Joining the need wallet club

Hard Kit is all other accoutrements that are not clothing, weapons or armour. This includes pots and tents, and flint & steel, and other things like that.

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BrianGrubbs
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Joining the need wallet club

Postby BrianGrubbs » Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:34 pm

As one of the few pieces of gear that can be directly drawn from the source material, I’ve had a need wallet on my project list for quite some time. This one drew heavily from Elleth’s design, though I did not use buckles.
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I need to post an update to my kit sometime soon. I’ve been slowly tweaking it over the years, but it’s been a while since I’ve done a full write up!

Here’s the only in progress picture I got!
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34D95DB3-447B-45D6-8734-1B3267D7EDAF.jpeg (29.47 KiB) Viewed 3018 times


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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Cimrandir » Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:52 am

Most excellent! I love the contrasting colors on the closure! What all do you carry in it?
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Elleth » Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:25 am

I love it! :)
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Taylor Steiner » Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:29 am

Goodnight that's great!
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Iodo » Mon Jul 06, 2020 5:40 am

That's amazing :P
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Ghostsoldier » Mon Jul 06, 2020 5:32 pm

Awesome work, Brian! I really need to make one of these for my own kit... :P

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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Greg » Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:25 am

Looks great! Fits the idea in the text perfectly. Well done!
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Manveruon » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:12 am

Looking great! This is really something I need to finally pull the trigger on myself. Been needing to make a good need-wallet for a long time. This seems like a really nice, practical design!

Incidentally, not to derail the thread, but I do have some general questions about need-wallets, and I’m hoping maybe someone here can shed a little light on the subject for me, because I did a little digging back into older threads and couldn’t quite find what I was looking for.
Basically, I’m trying to find where people have pointed to this item by name in the text, and what documentation we have for them specifically being carried by the Dúnedain. I did find a reference waaaaaay back on the forums to them being mentioned in relation to the Disaster at the Gladden Fields, but I didn’t see anything more contempoary with the Rangers of the 3rd Age - yet people seem to keep pointing to “need wallets” as one of the few absolutely confirmed pieces of Dúnedain material culture.
Furthermore, it seems that at some point, we mostly came to the consensus as a group that the best design for these wallets was a sort of small portmanteau roll with a generally oval-ish cross section - worn on the back of the belt acting as something like a small, semi-hard-sided “fanny-pack” of sorts.
Can someone refresh my memory as to how exactly we arrived at this somewhat uniform design? Is there any specific textual reason why folks here favor this shape? Or is it just of a matter of general practicality that everyone has more or less agreed works well?

Either way I think they seem extremely practical, and I definitely want to try my hand at making my own soon, but I’m curious as to their history in the lore.
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Cimrandir » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:05 pm

I'm definitely no lore-master and I'm still playing catch-up after my time away, but is it possible that the need wallet of the 2nd Age is the same small pouch of Aragorn's 3rd Age kit?

Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 12 wrote:From the pouch at his belt he drew out the long leaves of a plant.


Obviously Elleth's Lasdhir project has provided an excellent proposal for that passage but could it be that through the ages the need-wallet streamlined into a "pouch?" Especially considering that with Frodo wounded, he was in dire need. I'm probably stretching here so if anyone else has more information, they'd probably be more correct. :lol:
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Elleth » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:51 pm

I believe the Gladden Fields reference is the latest in time we have, though it's absolutely a sensible piece of equipment and it makes sense it would persist into later ages. Their use by the elves in the First Age also argues for their persistence I think. That said, I understand a stickler choosing against carrying such a thing.

To my knowledge, the current "flattened portmanteau" construction starts with mine here:

viewtopic.php?f=32&t=3495&p=38369#p37524

I don't have a textual reference for that design, but did arrive at it with a fair amount of trial and error in the field.

One thing mine does that I think most later iterations haven't: if you undo the clasps you can take the whole thing off your belt - this is so you can get to stuff carried in the small of your back with less fuss and twisting. Once off the cover unfolds into a small "working space" on the ground, so as to keep what you're doing out of leaf litter.

merf-dunedain-need-wallet-open.jpg
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Same idea as Greg's linen and oilcloth toolroll, if not so efficient.


Oh - a final thought. Now that I've spent a fair amount of time combing through early 20th c. fieldgear for inspirations, the "sealed wallet upon the belt" reference very much reminds me of the sealed bandages carried by WWI-WWII soldiers. The US Carlisle bandage and pouch comes first to mind, but if memory serves the British had very much the same idea going on.

I don't *know* as those were indirect inspirations for the sealed needwallet that Tolkien imagined, but I'd not be surprised were that the case. It's probably a good place to start looking were anyone wanting to take us closer yet to the Middle-earth of the books.
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Elleth » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:34 pm

Oh - also Cimrandir, I don't *think* so.

The references to the need-wallet state the contents are sealed against the weather and drawn forth only at great need (hence the name). The athelas that Aragorn pulls from the pouch at his waist has been freshly picked.

In my experience, there are three roles for containers carried in the wild:

1. last-ditch sealed "just in case" survival kit. This stuff is small, super-portable, and hardly ever touched. Ideally it's small and light and you wear it on your person *all* the time you're in the wild.
2. routine-use tools/necessaries: fire kit, coin purse, bug salve, that kinda thing. You're in and out of this pouch all the time.
3. a rough carrier for things you find in the wild and want to bring with you: tinder, wild herbs, that kinda thing.

I think you generally want those three things to be distinct containers.

If your sealed survival supplies are in the same pouch as your tools, you're wearing that seal every time you're pulling things in and out. And it's just something *in the way* when you're reaching for something else.
Foraged stuff tends to be messy - put that in the same pouch as either of the others and you're covering your kit with broken grass cruft, berry juice, or whatever else you've picked up along the way.

