I'd like to welcome my good friend I've never actually met, Oz Muskratt, of Canadian Bushcraft fame to Midwest Bushcraft. Since my muse has apparently taken temporary leave of absence I have asked Oz to do a post for me, and here it is....
Now, I don't want to make this sound anti-Bushcraft Schools, because
well, that would be counter-productive to a person like me, being a
Bushcraft Instructor and all! And I am not against store-bought items,
or else I wouldn't be typing on a laptop, nor would I be the owner of
so many items that range from Bivy Bags to big fancy knives.
However, I have noticed a steady increase in people in this business
increasing the prices of basic tools, because they have a Bushcrafty
theme to them. For instance, the Bushcraft-model Mora knives for the
most part are much pricier at a lot of stores (both in person and
online), than the regular models of Moras. Why? Yes the handles are
formed differently, but does that mean the knife must triple in price?
Personally and professionally I promote Mora knives because they are
able to be bought by anyone. I know a young lad just last week who
bought a Mora knife as his very first bushcraft knife. As well, Bahco
Laplander saws are (in most stores here in Canada) $50.00 or more. Yet
the Bahco Sandvik (really no difference at all except for handle
colour) is usually $30.00, and sometimes less!
Don't get me started on name brands. Oh fine, you started me. Ray
Mears' books, clothing, cookware are all very high-end and pricey.
Bear Gryllis isn't any different, and really no one in this business
that puts their name on a product is any different (Tom Brown Jr, Ron
Hood, myself, etc). This is a business now for many people, and the
best way to make the business run is to sell something. Whether that
be an extremely expensive course, or an extremely expensive knife is
no different. It is no longer just bushcraft, it is Bushcraft Inc.
Growing up, when I didn't have something, I wanted it badly. I would
save money up for the biggest, most pricey item for the woods I could
find, and than expect it to do everything for me, for so-and-so uses
one. Only by my mid-teens did I realize that it wasn't who endorses
the item, or how expensive the item is, but who uses it. I made my own
buckskin and wool clothes, made my own billy cans, and though I had a
nifty blacksmithed strike-a-light kit, I began to carry a hacksaw
blade with a chunk of quartz instead.
The point of bushcraft at one time was wilderness self reliance, but
now it has gained popularity and grown. As things grow, they become
more corporate. Ask Grunge Rock or anything else that claims to be
anti-establishment, and then suddenly becomes the big thing. People
will continue to sell knives and certain pieces of gear for
extraordinary prices, and courses will continue to be offered at
unheard of rates.
But do we have to give into it? Though I do like a really nice knife
or posh anorak, I have overtime returned to my mindset of
“do-it-yourself” for a great deal of gear. Do I expect to make
everything myself? No, but I remember that the further I pull away
from a corporate mindset, the more I gain an independent heart.
Bushcraft Inc. is not going away, but it doesn't have to rule us or
our decisions. Yes, I still have high-end gear. But now I partner it
with handmade kits, with grassroots knowledge.
Be smart about the marketing you see regarding certain outdoors gear.
Sometimes it's true, and sometimes it's not. Read in between the lines
and make sure your money goes to something that is worth it. Make
Bushcraft Inc. work for you.
Thanks for stopping by, and thanks again to Oz for covering for me. I look forward to the discussion this post will generate. I for one am in agreement with Oz. Many of the products endorsed by bushcraft "celebrities" are way to expensive, and go against everything that I believe is important in bushcraft. I would like to insert a disclaimer here though... I really like Ray Mears...