In the rugged world of bushcraft life, we quickly uncover the enduring legacy of bed rolls and why they have played such a vital role in the history of the outdoors for centuries. From the untamed landscapes of the American West to the tumultuous era of the Revolutionary War, these portable sleeping solutions played a vital role in the lives of frontiersmen and pioneers. Of course, we could go back thousands of years, for there is ample evidence of Otzi the Iceman having a reed bed roll, and it's even noted in the New Testament in John 5:8-10 Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The Message (MSG), but join me as we take a brief journey through history to explore the evolution and significance of bed rolls during two pivotal periods in American history.
During the American Revolution, frontiersmen and pioneers relied on rugged bed rolls as they ventured into uncharted territories in search of new opportunities. These early bed rolls were crafted from durable materials such as canvas, oiled cloth, or animal hides, with a wool blanket providing essential protection from the elements during long journeys across rugged terrain. These lightweight bed rolls reduced ground moisture and battled conduction enough so travelers could get a fair night's rest while afoot.
Pioneers heading westward during the expansion of the frontier also depended on bed rolls as they carved out a new way of life on the untamed frontier. Bed Rolls of this time were again portable in that they could be carried without the aid of a horse or wagon and were considered temporary, even though many used them for extended periods. During westward expansion, bedroll sizes increased in many respects, no doubt in part due to experience and technology.
"On a scout, a soldier usually carries only a blanket, overcoat, and at most a single shirt, a pair of drawers, and a pair of socks, all of which can be packed in the tent knapsack in a small bundle, perfectly protected from rain, and capable of being suspended from the shoulders and carried with comfort and ease during a march."
The Prairie Traveler, Randolph Marcy – 1859
In the vast expanse of the American West, cowboy bed rolls became synonymous with the iconic image of the rugged cowboy on the open range. These bed rolls were practical yet versatile, serving as a portable shelter for cowboys as they herded cattle across vast distances or sought respite under the starry skies after a long day on the trail. Cowboy Bed Rolls were often large, typically 7ft wide x 17ft long, to permit various shelter options while traveling by horseback. Cowboy bed rolls were often personalized with unique designs and embellishments, reflecting the individuality and spirit of the frontier lifestyle.
"The bedding for each person should consist of two blankets, a comforter, a pillow, and a gutta percha or painted canvas cloth to spread beneath the bed upon the ground and to contain it when rolled up for transportation."
The Prairie Traveler, Randolph Marcy - 1859
Bed rolls live on today in outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs' hearts. Television programs such as Yellowstone, Survival-themed programs, and the modern revival of Retro Bushcraft and Camping have brought bed rolls back into fashion for those outside the traditional "bushcraft community." Whether it's recreating the rugged charm of the Old West or embracing the pioneering spirit of America's early settlers, modern-day adventurers continue to pay homage to this iconic piece of frontier history.
We strive to pay homage to history when we create new products here at Campcraft; the bedroll is no exception. When designing our bedroll system, we wanted it to be different enough from others on the market while still carving out its unique place in gear history. With so many options available, we settled on a hybrid model that best met our production needs and capability while providing the best bang for the buck. We also wanted something far more multifunctional than the lightweight travelers' bedrolls of the past.
The Campcraft Bed Roll is a 4'9" wide x 6'10" long finished size (5' x 7' cut size) waxed canvas fabric that features an integrated full-width pocket on one end for storage and/or pillow use that measures out to be 16" tall x 4'9" wide. This makes it slightly larger than the average full-sized bed. The accompanying carry straps allow this bed roll to be slung across the body or carried by virtually any other means needed.
Along the left and bottom edge of the bed, you will find eight (8) brass snaps, which can be used to snap the tarp to the bed for rain security or to create other shelter options. This bedroll permits a blanket and personal equipment to be rolled up in a completely waterproof barrier.
Overall, we're pretty happy with these subtle innovations in this old-style kit. We think you'll enjoy them too. Grab a blanket roll, water bottle, knife, and basic provisions, and you're all set for the next adventure.