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Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

 Classic Water Containers

Right out of the pages of history, Sportsman's 
Guide ( )
 is again offering French linen water buckets. They're most likely WW II surplus, but look just like the old ones you would have seen in any Abercrombie and Fitch catalog from the day. The way they work is based on the swelling thread of the fabric weave sealing the bag and holding water. 

The Desert Water Bag ( made by Canvas Specialty from Scottish flax duck works the same way, except that the closed bag sweats and cools the water just like an old gourd canteen would have done. Water is always cooler when stored this way than in some plastic tank.


The Desert Water Bag can still be found in old out buildings and antique shops for a pretty decent price. Many no longer hold water, but they look cool. If you want a new one, Canvas Specialty still sells them, but at a price. They require a minimum order of 2 and cost $52 each- if you buy 50, the price goes down to $45. That's a bit different from the the ones listed in A&F at $2 each in 1924.

From the Canvas Specialty site - Canvas Specialty offers a full line of accessories including Water Bags. These bags have been used by the military for years. Especially designed for extreme weather conditions, Canvas Specialty Water Bags are the perfect solution for very hot environments (Desert Camping).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Classic Design Is Always In Fashion

"If you make great clothes in the classic style, they will never go out of fashion."
Ralph Lauren

Filson's commitment to classic style has always been at the forefront of their design ideals. They have pulled off a great ad campaign, bringing classic style into our modern camping market, with the release of their latest catalogs.  Good job Filson.

 Woolrich has maintained classic styles in its clothing line, keeping the Hunting Coat and Stag Shirt - both in their line since the early 1800s - without any noticeable modern intrusions. Cheers to Woolrich for providing us with true field-tested outdoor gear.

Classic style has also made its way into the camp and home hearth. 
Pendleton Woolen Mills - established 1883 - 

From the Pendleton History - In 1863, traveling down the Atlantic seaboard, crossing the Isthmus of Panama on a burro, and sailing up the Pacific coast was a grueling four-month passage. Yet for Thomas Kay, a young English weaver, it was a dream come true. An old hand at sea voyages, he had already crossed the Atlantic years earlier to work at east coast textile mills. With skills honed, he was now headed to an area with ideal conditions for raising sheep and producing wool. A place with moderate weather and plentiful water - America's newest state, Oregon. 
     Kay helped organize Oregon's second woolen mill in Brownsville, where he oversaw the weaving operation. Soon he was made a superintendent of the company. In 1889, Thomas Kay opened his own mill in Salem, Oregon. From these humble beginnings rose a dyed-in-the-wool American success story. 

Sundance is a contemporary company, but its eye for classic style and rustic elegance 
have always been a part of Robert Redford's flagship company.

Montana is a "Khaki State of Mind."  With classic styling and recognition of their traditional outdoor history and heritage, Montana companies maintain a look that is truly a part of the classic camping movement.

Keep up the good work. Please post any companies you know who have 
maintained a long tradition of classic outdoor wear, 
or others who may be reproducing clothing based on classic styles. 

Classic Camo

Here's a link to a great little blog about vintage clothing and manufacturers who have been around since the Golden Age of Camping, including Duxback.  Pay them a visit and learn a thing or two about the way we dress -   

Monday, May 13, 2013

NOTICE! Woodsmoke 2014 - 
Register now at  -!

New Dates for Woodsmoke II
July 13-19, 2014

We're sorry for the late decision, but we have really tried to keep this one going. If you have been aware of our situation this year (main offices burning and such), you'll know we have not made this decision without some heartache. Backtracks has maintained a long tradition of not canceling for any reason. At this point, however, we would rather break with tradition just a bit in order take the time to plan an event all of us would be proud of.  Anyone who pre-regsistered on-line has a couple of options for their tuition. 1. Hold it over for next year's event and be first in line to choose classes; 2. Apply it to one of the other Backtracks events - Rabbitstick (Sept - ID) or Winter Count (Feb - AZ); or 3. Get a refund. Let us know which you prefer.

