Survive In The Woods With Your Every Day Carry

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What would you need to survive in the wilderness, at any time of the year? Could you carry it on your body, or what would you need to carry it all?

Now that you have that in mind, imagine yourself as a 13 year old.

Has your answer changed?

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In the early 1900s, Daniel Carter Beard taught 13 and 14 year old boys how to survive in the woods, and he taught them how to do so if they were equipped with nothing more than what they carried on their bodies.

In fact, I would suspect that a well-trained Scout from his troop could have survived the wilderness armed with nothing but his jack-knife and belt axe.

Now, he called these essential tools “A Buckskin Man’s Pocket”, noting that the “pocket” covered the entire body, but it covered everything that a properly trained person needed to survive in the wilderness, summer or winter.

This old time Scoutmaster wrote an amazing book for Scouts called The American Boy’s Handy Book in 1918, and began it by teaching readers how to start a fire – without matches.

The awesome thing is that he also describes exactly HOW to carry each of these items for efficiency.

How does your Every Day Carry compare?

Keep reading to discover what one of those early Boy Scouts carried on their uniform!

A Boy Scout in the early days could survive in the woods with only his Every Day Carry. Could you do it?

Safety Pins – Fasten a row of these down the inside of your jacket, or down the front of your shirt if you are not wearing a jacket. These are clothespins for wet socks, they turn blankets into sleeping bags, and they quickly mend ripped clothing.

He notes that they are as useful as hairpins are to a lady. 🙂 How many of you have even seen a hairpin? I use them because I like to wear my hair in a bun at times and I must admit that I’ve never used one for anything except keeping my hair up.

Tack buttons (he called them Bachelor Buttons, which now refers to a type of flower) – One pocket should be kept full of these no sew buttons which require nothing more than a hammer or the back of an axe.

Notepad and pencil with hard lead, as hard lead works in all weather and lasts longer than ink

Good quality jack-knife in hip pocket

Pocket compass that is regularly checked for accuracy, in another pocket

A wooden “noggin” or small cup, hanging from the belt (update this with a metal cup)

Whang strings or belt lashings tucked into belt – these were long strips of rawhide that could be used to start a fire. Remember, he did say a properly trained person. How many of us can start a fire with friction?

Small whetstone carried in other hip pocket to sharpen your knife and axe

Gut string with medium-sized fishing flies attached, wrapped around outside of hat

Large bandanna handkerchief around neck

Belt axe tucked in at back

Toothbrush in a small oil-skin bag (do add toothpaste and a small black comb!)

Small piece of candle

Small bottle of fly dope in pouch attached to belt

In same pouch, a few yards of cheesecloth, folded up, to protect against insects while sleeping (this is NOT the “cheesecloth” bought at the grocery store)

Wool blankets folded in a tarp and formed into a backpack with leather straps

Cooking pot – apparently this was packed separately?

Regarding flint and steel: “Some of the Scoutmasters of the Boy Scouts of America make their own steels of broken pieces of flat ten-cent files, but this is unnecessary because every outdoor man, and woman, too, is supposed to carry a good sized jack-knife and the back of the blade is good enough steel for anyone who has acquired the art of using it as a steel.”

Regarding hooks and rods and other metal cooking aids: “The disadvantage of all of these implements is that they must be toted wherever one goes, and parts are sure to be lost sooner or later, whereupon the camper must resort to things “with the bark on ’em” … or he may go back to the first principles and sharpen the forks of a green wand and impale thereupon the bacon, game or fish that it may be thus toasted over the hot embers.”

Regarding cooking implements: “Campers have been known to be so fastidious as to demand a broiler to go with their kit”. He does make use of cast iron skillets and dutch ovens, but no mention is made of who carries these.

Could you survive in the wilderness with just these items? Would you want your children to know how to do it?

A Boy Scout in the early days could survive in the woods with only his Every Day Carry. Could you do it?

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Canadian Doomer - a couple of years ago

I look forward to reading your review. I spent an evening reading it aloud to Mr D and we thought it was wonderful.

badvoodoodaddy - a couple of years ago

I just ordered a copy of this book.  The old books like this are so cool.  I can't wait to get it and start reading.  I feel a review coming on.

