Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"...A Wallet Well Stored..."

"A heavy blanket, rifle, hatchet, knife, powder horn and powder, bullets, extra gunflint, a picker, a wallet well stored with parched corn, some salt and a tin cup."  
- description of gear used in a 1770 expedition  
- Life and times of Gen. James Robertson

"They take about a gallon of corn and parch it well, then they pound it fine and mix it with as much sugar as would make it sweet enough for coffee, then put it in a buckskin bag and stow it in their knapsack; then take a chunk of raw bacon, wrap it up well and stow this in their knapsack.  A tin cup was tied to the strap of their knapsack.  this store is for a reserve - 
never to be used till there is no other shift; with a tomahawk and a butcher's knife and rifle gun and blanket, this is the equipage of an Indian campaign."   
Reminiscences of a Pioneer, by Thomas Rogers Sr.  

 I try to tailor my gear to each excursion, or event, trek, or activity.   And this tailoring is a constant evolution as my knowledge or what is "right" changes, combined with past experiences of what works for me.  

It is my hope that a quick overview of what I carry, and how, will be useful to some.  This is certainly not a tell all end all, and my gear is bound to change some the next time I go out -  my goal is to be always learning, always evolving.  

My bullet pouch contains just the bare essentials and has no inside pockets.  A turn screw, extra flints, loose round ball, patching,  and a fire kit sit in the bottom.  An antler measure and a pick hang from a wang attached to the strap.  The cows knee is usually tied to the wrist of my gun.  

I carry my bedroll, which always consists of two blankets - both centerseam, handwoven wool, one heavy but smaller, the other thin but large - with a hemp tumpline.  The tumpline is worn across my chest and goes over both shoulders with the bedroll snug against my upper back.  Inside the bedroll is a minimum of 2 extra pairs of moccasins.

Over my left shoulder, with a single twist through the middle portion, I carry my wallet.  Inside the wallet is all my food, and just necessary day to day stuff.  Linen sacks contain deer jerky, parched corn flour, coffee, shredded up bark for fire tinder, extra lead and a bullet mold, my toilet supplies, and other random foodstuffs such as nuts or apples (depending on season and my stomachs mood when I'm packing).  Raw meat is wrapped in linen scraps.  A small buckskin bag holds tobacco.  I also carry a small bottle of bear grease and greasy rag for gun maintenance,  a bundle of buckskin and linen scraps with thread, needle, and awl inside for trail repairs.  A brass kettle and hot dipped tin cup round out my cooking gear.  A larger buckskin bag holds a Katadyn water filter.  Extra water is carried in a simple gourd canteen on a cordage strap.  

I make two compromises to history in my gear.  One is in my toilet linen sack.  Inside I carry a small mirror, eye glasses in a buckskin cover, extra contacts, and contact solution covered up with a linen sack.  The justification I use on this is pretty straightforward - I don't believe it would have been historically common for the type of person I usually portray to have worn eye glasses, and thus contacts make more sense.  It stays hidden away till night, at which point if with a group, I discreetly remove my contacts, don my glasses for sleeping in case of a 3 a.m. pee time, and put the contacts back in with the sunrise.  The other obvious compromise is the Katadyn filter.  This probably doesn't even need an explanation.  Most areas I go on, the water is not safe even after boiling, due to high agricultural run off.  I've been water sick before, and hope to never have that experience again.

-Matthew Fennewald-


  1. Awesomeness. Following: time now!

  2. Nice write up Matthew!

  3. Wonderful stuff. It's too bad that (progress) forces us to carry a water filter, to drink freely from a mountain stream is a luxury now, not many places left for that. It was a hard life I'm sure,but a more rewarding life in many ways.

  4. We have the same water filter. I was given it years ago but I never took it along. The only overnight scouts I went on still had sources of water you could drink from - springs in the Valley of Virginia and Lake George, to name but two.

  5. I've had the runs from drinking non-boiled stream water. I used all my toiletries in one day. Thje water filter is a must have.

  6. Cool stuff you have got and you keep update all of us.
    biker wallet