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The humble bedroll is one of those gems from history that we shouldn’t ever forget. Even though there are hundreds of brands and styles of backpacks available today, you can’t guarantee that you’ll always have a large enough pack available when you need it. That’s why it’s important to pick up some of the camping and woodcraft tricks of our more recent ancestors, and learn how to turn the stuff we have into the things we need.

The Basic Bedroll
In the event that you’ve got some bedding but no pack to carry it, the bedroll is a great way to transport your “shelter” from place to place. If a tarp is added to the mix, then all the better. With the tarp as an outer shell, your bedroll will stay much drier if the weather turns nasty.

To make your roll, simply lay out the tarp (folded in half, or quarters if it’s pretty large) and lay your sleeping bag or blanket on top of it. Fold the tarp in (on the long axis) to cover the edges of the bedding. Roll up the tarp and blanket together. Tie the bedroll securely with short lengths of cord, at least in two spots—but three would be more secure. If you are planning on carrying the bedroll with a belt, strap or rope, it helps to place a strong piece of cord across the bedroll before you roll it up. The ends of this cord can then be tied to a belt or a rope to be slung over the shoulder for side carry—or worn on your back like a sling pack.

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Supplement Your Storage
By rolling up some of your gear inside the blanket, you can even use your bedroll to transport gear. Many historical figures of the early American frontier were known to have carried gear and supplies inside their bedroll, which was sometimes sheathed in oil cloth (canvas that has been treated with oils and/or beeswax to repel water).

Are you a buckskinner, long hunter, mountain man or lady, or just a history buff who has used a bedroll? Tell us how it worked for you by leaving us a comment.

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