"Camping in the Old Style"

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"Camping in the Old Style"

Post by dogbane » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:04 am

Kamp Kephart 2009

This past weekend I attended my fourth Kamp Kephart at the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, North Carolina. Kamp Kephart is an educational workshop dedicated to late-19th and early-20th Century campcraft and woodcraft and is named in honor of Horace Kephart, outdoorsman and author of Camping and Woodcraft and Our Southern Highlanders. In the past, I have learned about the camp ax, pot hooks and chains, packs and bags, awls, foil cookery, and more.

This year, we learned about camp lights, handy kits, camp stoves, and journals. We also discussed the purposes of early-20th Century style camping in contemporary society, historical accuracy in reenactment of this time, the definitions of campcraft, woodcraft, and woodlore, and the values of this kind of camping as opposed to leave-no-trace camping.

Instruction began with the camp light. We discussed the pros and cons of slutlamps, candles, candle lamps, and lanterns, then we made portable slutlamps out of half-pint canning jars.

A variety of camp lights:
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Shown are a shell slutlamp with cattail wick, candle, candlestick, instructor’s coffee cup, candle lamp, and some hot blast and cold blast lanterns. The cloth pouch contains a folding brass and mica candle lamp that is pictured below.

Slutlamp how to:
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Bend a coat hanger as shown to fit in base of jar with one end bent vertically.

A short length of lantern wick is slipped over the vertical, and the jar filled with canola (or any vegetable) oil to around ¾:
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Light and enjoy!
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The benefit of this jar oil lamp is that unlike a lantern or open cup slutlamp, it can be closed tight and put in a pocket or pack without having to discard or worry about spilling the fuel.


In anticipation of the unit on stoves, this picture shows how a lantern can be used to heat water for tea or soup. See the folding candle lamp at left.
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Next we learned about the handy kit, or “housewife” kit. This is a mending kit that contains thread, needles, buttons, pins, and other useful items for the camp. Note the Altoids tin in the handout.
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A finished example and the beginnings of mine, made from felted wool:
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The red strip is a welt added to strengthen the seam, which I sewed with two runs of a blanket stitch.

Once both welts were sewn in, I turned the pouch inside out so the stitching would be on the inside.
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Added a flap for pins and needles and a commercial buckskin thong:
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A thread card made from manila envelope takes up less space than a spool. I plan to make one or two out of wood or bone for durability.
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I rounded the corners of the flap and tied it closed.
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Next up: stoves and journals once I get the pics uploaded to photobucket.

We began on Sunday with a lecture by John Lathem on the camp stove. At the turn of the last century, petroleum fuel stoves were the latest modern technology, and except for the advent of propane stoves, camp stove technology hasn’t changed much since. The Primus stove, and all of its subsequent copies with their interchangeable parts, opened up the Poles and the high mountains (the “Third Pole”) to exploration, where wood was not available for cooking and heat. Primus stoves and their copies are ubiquitous throughout the world, and chances are someone somewhere in the third world is cooking their meal on one as I write this.


John Lathem demonstrates ignition of Primus stove:
http://s272.photobucket.com/albums/jj18 ... 0_3280.flv" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Some kerosene camp stoves:
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John assembles a Japanese Primus copy:
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The following are alcohol stoves. Sterno is an alcohol fuel, but there are homemade versions that work as well.
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Sterno pot:
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Sterno pot with windscreen made of dryer duct. The can to the right is a windscreen made by cutting holes with a church key. It helped to distribute the flame much like a gas range.
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This is a drinking cup filled with alcohol and set alight, which is the simplest alcohol stove you can have. Add the wind screen and set your kettle on, and you'll have tea in six minues or so. To the right, you can see an alcohol stove made with a Beanie Weenie can, with holes punched in a ring with a nail. When the can was filled halfway with alcohol and lighted, it also had the look of a gas stove, with a ring of blue flame. Add a windscreen and a kettle, and you again have hot water.
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I believe a windscreen could be used with the slutlamp to make a simple stove for heating water.

