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4 Pieces of Gear That Are No Longer Used How They Traditionally Were

At Gone Feral, we’re all about tradition.  It’s, in fact, part of our name.  Here are a few items that are still present in our lives, but no longer used how they traditionally were.

1. Belts

Tool Belt

While belts are pretty good at holding up pants, that’s only one of their functions.  Decoration, especially in the military, has been another historical one.  But a belt’s use as a carrying device has largely been lost, except for use by the police (and Batman).

In the old days, a belt carried your cup, knife, spoon, pouches, money, and on and on…

Consider this:  for most of history, people either walked or (eventually) rode on the back of another animal.  Neither of these methods of transportation have a ‘back’ on their seat.  But once the train and automobile hit the scene…wouldn’t it have been a lot less comfortable to have a bunch of stuff hanging from your belt?  The writing was on the wall for the age of belts as functional gear.

2. Shoulder Straps

Shoulder Straps

Similarly, you’ll still see a lot of button-down shirts with these strange straps across the tops of the shoulders. What gives?

Police and military uniforms still use shoulder straps to attach shoulder boards and epaulets, often denoting rank.  But, again, there was actually a practical use for them.  Whether exploring the frontiers of the world, serving in a military campaign…or walking the dog – those straps are great for keeping rope, pack straps, and leashes from slipping off the shoulder.

Next time you buy a shirt with shoulder straps, sling on that leash and take the dog for a walk.

3. Natural Fibers

Natural Fibers

While not technically a stand-alone piece of gear, let’s talk about natural materials – including wool, silk, and cotton.

Wool and silk are fantastic natural fibers that are among the best for warmth.  It was only recently that wool was abandoned as a primary clothing material for both civilian and military use.  Both wool and silk have become expensive, near-luxury items but can still serve just as they always have.  Check your local secondhand stores for great deals!

Cotton often gets a bad rap in the outdoor world, but it’s important that we understand why. If we’re talking about clothing in terms of warmth, then we’re talking about insulation.  And the primary factor that gives insulation its ability is dead air space.

Unlike wool which maintains much of that air space when wet, cotton collapses and loses near all of the insulation it once had.  Plus it takes a while to dry, which means you’re also losing heat due to evaporation and conduction.  That’s bad when you need to retain your head, e.g. in a survival situation.  Hence the moniker “cotton kills”.  But consider hot, dry areas.

Cotton, or similar, might be your best choice.  Dousing the cotton with water will cool you through that evaporative effect.  So, while it may not be wise to hike in cotton in the Rockies, maybe that’s exactly what you want in the Sahara.

4. Blankets

Sleeping bags are pretty cool.  But they’re a super-modern invention, the earliest going back to the late 19th century and not really recognizable as a sleeping bag.  It was really the 20th century that saw the rise of the sleeping bag.  Did people not sleep before that?

Just as you use blankets to sleep under at home, they saw longtime use throughout most of history.  (We’re actually seeing a resurgence in ‘blanket’-type sleeping bags and insulated quilts, too!)  When sleeping in a bag, we’re compressing much of the insulation below us, essentially rendering it useless.  So provided you have a mattress of some sort, a blanket draped over you can be every bit as warm as that sleeping bag.  You can also fold and pin the blanket into a sleeping bag.  Oh, and wear it as a poncho, cloak, great kilt, backpack, and anything else you can dream up.

Try doing all that with a sleeping bag.