A trek in the sense of “historical trekking” is a glorified walk in the woods.  The point is to get inside the head of people of the time you’re portraying; using the material goods, eating the foods, and in general doing activities that the people of the time would have done.  Most of the treks we’ve held have been focused on traveling or hunting in the woods, so this list focuses on that.  If your event has a specific purpose or location, you may vary the items you take to match that purpose.

The majority of “treks” I’ve done were as a native, so I address this mainly from that point of view.  Things to modify for European are listed at the end. 

For lists of items suggested for other events, check out our Southern Indian Department site’s Basic Equipment page.

The list:

-Clothing and adornment per weather.

-Knives: neck knife, folding knife or belt knife — two of these three usually


-Whatever shooting supplies: gun/shooting bag/horn or bow/quiver/arrows as fit the trek. Just a stout stick if no weapon allowed due to location and time of year.

-Twined/fingerwoven/corded tumpline.
-Blanket (heavy in winter, med/light in summer, two medium weight blankets if it’s to be very cold)
-Matchcoat – if a hot weather trek could use just matchcoat instead of blanket.
-38×80 strip of treated sailcloth (under me or over me, depending on weather, scenario, etc)

Inside “pack” or in whatever bag I’m carrying
-Small bag with food.  This could be any of the following: jerked meat, parched corn, some salted/preserved pork, some cornmeal (or grits or both), dried fruit (I like cranberries, but they aren’t exactly southern), loose tea (“real” tea or yaupon — “black drink”), a chunk of sugar, two small cane containers with salt and spices.
-Small sewing kit: awl, few needles in bone case, some waxed Irish linen shoemaker’s thread and artificial or real sinew. I started keeping some forged fish hooks in this kit after my kids started coming along. They have caught fish at treks/events regularly with a hook/linen line/stick and whatever bait they can gather. They have fun either way.
-Strike-a-light kit
-Cooking and eating supplies: Copper/tin cup, quart or 1/2 gal brass kettle or combo of these, depending on who else is coming along and what they are bringing. A wooden or silver soup spoon and a wooden/gourd bowl or noggin are my personal eating utensils.
-Length of hand-laid rope and a small meat hook — used over fire to hang meat or kettle.
-Small paint kit including bottle of bear oil (can use to cook with if need be), mirror, and dry paint.
-Smoking bag holding pipe and tobacco. This has my hunting license and vehicle key in it too, usually.
-Prisoner tie or ties
-36″ square clean linen cloth (for “band-aids”, pre-filter for water, or whatever)
-Spare moccasins
-Spare wool stockings or moccasin liners
-Linen or silk kerchief/head rag/potholder/hand towel/etc

Modern or not exactly PC stuff for safety:
-Small gourd bottle – only one clearly documented case I’ve dug up of natives using a “canteen”, but there aren’t always safe sources of water.
-Water purifier tablets -yeah, they taste bad, but I only use them when I can’t boil the water.  I have a water filter that can go with me if several of us are headed out.
-First aid/hygiene kit (lomotil, painkillers, small tube of antibiotic, small amount of soap–put in a zip-loc and inside several layers of other bags)

-Larger axe
-Bottle of cooking oil if fishing
-Small treated tarp if one or both kids are along

This modifies a little if I’m not portraying a native at that time —
-Leave out the paint kit
-Usually bring more variety of food, including peas, rice or breads, some salt pork or preserved meat.
-Use a different tumpline and carry a waxed haversack or market wallet, depending on if I’m ‘military’ or civilian.
-Carry my belt axe, which is smaller than my utility hawk.
-Carry my British issue canteen.
-May carry small sheet metal frying pan

Some of this is pictured on the gear pages.

For more information on trekking in general, take a look at the Coalition of Historical Trekkers (CoHT)

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