Bronze's Expedition Log

Expedition Log

Bedroll Field Test

I accomplished much this weekend, oddly enough, since most of my time was spent playing poker out at the Whitehorse Ranch. I stopped by the Hide House in San Dimas on my way out to the ranch, where I picked up some leather. I bought a small odd-lot commercial braintan deer hide for a very good price. I figure it’s a good idea to have all the leather scrap I can get for repairs and improvisation along the way. I bought a long thick latigo and buckle, which I made into a belt at the ranch.

I also bought a nice thick, stiff cowhide scrap. I want to make a sheath for my tomahawk and the veg-tan that I was originally going to use just seemed too flimsy. It was useful for a template however. Unfortunately I got distracted while cutting it and messed up my original plan. I had intended to leave a pair of long straps attached to the top to fold over for belt loops, but now I suppose I’ll have to just lash the loops on as separate pieces…

Further down the road in Yucaipa I stopped in at Western Feed and Livestock Supplies to order my pack saddle from Ken. I got a sawbuck saddle and 2 over-sized panniers, a manty, rope and a scale. It will arrive this week and then I can begin getting Bootsie accustomed to having all this stuff slung on her back.

Spending the night out at the ranch gave me a great chance to test the warmth of my bedroll, and it performed admirably. Currently I have two sheepskins inside what is essentially a long oiled canvas sack. Seeing as how each pelt amounts to a 4 inch thick wool blank with plenty of loft I would expect this to keep me warm well below freezing. It got down to at least 37°, and I was warm as can be.

Of course this set up is quite bulky and heavy. I believe the bedroll weighs around 20 lbs, which might be excessive. I’ll need to play around with it–possibly trim the edges of the pelts to their absolute minimum width to cover me. (This would be good as I’ve been considering lining the insoles of my moccasins with a piece of the sheep pelt for cushioning.) I might even shear once of the pelts down considerably to save weight, using the light one on top for warm nights and the thick one for cold nights.

I’m willing to carry the extra weight and bulk of a good bedroll for the sake of a comfortable night sleep. A passage in Galton’s “The Art of Travel” really struck me a seasoned and sound advice:

Indeed, the oldest travellers are ever those who go the most systematically to work, in making their sleeping-places dry and warm. Unless a traveller makes himself at home and comfortable in the bush, he will never be quite content with his lot; but will fall into the bad habit of looking forwards to the end of his journey, and to his return to civilisation, instead of complacently interesting himself in its continuance. This is a frame of mind in which few great journeys have been successfully accomplished…”

On Sunday I payed a visit to Bootsie and we had a nice little walk around the neighborhood. She is leading very calmly and obediently. There is a storm drain up the street of which she is scared to death, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to practice on working her past her fear of a specific object. This will no doubt be useful practice for fording streams or crossing bridges and the like.

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