On Bedrolls and Comfort

A place for pics and tutorials on making Soft Kit (clothing and accessories like buckles and cloak pins).

Moderators: caedmon, Greg

User avatar
Greg
Urush bithî 'nKi ya-nam bawâb
Posts: 3884
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:50 pm
Location: Eriador; Central Indiana

On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Greg » Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:41 am

J.R.R. Tolkien -- in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, Chapter XI: A Knife in the Dark -- wrote:The cold increased as darkness came on. [...] The sky above had cleared again and was slowly filled with twinkling stars. Frodo and his companions huddled round the fire, wrapped in every garment and blanket they possessed; but Strider was content with a single cloak, and sat a little apart, drawing thoughtfully at his pipe.
Bedding!

Natural? Blanketing? Tarp cloth? Ground cloth? Tumpline, horseshoe roll, or backpack?

Ah, the bedroll! Yes, this has caused us much lively and stimulating discussion for the past decade or so that the forum has existed. Everyone's approached it differently, and most have tried a few options. My own tries at the topic are sure to have killed the horse and beaten it soundly, pardon the expression...yet here we are again!

No, this is not another "Y'all oughta give this'un a try" thread. Instead, this is a look at my present research and musings which I'm developing into a useable method for trekking entirely [without a bedroll.

As seen above, pre-Rivendell Aragorn, as we all know, contents himself with his cloak alone for warmth at night in early October. This is mid-fall, and thus likely to provide cold evenings to free folk who are not yet acclimated to colder weather such as the Hobbits, who as a rule are used to sleeping indoors. Strider, of course, we can expect to have begun acclimating to the seasonal changes weeks ago purely by existing outside. I try to do this myself every fall...I go without long sleeves and thermals or jackets for as long as I can, being a little uncomfortable early on to aid my acclimation to winter weather since I have to work outside in it year 'round.

Now, Post-Rivendell Aragorn is supplied with true cold-weather gear--as are the rest of the Company--by Elrond...but it's WINTER now!
J.R.R. Tolkien -- in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter III: The Ring Goes South -- wrote:All were furnished by Elrond with thick warm clothes, and they had jackets and cloaks lined with fur. Spare food and clothes and blankets and other needs were laden on a pony, none other than the poor beast that they had brought from Bree.
I expect Aragorn would, of course, take advantage of the presence of these warm articles, particularly since much of the weight is carried by a Pony (ie. blankets) that otherwise would weigh heavily on one's back. So why didn't he have one with him between Bree and Rivendell? There was, after all, a pack Pony, and only five people (four of them quite small!) to provision for, rather than nine!

Let's look back again at pre-Rivendell Aragorn. There are a few key differences between him and us that we have to take into account:
1) He ages slower than we do, and likely is made of sterner stuff.
2) He has spent more time wandering and sleeping in the wilds than any of us have been alive.
3) He was on an errand of significant urgency at the time.

In response:
1) Sure he does. Sure he is. I didn't say it would be easy!
2) Can't catch up with that, but we can certainly gain experience of our own re: sleeping on the ground in fewer years.
3) We will never be as pressed as he was ever in a trekking context...so why bother?

I think, given the nature of the way that Aragorn and the Hobbits leave Bree, pony and all, that Aragorn would have taken a blanket if he felt he needed it. I also think that, given how powerful a tool I know acclimation to be, it doesn't take 87 years to become capable of different levels of comfort. However, I think it rather stupid to go into a Winter scenario willfully without some serious bedding, because you just never know.

***

All that said, here's what I'm after: I'm transitioning my "day trek/routine patrol" kit into my overnight kit, for three out of the four seasons of the year. I'm choosing to leave at home my big wool blanket and my shelter tarp in favor of personal planning, careful site selection, and camp preparation. I've spent enough time doing this to have a good mental checklist going in my head when I start setting up camp, and I want to start really putting it into practice. Looking at the text, it's clear that it makes perfect sense for a Ranger--professional traveller and huntsman that they would be--to pull out all the stops in the winter with a full-size blanket and an oilcloth shelter tarp and/or groundcloth. Snow and moisture in low temperatures are nothing to be messed with. But there rest of the year, I'm thinking that a cloak that works hard for me, being really intentional about rotating clothing at nighttime (particularly socks and other damp articles), and being thorough in campsite preparation, fire location, and shelter construction should make having a significantly lighter load completely doable. If I'm going to have to lug all this metal in opposition of Orcs that (thankfully) don't come 'round these parts much, and if I want to be trekking in a kit that really is as book-accurate as possible, I think that there's nothing left to do but to hit the trail without my bedroll.

