18th Century Wilderness Living; Pack Items.
When living in the wilderness you need to be able to look after yourself, your tools & your equipment. Even if your wife/husband is with you, you still need to be self-reliant. In this way, should you become separated for any reason, then you are both able to survive.
The awl is used for repairing and making leather and tree bark items, such as moccasins, pouches, belts knife sheaths, containers, and pack straps. It can also function as a tool to remove large splinters. In the image above you can see a wooden sheath bound in waxed linen thread. This wooden sheath is made to fit over the metal shaft of the awl. The top example is one that I made myself, which I now use at home. The lower one is an original awl which once belonged to my Father. It is this lower awl with the wooden sheath that I carry in my pack at all times.
Damage to clothing and equipment is bound to happen sooner or later when travelling in the wilderness; tears in clothing lets in the cold air in winter and the mossies during summer. A tear in your oilcloth will let in the rain. If such damage is left unrepaired, then it is inevitable that these tears will increase in size over time, so it is important to repair them as soon as possible. To this end most woodsrunners carry some for of sewing equipment.
This is my “Housewife”, it contains; needles, two sizes of linen thread, spare buttons, rolls of sinew, and beeswax for waxing the thread and sealing any tears in my oilcloth.
I was once operated on without any rum to dull my brain and only a piece of rolled rag to place between my teeth. I was younger then and yet was so disabled at this time that I fear in my now later years I might not fare so well. So it is then that I determined to carry with me some form of medical equipment and a bottle of rum.
The rum bottle I have secured in an old leather drawstring pouch. My medical provisions though very little do hopefully serve my needs in the case of injury or snake bite.
A blade is only as good as it is kept, and a blunt blade is of little use at all. So I carry a small metal file and a whet stone. Creek stones can be used, I used one for some time myself, but as soon as I was able I secured a proper whet stone.
These two items are well worth the extra weight, though in truth they both weigh little, but every small item combined with other small items does add weight to your pack.
Keeping reasonably clean is important to me, even though I may go for long periods of time without washing anything but my hands and face. Nothing is more refreshing to me than washing in a cold forest stream first thing in the morning, & after a long walk dipping my feet in cool water and then drying by the fire.
I have at times washed using wood ashes from my fire, and at other times sand, but nothing compares to using soap. I carry a piece of soap and a broken piece of an ivory comb in a cloth bag.