Monday, 1 September 2008

17thc.-18thc. Historical Trekking. Equipment requirements & pack weight.

Copyright Keith H. Burgess.
17th century-18th century Historical Trekking.
Equipment Requirements & Pack weights.

These findings are based on 17th & 18th century militia requirements.

There was no set time limit for militia scouts, these could take anywhere from a few days to a week or even months. Given the sort of supplies required by the military of the day, 1lb beef, 1lb bread, per day, & 3 pints of peas per week plus cheese it is doubtful that any man could carry enough of this type of food for a week or more plus their arms and equipment. So let us just for arguments sake say you carry 2lbs of peas, rice or cornmeal & cheese. This should cover you for about 10 days, so that is a total food weight of 6lbs.
Some militia requirements for rations were only 3 days, perhaps this was a minimum standard for short scouts, I don’t know, but we will base the food requirement on 10 days as above.

It was & is generally accepted that one carries powder & lead in a 2-1 ratio, 1lb of gunpowder to 2lbs of lead. Some lists mention 20 ball plus 15 cartridges in a belly box plus swan shot. Another mentioned 4 lbs of lead. For our estimations we will stick with the 2-1 ratio, so that means we have 1lb of gunpowder plus the weight of the powder horn, & 2 pounds of lead.

A water canteen was a requirement & my full leather costrel weighs 4 lbs.

My shot pouch also weighs close to 4 lbs.

My knapsack packed weighs about 20 lbs (includes blanket roll, wool shirt, cap mittens & extra weskit, oilcloth. Cup and brass kettle, lead, spare lock parts).

Total weight so far is 37 lbs, & that still leaves the following:
12 flints.
Tomahawk or hatchet.
Butcher knife.
Clasp knife.
Waist belt.
Ball mould.
Flint, steel & tinderbox
Haversack or Snapsack.
“Personal items”.
As historical trekkers we constantly search for the truth regarding what we wear, use, eat, & carry, at the same time we realise that there must be a compromise between two principles: minimum weight & maximum self-reliance. I hope the above goes some way to helping you make personal choices within historical boundaries. If you have reviewed your equipment etc, and think it still weighs too much, perhaps that was just the way it was!

If anyone has more information which may conflict with my findings, I would appreciate you sharing what you find.

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