The Ditty Bad – EDC a Centry Ago

mountainman

 These days, if you’re going car camping or out for a short hike, you’ll likely take with you a daypack — a small bag that holds the gear you’ll need for the outing (camera, snacks, jacket), as well as supplies that are good to have with you in case of an emergency (matches, first aid kit, compass).

A century ago you would have carried something similar, just with less nylon and zippers. When your great-grandpa went exploring the wilderness or marching to battle, he likely carried a ditty bag, haversack, or possibles bag. These handmade pouches held the essentials for frontiersmen and early outdoorsmen, and we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how these bags were used, and what they held inside.

The Ditty Bag

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The original ditty bags were issued to navy sailors beginning approximately in the early 18th century. Sailors were issued a large canvas sea bag in which to store their spare clothes. Within this sack was placed a smaller pouch which contained a sewing kit, as well as letters from home and souvenirs from their travels. Early seamen were expected to make their own clothes, and thus, as the author of 1884’s Sailor’s Life reports, they knew “how to cut out clothing with as much ease, and producing as correct a fit, as the best tailor.” The origins of the name “ditty” are obscure; it may possibly be traced to a cotton cloth known as ditti; a fabric called dutty which was used to make sails; a take on kitty-bag, itself derived from “kit bag”; or a riff on “ditto” — in reference to the fact the bag contained a spare set of clothes.

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In the early 20th century, the term ditty bag was adopted by outdoorsmen to describe a small pouch made of canvas, leather, or cloth, that ranged from about 4×6–6×8 inches in size. A 1912 edition of Field & Stream described its “raison d’etre”:

“In camp and when cruising about the woods, there are certain essentials, and many other small articles of constant use, which one should always have handy. They aggregate about two pounds weight and if disposed about one’s clothing will not only make these garments heavy and uncomfortable but will fill them with knobby protuberances which make sitting down or lying down a matter of much struggle and remonstrance…

The ditty-bag has the inestimable advantage of being the place for everything small and loseable — it’s there, nowhere else, and all you have to do is to go and ferret it out instead of having to do the same thing through eighteen or nineteen pockets.”

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An outdoorsman’s ditty bag was kept within his larger backpack when he was hiking, so that little pieces of gear would not get lost at the bottom of the pack. He would then remove it and attach it to a belt, sling it over his shoulder, or wear it around his neck when he ventured away from camp for the day, or even, for the very rugged, several weeks at a time. Its contents served his daily activities and also provided emergency supplies should he become lost or caught in a pickle.

What exactly an outdoorsman packed in his ditty bag came down to personal taste and needs. Field & Stream notes the discussion over the bag’s proper contents represented a “veritable crank’s paradise,” and that “so much individuality of temperament enters that one hesitates to specify anything.” Yet the author does offer his own recommended packing list:

  • Compass
  • Matchbox
  • Saltbox
  • Emergency ration (Packed in a tin and consisting of smoked beef and bacon, a packet of tea, bouillon capsules, and hardtack. The tin, when tacked to a stick and held over a fire, doubled as a frying pan.)
  • Punkie dope (insect repellent)
  • Fisherman’s knife
  • Nails
  • Tacks
  • Needle and thread
  • Candle stump
  • Razor and piece of strop
  • Looking glass (mirror)
  • Tube of shaving cream
  • Tube of condensed coffee
  • Toothbrush and tooth powder
  • Fishing supplies (hooks, lines, sinkers)
  • Gun cartridges
  • Gun grease
  • Can opener
  • Rifle cleaning rod

The author also recommends bringing, if space allows and one is scientifically-minded, a small field microscope and pair of bird binoculars. Finally, no ditty bag is complete, he argues, unless it includes “one foolish thing which the owner would not be happy without.”

