Sunday, January 19, 2014

Classic Camping - Going back to the "old ways"!

This weekend I attempted to recreate a "Classic Camping" outing. Classic camping is defined as the way camping was done circa 1890-1920. In that period, there was a surge of interest in hiking, camping, and climbing. The development of National Parks and the automobile opened up vast areas of the country and Americans began to camp for recreational purposes. High end camping purveyors like ABERCROMBIE & FITCH sold fine tents and sleeping bags made of Egyptian cotton, fly rods, and new ultra-lightweight aluminum cooking gear. It was a period where there was an overlap of the old and new.

I've done similar camping at period correct Mountain Man rondy's, so I had a leg up on this. I went through my old Mountain Man gear and picked out some items. I selected a local campground and set up this camp:

Canvas tarp shelter
Basically, I made the canvas shelter tarp from a painters drop cloth. I hand-sewed leather tabs on the tarp and made a 2 X 2 frame which assembled with spikes from the hardware store. I bent the spikes shape and cold-blued them. This gave me  easy hooks for the tabs and hanging camp accessories from. I used fabric from the drop cloth and made a canvas bedroll and brought an old USGI wool blanket.

Canvas haversack made by my lovely wife.
Tin cup and wooden spoon & bowl from a Thrift Store.
 I carved the larger ladle spoon from a willow branch.

Camp bedding: I used a poly tarp for a groundcloth. Not exactly period correct, but I wasn't interested in moisture coming up through the ground. The covers were *adequate* [I'm not sure what the overnight temperature was, but I would've liked another blanket for better warmth and comfort]. I forgot my knit cap so I wrapped my shemagh around my head, which helped tremendously.

Camp bed
Camp cookery: I used a wooden bowl and wooden spoon and baked a loaf of bread in a cast iron Dutch Oven and another in an old B.S.A. pot found at a garage sale. I started the dinner fire with wood shavings and a ferro rod, although wooden matches and or early lighters would've undoubtedly been used in the 1890-1920 period.

Dutch oven bread
For camp lighting, I used a candle lantern purchased at a department store. Horace Kephart used a folding candle lantern that collapsed into a flat, portable package for storage until needed.
Camp candle lantern
After dinner I cleaned my cookware, dried it by the campfire.
Camp Breakfast: I decided to use my homemade Hobo stove, which I fashioned from an old coffee can. This is a great stove for quick fires to boil water for coffee and such. It becomes amazingly hot fast with just little twigs for fuel. I used a piece of Fatwood and matches to start the fire.
"Hobo" stove in action.
Hot chocolate and oatmeal, then break camp and head for home. A great outing!
If you are interested in trying "Classic Camping" there are several resources available to assist you. One that comes to mind is the excellent WILDERNESS OUTFITTERS series of videos by Dave Canterbury  [ ]. Another resource would be the WOODSMOKE SYMPOSIUM offered by Dave Wescott and Steve Watts [  ].


No comments:

Post a Comment