18th Century Soldier's kit and the modern alternatives

Further to my below post I have spent many days researching the typical kit of the 18th century outdoorsman. My findings have been interesting especially when compared with my modern gear and that promoted by guys like Dave Canterbury who I am growing to admire immensely.

So what would a 18th Century soldier have?? Below is a list taken from the diary of a French officer from the 1700's, I have left out none relevant items like gun flints and powder horns ect btw.

Summer issue items
  1. Blanket
  2. Capote
  3. Shirt x2
  4. Trousers
  5. Underpants
  6. Socks
  7. Hussif
  8. Fire Steel and Flint
  9. Butcher knife
  10. Comb
  11. Mocassins
  12. Tomahawk
Additional winter items

  1. 2 extra pairs of socks
  2. Mittens
  3. Vest
  4. Folding knife x2
  5. Long underwear (material for the use of)
  6. Bearskin
Also issued per 2 men

  1. Cooking pot
  2. Axe
  3. Tarpaulin

With their wool uniforms this kit seems pretty good for the prevailing conditions that would have been found in the wilderness north of New York well into Canada.

So my own kit or the equivalent of -

  1. Blanket
  2. Wool smock (made from army blanket)
  3. 5.11 shirt and t-shirt/Zip neck shirt
  4. Trouser
  5. Underpants
  6. Socks
  7. Sewing kit
  8. Fireset - firesteel and Bic lighter
  9. Butcher knife
  10. Wash kit inc comb and tooth cleaning items
  11. Walking Boots
  12. Tomahawk

  1.  2 x Socks
  2. Mittens (with leather choppers)
  3. JHW (army jumper)
  4. 2 x Opinel knives or 1 x Opinel 1 x Mora No1
  5. Long underwear
  6. Sleeping bag - MSS or similar inc thermarest and bivi bag

The similarities are there - mostly even the materials are similar - really only the tech has changed for example a flint and steel replaced with a fire steel (ferro rod) ......... some stuff missed out were items not considered as personal issue for example candles as these were issues per 100 for guard duties etc and considered part of the rations hence here we don't mention them or a torch - one thing I wouldn't leave out of my modern gear is a first aid kit but I doubt the 18th C soldier had access to anything we might consider as even the most basic of kits.

So what does this mean? Well in light of the previous post it certainly means changing my kit isn't really necessary, it also means my skills, while always having room to improve, wont require to much adapting.

This means two things firstly, that my kit is pretty basic and that my skills are pretty good, I already carry less by knowing more as the saying goes. Secondly, that I will need to caste my net further a field to find new inspiration - although even with modern kit I can still "play" the same scenario I mentioned before as the rules of the game are still the same!

With all this in mind tomorrow I'll be in the loft sorting out my kit and then watch out ebay here I come with the surplus - a few smart bushcrafters are about to be made very happy with some bargain kit!!


Just an update

Quick up date dear reader ........... Since I wrote my last post here I have been doing much thinking and sorting out of gear - potentially the Average Joe bushcraft theme has fallen by the way side as I find myself drawn to more traditional forms of the craft.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love the mountain man era and it is this period that seems to be drawing me in. I'm not abandoning modern gear all together as my hiking and longer term gear will still be modern but for day trips and overnighters I am seriously reshaping my kit to a more traditional rig. I hope to merge the two for longer outings too but I don't think you'll be seeing me walking down the round looking like Davy Crockett any time soon.

This also fits my life style now and takes me back to my bushcraft roots as my view of the hobby has always been Blanket, Billy and Blade orientated. It also marries in nicely with my love of stealth camping as if I follow the traditional theme then I can have a scenario for my trips too.

Imagine the fun to be had on a overnighter where the scenario is your a lone trapper in hostile Indian country, everybody you pass in the woods is Huron or Sioux or whatever tribe you want them to be and are to be avoided! You will need to use your skills to survive and avoid detection ........... add to this the research and new skills that can be learnt and I think for me it will be a way of perking up my bushcraft.

I KNOW its not for everyone, the glampers, the expedition style campers, the weekend bushcrafters who like their 4 x 4's and their shineys etc and I don't care - I'm not doing it for them I'm doing it for me and the pleasure I will get from it.

I suspect over time my posts will become more and more bogged down with historically correct gear to the point where I could be re-enacting but that is not my plan at the moment. My plan is use modern gear but only as a alternative to what was traditional for example a stainless steel billy instead of a copper tea kettle, or a cotton army smock instead of a hessian hunting smock etc.

At the time of writing I have no idea where this "change" will take me all I do know is that for some time now the commercialism and the mass marketing of bushcraft has bored me, there is nothing new out there. My hope is that by taking a step back in time I will regenerate my flagging interest, give myself something new to learn while also allowing me to rediscover old skills I haven't used in many years.

I look forward to the journey and hope those of you interested enough to read my future ramblings will enjoy the trip as much as I do.