Bedding!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.
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!
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!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.
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.
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!