2019 Reading Challenge Review: Mors Kochanski’s Northern Bushcraft

Mors Kochanski was approached around 1986 to write a wilderness and survival manual. This book would end up being published as Northern Bushcraft. The name was in reference to Bushcraft by Richard Harry Graves. The name Northern Bushcraft to associate it with the regions Kochanski was familiar with. 

Northern Bushcraft is a very comprehensive read on the subject of wilderness survival. It could easily be said that Northern Bushcraft  is an inspiration to many other survival manuals that have come since then. You can see this influence in writings such as Dave Canterbury books and many others. The facts stand that Northern Bushcraft earned its place at the top of modern survival manuals. 

Northern Bushcraft was written in the styles of manuals in its day but the knowledge contained in it dates back much further than that. Kochanski does not limit the knowledge of this book to ways to get by if you are out there in the wilderness. He writes this book in such a way that you can thrive if you are out there. You are not trying to make until the sun will rise. You will sleep peacefully and welcome the dawn as it was an old friend. 

Kochanski writes a large portion of the book on shelters. He is not talking about throwing up a tarp and calling that good enough. He writes about hat shelters work when you are facing the cold temperatures that the northern regions face. I love the fact that he makes detailed drawings about how the shelter is built, where you would sleep inside it and even where the fire should be placed. Furthermore he gives precise reasoning as to why you should do it this way. Many survival manuals wrote today forget this fact. It is not good enough to teach someone how to do something. You should be teaching them why they are doing it this way. This technique leads people to think outside the box when they come up against a problem of their own. 

Kochanski had a well known mentor around the time that he produced Northern Bushcraft Tom Roycraft. He was a civilian instructor for the Royal Canadian Air force. Roycraft and Kochanski would later go on to instruct at the Canadian Department of National Defense Survival School. Kochanski went on to teach wilderness survival skills to the USA, UK, and Sweden. 

The next reason I liked this book was the breadth of knowledge that it contains. Kochanski spends many pages detailing the different species of trees that you will encounter and what their uses. He also gives descriptions on how to identify them complete with diagrams. I think this goes hand in hand with the detail Kochanski gave in the chapters of shelter building. 

This definitely should be one of the first books you put into your survival library. The downfall is I don’t think it stands alone. The information in this book is invaluable but, modern techniques should not be overlooked either. Many authors have taken the steps men like Kochanski and Roycraft started and went steps further. I guess it is up to you to decide if it is a good thing or not. 

There is the Basic information, You decide the outcome! 

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