Those of you who have attended one of our events (we've been doing this for 25 years) know how great these experiences are - in fact we have numerous reports of last year's Woodsmoke being a "life-changing experience" for many. We want you to know we regret any inconvenience this may cause some of you, and we apologize for that. We plan to make up for it if we can. We are not aware of anyone who was planning to make it who cannot re-arrange travel plans at this point.

Our plans for the next Woodsmoke are to make the Backtracks offices and Classic Camping hut a central focus for the event. There you will find our collections of classic camping literature, project and gear displays and many of the tools and facilities we use for our classic craft projects. Plan to be a part of this great on-going event.

The Barn at Thomson Farm - Backtracks HQ.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Classic In The Mainstream

I was hunting and gathering in the local Walmart yesterday. As I was stalking along, this caught my eye - a marquee sign hanging from the ceiling.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed this graphic from an old classic camping book and the Walmart logo with 1878 as the start date. The masses may be catching up to what we already know to be the true way to camp. 

• Modern camping is what you do 
to get some place.
• Classic camping is what you do 
when you get some place.

 - Camp as if "CAMPING" mattered -
 - Application of the "Woodsman's" style - 

"Woodcraft is a working knowledge of the land."
Aldo Leopold  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

New Watts and Wescott Stickers

  If you'd like one, let us know. 
They're $5 for the 4" or  $6 for the 5" model. 

You can request information through the WoodsmokeUSA Facebook page, or for a limited time, you can register for Woodsmoke Symposium and get a free one.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Practicing The Craft
"Does this sheath make my axe look big?"
Chris Noble, 3/6/13

This past weekend found both chapters busy at work doing what we love. In the west, the Yellowstone Trail Chapter Hut in Teton, Idaho hosted a Scandinavian-style knife and sheath-making workshop lead by David Wescott. On Thursday, the handles were glued up and left to cure (the blades were laminated Moras provided by our longtime supplier RoseMarie at Scandia International). On Saturday the weather was warm, but so warm the snow was melting faster than the frozen ground could absorb it, so we worked inside to avoid mud and puddles. The workshop was open for handle trimming, shaping and buffing. The classroom was alive with leather work - pattern-making, gluing, stitching and waxing. The result was a dozen great little sloyd knives that would be used in our upcoming Tuesday Knifecraft class where we focused on dogwood beads, split-forked toasters, gypsy flowers and try sticks.We ended up with some interesting shapes, but all the handles were technically sound and pretty darn good for a first attempt by most everyone.

Kamphaven at the Schiele Museum in North Carolina hosted the latest in the Kamp Kephart series led by Steve Watts. The design came from one belonging to long-time mentor Darry Wood that both Steve and I saw years ago. It's a slick little design and has tremendous application in a field setting while using and carrying your axe for practical purposes. Gastonia was experiencing some unfriendly weather, so the class was held in the center's classroom and out on the front porch. What a great setting for getting back to the old style.

The original axe and sheath, and my knock-off pattern drawn on a cereal box are seen below (Note cereal box cardboard works great for creating form-fitting leather patterns. It molds to the tool like leather would, creating a very accurate pattern). I forgot to add the piece for the welt along the bit, but if you look closely, you can see the line where it needs to be placed. Cut it to that shape. The pattern was reduced, but can be rescaled to fit a 3/4 axe head. I made one from this pattern that replicates the one in the picture. The lacing is brain-tanned buckskin. Bottom-left is Steve's small Forest Axe using a customized factory sheath; and bottom-right is my 3/4 axe and sheath replica of the original. All hail the plaid.

Now go make something!   -   Go Plaid!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Into the Wild

One of the first posts on this blog included a couple of short clips featuring the "Vagabonds," Edison, Ford, Burroughs and Firestone. The well documented decade of camping adventures completed by the team were responsible perhaps for the great exodus to the outdoors undertaken by almost all of America just after the turn of the century. There were more people camping for pleasure per capita in the US than any other time before or since. Join us on the road with this great little documentary. 

View Into the Wild at
You can also visit our Backtracks905 YouTube Channel now.