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Back to the 1700s


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  • #1330205
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Let's say you were transported back to 1785, just after the American Revolution.

    And you knew what you know now about backpacking.
    I ask this because I was once a Rev. War re-enactor and the idea has always fascinated me, given the poorly designed gear they had.

    How would you design good backpacking gear WITH THE MATERIALS AVAILABLE IN 1785? i.e. no zippers, silnylon, etc.

    EX.
    BACKPACK-> Body of medium weight cotton canvas, "proofed" with a mix of beeswax and whale oil. (cotton ws very expensive then. – no cotton gin yet.
    Two internal, flat stays of steamed ash
    Roll top W/ linen webbing and iron buckle
    Hip belt of linen wrapped around internal leather stiffener and horsehair padding around it.
    Iron shoulder strap ladder buckles, linen webbing straps and horeshair padding at shoulder area
    Lift straps same as shoulder strap webbing and buckles

    Side com[pression straps same as above

    You get the idea.

    So finish out the big 3 and other gear (like a Barlow folding knife (W/ your trick flat spring lock blade)

    #2210089
    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member

    @here

    Locale: Right there

    Did you know that this is actually a thing people do on purpose? Here is a bit from another forum.

    "Historical Trekking (also called Period Trekking, Experimental Archeology, or Experiential Anthropology) is a hobby where we as 21st century people attempt a task someone in our chosen time period would have done, using only the tools and equipment they would have used, or the knowledge we have gleaned from research. Whether you are interested in the Longhunter of the 18th Century and you are out on a hunt using only period clothing and flintlock, or if your interest lies in the Mountainman of the 19th Century, and you want to use period traps to try and catch beaver, you are involved with the hobby of Historical Trekking. This hobby gives us more insight into the daily lives of the people in our chosen time period, and helps to make us better historians.
    Where as a hiker is someone who just hits a park or the wilderness and usually follows the paths laid out for them and usually do not camp in the process.
    And as Hopeak said expeditions are also done, I went on a canoe trek or expedition that lasted for 12 days, we started at the St. Lawerance in Quebec and came all the way down through new york and into Virginia camping as we went along, I have done thirty mile or more treks in the Adirondack, the smokey mountains, the teetons, and yellowstone all without using a trail and period correct clothing and equipment. Try a trek its harder than you think. But Remy trekking is not all in the mind, it's very physical also limiting yourself to the equipment used in the period you choose, anyone thinking of living off the grid should try a week or longer historical trek with a group of about 6 to 8 people. Sure you can read a history book to learn what a historian has researched, or the journal or notes of say Lewis & Clark, but to go out and actually do it in the same way and the same clothing is a whole new experience to history and very challenging, it takes you deeper into the period you choose to study and gives you 1st hand knowledge of the problems they ran into and the hardships they encountered (hostile natives not included). :D"

    #2210095
    Dan Yeruski
    BPL Member

    @zelph

    Locale: www.bplite.com

    Buffalo Scrotum to hold flint and steel for fire starting.

    #2210116
    stephan q
    BPL Member

    @khumbukat

    Great thread,
    In Darjeeling, some of the 1953 Everest 1st ascent items are on display. Wow;- canvas, cotton, pillow feathers. Impressive. Check out HMI.

    -SCC-

    #2210117
    Daniel Sweeney
    BPL Member

    @siskiyoudaniel

    Locale: SWVA

    I was going to post a link to this thread:

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=86420&skip_to_post=738040#738040

    But then realized you already read it.

    I've thought about trying to make a kit using only natural fibers/materials. Cotton, linen, hemp, silk, wool, down, wood, glass, and metal. I'd love to see someone pull it off with a base weight below 10 lbs.

    I'd go with a (relatively) lightweight canvas pyramid tarp and a simple rucksack along with a wool and silk blanket and clothing.

    #2210122
    stephan q
    BPL Member

    @khumbukat

    Howdy,
    I've thought about this many times. The old days were wool blankets, with horse pins, and tarps for the rain. What if you could felt a dedicated sleeping bag. Felting is an old school trade. Add waxed canvas cover.