More to come as I work out a few kinks in clothing carriage. Discussion welcome!
Now the sword shall come from under the cloak.
User avatar
Elleth
êphal ki-*raznahê
Posts: 1920
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:26 am
Location: in the Angle; New England

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Elleth » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:38 pm

oof! That is a topic! And intention or no, quite the raising of the bar! :mrgreen:

My initial thought: it's been years since I've slept outdoors with no more than the clothes on my back, but the one thing I learned doing it that wasn't in the books (or at least wasn't in the books I had access to at the time):

The weight - time - comfort/survivability triangle.
Much like the old saw of cheap/fast/quality: pick any two.

In a bit more detail:

a skilled woodsrunner can duplicate the function of virtually any piece of kit on the trail, provided he or she has the time and materials to do so.

As an extreme case to make the point:
With a sharp rock you can get inner bark. With inner bark you can get cordage. With cordage you can get a bow drill. With a bow drill you can get fire... (takes time)
... or you can carry a tinderbox with flint and steel, and save an afternoon's work. (adds weight)
... or you can forgo fire completely. (lowers comfort/survivability)
(Comfort and survivability track together because they're the same thing under different conditions: what's merely uncomfortable in September will kill you in February.)


To apply that here:

When we meet Aragorn before Rivendell, he's buying light weight at the cost mostly of comfort, and no doubt at necessity time.
(In a heavy downpour in October, he's if at all possible stopping to build a shelter of some kind I'm sure )

An additional thought: for those with tactical concerns, more packed gear also means less disruption to the environment, hence less sign left for skilled pursuers to find, in addition to the ability to spend more time walking, less time preparing to live. (At least until one hits modern techniques, where "more packed gear" means crazy litter or an endlessly growing bag of food wrappers)



Couple more thoughts in a moment...
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
User avatar
Elleth
êphal ki-*raznahê
Posts: 1920
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:26 am
Location: in the Angle; New England

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Elleth » Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:56 pm

Right. Other thing.

I think it's a common failing among bushcraft folks generally and our hobby particularly to become overly focused on our toys. (I'm especially guilty of this)

Some of that's simply comfort zone. I mean, I find it much easier and more comfortable to sew things after work with family and dogs than go outside.

Some of that's the nature of our interaction online:
It's *easy* to snap a picture of a new piece of craft work. (easier still to click "buy" on the TitaniumFleeceWonderGear site, but that's not the problem here)
It's *hard* to convey anew the feeling "so it was really really cold and I did what I could but it was still really really cold and finally the sun came up."

Other than just *doing* it I don't know what the answer is.

Challenges? Contests, like the sword thing you guys have been doing?
More trip diaries?

I dunno.


... but I think you're on the right track.
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
User avatar
Udwin
Amrod Rhandir
Posts: 580
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:00 pm
Location: banks of the great River, Kaintuckiana

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Udwin » Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:09 pm

Inspirational! A great goal to work towards, solidly reasoned. (Also glad to see you're taking the advice back from Vol I:4 re: acclimatization ; )
Looking ahead I would like to do the same for my day kit...the giant horseshoe blanket+sheet roll in summer IS a big hindrance. Need to ponder how to make this work without a cloak.
Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
User avatar
Elleth
êphal ki-*raznahê
Posts: 1920
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:26 am
Location: in the Angle; New England

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Elleth » Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:19 pm

Well enough, I'll join you gentlemen in some acclimitization, as that seems the hardest and most critical part.

Most of my work needs to be indoors today, but I've cut the heat off to my workshop. Nothing past gloves and perhaps a knit hat for the ears through this winter for barn chores, and I'll eschew a coat as much as possible on longer outings.

