Victorian Camping Gear : A By No Means Exhaustive List

This week Frank’s cupboard contains some essential equipment for the Victorian camping enthusiast…

For convenience the following list is inserted here. It is condensed from a number of notes made for trips of all sorts, except boating and horseback-riding. It is by no means exhaustive… Be careful not to be led astray by it into overloading yourself, or filling your camp with useless luggage. Be sure to remember this.

Axe (in cover). Axle-grease. Bacon. Barometer (pocket). Bean-pot. Beans (in bag). Beef (dried). Beeswax. Bible. Blacking and brush. Blankets. Boxes. Bread for lunch. Brogans (oiled). Broom. Butter-dish and cover. Canned goods. Chalk. Cheese. Clothes-brush. Cod-line. Coffee and pot. Comb. Compass. Condensed milk. Cups. Currycomb. Dates. Dippers. Dishes. Dish-towels. Drawers. Dried fruits. Dutch oven. Envelopes. Figs. Firkin. Fishing-tackle. Flour (prepared). Frying-pan. Guide-book. Half-barrel. Halter. Hammer. Hard-bread. Harness (examine!). Hatchet. Haversack. Ink (portable bottle). Knives (sheath, table, pocket and butcher). Lemons. Liniment. Lunch for day or two. Maps. Matches and safe. Marline. Meal (in bag). Meal-bag. Medicines. Milk-can. Molasses. Money (“change”). Monkey-wrench. Mosquito-bar. Mustard and pot. Nails. Neat’s-foot oil. Night-shirt. Oatmeal. Oil-can. Opera-glass. Overcoat. Padlock and key. Pails. Paper. Paper collars. Pens. Pepper. Pickles. Pins. Portfolio. Postage stamps. Postal cards. Rope. Rubber blanket. Rubber coat. Rubber boots. Sail-needle. Salt. Salt fish. Salt pork. Salve. Saw. Shingles (for plates). Shirts. Shoes and strings. Slippers. Soap. Song-book. Spade. Spoons. Stove (utensils in bags). Sugar. Tea. Tents. Tent poles. Tent pins. Tooth-brush. Towels. Twine. Vinegar. Watch and key.

John M Gould, How To Camp Out (1877)

Gould has winnowed out some of the items deemed essential earlier in the century. As Anne Fadiman records in Ex Libris : Confessions Of A Common Reader (1998):

Who but an Englishman, the legendary Sir John Franklin, could have managed to die of starvation and scurvy along with all 129 of his men in a region of the Canadian Arctic whose game had supported an Eskimo colony for centuries? When the corpses of some of Franklin’s officers and crew were later discovered, miles from their ships, the men were found to have left behind their guns but to have lugged such essentials as monogrammed silver cutlery, a backgammon board, a cigar case, a clothes brush, a tin of button polish, and a copy of The Vicar Of Wakefield. These men may have been incompetent bunglers, but, by God, they were gentlemen.



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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

5 thoughts on “Victorian Camping Gear : A By No Means Exhaustive List

    July 11, 2014 at 09:24

    Excellent, although omitted from the list is a large fly swat (repelling of scoutmasters for the use of.) Today’s camping is all about image…10 inch ipad, Mammut packing list, Mammut, Mammut, Mammut, Mammut, Mammut, Jack Wolfskin, Jack Wolfskin, Jack Wolfskin, Mountain Equipment, Mountain Equipment, Gucci.

    No North Face, obviously, so South Tyneside, don’t you think.

    July 11, 2014 at 11:07


    • Brit
      July 11, 2014 at 11:35

      To accompany your salt pork, along with the mustard (and pot).

    July 11, 2014 at 12:30

    Ah, I see. Imagine the social disgrace of the philistine who ate them with his “bread for lunch”.

    Love the clothes-brush and blacking.

    July 12, 2014 at 09:14

    I’m off camping today and this list has reminded me to stock up on oiled brogans, you can never have too many

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