    #2210132
    Justin Baker
    BPL Member

    @justin_baker

    Locale: Santa Rosa, CA

    I would try and source some light but tightly woven cotton and some goose down and sew together a down sleeping bag. Not sure if that was ever done back then. The bottom portion would be made out of wool or animal hide for laying on damp surfaces.

    Probably a waxed canvas poncho that doubles as a shelter.

    I would cut tree branches and lay them down for ground insulation.

    I would definitely carry an axe, something with a 1.75 lb head and 28 inch handle, weighing under 3 pounds. It would be for shelter and fire stuff. Such a tool doesn't make sense today with 10 ounce shelters and 1 pound 20 degree quilts, but makes a lot of sense with 5 pound canvas tarps and 7 pound wool blankets.

    If you are using wool blankets, unless you want to carry 10 pounds of wool to sleep comfortably at freezing, then you will need to sleep by a campfire. Gathering/processing wood and stoking it all night long is always much easier in a group. A group of four can sleep warm in cold winter weather with light sleeping gear without an excessive amount of effort if they work together on maintaining a fire. Also safer that way if someone got injured.

    #2210145
    michael levi
    Member

    @m-l

    Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles

    Anything that's not cuben is way below my standards. I would be so depressed and hire Ben Franklin to start inventing dyneema fibers.

    #2210146
    Steven Paris
    BPL Member

    @saparisor

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    "Buffalo Scrotum to hold flint and steel for fire starting."

    You'd need a leash, too. Probably a long one, as he isn't going to be happy.

    #2210149
    [ Drew ]
    BPL Member

    @43ten

    Locale: Central Valley CA

    I would try to find Roger Caffin and Nick Gatel, likely in their late teens, but with considerable knowledge, and have them construct a pack for me.

    #2210179
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Thank you Drew.
    You'll keep … until Nick and I catch up with you one night.

    Anyhow, try reading one of Ernest Thompson Setons's books, such as
    Three Little Indians
    Rolf in the Woods

    For those who have not heard of ETS, he was the American equivalent of Baden Powell. But I think once he heard of BP he decided to support the Boy Scouts instead.

    Cheers
    PS: yes, I have both books.

    #2210213
    Steofan M
    BPL Member

    @simaulius

    Locale: Bohemian Alps

    The two volumes by Horace Kephart are classics! Recommended a while back by Sam Haraldson as his go-to on axemanship. There are free downloads out there, cheap reprints on Amazon.

    #2210217
    Gordon Gray
    BPL Member

    @gordong

    Locale: Front Range, CO

    Aside from the gear, can you imagine all the places you could hike without the crowds or permits? There may be a lot of bush wacking, but I would guess animal sightings would be 10 fold to now. You could camp right in the middle of what is downtown LA. Not that I would want to but the option exists.

    #2210235
    Thomas Conly
    BPL Member

    @conly

    Locale: Lots of canoeing and snow

    I've thought about the idea of doing old school food. I'm always interested to see what food was packed because it's so different from today. Seems like they just took basic ingredients like flour, sugar, salted pork, etc. and made different things. I'm in Canada so I'm most interested in the voyageur canoe trips though. Little different.

    #2210241
    Steofan M
    BPL Member

    @simaulius

    Locale: Bohemian Alps

    Thomas, download "Camping and Woodcraft". It has everything you are looking for regarding foods, recipes, utensils, cooking techniques too.

    #2210267
    Daryl and Daryl
    BPL Member

    @lyrad1

    Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth

    Eric,

    Thought provoking post. Thanks.

    My reaction was similar to yours when I first read about that "iceman" they dug up. He was addressing the same conditions with even less in the way of material options.

    Link below talks about some of his equipment.

    here

    #2210427
    Russell Lawson
    BPL Member

    @lawson

    Locale: Olympic Mts.