Next up, if I can find the time: Making simple bound journals.

A great resource for this kind of outdoorsmanship is Camping in the Old Style by David Wescott, student of Larry Dean Olsen and former owner of the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. The book is currently out of print, but he's working on a new edition with expanded discussion of the philosophy and science of old-style camping. Other good resources are the works of Horace Kephart, Dan Beard, Ernest Thompson Seton, and Baden-Powell.

The author enjoying a Saturday evening with Wescott by the fire in front of Watts' Whelan tent:
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Despite the plethora of stoves, the best cooking was over open coals:
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Venison steaks wrapped in bacon. Mmmmmm.
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Post by Mags » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:18 am

WOW! That is really really cool! More pictures please! The lanterns alone were incredible. The folding candle deal is pretty slick. Them old timers had it going on.
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Post by nyiangelo » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:20 am

I've always found those oil lanterns interesting. Is it true that the wick won't burn down if you keep it full of oil?
I've seen these below and they always caught my attention as to be pretty handy. Cool thread though. Didn't you learn to make arrowheads too?

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Post by Tetra Grammaton Cleric » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:28 am

Mags wrote:WOW! That is really really cool! More pictures please! The lanterns alone were incredible. The folding candle deal is pretty slick. Them old timers had it going on.
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Really really cool.

Moar pics pleaz. :D
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Post by Towanda » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:32 am

Nice writeup, dogbane! I'm looking forward to the rest.
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Post by Lucretius » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:43 am

Excellent! Great pics and info all 'round!

Now I know how to make a slutlamp.

I have some of those lanterns, and they give off quite a lot of heat - never tried heating water on them though. Did you remove some part of the "lid" or did you just put the kettle on top of the ring-thingy there?


Oh, and wool FTW!
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Post by Kaylan » Tue Apr 07, 2009 2:51 am

Very cool stuff! So would you be able to cook on a slutlamp or is it more for giving light? You might need some sort of contraption between the jar and the cookpot to allow the air to keep flowing, I'm thinking...?

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Post by dogbane » Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:01 pm

Mags wrote:WOW! That is really really cool! More pictures please! The lanterns alone were incredible. The folding candle deal is pretty slick. Them old timers had it going on.
The folding candle lamp is very cool. They are still making them to the old specs in India. The windows are mica, not glass, so the lamp is not prone to breakage. Three sides have windows and the fourth is solid with a mirror to reflect the light. It can be suspended by the handle and also by a nail hole on the back, so it could go on a tent pole or a tree.
nyiangelo wrote:I've always found those oil lanterns interesting. Is it true that the wick won't burn down if you keep it full of oil?
I've seen these below and they always caught my attention as to be pretty handy. Cool thread though. Didn't you learn to make arrowheads too?

http://www.oillampparts.com/mason.html
It is true that the wick won't burn down if the fuel is replenished, because it's the fuel, not the wick that is burning. The wick is just the conduit for the fuel.

Yeah, I'm a journeyman flintknapper. :D
Lucretius wrote:Excellent! Great pics and info all 'round!

Now I know how to make a slutlamp.

I have some of those lanterns, and they give off quite a lot of heat - never tried heating water on them though. Did you remove some part of the "lid" or did you just put the kettle on top of the ring-thingy there?


Oh, and wool FTW!
IN the picture, you can see the green cap to the lantern sitting on the table. They pop off easily and then you just place the small pot on top. I think it will boil water somewhere between five and ten minutes. I'll have to experiment myself, because we didn't try it and I can't recall how long he said it would take.

Wool is great. I plan to move over to wool and silk for most of my outdoor clothing as I am able to.
Kaylan wrote:Very cool stuff! So would you be able to cook on a slutlamp or is it more for giving light? You might need some sort of contraption between the jar and the cookpot to allow the air to keep flowing, I'm thinking...?
When I post the stove portion of the workshop, you'll see ways you can make a stove out of the slutlamp. Based on what I learned, I believe a wind screen made out of a coffee can would do the trick to turn the lamp into a stove, not unlike a tea light or sterno can.

