Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bushcrafting magazines

I can't recall exactly how I discovered Bushcraft and Survival Skills magazine (referred to as B & SSM hereonin) but I'm guessing it would have been a web search and I know that the first issue I ever got my grubby hands on was number ten which featured a chap holding a husky on the cover. I purchased several back issues as well as ultimately taking out a subscription as at the time it wasn't available in outlets like WH Smiths.

In the time I've been buying it I've seen a lot of issues become scarce and indeed unavailable and it's was a couple of years ago that I managed to get hold of the rare issues two and three to make a complete set. As the issues reached the late teens I decided that I'd start making a list of articles in each new issue and back issues as I flicked through them. I decided that without this the magazine's usefulness wasn't maximised because finding something specific was hit and miss. I also decided to share this information on a couple of bushcraft forums with one, Natural Bushcraft, agreeing to make my thread a sticky which means it appears at the top of any forum search for the magazine.

Around the same time that I completed my B & SSM collection I also started subscribing to Bushcraft magazine (referred to as BM hereonin) after picking up an old copy free at The Bushcraft Store. This had been out a while before I subscribed and I initially purchased back issues which is nice because when a package arrives you have a bushcraft overload! Writing this reminds me that I must check to see if I have all the available back issues but I'm guessing I'm not too far away. As with B & SSM there are a lot of issues that aren't now available, I recently attended the Gilwell Reunion to help assist Pablo on the Woodlife Trails stand and Paul Bradley (aka BM's resident leather working maestro Bardster) was selling back issues in the Bison Bushcraft stand. I purchased some and he said that the magazine's editorial team don't even own a copy of one particular back issue so my chances of finding any spares and not curing my sanity in the process are virtually nil.

So with all the above information I feel well placed to talk about both I will. If you've read this so far it will probably not come as a surprise that I feel more acquainted with B & SSM, simply because I've purchased and read it for longer, that said I like the difference in writing style and presentation that BM offers; B & SSM is a glossy magazine that features it's fair share of well known outdoor professionals whereas BM is, to coin a cliché, mainly by bushcrafters for bushcrafters and has a likeable cottage industry feel about it. Maybe it's fair to say that B & SSM leans more towards projects and BM towards skills and tips?

B & SSM often gets a pasting on social media and forums for the adverts contained in it so I thought I'd investigate what content you get for your hard earned. Shall we go into the minutiae? Yeah lets! (I've not included cover ads in the figures just so you know but interestingly the back inside cover of the Summer 2014 BM had a content page on instead of an ad).

B & SSM started as a folded magazine and I pulled out issue 6 which had given them a year to get into the swing of things. It has...

50 pages of which 
5.5 pages are third party and magazine ads which leaves  
44.5 pages of news, views and content. 

Fast forward to the latest issue at the time of writing (53) it has...

82 pages of which
13 pages are third party and magazine ads which leaves
69 pages of news, views and content which is about a third more than issue 6.

 The cost price started at, still is, and for the immediate future £4.95 (A yearly subscription for six issues is £29 which is just under 56 pence per week (about £4.80 per copy). A 2 year subscription is available which is double a 1 year sub and comes with an ever changing free gift. This equates to 7.173/ 7.004 pence per page depending how you buy it (cost price divided by non-advert pages). It looks likely that to maintain the cover price that the magazine will shrink to more of a National Geographic size and go up to 100 pages.

As a comparison the oldest BM issue I have is Autumn 2010. It has

30 pages of which
3.75 pages are third party and magazine ads which leaves 
26.25  pages of news, views and contents.

Fast forward to Summer 2014 issue. It has...

35 pages of which
3.5 pages are third party and magazine ads which leaves
31.5 pages of news, views and content. 

The cover price started at £2.95 and is currently £3.50. A yearly subscription is available for four issues at £20 which equates to 38 pence per week (or £5 per copy). This equates to   11.111/ 15.873 pence per page depending how you buy it (again cost price divided by non-advert pages).

So to me this suggests that the B & SSM advert thing is blown up too much and I think both offer not only a different direction but tremendous value for money, especially if you compare that to the gossip mag weekend three pack that my wife gets each week...That equates to £2.95 per week (over £153.00 per year!!) and this is why I can justify subscribing to both and of course I keep my issues whereas the glossy trash mag barely survives the weekend.

So that's the actual magazines discussed  but they also have other projects etc to offer with B & SSM putting on The Bushcraft Show and their recently launched own brand kit whereas the BM does it's own courses and meets. As I previously stated I have knocked up a B & SSM reference thread on a couple of forums and I'm going to add them as pages to this blog too. I'll try and get a BM reference thread up and running in the near future.


As of the January/ February 2015 edition (issue 54) the cover size and number of pages in B & SSM has changed and is therefore worthy of an update because whilst the above information is correct, it has now also been superceded. The above pictures show the size comparison against the old size and with a copy of the old Bushcraft UK issues which it reminds me of somewhat in size and feel.

It has...

96 pages (as opposed to 82 in the previous issue) of which
18 pages are third party and magazine ads as opposed to 13 in the previous issue) which leaves
78 pages of news, views and content (which is up 9 on the previous issue. 

Using the previous calculation this now equates to 6.346/ 6.196 pence per page.


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