    Here in Washington the natives made pack baskets out of cedar, amazingly durable. But if you're looking to reinact as a white settler, it probably involes strapping a well selected piece of wood to your back via pieces of animal hide and tying on a jumble of minimal gear, wool, silk or cotton tarp, to your back frame and personal protection at the ready.

    I've read a lot of tales from the past, and because they didn't generally own a lot of excess they would invest time and though into what they had, I am impressed and can say for sure people had a Ton of pockets and clever ways to hide weaponry

    #2210491
    Stephen M
    BPL Member

    @stephen-m

    Locale: Way up North

    Hi Eric,

    You have some imagination my friend.

    :-)

    #2210532
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    > I've thought about the idea of doing old school food.

    The thought of old 'school food' fills me with concern …
    Or did I misinterpret this?

    Cheers

    #2211012
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    I'm amazed that so many are interested in this weird "Back to the 18th Century" thing.

    OK, more items: (Remember, money is no object here. You're rich B/C you just beat Eli Whitney to the cotton gin and interchangeable parts for Army muskets.)

    SLEEPING BAG-> silk with baffles filled with mature goose down? If that's too difficult for our skilled 1700's tailors then two bags with sewn thru quilting transverse (cross body) tubes. One bag fits inside the other with offset stitch lines. This is a "bag system" for summer & winter use. Half opening with draft tubes and button closure. Drawstring hoods.
    Other suggestions? Silk stuff sack(s)?

    SLEEPING PAD?-> Thin felt3/4 pad? Covering?

    TENT? ->Now guys, how about a light tent, "sod cloth" and some netting?
    Material? Shape? Pole material , if any? (I assume stakes will be found branches.)

    KITCHEN?-> copper? tinned sheet metal? horn cups & utensils? Flint & striker + tinder?

    BOOTS-> "common last"? (no left or right. Just change sides when wear begins) or nice custom right and left boots made from your personal wooden lasts? Boots of that age were extremely durable. "Corked" soles W/ a few hobnails for traction? (heavy)

    #2211018
    Link .
    BPL Member

    @annapurna

    .

    #2211045
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    > SLEEPING BAG-> silk with baffles filled with mature goose down? If that's too
    > difficult for our skilled 1700's tailors
    No way is that too difficult.

    > BOOTS-> "common last"?
    Moccasins. Ul, but fast sole wear. Replaceable? Gluing would be possible.

    > TENT
    Oiled silk, possibly with beeswax addition.

    Clothing
    Mallory wore silk and oiled wool on Everest, and it was both light and very effective.

    Mules – definitely!

    Cheers

    #2211076
    Dan Yeruski
    BPL Member

    @zelph

    Locale: www.bplite.com

    Sleeping pad filled with kapok or milkweed fluff. Hammock with kapok filled quilt and under quilt.

    Kapok comes from a flower of a tall fruit tree, which is a sustainable rainforest crop. This fiber is very similar to silk making the pillow feel firm yet soft inside. Great support without matting down over time like cotton. Mold, mildew and dust-mite resistant.

    #2211238
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Roger,
    Oiled silk tent, Now that's thinking that I'm asking for. Light and highly water resistant.
    As a Rev. War re-enactor we used white, untreated cotton tents which actually worked once the cotton canvas got wet, swelled and tightened up the fabric! The Brits and other Europeans were using the same fabric for their tents at the time.

    Dan,
    Yer talkin' to a guy whose FIRST Boy Scout sleeping bag was kapok filled! (And the bag on which I learned that repeated rolling from the bottom would pull all the fill down to the bottom!) :o(
    Years later as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the'60s I saw kapok trees in the Philippines.

    So, yeah, quilted kaopk would work for a light sleeping pad, mainly for warmth.

    #2211282
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Kapok is OK, but heavy and bulky. Thing is, the Europeans were using down in 700 AD, let alone 1700 – in fact, any time they kept or ate birds. It was quite normal for the housewife to collect all the down from every bird they ate, for future use (eg children).

    Cheers

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