on satchels

Posted on January 1, 2012

Lewis and Clark had a saying: "Never go on a cross-country expedition without your satchel." Explorers of all kinds have, for centuries, used leather pouches to transport goods that would be too cumbersome to carry in pockets. Such bags can be used to store tools, foodstuff, missives, biological specimens, etc., and they have even saved lives with the herbs found therein. They continue to be an important part of the woodsman's attire.

Three of the woodsmans possessions: journal, lantern, and satchel.

For lighter excursions, a satchel may be all that is required.

The sportsman has always found utility in a reliable satchel. Its light construction keeps valuables at hand but preserves mobility. Most longer exploratory missions will require more gear; a knapsack with a means of shelter, a canteen, a light, a pair of binoculars, and a camera are often necessary accouterments. Even when more expansive packing is indicated, a satchel, properly stocked, can still be worn. Once camp has been made, the satchel alone can be used to foray into the heart of the forest. This modular packing paradigm, when implemented, allows maximum flexibility when faced with the obstacles of the wild.

There is little that cannot be stored within a quality pack. Ammunition, maps, matches/flint, valuables, and even wampum have been carried upon many great historical personages. That the virtues of such ease of transport should need further extolling is testament to the ubiquity and effortless ease provided by these bags: they have functioned so well, and with such little fanfare, that most have little thought of their function. And they are longevous: a well-made tanned pack will withstand rain, oil, dirt, thorns, and the glancing blow of a blade. They are often passed from one generation to the next.

The satchel has been, and will continue to be, an indispensable accessory for the outdoorsman. Fortunately, it is still possible to acquire newly made bags for those who have not yet received them (or fashioned their own out of necessity). With continued recognition of the virtues of this luggage, tanners will continue their employ and hikers will go forth well-equipped. The difference in their pack before and after the journey should always make the trip worthwhile.

The travelers satchel, before the trip.

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