It's not anywhere near the treks you've got planned, but even a step in the right direction is a step.


PS: Udwin, I believe the link to your article in the MERS forum is broken. Changing the file name, I got this to work:

http://budgetauthenticity.org/mers/MERSv1-4Winter17.pdf
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
User avatar
Taurinor
Amrod Rhandir
Posts: 522
Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:06 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Taurinor » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:02 pm

I think another angle on "2) He has spent more time wandering and sleeping in the wilds than any of us have been alive" that seems related to acclimation but slightly different is familiarity with the terrain. In addition to being used to the cold, Aragorn knows the land like the back of his own hand. He knows which way the prevailing winds blow, what the approaching rain smells like, and the like, and can choose campsite accordingly. It also seems like Rangers leave at least some small preparations at sites they come back to on occasion ("Rangers have been here lately. It is they who left the firewood behind." FotR, Book I, Chapter 11: "A Knife in the Dark"). I don't think they would have anything as formal as waystations or the like, but the underside of a rocky outcropping that stays dry even in the rain, a stand of low-branched pines with a thick carpet of needles, or the large trunk of a fallen tree that cuts the wind just right seem like things they would note and return to, if needed.

As Greg said, Aragorn has several decades of wandering on us, but if folks have some favorite woods to tromp about it, that sort of a familiarity seems like something to strive for!
- Ned Houndswood, Breelander
Richmond Fantasy-Inspired Hiking and Camping (on WordPress and Facebook)
User avatar
Greg
Urush bithî 'nKi ya-nam bawâb
Posts: 3884
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:50 pm
Location: Eriador; Central Indiana

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Greg » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:26 pm

It also seems like Rangers leave at least some small preparations at sites they come back to on occasion ("Rangers have been here lately. It is they who left the firewood behind." FotR, Book I, Chapter 11: "A Knife in the Dark"). I don't think they would have anything as formal as waystations or the like, but the underside of a rocky outcropping that stays dry even in the rain, a stand of low-branched pines with a thick carpet of needles, or the large trunk of a fallen tree that cuts the wind just right seem like things they would note and return to, if needed.

As Greg said, Aragorn has several decades of wandering on us, but if folks have some favorite woods to tromp about it, that sort of a familiarity seems like something to strive for!


I knew I forgot a weathertop reference! Thanks, Taurinor!

Yes, most of Aragorn's experience is attainable through experience. Practice, practice, practical application!

Elleth wrote:For those with tactical concerns, more packed gear also means less disruption to the environment, hence less sign left for skilled pursuers to find, in addition to the ability to spend more time walking, less time preparing to live.


This is indeed a caveat to the concept, and though we aren't in pursuit of a LARP-level of "pretending", one should not go willy-nilly through the woods leaving behind little three-sided Bushcraft shelters tied together with cordage and call themselves a Ranger. "If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so." That being said, the number of miles Odigan, Udwin, and myself have taken to hiking on our last several outings suggest a level of haste that a typical wandering Ranger need not apply themselves to, so more time is likely available for careful consideration.

I believe low-impact means of natural shelters can be achieved with moderate to low effort. A lot of the time factors bear in mind the order that things are done in. Light a fire first and work on your shelter while coals develop, then get your cookpot going and continue preparing bedding and an overhead while it cooks, etc. The "Bushcraft shelters" we see paracord-ed together on youtube seem to me only to be a Winter necessity, and still mostly excessive. Can it be done in a leave-minimal-trace manner without leaving obvious tracks? Possibly, and only time and practical application will tell.
Now the sword shall come from under the cloak.
User avatar
Ursus
Amrod Rhandir
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:31 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Ursus » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:55 pm

It’s definitely doable. I used to do this quite frequently. Reaching back into my 18th century roots it’s no different than carrying one blanket and wearing it as a match coat most of the time and then rolling it up when you’re done. I’m not sure how well your current bocksten cloak will do here being a bit shorter, but you could always make a longer fuller one just for this purpose. Wearing a full length cloak can be a pain sometimes when moving through the trees but you could always throw the folds up around your shoulders which seems to work really well for me so far.
"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters – but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy."

