Per Sylvas

Per Sylvas – By Way of the Woods

IntroductionThere are a lot of different ways to explore the outdoors. Whether camping out in an ultra-modern nylon tent or lying under the stars in the dull glow of a fading campfire, there is something so relaxing about sleeping out of doors.

BuckskinningBuckskinning is a generic term used to describe people who go out camping using materials and devices only available to a certain time period, usually focusing on the North American fur trade era of 1640-1840. Buckskinning is a sub-discipline in what is called interchangeably “experimental archeology” or “living history.”

1780's camp
A 1780’s style camp

The Dude takes a shot with a muzzleloader

For more information on buckskinning, check out

Lightweight BackpackingThe biggest advantage of lightweight backpacking is that you arrive at your destination with enough energy to enjoy being there.

I recently went to a talk hosted by the president of GoLite at the local REI. He gave a bunch of info on what he calls “fast-packing,” which basically revolves around the revolutionary idea that the less weight your carry, the better your trip will be. He gave a talk on several solo trips he went on to test our gear and theories. He did the trips “alpine style” – without the benefit of resupply.

Here’s the notes I took from the talk.

You can check out their cool stuff at

Survival vs. Bushcraft“Bushcraft is more than learning how to survive in the wilderness. It takes you one step further and teaches you not only how to survive, but how to appreciate and learn from the wilderness around you. The skills taught are not new and dont require the latest gadgets from your local store but have been used for hundreds of years or longer by our ancestors when survival wasnt a weekend trip but a day to day struggle.

The word survival has a rather negative connotion to it. Just hearing it makes you think of deprivation, depression and unbeatable odds. Attitude is everything and survival could lead you to think that the wilderness should be feared and, if it cant be beaten, then at best it is a thing to be endured.

“Bushcraft” is not a negative word – it is essentially learning the crafts of the bush. The more you learn about nature and how to operate as a part of if rather than outside it, the more comfortable you will become. Our ancestors knew this but we forgot, relearning their skills will help you get back in touch with nature.” – from bushcraftUK

BackwoodsmenBackwoodsman is a magazine, but it is also a phrase I use to describe modern woodsmen who are not specifically tied to a certain time period (like mountain man or American colonial), but are into similar mountain man concepts as they would have evolved throughout time.

Improvised devices, primitive technique, and surplus rifles, all are a big part of the culture around this magazine. There are articles about Depression-era living, fur trade history, gunsmithing, and more. Picture a person going out into the woods, armed with a slingshot and flintlock rifle, carrying a haversack made of an old AK-47 drum pouch, chewing on homemade venision jerky, looking forward to spending a night under a dime store poly-tarp, cooking a with a tin-can stove, and you get the idea.

Also, check out Eric Stoskopf’s website – – for a similar theme.

EvasionSo why “Evasion” on a page about being outdoors? We’ll it’s like I’ve always said, hike and hide are only one letter apart.

Sometimes it’s nice to be outside in the woods and not let everyone know you are there. Camping gear is always loud, bright colors – I think to make sure that if people get lost the search and rescue teams have something to look for – and this is not always what I want to see when hiking down a trail. We always think about air pollution and water pollution, but what about sight pollution? Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a state park or natural area and see everything blending into the environment?

See also – Sustainability

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“Happiness is more generally and equally diffus’d among Savages than in civilized societies. No European who has tasted savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.”
– Benjamin Franklin, 1770