Longhunter kit ..... a comparison for modern man

In a previous article we looked at clothing, discussing modern alternatives to more traditional clothing options in as much as we want to have the option to select more traditional clothing but in so doing not to look like a re-enactor. Now let us look at kit, what was carried and how it was used.

Firstly, we're not interested in traps, long rifles and such, these are items of specialist interest and not pertinent to the average bushcrafter - certainly not in the UK!

So already our load is lightened!

What typical items then did our longhunter or mountain man carry? Below is a list via a historical trekking/living history site .........

  1. Haversack/knapsack
  2. folded course linen cloth
  3. length of cordage (hemp or sisal)
  4. linen tow bow (used to clean weapons etc)
  5. Hussif (sewing kit)
  6. Small fishing kit
  7. fork and spoon
  8. salt horn
  9. pot of pepper
  10. firebox - Flint and steel in a brass or similar tin
  11. small tin char
  12. two x tin cups (1 x litre 1 x 1.5 litre)
  13. Cloth bag of provisions ( corn meal, pease, salt pork, jerky, coffee, leaf tea, chocolate)
  14. small wooden plate
  15. Blanket,
  16. extra shirt,
  17. wool socks
  18. canteen
  19. Shelter
  20. belt axe
  21. belt knife
  22. pocket knife
So what can we carry to emulate this without recourse to modern items?
  1. Haversack/knapsack - my choice is a haversack and a blanket roll - a daysack made of canvas and leather would be a traditional alternative as the knapsack was around although a knapsack was really just a haversack with shoulder straps initially. Bear in mind what we are trying to do - by limiting the size of our pack we limit the amount of kit we carry thus simplifying or needs and increasing our skills (also note this is not to my mind a hiking kit or long duration kit as modern alternatives, personal safety and environmental issues are such that practical considerations go against it - that's not to say it couldn't be but most bushcrafters are weekenders at most and that is how I am viewing this kit at present (maybe a longer term kit review will follow as I am already planning a week long hike with this type of outfit) 
  2. folded course linen cloth - any old bandana even a cotton triangular bandage (used for cleaning, first aid or as a supplemental char cloth source)
  3. length of cordage (hemp or sisal) - para cord and similar but bear in mind this again could be used as tinder.
  4. linen tow bow (used to clean weapons etc) - with no weapon to clean we don't need this but it is a source of tinder too
  5. Hussif (sewing kit) - Always a good item to carry for running repairs to kit and clothing - on reason I like traditional kit and natural materials in repairs are possible and easier in the field.
  6. Small fishing kit - handline or similar
  7. fork and spoon - no need for a knife and often no need for a fork to be honest
  8. salt horn - most modern food contains salt, boil in a bags and such probably contain to much but if we must carry salt a small bag of 5g satchets will easily suffice
  9. pot of pepper - bottle of tabasco sauce or similar
  10. firebox - here our modern options are vaste - I don't mess around with gimmicky stuff though matches in a waterproof case with a back up firesteel on my knife are all I need.
  11. small tin char - wet fire or tinder card but with a little skill or foresight birch bark etc can be carried in preparation
  12. 2 x tin cups (1 x litre 1 x 1.5 litre) - personally I carry a plastic folding cup in my haversack. My cooking pot is a 775ml MSR stowaway
  13. Cloth bag of provisions ( corn meal, pease, salt pork, jerky, coffee, leaf tea, chocolate) - rations are strange for some boil in a bags will suffice for others it will be a tin of beans. We can carry fresh too a small loaf of bread, a lump of cheese and a salami sausage are other options - time out is key to what and how much you carry. season also has some effect if you supplement your rations with wild food gathered.
  14. small wooden plate - I wouldn't bother with a plate as I use my cooking pot or eat boil in a bag out the bag
  15. Blanket, - or a sleeping bag?? Here is probably the main difference, a sleeping bag is more popular for a reason BUT a blanket or two is more versatile, the choice is for the individual and will reflect their skills and knowledge as well as what they are trying to achieve. Personally, I know with a blanket have a bed as well as clothing having slept outdoors in 1 blanket with temperatures down to -7c I am a blanket fan but its courses for horses on a long trip or if I am hiking I would likely take a sleeping bag and maybe a blanket as extra insulation
  16. extra shirt, spare warm clothing
  17. wool socks
  18. canteen - water is gold to a thirsty man, a means of carriage and purification is key, personally in my haversack I carry a bottle with a built in filter
  19. Shelter - like a blanket this is a key item as much of our bulk and weight can be here - on a recent trip one of my companions was having kittens at the thought of sleeping out one day without a shelter (even though he had a sleeping bag and bivi and it was a dry night) if the weather looks fine I will carry a poncho in my haversack so I'm not caught out - if its wet then I will carry a laavu which is a modern version of a baker tent.
  20. belt axe
  21. belt knife
  22. pocket knife
Most of the above I can fit in my haversack - all really baring the blankets, items I cant fit in the haversack I can roll up in my bedroll. Obviously we need skills to aid us in a good nights sleep for example - we need to make a bed, we may need fire to increase our warmth etc but this is the whole idea of what we are discussing - roughing it to smooth it ............... if the prospect of this, if the idea of minimal kit fills you with trepidation then its not for you. But if, like me, you like the idea of having to use your skills, your common sense and a trusted kit that can be pushed into various roles then give it a try - you will learn more about bushcraft and yourself if you do!


Ross Gilmore said...

That's very interesting. I never realized how much gear a 19th century long hunter carried. Most of us these days carry quite a bit less kit as you pointed out.

I'm sure most of the time they did not carry all the kit. I have read many accounts where they did not bring any shelter, pots, etc.

What is also evident from those accounts is that these people suffered a lot. It is something we don't really accept today as part of being in the woods, but suffering seemed to be just par for the course.

I'm with you completely when it comes to minimalist kit. I think it is a great idea and allows you to connect more closely with nature. I'm not sure however why we have to look back in history to do that. Many people these days do into the woods with minimal kit, which has less items and certainly less weight than what a 19th century long hunter carried.

Survivall said...

Hi Ross, again the voice of reason.

The looking back is two fold - firstly it's a watermark for us to work to and secondly it's a guide as to potential less we lose the way.

Its also fun and a exercise for the mind - a lot of the fun of bushcraft for me is exploring the potentials available.

My next article was going be along the lines of which you think - the modern alternative to the long hunters kit - for example instead of a oil cloth diamond shelter we can carry a surplus poncho and instead of a caste iron skillet we can carry a titanium frying pan etc

And thus by taking the "choice" items from past and present we can find a kit which suits us and our adventures!

Sometimes its just fun!

dustin boothe said...

Really nice i am a bushcrafter myself and i think that most people over pack and just weight themselves down and when your walking a long distance its hard on you.