Dave Canterbury is a person of controversy in the survival expert world and is often the subject of heated debate between many bushcrafters who watch his popular YouTube channel.
Love him or hate him, Dave Canterbury certainly knows bushcraft skills in side and out but can he write about it?
Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival is the latest book to be written by Canterbury and as the title suggests, this guide covers the basics of bushcrafting.
Core bushcraft skills
The bulk of the book’s content is based on Canterbury’s “5Cs of Survivability” often cited by him in his numerous YouTube videos. His five absolute must-have pieces of survival gear include – a Cutting tool, Covering, a Combustion device, a Container and plenty of Cordage. This forms an excellent basis for putting together your kit. Through his Pathfinder School, Dave has expanded upon these 5 essentials with an additional five elements – Candle, Cotton, Compass, Cargo tape and Canvas needle.
The guide covers a good array of topics from choosing the right items for your kit, generating fire for heat and cooking purposes through to setting up camp and protecting yourself from the elements with each being broken down in to short sections for easy reference. The content provides a good overview of the core bushcraft skills.
One section that really stood out for me was the one covering tools and their uses. It covers safety and care and was clearly presented and it is something I will take away from reading this title for teaching my kids. This section is really of good use to the novice bushcrafter and is accompanied by some clear line illustrations although I wish there were more of these throughout the book.
Lack of imagery
An area where I think that the lack of illustrations causes a little bit of an issue is in the navigation section. Canterbury tries to describe navigational skills through the text but it really needs some more diagrams to do the subject justice and I can see those new to bushcraft, for which this title is aimed at, becoming easily confused when trying to follow the guide.
There many other areas in the book that really do require the use of illustrations to allow the content to be understood as it the author intended.
Towards the end of the book Canterbury has included some information on wild edibles and medicinal plants which quite frankly is very sparse in terms of information and there are no illustrations of the plants or processes being described.
Also at the end of the book there some recipes for the reader to try although Boiled Beaver isn’t one that I can say sounds appetising but there a few that may worth trying by the adventurous amongst us.
Granted some of the information is not relevant to the UK and Northern Europe but the core of the skills contained in the book are pretty universal and the style that it is written in is nice and clear to understand overall.
Where this book fails in my opinion is in the lack of diagrams and associated imagery which is something should have been addressed by the editors of this title before it was published. Because of this oversight, I think that this book is a only a fair offering and not as good as it could of been with a little more effort from all involved in it’s creation.
If you are a novice to the world of bushcraft, this guide will give you some help along the way but in my opinion you would be far better buying a copy of Lofty Wiseman’s Ultimate SAS Survival Handbook which, for a only few pounds more, provides a greater wealth of valuable information for the bushcrafter.