Dave Canterbury's bushcraft  101 has been reviewed before, I have seen at least one review on a US forum slatting the book but what the reviewer seemed to fail to understand is the definition of the term 101 -

101 Definition / 101 Means

The definition of 101 is "Basic introduction"

With this in mind the reader knows what to expect and that is exactly what you get. It is a VERY basic book aimed at the beginner.

Over half the content is about kit - not skills although there are little snippets of such dotted about the book. This is great for the beginner and there is even a kit list broken down from pocket kit all the way up to rucksack but oddly this list is at odds with the further chapters?

As a for example in the kit list (found at 10% on the kindle) makes no mention of any form of water carriage ie bottle and yet he later goes on to talk about water bottles and which are best, pointing out how important water is ...... so why no water bottle on the kit list??

OK it might be an over site, if you read the whole book you should realise this but as the book seems to be aimed at the novice they might not get this! More to the point if they were to just copy out the kit list and pack it before heading off to the woods they would soon be thirsty and potentially, in a desert area, this might prove deadly!

So if you are a novice and buy this book please cross reference everything to ensure you cover yourself. Oh ya and if you practice bow drill while the image in the book probably isn't drawn by Dave I should point of the loop on the bow is on the wrong side of the string - loop on the outside generally makes bow drilling more successful in my experience.

There are some good items in the book also - plans for a axe sheath for example. And a lot of items about traditional gear which interested me even though I have made Roycroft frames and done the whole blanket roll thing it still made good reading.

One thing I did like about the book was that it gave me pause to consider and rethink my own kit - something I do all the time anyway.

So pros' - its a easy read, the few pictures it contains are clear, the recipes at the back are handy and I will be trying the hard tack one tonight. If your a beginner this book is clear and concise with good kit definitions.

Con's - very few pictures, nothing new to be found in the pages if you have any experience. The odd, blatant plug for his own brand/shop cheapened the book and seemed a little cynical to me.

Summary - a good book for a beginner, a good read for anyone with a few hours to spare but not inspiring to none novices. DC fans will probably like it and I'd recommend it to any newbie confused about what kit to carry or buy but beyond that it didn't live up to what I was expecting or hoping for. All that said I don't regret the £7 I spent on it for my kindle but I wouldn't pay more for it.

Lastly, Ray Mears once said that any book you read, if you can gleen one snippet of info from it, is worth the read. By that definition it is worth a read but only just.





Ross Gilmore said...

I think you are right that we shouldn't expect too much dept from a 101 book, but even so, or perhaps especially when it is a 101 book, it has to give sufficient information so that the beginner can actually perform the act. Here I am assuming that a beginner wants to learn how to actually perform the skills rather than just getting general information about what the skills are. A lot of the time that requires more information than a superficial treatment of the material.

More importantly however, for me the book fails in that it focuses so much on gear, while the author seems to lack the required knowledge of the available gear.

If a beginner wants information on putting together a kit for the wilderness, there are much better books on the subject like The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide, and when it comes to skills, there are just tons of better books, both free ones like Woodcraft and Camping, and paid ones like Bushcraft.

I think this was a missed opportunity to put together a high quality compilation on the subject of bushcraft skills.

Survivall said...

I agree Ross - definitely a missed opportunity which is a shame as Dave has learnt a lot of skills over the last few years, knowledge which he could have shared. I HAD HOPED IT WOULD BREACH THE HOLE FOR A GOOD BOOK ON THE SUBJECT WHICH IS CURRENTLY GAPPING OUT THERE ....... alas I was wrong there.

BelgianBirkebeiner said...

Hi Gary, thanks for your clear thoughts about the book. I'm still not sure wether I'll buy the book or not. I don't feel like paying money for a book filled with stuff that has been recycled over and over again. I can come up with a new acronym or 'system' also, but that doesn't make the info included new (if this sentence makes any sense at all, native language is dutch). So thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

BushCraft 101 By, Dave Canterbury
I had the opportunity to review Dave Canterbury’s book. I found the information in it rather damning to the overall craft. I personally have nothing against the man who is Dave, but my quarrels are with the knowledge he passes on as actuality. I'll begin with a few examples pulled from his book. These were chosen to shine light on the whole of the book and the fiction it contains. Firstly, the dedication states we owe this knowledge to the pioneers and woodsman. This is a lie. This is a misappropriation of traditional skills learned from indigenous nations, skills that enabled those pioneers to stay alive. We owe all this to those peoples. Secondly, his chapter on pack baskets, it states "pack baskets have been used for many years, starting with the Hudson Bay fur trappers". This is nonsense, pack baskets or burden baskets have been used for thousands of years by every culture on earth. Anyone with access to Google can look it up, there's trade manifests from The Hudson Bay Co. showing the trade of native basketry. In all actuality very few trappers even used burden baskets. To claim their use started in the 1600's is absurd. Many museums across North America have displays of pre archaic and early woodland era basketry. Just within those two examples, it shows the amount of unsubstantiated "knowledge" and misappropriated skills that the rest of the book contains. Many individuals spend their lives researching, practicing, and teaching traditional skills and the history associated with them. Books like this further the propagation of a misrepresented and misappropriated history, actually taking away credit from the original founders of this lifestyle we practice. It's taking a large part of people's lives, cultural heritage, and traditional skills and killing them where they stand. If we hope to change what people are being taught we have to begin with what they are learning. If you are an outdoorsmen this is NOT the book for you. The book has lots of basic information in it, but this is where I have the problem. A person coming into this how shall we call it "lifestyle" is going to want all the information they can absorb which this book lacks. I would have preferred fewer subjects with more details about them. Guess I would have stuck with the basics. What I am trying to say is the detail should have been more in depth about stuff. My disappointment comes from the lack of detail. Not sure if I would consider buying the next one because if the author follows the same formula used to write this one.

Anonymous said...

It may say "101" but even as a basic book the description of techniques is incomplete. He does not explain enough especially tot eh beginner for them to truly increase their knowledge. Of the techniques being discussed. In a "101" cover the basics and cover them well, this he did not do.

Survivall said...

Anonymous ........... points noted although as an aside I find it hard to credit the opinion of someone who hides their identity when posting them - also its interesting that two anonymous posts appear - both negative towards the book - within minutes of each other ......... if you have a beef with Dave suggest you take up with him instead if hiding on line and posting comments - all that said I agree with your main points re- time lines etc my guess is he was just generalising there though

Survivall said...
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