Canadian Doomer - a couple of years ago

Oh, my! That sounds like an incredible resource.Of course – THAT is where the cooking pot was. The horse carried it, along with the food.

Arsenius the Hermit - a couple of years ago

I think I will look on Amazon and see if I can find that book. Sounds like a must have.

sharkbytes - a couple of years ago

i love old books like this. i have "jackknife cookery" from the same era. it gives the staple list for a chuck wagon for some expedition- so many pounds of potatoes, bacon, lard, flour etc.of course all this weight was carried by the horse(s)

Canadian Doomer - a couple of years ago

I do recommend reading it. It's a great book.

Canadian Doomer - a couple of years ago

I think most adult women wore their hair up … hence the hairpins, I suppose, although there would also be braiding. I wonder what dye-hard "outdoors" women did? 🙂 The tablets are a great idea, possibly in a belt pouch.

MyOldNewHouse - a couple of years ago

Neat!As for the hair – I assume most women (and girls) still had long hair back then – can you imagine trying to traipse through the woods with a foot or three of hair hanging down??  🙂 The one thing I'd add today are water purification tablets – small, light weight, and totally necessary 🙁

robinsroost - a couple of years ago

Thanks for sharing the informaion on this book.  I found it online for viewing in a PDF if anyone wants to read it.

Canadian Doomer - a couple of years ago

"carry a good sized jack-knife and the back of the blade is good enough steel" is one of the bits that is out dated, very few pocket knives are made that are not stainless steel, and you can not strike a spark with stainless off flint. 

Tia - a couple of years ago

I think it would be neat to know how to use these items. I think all children should experience what things were like before they were born at least once. It's fun learning experience for the entire family. I'm not an outdoorsy person so I could definitely learn something from this book too!

HouseOfNoodles - a couple of years ago

Alright. Next stop: look up what a hairpin is. Thanks for the stainless and flint note. Didn't know that. Sounds like a great book.

Just Plain Marie - a couple of years ago

LOL It's a long U shaped piece of metal. I use them to hold my hair bun in place. I know you can use them to pit cherries, but I'm actually at a loss as to what else I might use them for. I only use them for my hair.

Just Plain Marie - a couple of years ago

A lot of the skills are still quite useful. I would be pleased if my children can survive in the woods by their teen years. 🙂

Sharkbytes - a couple of years ago

Use the hairpin for a fishhook, or make a safety pin if you forgot yours. It's like a free piece of wire!

Sharkbytes - a couple of years ago

I actually own that book. As comfortable as I am in the backcountry, surviving totally on your own needs practice. That said, I'd be ok, depending on the season of the year. Eating pine needles works, but it's not too tasty.

Yola - a couple of years ago

I bought a nice (relatively cheap) knife for my daughter before she went to camp last year that I chose because the back of the blade was left rough and the handle had a chunk of flint that fits into it! There were a few nights on their two week Kayak trip when she was the only one who could find the necessary tools to start a fire as they'd taken too long to cross a passage and it was dark by the time they were trying to unpack their gear! It's a Swedish product called 'Light My Fire' It has a plastic handle and sheath (unfortunately) so it's not a 'Lifetime' knife by any means, but it's built to carry on the water (with a drain hole in the sheath), and since she was kayaking on the pacific ocean I didn't want a leather sheath…this will do until her younger brother starts camp, at which point I'll get her something she'll be able to pass down to her kids when the time comes. In the meantime, it sure came in handy last summer, and will again this year!

Canadian Doomer - a couple of years ago

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sharon rowe - a couple of years ago

This is so interesting! I bet not many people would be able to survive with such few items. Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party 🙂

Mike P - a couple of years ago

Since an incident back in February when I almost died, slipping under ice while (successfully) saving two goats who had fallen through the ice, I always carry my pack with me, rope, my phone, a towel, small first aid kit, fresh socks and a tshirt and a thermos of freshly made coffee. If I am going further afield, some tinder for fire lighting, a butane lighter, torch and that's about it. (I usually carry my knife and other bits and pieces with my in my waistcoat pockets.

Sheena Anderson - last year

My son is a scout so when I saw your post on way back wednesday I had to come check it out and see if there was anything listed that he doesn't have in his daypack. He is ready to go!!

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