Off Grid Apparel

UNDERWEAR for outdoor use in any but hot weather should be wool or part wool. Even in summer, wool serves to ward off chills after the body has become wet from perspiration or rain. You will vary the weight of the garments in accordance with the season, of course. Drawers should have full or three-quarter-length legs, to foil the bugs which get up your pants legs, and shirts may well have long

sleeves for protection of arms and wrists. Separate shirts and drawers are superior to union suits, as they are easier to change after a partial ducking and far handier to wash.

SOCKS should be of soft, heavy wool; the best quality you can afford, and perfectly fitted. Your tender feet will need such protection from excess perspiration and rough trails, when on the march.

BOOTS merit the most particular attention, as poor ones can easily ruin any trip. For most seasons of the year, soft leather boots made in moccasin style, but with flexible composition soles and rubber heels, are very satisfactory. Regular moccasins, with no soles or heels, are pretty harsh on city feet if much walking is to be done, but are fine for wear around camp or in a canoe. The high-top boot of the Army stores and the mail-order catalogues is of little value to a woodsman. It weighs too much; has stiff, heavy soles; cramps the leg muscles; prevents proper ventilation of the feet and requires too much time for putting on and taking off. The high tops serve no purpose other than confining the bottoms of breeches legs, which long socks would do as well. The same long socks, inside loose trouser legs, would probably defeat snake fangs to better effect than tight leather boot tops. No boot top is ever high enough to prevent going in over where water is encountered.

I like a g-inch “bird shooter” style boot better than any other, for all-round use. The tops are high enough to keep out pebbles and sticks kicked up in walking and serve to confine the bottoms of trouser legs when occasion demands. There are no hooks to catch grass and brush. The composition soles hold well on rock, dry grass and pine needles and are beautifully flexible for walking. They wear wonderfully well and afford good footing on logs.

For wet going, in snow or marsh, rubber boots are needed. There are many styles, ranging from the common hip boot

to leather-top rubbers, the favorite of most woodsmen. These’ are heavier than leather boots and unsuitable for mild weather hiking, as they condense and hold perspiration. They are treacherous on wet logs and ice, especially after the soles are worn smooth, but you may wear ice creepers with them to good effect.

You should use a good boot grease or dubbing on leather boots, applying it often and thoroughly, when the footwear is dry. Oil-tanned leather can be kept in fine condition by such treatment, but will freeze stiff as a board in extreme cold. Smoke-tanned leather is the stuff for wear in very low temperatures.

Hobnails in boot soles are an abomination, except for lumberjacks and golfers. They hurt the feet when walking on hard surfaces, pick up all kinds of trash and are generally treacherous on rock. You can imagine what they do to tent floors and canoe bottoms. Mountaineers are supposed to favor them, traditionally, but many have been converted to composition soles in recent years. If I had to wear hobs or calks, I would use round-headed brass screws, with about three sharp calks in the instep of each boot for footing on logs.

Exercise the greatest of care in fitting boots for use on the trail. If too tight, they will cause you agony during a long march, and if too loose they will work up blisters. It is a pretty good scheme to try on new boots over two pairs of woolen socks, for a fairly snug fit. That will allow sufficient room for expansion as your feet spread out in the course of a hike, unless your arches flatten out completely. If you are troubled with weak arches, get arch supports with your new boots, as you would with everyday street shoes. Change socks during a long trek, for relief from “hot foot.”

To serve as camp slippers, “glove” rubbers are worthy of some consideration. They weigh very little and afford the

advantage of being waterproof. A man may slip on a pair of these over his socks and walk about in the early morning dew dry-shod.

Spare footwear should be carried in a stout drawstring shoe bag, so that moisture and dirt will not soil or damage other items in the pack. A piece of discarded oilcloth is often used for this purpose, but is far heavier than the inexpensive cotton bags offered by most outfitters. They weigh about 3 ounces.

PANTS from a discarded business suit are favored by some for wear in the woods, but in general their material and construction leave something to be desired. They present the constant threat of bursting seams and popping buttons, also. It is far smarter to buy garments made especially for the hard usage and hearty activity of outdoor life and avoid the risk of sudden disaster. Hard-woven fabrics are best for the purpose, as they gather fewer burrs than softer stuff and resist snags and tears to better effect. Whipcord or twill is very good and the fine worsted used by the ‘ Army is just about ideal. Many favor the modern light-; weight fabrics, such as Gale cloth and Byrd cloth, and others, denim, in the form of cowpunchers’ overalls or ! Levis. Heavy wool is fine for sitting in a blind or on a ‘■ runway, but is apt to be very bunchy in the crotch and uncomfortable for walking. Also, it dries very slowly after I wetting. It is preferable to wear several layers of underwear, rather than heavier pants, for warmth.