The Haversack

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The haversack functioned a bit like a ditty bag for soldiers. It takes its name from the German word for oats — hafer. At the turn of the 19th century, oats were a staple foodstuff of the poor in Europe, and the British would mix them with water to make a crude bread called oatcake. Workers took these oatcakes or havercakes to their factory jobs for their mid-day meal, and the bag they carried them in became known as a haversack.

haversack 1878

Haversacks were widely adopted by militaries on the march the world over. Usually around 12×12 inches in size, and made from linen or canvas, the bags were slung over the right shoulder (a canteen was slung over the left). They were waterproofed with paint and held a solider’s food and mess utensils, as well as his personal belongings. US infantrymen of the 1800s would typically be carrying about 3 days of rations consisting of hardtack, bacon or salt pork, and coffee. Though the meat was often wrapped in a cotton cloth, having grease leak out and stain and saturate the haversack was a common problem. Another issue was the fact that the paint used to waterproof the bags often flaked off and got on the food.

infrantry equipment haversack

During the Revolutionary War, innovators began to take a stab at combining the soldier’s haversack and knapsack, so that he didn’t have to carry two separate bags. But the idea was slow to win adoption; the men didn’t like how a combination bag necessitated their carrying around their knapsack all the time when they only needed a small kit, that the knapsack was harder to clean out, and that they couldn’t easily reach into their haversack to nibble on their rations while on the march.

The Possibles Bag

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, mountain men, minutemen, frontiersmen, and black powder hunters of all kinds would usually be found with two bags slung across their shoulders: their powder horn and their “possibles bag.” It was so-named either because it contained everything you might possibly need for the day, or because you could possibly find most anything packed in the bag. As with the ditty bag, the contents of a man’s possibles bag varied by taste and necessity.

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Most typically, the frontiersman’s possibles bag was stocked with all kinds of essentials for hunting, fighting, and venturing through the great outdoors: tobacco and pipe, tin cup, flints, jerky and other edibles, nipple wrenches and picks (tools for one’s muzzleloader), etc. Within the possibles bag might also be a “strike-a-light” pouch, which held a fire striker and tinder. The bags were made of animal skin, and either slung over the shoulder or attached to a belt.

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The very notion of a possibles bag is quite evocative in and of itself, and in the midst of the research for this post, I came across a nice story of a father who found a way to carry its spirit into the modern day. When author Robert Fulghum’s son graduated from college, he gave him a possibles bag as a symbol not only of the opportunities before him, but the oldtime frontiersman’s spirit of improvisation:

“Many [pioneers] survived even when all these items were lost or stolen. Because their real possibles were contained in a skin bag carried just behind the eyeballs. The lore of the wilderness won by experience, imagination, courage, dreams, and self-confidence. These were the essentials that armed them when all else failed.

I gave my son a replica of the frontiersmen’s possibles bag to remind him of this attitude. In a sheepskin sack I placed flint and steel and tinder, that he might make his own fire when necessary; a Swiss Army knife — the biggest one with the most tools; a small lacquer box that contained a wishbone I saved from a Thanksgiving turkey — for luck; a small velvet pouch containing a tiny bronze statue of Buddha; a Cuban cigar in an aluminum tube; and a miniature bottle of Wild Turkey whiskey in case he wants to bite a snake or vice versa. Invisible in the possibles bag were his father’s hopes and his father’s blessing. The idea of the possibles bag was the real gift. He will add his own possibles to what I’ve given him.”

Do you carry a possibles bag or other kind of daypack either when camping or in your everyday life? What do you pack in it?

original post: Venturing Out, Vintage Style: Your Great-Grandpa’s Daypacks | The Art of Manliness

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What Are The Most Popular Firearm Calibers?

ammunitionI’m sure many of you remember why there were so many guns sold between 2008 and 2014. Between Obama’s reelection and the threats of confiscation after Sandy Hook, there was a genuine fear for our right to bear arms. Even now, that fear wouldn’t be unwarranted.

But back then it almost seemed like a panic. Guns were flying off the shelves and so much ammo was being sold that the police were having trouble maintaining their regular supplies.

And it wasn’t just the most popular weapons that were being sold out, like the AR-15. The prices for every kind of firearm were going up. Even cheap guns like the Mosin Nagant are currently selling for more than two hundred dollars, when just a couple of years ago you could buy one for 80 bucks before taxes and processing fees.

Keep in mind, this is not a great gun. I know because I own one. Heavy trigger, sticky bolt, moderate accuracy, weighs a ton, and kicks like a mule. The only redeeming qualities are its durability and price. And yet, people were so concerned about the future that they felt the need to stock up anything they could a get hold of, including Mosin Nagants of all things.

