What would you need to survive in the wilderness, at any time of the year? Could you carry it on your body, or what would you need to carry it all?
Now that you have that in mind, imagine yourself as a 13 year old.
Has your answer changed?
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In the early 1900s, Daniel Carter Beard taught 13 and 14 year old boys how to survive in the woods, and he taught them how to do so if they were equipped with nothing more than what they carried on their bodies.
In fact, I would suspect that a well-trained Scout from his troop could have survived the wilderness armed with nothing but his jack-knife and belt axe.
Now, he called these essential tools “A Buckskin Man’s Pocket”, noting that the “pocket” covered the entire body, but it covered everything that a properly trained person needed to survive in the wilderness, summer or winter.
This old time Scoutmaster wrote an amazing book for Scouts called The American Boy’s Handy Book in 1918, and began it by teaching readers how to start a fire – without matches.
The awesome thing is that he also describes exactly HOW to carry each of these items for efficiency.
How does your Every Day Carry compare?
Keep reading to discover what one of those early Boy Scouts carried on their uniform!
Safety Pins – Fasten a row of these down the inside of your jacket, or down the front of your shirt if you are not wearing a jacket. These are clothespins for wet socks, they turn blankets into sleeping bags, and they quickly mend ripped clothing.
He notes that they are as useful as hairpins are to a lady. 🙂 How many of you have even seen a hairpin? I use them because I like to wear my hair in a bun at times and I must admit that I’ve never used one for anything except keeping my hair up.
Tack buttons (he called them Bachelor Buttons, which now refers to a type of flower) – One pocket should be kept full of these no sew buttons which require nothing more than a hammer or the back of an axe.
Notepad and pencil with hard lead, as hard lead works in all weather and lasts longer than ink
Good quality jack-knife in hip pocket
Pocket compass that is regularly checked for accuracy, in another pocket
A wooden “noggin” or small cup, hanging from the belt (update this with a metal cup)
Whang strings or belt lashings tucked into belt – these were long strips of rawhide that could be used to start a fire. Remember, he did say a properly trained person. How many of us can start a fire with friction?
Small whetstone carried in other hip pocket to sharpen your knife and axe
Gut string with medium-sized fishing flies attached, wrapped around outside of hat
Large bandanna handkerchief around neck
Belt axe tucked in at back
Toothbrush in a small oil-skin bag (do add toothpaste and a small black comb!)
Small piece of candle
Small bottle of fly dope in pouch attached to belt
In same pouch, a few yards of cheesecloth, folded up, to protect against insects while sleeping (this is NOT the “cheesecloth” bought at the grocery store)
Wool blankets folded in a tarp and formed into a backpack with leather straps
Cooking pot – apparently this was packed separately?
Regarding flint and steel: “Some of the Scoutmasters of the Boy Scouts of America make their own steels of broken pieces of flat ten-cent files, but this is unnecessary because every outdoor man, and woman, too, is supposed to carry a good sized jack-knife and the back of the blade is good enough steel for anyone who has acquired the art of using it as a steel.”
Regarding hooks and rods and other metal cooking aids: “The disadvantage of all of these implements is that they must be toted wherever one goes, and parts are sure to be lost sooner or later, whereupon the camper must resort to things “with the bark on ’em” … or he may go back to the first principles and sharpen the forks of a green wand and impale thereupon the bacon, game or fish that it may be thus toasted over the hot embers.”
Regarding cooking implements: “Campers have been known to be so fastidious as to demand a broiler to go with their kit”. He does make use of cast iron skillets and dutch ovens, but no mention is made of who carries these.
Could you survive in the wilderness with just these items? Would you want your children to know how to do it?