Facebook page and connect with some of our experienced instructors or successful alumni students, You can also send a message to  Now that you know more of what to expect and how to prepare, our team of instructors looks forward to seeing you at a future course here at Coalcracker Bushcraft & The Appalachian Bushman School.