“My cuts, short or long, don’t go wrong.”
User avatar
Greg
Urush bithî 'nKi ya-nam bawâb
Posts: 3884
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:50 pm
Location: Eriador; Central Indiana

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Greg » Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:17 pm

My Bocksten isn't ankle-length, true, but it makes mid-calf. I think we'll manage. It's definitely longer than the original and most reproductions, and I prefer sleeping on my side with legs tucked a little.
Now the sword shall come from under the cloak.
User avatar
Ursus
Amrod Rhandir
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:31 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Ursus » Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:31 pm

Greg wrote:My Bocksten isn't ankle-length, true, but it makes mid-calf. I think we'll manage. It's definitely longer than the original and most reproductions, and I prefer sleeping on my side with legs tucked a little.



Ah, I was misremembering from the last pic I saw. I was thinking it was more watch cloak length. I like the thought as a whole. It puts more emphasis on an iconic piece of gear that is often worn but I feel not fully used, ya know?
"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters – but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy."

“My cuts, short or long, don’t go wrong.”
User avatar
Greg
Urush bithî 'nKi ya-nam bawâb
Posts: 3884
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:50 pm
Location: Eriador; Central Indiana

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Greg » Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:33 pm

That played heavily into this thought process, too! In the Summer months I've often left the cloak in the car and carried the bedroll to shed bulk...seems rather backward, doesn't it?

Seems like it'd be easier to just horseshoe roll the cloak when it's too hot than to lug so much other stuff and leave it behind.
Now the sword shall come from under the cloak.
User avatar
Ursus
Amrod Rhandir
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2013 11:31 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Ursus » Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:42 pm

Greg wrote:Seems like it'd be easier to just horseshoe roll the cloak when it's too hot than to lug so much other stuff and leave it behind.


True. I think I’d still use my bedroll cover and just leave it rolled up tight and tied when empty then stuff the cloak in it when needed. The horseshoe for me in summer causes me to sweat like crazy.
"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters – but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy."

“My cuts, short or long, don’t go wrong.”
User avatar
Odigan
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 277
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:42 pm
Location: Southern WI
Contact:

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Odigan » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:27 pm

Ursus wrote:...it’s no different than carrying one blanket and wearing it as a match coat most of the time and then rolling it up when you’re done. I’m not sure how well your current bocksten cloak will do here being a bit shorter, but you could always make a longer fuller one just for this purpose. Wearing a full length cloak can be a pain sometimes when moving through the trees but you could always throw the folds up around your shoulders which seems to work really well for me so far.


The Rechteckmantel (rectangular cloak) is popular among "Viking" reenactors, and while I'm sure we're mostly familiar with this sort of arrangement, it is a perfect application of the ideas discussed here.

Rechteckmantel.jpg
Rechteckmantel.jpg (19.92 KiB) Viewed 2725 times
User avatar
Greg
Urush bithî 'nKi ya-nam bawâb
Posts: 3884
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:50 pm
Location: Eriador; Central Indiana

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Greg » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:02 pm

That's pretty cool! I wonder if one could use, say, two pins at the join to create a longer, Bocksten-like shoulder "seam" to increase comfort.
Now the sword shall come from under the cloak.
User avatar
Odigan
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 277
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:42 pm
Location: Southern WI
Contact:

Re: On Bedrolls and Comfort

Postby Odigan » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:15 pm

Greg wrote:That's pretty cool! I wonder if one could use, say, two pins at the join to create a longer, Bocksten-like shoulder "seam" to increase comfort.


I've seen quite a few variations in how they're worn, but usually just with the one pin. But it is possible to bundle it up more around the shoulders and neck, or even make a hood, so it is versatile. This is an example I find appealing, image from Thorids Gewandung. Probably something for another thread to avoid straying too far from things here...

46728388_534097573741539_4924369343033677876_n.jpg
46728388_534097573741539_4924369343033677876_n.jpg (111.4 KiB) Viewed 2720 times

Return to “Soft Kit”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests