Saturday, November 29, 2014

Do we only practice the Manly Skills?

           I think we as men tend to overlook allot of skills very necessary to true Self-Reliance. Looking back in time to Otzi the Iceman's Kit, what would it take to re-make those items? There are plenty of testosterone based skills within his kit for sure, Flint Knapping, Hide Tanning, Copper Smelting, And Bow making Oh yeah!!! But to keep him alive and carry his gear took skills much less appealing to most of us. His Clothing was sewn together, his pack frame lashed together, and he had several woven items as well. There is no evidence that Otzi had a little cave women at home to make these things for him, so we can only assume that he made them himself. While many skills we practice today are important to both short term and long term survival, the less romantic skills are just as often more critical especially in the longer term. The ability to manufacture items of clothing, devices for carrying other items as well as repairing items that become damaged like clothing is surely important to being self reliant even in the modern day. I have been immersing myself in weaving lately in many forms and this epiphany really came from closely looking at Otzi's personal kit on a deeper level.

Otzi's Knife sheath is one example of a woven object he carried to secure equipment

This is my attempt at a similar weave to create a knife sheath for a stone blade
Otzi did not use complicated weaving techniques to make the items he had but this skill has been around for a few thousand years none the less. As I delve deeper into this skill it was used extensively by other cultures in time like the Vikings, the Egyptians, and later by our own direct ancestors in the US for things like Belts, Sashes, Rifle Slings, as well as on the intricate level of Cloth manufacturing from Flax made into linen along the American Frontier.
Loom at Fort Boonesboro
Although we cant all practice making actual fabric or Blankets on a Loom, we can use smaller looms to make Straps, for thinks like Belts, Slings, Tump lines, Pack Straps etc...
Making a 12' Strap on a Inkle Loom
The best thing about this skill is that it can be accomplished with very little tools and gear, anywhere including around the camp fire in the woods.
Making a Utility Strap with a Waist Belt style loom in the woods
Here are a few of the projects I am working on now to help me own the skill of weaving for future use

Give it a try you might find it extremely relaxing as well as enjoyable to create even more of your own gear and become that much more Self Reliant.


  1. Basket weaving is another one. So important to self reliance to be able to make containers from the forest.

  2. I agree, if you can weave a belt, you can weave a basket, Bark containers are also a good skill to understand-

  3. I would like to try to learn weaving but there seems to be so many methods.Is there one method in particular you would think would be best for starting out?

  4. Seth, I would start with finger weaving and then go to a waist strap set up, it is pretty simple once you get the hang of it-

  5. Dave, I couldn't agree more. Weaving, as well as, sewing and other things that many guys consider women's work are essential skills to own. I grew up not having much money and now that I went back to school in my early thirties, I have even less. When I grew up I was always creating items or modifying things that was made for one thing to fit another role that I needed it to. And that still rings true.

    Being able to weave and produce or mend clothing seems to be a thing of magic in some people's eyes. Much of my bushcrafting items I have made myself simply because I either can not afford to buy it or I can not find what I need. When some of the guys I work with find out that I made this or that, I get a look from them like the first time someone see flint and steel for the first time. They have this look of amazement.

    Much of this has to do with people not knowing how items are made and not knowing where things come from. It's sad, but with efforts like yours to spread the knowledge hopefully self reliance will become more common again. We need to get back to our roots.

    Thank you for all that you do, Dave. I know I and many many other appreciate everything you are doing. :)

  6. I've read before that the Eskimos said (paraphrased), "they could survive in their environment with only a fire kit, knife, and sewing kit". The way I see it, if it has always worked, it still will so we probably oughta carry a sewing kit of some kind in our pack. The sail needle in the 10 C's isn't just based on modern wisdom but also on ancient knowledge.

  7. Unique Outdoor Survival Skills

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    Thanks again.


  8. Another thing to consider weaving into a knife sheath is birch bark. Birch bark sheaths have been popular in Finland for a long time, and aren't super difficult to make, plus they look so nice. In case you're interested, here's a video showing how to make a birch bark sheath in an archaic pattern from Southern Finland.