Now, obviously it's something of a luxury to have three (or more) containers in the wild: I'm sure you'll find folk from our neolithic ancestors to 19th century mountain men to modern woodsbums throwing everything in one bag and calling it a day.
.. but I still think experience tends to induce folk to separate out things a bit.


In retrospect, I think my needwallet is still on the large side, though how to get it smaller and still have room for a couple crackers and a cordial I've not yet figured out. Eventually I'll give it another go, but it'll be a while I fear.
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Udwin » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:58 pm

The Gladden Fields example IS the most recent reference to such a piece of kit. However, based on the description of the company of Isildur (stated to be made up of Men of Arnor), we may infer that the Grey Company at the end of the Third Age are following standard Arnorian military practices which have been passed down (I don't want to go into too much detail here as I plan to discuss this in a future newsletter article!), and that regular Rangers (even those Not of the Grey Company) would carry such wallets.
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Ghostsoldier » Wed Jul 08, 2020 5:28 pm

There's some great insight in this thread. :P

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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Manveruon » Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:03 pm

Elleth wrote:I believe the Gladden Fields reference is the latest in time we have, though it's absolutely a sensible piece of equipment and it makes sense it would persist into later ages. Their use by the elves in the First Age also argues for their persistence I think. That said, I understand a stickler choosing against carrying such a thing.

To my knowledge, the current "flattened portmanteau" construction starts with mine here:

http://middleearthrangers.org/forum/vie ... 369#p37524

I don't have a textual reference for that design, but did arrive at it with a fair amount of trial and error in the field.

One thing mine does that I think most later iterations haven't: if you undo the clasps you can take the whole thing off your belt - this is so you can get to stuff carried in the small of your back with less fuss and twisting. Once off the cover unfolds into a small "working space" on the ground, so as to keep what you're doing out of leaf litter.

Same idea as Greg's linen and oilcloth toolroll, if not so efficient.

Oh - a final thought. Now that I've spent a fair amount of time combing through early 20th c. fieldgear for inspirations, the "sealed wallet upon the belt" reference very much reminds me of the sealed bandages carried by WWI-WWII soldiers. The US Carlisle bandage and pouch comes first to mind, but if memory serves the British had very much the same idea going on.

I don't *know* as those were indirect inspirations for the sealed needwallet that Tolkien imagined, but I'd not be surprised were that the case. It's probably a good place to start looking were anyone wanting to take us closer yet to the Middle-earth of the books.


Thanks, Elleth! This is very much the information I was looking for! I appreciate it! I was also able to get some help digging up original sources from some folks over on the FB group, and everything seems to line up. In terms of their application and use by the Dúnedain of the late 3rd Age, I very much take your meaning here, and my feelings largely line up with yours. Absence of [direct] evidence does not equal evidence of absence after all, and I think it makes perfect sense to extrapolate their use for our purposes, particularly since the folks carrying them at the Disaster of the Gladden Fields were *specifically* mentioned to be Dúnedain (if perhaps of an older generation). Also, from a purely practical standpoint, it makes sense to have an item like this strictly dedicated to carrying first-aid items (which is something I have always been sorely lax about when actually trekking, and I really need to change). It would be a great way for me to carry modern first-aid equipment in a concealed and protected manner, and I probably wouldn’t even have to touch it most of the time - just make sure it’s on my belt whenever I head out.

As for the design, I’m starting to see a picture of why we have all sort of adopted the same basic construction for these, and I will probably be doing the same when I make mine. The flattened portmanteau shape being low-profile and held snugly against the body in the small of the back at all times makes an awful lot of sense. ALSO! The fold-over design of the top (and sometimes bottom) flaps DOES give it a sort of “wallet” appearance to my eye. Almost like a slightly more robust tobacco pouch, which I believe I have also heard referred to as a “wallet”. This compact, fold-up design, to me, helps differentiate it from a typical “pouch” or “purse.” Mostly I just wanted to make sure I knew that this shape was one we had come up with on our own, and not actually something from the source material (even if our decision to do so seems logical, I felt the distinction was important).

As for the reference to them being tightly sealed... Hmmmm. I’m actually kind of wondering now if it make make more sense to just let the leather case be just that - a case - and then inside that case there would be a much softer, lighter-weight package, either made of waxed cloth or some sort of thin, weatherproofed leather like oiled goatskin. This would be the part that remained sealed, but could be taken out of the leather case entirely as needed. A waxed cloth parcel could even be re-sealed to some extent if opened in the field.
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Re: Joining the need wallet club

Postby Greg » Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:05 pm

The Gladden fields reference IS the most recent (in-timeline) reference, and it's the only one that contains the phial of cordial. It's also the only reference that actually names the pouch a need-wallet.

The other reference we have for such a pouch I have inferred to be an earlier evolutionary iteration of the eventual need-wallet, from the first age:

J.R.R. Tolkien in 'Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin' wrote:Voronwë, speaking to Tuor:
"As for me, I am of the Noldor, and long must be the hunger and cold the winter that shall slay the kin of those who passed the Grinding Ice. Yet how think you that we could labour countless days in the salt wastes of the sea? Or have you not heard of the way-bread of the Elves? And I keep still that which all mariners hold until the last." Then he showed beneath his cloak a sealed wallet clasped upon his belt. "No water nor weather will harm it while it is sealed. But we must husband it until great need..."

Here, Voronwë, an elf, carries a wallet with a suspiciously similar description and contents, and claims it to be the kit of a Mariner. The Numenoreans have an exhaustive history of seafaring in the early 2nd age, so seeing a strikingly similar wallet worn by Isildur at the beginning of the 3rd age linked the two references credibly.
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