Think about it. These people were concerned about gun confiscation, martial law, and or social collapse, and yet they were buying guns that weren’t necessarily well suited for a cataclysmic scenario. Fear tends to do that to people. We start thinking the sky is going to fall tomorrow and we have to scramble for whatever we can get a hold of right now, as in right freaking now guys! Then we end up buying sub par tools at peak prices.

But hey, there’s less panic now, and I think we can all take a look at our gun collections (yes, some of them are massive collections now) and ask ourselves, will these really help us survive?

If you’re looking for a good firearm for prepping, I think the most important factor to consider is the caliber of the gun. And I’m not talking about stopping power or accuracy. How many people bought a Mosin because it was the only thing they could afford, even though during any long-term emergency that ammo would be almost impossible to find?

I mean sure, there’s still a lot of Soviet stuff still lying around that you can grab for a low price, but if you ran out during a situation where you couldn’t just go online and buy more bullets (like I don’t know, if the government made your gun illegal, i.e. the biggest reason people were buying more guns) where would you ever find more?

I know, my Mosin is becoming a tired example, but the point is if we’re trying to prepare for a world that lacks the sophisticated system of global logistics that we know and love today, then we shouldn’t buy overpriced guns in niche calibers that would be hard to come by.

I decided to do some research on what the most common bullet calibers are, and it was surprisingly difficult to find official statistics. If you happen to have any links to those numbers, feel free to post them in the comments.

Based on personal experience I have a basic idea of which bullets are the most abundant. However, I’ve had a hard time seeking out evidence that was more than anecdotal. The only thing I did find was a few statistics provided by Luckygunner.com that reflects their most profitable munitions from 2013.

This site specializes in selling bulk purchases of ammunition, so this should give you a good idea of what calibers will be fairly abundant after a severe breakdown of society. These are the calibers that many gun owners have decided to stock up on, in many cases by buying more ammo then they’ll ever use.

lucky gunner

And here’s an even more specific breakdown.

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So there you have it. If you bought a gun in a rare caliber several years ago because you were scared of what the future may bring, and it was the only thing you could find/afford, maybe now is a good time to rethink that purchase. I’d suggest you sell it, and put the money towards something with a more abundant caliber. Should you ever run low on the ammunition you need during an emergency, for any reason, you’ll be glad you did.

original post: Can You Guess Which Firearm Calibers Are the Most Popular? | Ready Nutrition

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Roasting Meat on a Spit

Some good tips on cooking wild game over an open fire.

“The practice of spit-roasting meat over an open fire goes back for at least 8,000 years, and probably much further than that. It’s cooking at its most primal — all you need is a hunk of meat, a stick, and some hot coals. Still today it’s a satisfying, tasty, and supremely elemental way to cook a meal. With this article we’ll show you the master techniques and practices that will take your spit-roasting beyond the merely primitive and turn out a platter of fire-cooked meat everybody will want to tear into. “

original post: Primal Cooking: How to Roast Meat on a Spit | The Art of Manliness

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Pharmacy Shelves Bare In Venezuela

Make sure you stock up on the meds you depend on.

“My niece is very sick. We haven’t been able to locate the drug in pharmacies or in hospitals,” says Nelson Jaimes, who’s Chacón’s uncle and, coincidentally, a pharmacist. “We who are inside the pharma business can’t locate the products. What can a regular citizen expect to find?”

original post: Tweeting for Treatment in Venezuela | Fast Forward | OZY

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Brazilians hoard water, prepare for possible drastic rationing

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilians are hoarding water in their apartments, drilling homemade wells and taking other emergency measures to prepare for forced rationing that appears likely and could leave taps dry for up to five days a week because of a drought.

In São Paulo, the country’s largest city with a metropolitan area of 20 million people, the main reservoir is at just 6 percent of capacity with the peak of the rainy season now past.

Other cities in Brazil’s heavily populated southeast such as Rio de Janeiro face less dire shortages but could also see rationing.

original post: Brazilians hoard water, prepare for possible drastic rationing – Yahoo News Canada

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