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Old, old Scout bedroll for backpacking

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  • Old, old Scout bedroll for backpacking

    I recently saw a vintage drawing of a Scout with a bedroll slung over one shoulder and tied together at his other side. Apparently, everything he needed for a "backpacking" trip was rolled inside.

    Does ayone know exactly what was rolled into the bedroll and how? I mean, it's obvious that spare clothes and a tarp were in there, but food, pots? I would like to present this technique in a authentic manner.

    Some of the old Scout literature shows how to use trees for shelters, beds, etc., but we surely can't do that any more.

    I am teaching a HAT Basic Backpacking course next weekend, and thought this would be a nice diversion.


  • #2
    I, too, would like this information. A number of the Scouts in "my" troop have expressed an interest in just this sort of historical camping method.

    - Oren


    • #3
      Well, from what I remember, we didn't carry much. You lay down a poncho, or tarp, or shelter half - then lay down a blanket or two (or sleeping bag). A extra shirt or pants would go on the ends ( not the middle ) and the extra part of the tarp that was not covering the blanket would be folded over - sort of making a pocket. Then it would be rolled up - as tight as possible - lengthwise. You would tie the ends and the middle. You wouldn't put much in the middle ( which was over your shoulder ) because you wanted that part to be as thin as possible. If you didn't fold over the ends right then stuff would fall out. You didn't tie the ends together too tight, but had a little string between them.

      As far as cooking equipment - we didn't have that much - most had scout or old army cook kits. Canteens were carried over the shoulder. Some kids had haversacks, and carried their sleeping bags in the horseshoe fashion. Some also had 'newspaper bag' style bags - which was basically a small bag, with a long strap, that was carried over the shoulder - sort of like the messenger bags that were used today. You would carry the bag over one shoulder, and the bedroll over the other. Stuff that wasn't in your pockets (like food) was carried in the bag. Generally on a hike, stuff fell out - and the guys towards the back would pick it up and give it back to you at rest stops. Also, the open bags were a temptation to put in rocks in other guys bags.

      No sleeping pads or stoves or things like that - we just gathered pine straw to sleep on, cooked over fires, buried our trash (cans) and drank water directly from streams. Of course, this was all before 'Leave no Trace".

      Tenting was either under the stars around the campfire ( most guys sleeping bags had a few small burn holes from sparks after a few campouts ) or shelter halfs - which were canvas half tents that you would button together.


      • #4
        BTW, that canvas of the shelter half, and the wool GI blanket helped the bedroll weigh quite a little bit!!!

        If you can find it, the late COL Townsend Whelen and Mr Bradford Angier, in 1958, wrote a great book: On Your Own in the Wilderness. The expedition camping of this era was just before aluminum frames and nylon backpacks came onto the scene. This would be a good book if you wanted to re-create this era of packing/hiking/camping


        • #5
          Ah, for the good old days . . . ! Lay out your ground sheet on the ground, lay a heavy blanket on top of the ground sheet, then a light blanket on top of the first (now we call that "layering"), A shirt laid out on one side, trousers at the other end along with a change of socks. fold the ends of the ground sheet over the ends of the blankets. Roll it tightly lengthwise, fold it in half, and tie it together at the end and around the middle. We put our good ol' boy scout mess kits, our share of the food, matches, 1st aid kit, a spoon, and anything we thought we'd need in a flat canvas bag that had a flap and a shoulder strap. Put the strap of the canvas bag and your canteen strap crossways over you right shoulder and the roll crossways over your left shoulder, and head out, scout staffs and patrol flags in hand. Slept out under the stars around the patrol cooking fire . . ., man, that was great! Being true sons of the south, we imagined ourselves as Stonewall Jackson's "foot cavalry" of the 1862 Valley Campaign. And set a pace like them, too.
          How did we cook? The old scout mess kit had a frying pan, a pot with a lid, and a bowl that all fit together. We fixed Rice-a-Roni with a can of peas or green beans and ground beef (already browned and frozen when we left for the campout) all mixed together. Breakfast was oatmeal with powdered milk and sugar and sausage(also frozen). Lunch was a p-b-and-j sandwich or two.
          Clean-up? The pots and frying pans that we used to cook in, we poured water into them as soon as we finished eating along with a couple of drops of dishwashing detergent and put them back on the coals to let the water heat up. As soon as we finished eating, it was wash out the pots and frying pans, rinse them out twice, then follow the same proceedure for the bowls that we ate out of. Somewhere between an art and a science. Nobody got sick; nobody died; nobody sued anybody else. Running water was safe to drink. Much has changed in 40 years.
          The only thing that I would do differently now is to have a supply of water waiting at the campsite and make the proper arrangments for a groundfire (see the handbook on how).
          There is a wider variety of dried food available now, Hamburger Helper comes to immedietly to mind, as well as lighter-weight groundcloth material. And BSA Supply still has the old style messkit (Same thing is available for less at WalMart.) Here's a trick - coat the outside of the frying pan and pot with liquid dishwashing soap before you start cooking with it. The soot will wash off without scrubbing. It will teach about waiting for the fire to die down to coals and the heat will be steadier. Have a look at the requirements for T'foot through 1st Class. Make the hike to the campsite at least 5 miles and then see how many requirements that you can complete on a campout like this.
          You might want to try this yourself with a couple of the older guys in the troop to see how well they adapt to this style of camping. Have fun!


          • #6
            Boy, you guys must be older than dirt! Was your SM named Flintstone and the ASM named Rubble?


            • #7
              Thats Mr. Flintstone to you



              • #8
                As a scout we would camp this way from time to time. We were taught to take 2) #10 coffee cans we stuffed one with food items and the other contained other cans that we had cut and punched to use as cooking utensils. Coat hangers were bent to serve as handles. We each usually had a buddy burner (made of a tuna or cat food can filled eith a roll of corrugated cardboard and saturated with paraffin) to act as a ready heat source.

                The cans were set at opposite ends of the bed roll, clothes were laid in the middle. The entire thing was rolled up like a tootsie roll with the cans acting as plugs in the end. The ends were tied with a short rope and the entire thing was slung over one shoulder and laid diagonally across your body.

                (This message has been edited by Bob White)


                • #9
                  And that's Mr. Rubble to you, as well. Hey, Fred! Ya wanna build a real fire on the ground, heat up a couple cans of Dinty Moore stew them make a bunch of S'mores an' swap stories 'til we get told to shut up and go to sleep? Ah, those were the days.

                  And yes, SR540 Beaver, I still use that kind of bedroll. It's fun to change the outer blanket from time to time. The "Thomas the Tank Engine" blanket was very popular.


                  • #10
                    If I remember right my 50's Girl Scout handbook and my brothers 60 Boy Scout handbook showed you how to make a bedroll. Also in you can find a 1982 edition of the handbook on page 73 it gives you instructions for making a blanket sleeping bag.

                    I try to find old scout books because they are such a wealth of information. The newer books are mostly bunk.