I'm on vacation this week and it takes some time for me to upload pics with my home wireless internet (much frustration last might, which is why my OP time tag is so late), and I'm working on some home projects, so it'll probably be late this evening when I get the rest of the pics up.

I'll also post pics of my "new" range tent!

Thanks for all the positive responses.
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Post by Allen » Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:52 pm

Thanks for the great report dogbane!

Have fun on Vacation!

Cheers!
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Post by ninja-elbow » Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:44 pm

I love this stuff being a former re-enactor myself. I always fantasized about doing a "Viking BoB" and psting it on here as both a joke and educational thing.

Question: Waht kind of oil are you using in yout jar-slutlamp?
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Post by dogbane » Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:45 pm

ninja-elbow wrote:Question: What kind of oil are you using in your jar-slutlamp?
Good question. Thanks, I'll add that to the OP. It's canola, but pretty much any vegetable oil will work.

I like the Viking BoB idea.
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Post by Molon Labe » Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:59 pm

I wonder how well peanut oil would work in that slutlamp. Peanut oil is slightly more flammable than the run of the mill veggie oil, but it also won't go stark with age. It can also be a lot more pricey too.
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Post by Tetra Grammaton Cleric » Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:54 am

I just like saying the word "Slutlamp".

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Post by Mags » Wed Apr 08, 2009 1:59 am

Yeah, that whole "slutlamp" thing. That's not where I would have stuck my wick! Still, awesome post!!!! Oil, oil, who cares, baby oil motherfucker.......... :D :wink: :lol:
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Post by Lucretius » Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:23 am

ninja-elbow wrote:I love this stuff being a former re-enactor myself. I always fantasized about doing a "Viking BoB" and psting it on here as both a joke and educational thing.
Great idea! Weight might be a problem, since the materials they used seldom were light weight. Then again, they had massive boats as their BOVs, so that shouldn't stop you.

I've this great archeology essay on viking era rain gear, but unfortunately it's in swedish... :(

Let's just say it involves lots of salmon skin and fatty wool... :D
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Post by Biff » Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:25 pm

. . .
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Post by TravisM.1 » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:25 pm

Dogbane, that's some pretty awesome stuff. There are a couple places around here that do stuff like that, but they focus on "urban" (if you can call it that, inside of a fort) life in colonial times.
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Post by ninja-elbow » Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:01 pm

Lucretius wrote: I've this great archeology essay on viking era rain gear, but unfortunately it's in swedish... :(

Let's just say it involves lots of salmon skin and fatty wool... :D
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I think I read something regarding what you mentioned though, that's for another thread.
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Post by dogbane » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:21 pm

Biff wrote:Please share some of the discussion of the virtues of old school camping versus leave no trace camping, if you would be so kind.
I'd be happy to, as best I can. "Leave No Trace" owes its popularity to Harvey Manning's Backpacking One Step at a Time:
Harvey Manning wrote:Woodcraft is dead--dead because modern equipment makes pioneer-style engineering unnecessary. Dead because nature-sensitive hikers have deeper, subtler pleasures than slashing and gouging. Dead because there are too many of us and too little undisturbed wild land for every would-be son of the frontier to be allowed full freedom to play with his toys.
Wescott points out that the "modern equipment" Manning writes about are made of non-renewable resources such as minerals and petroleum, and that their extraction and manufacture are most certainly leaving traces somewhere.
David Wescott wrote:About the same time Manning's mantra, "Woodcraft Is Dead," gained popularity, alpine mountaineering boots and down vests became popular urban fashion. Today, we have a similar phenomenon, with synthetic clad sports dripping with fifty pounds of petrochemical gear chanting the mantra of the manufacturers, "Leave No Trace." Where do they think the resources for all those consumer goods come from? There's got to be a hole and a smoke-belching factory in somebody's yard.
Furthermore, "Leave No Trace" is divorced from the landscape it seeks to preserve. You can just as well set up a nylon tent and a propane stove in a high school gymnasium as at the foot of El Capitan. As Wescott said last Saturday, with LNT, the pristine landscape "becomes just a backdrop to another high-tech dance you're doing." Steve Watts went on to say that LNT treats a hearth scar as "one of the worst things in the world."

