VIKING HIKING XIII
The bedding should be a size that fits beneath the shelter you bring. It is usually furs and blankets, though sometimes there are other constructions that these are placed on or in. For example, you can cut down boughs to hold the bed, though this is not really recommended.
If they are available, lay down a mattress of pine needles for mattress. Set out a fur or an oilskin tarp, then the woolen blankets you will sleep between. Some people cannot sleep without a pillow to support their heads, and I have found that a smaller fur makes comfortable pillows.
Hands on History notes that sun drying not tanning the fur makes it water resistant.
In most cases, you will not find it advantageous to bring along a full tent—geteld or wedge—on a trek. All the equipment and poles needed to set it up a full tent are heavy and awkward, even if you plan to cut poles each time you stop rather than bringing them with you. It is also wasteful of natural resources.
For a temporary shelter, you will want a water-resistant tarp or blanket with leather or sewn grommets. Modern brass or copper grommets are entirely farby, being invented in the mid-nineteenth century. Densely woven wool is recommended. It should be coated on at least one side with fat and ochre or with linseed oil.
It remains controversial about how far back oilskin—linen painted with linseed oil—dates, though it is advantageous. To make oil skin, the linen should be stretched out, perhaps pinned or nailed to a wall or stretched over some sort of frame. Equal amounts of mineral spirits and linseed oil is mixed and is then painted onto the fabric. It takes different lengths of time to dry, but the fabric will dry more quickly if stretched out in a warm sun. Sometimes, a second coat is preferred, but the first coat must first be completely dry. Note that linseed oil can combust if the wet, linseed-oil-soaked fabric is not taut.
The simplest and most desirable shelter is just a lean-to consisting of a tarp. The tarp should be at an angle to protect and augment the water resistance. The water resistance, however, is better when the tarp is just taut. Touching it with your hands or head, or even from some external source, can decrease the water resistance.
Hemp rope should be brought, though rope has many uses. Hemp rope is mainly smooth and will not leave splinters in your hand. It is best to learn a few simple knots:
• Square (Reef) Knot
• Two Half-hitches
• Taut Line
• Clove Hitch
• Figure 8 Knot
• Sheet Bend
Slides—wood or metal rectangles with two holes through which the rope slides. It is advantageous when needing to adjust the tautness of the rope.
Cordage may be wrapped in a figure 8 and then wrapped around the middle and tied. No knots are necessary, and the cord is easily deployed. Leather thong or lacing are also useful and essential.
Stakes can be metal, but they can also carved out of wood or simply from sharpened sticks as well.
The tarp can be suspended from support poles that can be manufactured or are so small that they can be carried with you. The tarp also can be suspended from a rope tied to two trees. There are several ways to do this. Practice setting up your shelter—in several ways—before the expedition even starts.
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