Reviewed by Jim Cobb
Dave Canterbury is one of the most well-known survival instructors in the United States. His Pathfinder School has taught thousands how to survive in the bush. Dave has also been featured on television, as the co-host of Dual Survival for a couple of seasons. He’s been there, done that, and truly knows his stuff.
Bushcraft 101 isn’t the first book Dave has written but it might just be his best, at least so far. We’ve all likely heard the term “roughing it” when talking about camping, hiking, and such, right? Dave’s approach is what he calls,”smoothing it.” Rather than making things hard for yourself, Dave wants to show you how to make your time spent in the woods as enjoyable as possible.
The book is divided into two sections. In the first, Gearing Up, Dave outlines his 5 Cs of Survival. These are:
With each of these categories, Dave gives his recommendations for what he likes, but is careful to point out that what works best for him might not be the best for you. He also talks about why each of the categories is critical to survival.
The second section is In the Bush. This is where we get into the nitty gritty of bushcraft. From choosing a campsite to different types of fire lays, trapping to wild edibles, Dave covers it all. It is important to note, though, that we’re talking bushcraft here. This is not the same as bugging out, despite the apparent similarities. While there is a fair amount of crossover between the topics, they are more like kissing cousins rather than true siblings.
There are several appendices at the end of the book. The Pathfinder Concept details Dave’s thoughts and perspectives on the conservation of resources when engaging in bushcraft. This was the first time I’d read about this concept and I really, truly appreciate the sentiment here.
There are no photos in Bushcraft 101 but there are numerous very detailed line drawings. I’ve found that sometimes these drawings can make things clearer than photos, so I had no issues with the lack of photos.
All in all, I found Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival to be an excellent primer on the subject and highly recommend it.