A cool little phrase on the Bushcraft NZ website says Learn, Share and Get Out There. Getting out there doesn’t happen unless I make a plan to do it. Without the learning my getting out there could end up a disaster. I decided to try something I have been thinking about for a while. A Blanket Roll Camp Out. I learned how to do it, I got out there and did it. This article is the sharing part.
I am always looking to scale down my bush kit and replace it with skills and knowledge. Self-reliance and improvisation can save me carrying a lot of supplies and equipment.
Blanket roll camping, to my mind anyway, is about carrying basic kit wrapped up in a woolen blanket. The blanket is bedding but also a backpack that allows me to travel light. I have to plan properly and carry just what is necessary. Many 1860s American Civil War photographs show soldiers carrying blanket rolls draped over their shoulders as they march off to battle. Blanket roll history dates back even further.
I made the decision to do a one night camp out on Easter Friday with a blanket roll, using my army surplus Italian Army Wool Blanket.
This hideous example of a blanket roll was rapidly put together for this rushed photo to show how a blanket roll can be carried. A properly rolled and tied blanket roll can be seen later in this article.
In the Malaysian jungle I used a hammock and light weight wool blanket for a couple of years but carried in a pack. Using the blanket as my carrying system was a new idea and I needed some “how-to” help.
Learning. My first stop, as usual for me, was my favorite Youtube channel. Shaman Forge Bush Craft (blackoracle69). Blackie has been out in the bush since he was a kid. He is also a Living Historian who applies his knowledge. He is a good man to learn what works and what doesn’t.
I won’t get into much detail about how I put my blanket roll together. I just copied what Blackie said on Youtube. If you’re interested it is well worth checking out his channel.
The blanket is exposed to the elements and bush, which can wet and potentially damage it, but it can be repaired if needed. A tarpaulin shelter (or my complete hennessy hammock) is protected inside the roll. A wet wool blanket can still retain 80% of a person’s body heat and can be dried by a fire. But a wet blanket is incredibly heavy and takes a long time to dry out. I would opt to keep my blanket roll as dry as possible by using a large rubbish bag to cover the roll and cut holes for the cordage to come through.
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Using a blanket roll pushes you to think about reducing what you carry. I had to think, “I am going out for two days and one night. What do I REALLY NEED”?!
Close up of contents: precooked can of food, silky pocket boy saw 130, book for night time reading, kitchen kit (can opener, plastic spoon, matches with cotton ball, toothpaste, toothbrush, sew repair kit, balm for cuts/bites/stings/dry skin), paracord is for tying blanket roll closed,
Close up of contents: spare warm socks, head torch, small stainless steel cup, 1/2 bar soap in zip lock bag, tree hugger hammock straps, thermal shirt, hammock and rain fly.
The soap and head torch will stow into the cup before rolling.
Rolling up the blanket roll.
Roll the blanket roll tight and evenly across the whole front.
Continue rolling until complete. The blanket roll should be tight and balanced. There may be some lumps from the bulky contents. This is not a problem as long as they are not uncomfortable when carrying the blanket roll. Unroll and re-position the contents if needed.
Once rolled tie at the ends and at either side of the center of your blanket roll. Attach the cordage for straps and you are ready of go.
Please remember to check out Blackies Youtube Channel for the full learning on making a blanket roll.
Getting Out There. Making a blanket roll allows two carrying options. One is to drape the roll over a shoulder and across the body. Hang the roll from the right or left shoulder and across the body to the opposite hip. The other option (as shown) is to tie on some thick cordage to act as shoulder straps and carry the blanket roll like a back pack. Due to the summer heat and bush walking I chose the back pack option (carrying across the body can get quite hot and clumsy in close country).
The blanket roll back pack worked better than I expected even in very thick bush. It hugged my back well and, due to its light weight and narrow profile, I moved around the bush with ease. The cordage shoulder straps dug into my shoulders a bit but were tolerable. For longer walks or more rugged terrain I could substitute army surplus webbing shoulder straps or pad the cordage.
I carried my equipment and food in three ways. A belt kit, a haversack and my blanket roll. I took only one liter of water. I planned to camp close to a water source I was familiar with so I brought purification tablets and a means to boil creek water. For dinner I had one can of food and some ready mixed coffee sachets rolled up in my blanket roll. Muslie bars and canned tuna were in my haversack for breakfast and lunch. If I used dehydrated meals instead of canned food I could walk and camp comfortably like this for about four days. Any longer and I would be wanting the extra luxuries and comforts that I can bring in a back pack.
The blanket kept me warm in my hammock when combined with a thermal mat, a wool beanie, fleece shirt and warm socks.
The completed blanket roll with thermal mat rolled up and tied to the back. My belt kit is to the left. My haversack to the right with a light rain jacket rolled up and held in place under the flap.
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