Ultimately, LNT makes two erroneous assumptions: That woodcraft is inherently destructive, and that camping only takes place in pristine wilderness. Woodcraft, if practiced as the founders Kephart, Nessmuk, Seton, Beard, et al, envisioned, is not about "slashing and gouging." That's the province of what Dan Beard called the "Chechako," a beginner who acts foolishly and without skill. Woodcraft is skills-based camping and outdoorsmanship whose origins are with the Native Americans and trappers of the frontier. Furthermore, woodcraft can be practiced many places not considered "pristine wilderness": in national forests, on private woodlots and farms, even in your back yard (which is what I'm trying to do with my son this week in my new range tent). Watts, Wescott, and others do a "Camping in the Old Style" educational program at the Cradle of Forestry in Hendersonville, North Carolina every October, in which they dress, cook, and camp the way Kephart, Seton and Beard would have a hundred years ago.
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Biff wrote:It might be interesting to try making a slutlamp out of something other than glass....Lantern wicks are slowly consumed as a matter of course.
That's true. The wick does burn over time.

edited because I can't type.
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Post by Biff » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:27 pm

. . .
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Post by dogbane » Thu Apr 09, 2009 5:41 pm

Biff wrote:Very thought provoking. Thanks, Dogbane.
You're welcome. I've never been an adherent to any particular school of thought, but I recognize the logic that "Leave No Trace" does in fact leave a trace somewhere, and that my background in primitive skills biases me somewhat against nylon technology. Old-style camping was built on WWI surplus gear and reused everyday items like tin cans for cook pots, which appeals to the "make-do" philosophy expressed in the Roosevelt quote in my signature.

I'm curious to know what others think. I don't mean to dismiss or insult modern gear, since I know that it is heavily represented in the "Bug-out Gear" forum. In fact, I put this thread in "Other Gear" precisely because I don't imagine most people here would regard old-style gear as a legitimate alternative to the modern equipment.
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Post by ninja-elbow » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:51 pm

The philosophy you just posted makes a lot of sense to me. I never really thought of it that way. I have a few things (meaning most of my gear) made of plastics and nylons and what-have-you... all oil based synthetic stuff.

Hmmnnn... :?:

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Post by misanthropist » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:35 am

dogbane wrote:
Biff wrote:Very thought provoking. Thanks, Dogbane.
You're welcome. I've never been an adherent to any particular school of thought, but I recognize the logic that "Leave No Trace" does in fact leave a trace somewhere, and that my background in primitive skills biases me somewhat against nylon technology. Old-style camping was built on WWI surplus gear and reused everyday items like tin cans for cook pots, which appeals to the "make-do" philosophy expressed in the Roosevelt quote in my signature.

I'm curious to know what others think. I don't mean to dismiss or insult modern gear, since I know that it is heavily represented in the "Bug-out Gear" forum. In fact, I put this thread in "Other Gear" precisely because I don't imagine most people here would regard old-style gear as a legitimate alternative to the modern equipment.
Definitely with you there...I love my Arcteryx gear but I have no particular interest in the "leave no trace" thing which just downloads the problem to factories in Vietnam. Running an MSR Dragonfly on fossil fuels instead of burning standing deadwood to cook food is not leaving no trace, it's leaving a trace somewhere else!
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Post by dogbane » Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:13 am

I should make clear that I'm no purist, and I make do with what I have accumulated over the years, which includes subzero sleeping bags and a nylon tent, though my favorite backpack is a '70s canvas Camp Trails pack I picked up for free from a co-worker. "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
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