CUFFS on a woodsman’s trousers serve no purpose but to gather trash and retain unwanted moisture.

BREECHES are very neat, but not especially practical ‘ for a woodsman. They usually bind over the knees, es-: pecially when you are sitting in a canoe. Also, when tucked I into boot tops they can make your legs unbearably hot and j sticky, for want of ventilation.

lO HOW TO LIVE IN THE WOODS

Regardless of weather, after a thorough wetting take off your clothes, wring them out and put them on again — that is, if a dry change is not available.

SUSPENDERS do the best job of holding up pants and breeches with heavily laden pockets and afford more freedom of action than a tight belt serving the same purpose.

SHIRTS are made to suit any purse or purpose. The fine woolens, in coat style, are very handsome and serviceable, but require a long-sleeved undershirt beneath them if bugs are to be encountered. They are very comfortable in cold weather, however, as the collar may be unbuttoned to cool off an overheated neck. The turtle-neck sweater, once so highly favored by collegians, offers no such advantage and is a most annoying chafer of day-old beards, to boot. The pull-over, with crew neck, long sleeves and knitted wristlets, is a favorite for moderate weather. In summer, I wear a pre-shrunk cotton sweat shirt of this model, the long, tight sleeves and the thick fabric offering fine defense against black flies and mosquitoes. It absorbs perspiration quite efficiently, washes easily and requires no ironing for neat appearance. A woolen version affords good comfort on chilly days.

A JACKET is required by most sportsmen, for protection against wind, rain and changes in temperature. Get one that will survive pretty rough usage, so you may toss it around in canoe or camp without fear of damage. It should have four pockets, with button-down flaps or zipper closures to prevent loss of odds and ends, and be long enough to cover the small of your back when sitting. Wool is the most satisfactory material, except in summer, when some light, tough fabric will be more comfortable. A buttoned front is generally more convenient than a zipper.

Jackets filled with eider down are offered in many styles and provide a maximum of cold-weather protection at mini-

mum weight. It would be hard to imagine anything more comfortable for sitting in a frosty blind or on a windy runway, but for all-around service such a garment is too easily damaged. Good ones are quite expensive, too, which eliminates them from the ordinary camper’s consideration.

Any jacket may become a nuisance when a hot ten-o’clock sun begins to dispel the early morning chill. If you are on foot and a long way from your base at such a time, you have to choose between the discomfort of wearing the coat and the inconvenience of carrying it. An improvised pack harness of heavy cord or light rope could serve to make the rolled-up garment a little back pack, out of the way and instantly ready for use in the cool evening. Two 4-foot pieces of clothesline would do the trick and add but little in bulk and weight to your equipment.

A HAT affords the best head covering in any but frosty weather, as its brim shades the eyes and neck from hot sunlight and serves to drape a head net away from the face. A light treatment of liquid waterproofing will benefit any hat worn for outdoor work.

BELTS with zipper-closed pockets for folding money are on the market and you’ll find one of these very satisfactory for general use.

A KERCHIEF for your neck helps prevent bug bite and sunburn. It should be plenty large — say 24 inches square — and made of soft cotton or silk. The bandanna patterns, in red or blue, are most practical. Use the kerchief to tie down your hat on windy days.

GLOVES are pretty much of a necessity for the camper and will prevent many a blister and sliver in addition to defeating the fell purpose of black flies and mosquitoes. Stout buckskin, or other leather guaranteed to dry out soft after a wetting, is the proper material.

SPARE CLOTHING should be kept to a minimum on any camping trip. It is well enough to provide for every contingency, but an oversupply of miscellany soon gets to be a nuisance in camp, not only to the owner, but to his companions also. A few changes of underwear and socks, several handkerchiefs, an extra shirt, pair of pants, sweater and a change of footwear are about all that need be considered. If your outing is to be of some duration, include a cake of naphtha soap and some clothespins and plan to do a bit of laundry work occasionally. A drawstring bag, pillow slip or clean flour sack will carry spare clothing very nicely
 

Poncho

THE PONCHO is your best bet for rain protection. It is nothing more or less than a waterproof sheet, with a slot in the middle for your head to go through. As a rain cape, it will drape over a pack on your back, cover your knees when you are sitting in a boat and allow plenty of ventilation. In camp, you can use it as a ground cloth, a cover for browse bags full of wet leaves, or a cooking shelter. Two ponchos, fastened together, make a shelter cloth that is well-nigh indispensable when camping with a crawl-in tent. The best size for a poncho is the largest offered — 66 x 90 inches. I like the Alligator material better than any other, as lighter-weight stuff will not stand as much abuse. You’ll find it handy to work in three extra grommets on each long side and at least one on each short side of any poncho you buy, as the manufacturers have seen fit to furnish grommets only at the corners.

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