It’s easy to fall for the lure of new things. A new vehicle has that great smell. A new relationship has everybody on their best behavior. And a new piece of outdoor gear, well – it’s just begging you to take it outdoors. But let’s not forget that sometimes you can’t carve the wheel any rounder. Sometimes “new” doesn’t equate to “best.” There is much that we can learn from history, and for some things, the old ways are still the best.
1. Bring Bed Warmers
Before the advent of HVAC systems and electric blankets, folks had many creative ways to stay warm–even in the field. One of the best of these was the bed warmer. Styles varied, but basically it’s an object that can be heated and placed in your bedding for remarkable warmth. A hot water bottle (tightly sealed, of course) or hot stone can make an incredible bed warmer, whether your bed is at home or in the middle of the backcountry. If you don’t believe it, try it. Pour very hot water into a leak-proof bottle and slide the bottle into a large sock. Stash it down into the bottom of your sleeping bag and tell me it’s not 20 degrees warmer in there.
2. Wear Wool
Itchy and scratchy for certain (although Merino wool is pretty dang soft), yet few fibers stand up against wool for its warmth when wet, durability and fire retardant nature. Socks, pants, long johns, sweaters and coats can be made from wool and last for years, offering warmth and protection—no matter what mother nature throws at you.
3. Invest in Carbon
Maybe you’re a hard-core prepper investing in silver and gold. Or you’re investing in the other precious metals, brass and lead. Don’t forget to add a little carbon to round things out, such as a set of high carbon steel knives. High carbon steel has its drawbacks, chiefly the speed at which it can rust. But if we ignore that weakness for a moment and look at the benefits of this type of steel, we can see that this oldie is still a goodie. This type of steel is easy to sharpen in the field. It’s also very tough, able to take abuse that would break a more brittle blade. And if the tempering is just right, you can strike a spark from it, just as you would with a flint and steel striker. Can you spare a bit of char cloth?
Does your outdoor gear look more like a living history exhibit? Tell us which oldies you favor by leaving us a comment.