Women in the Woods

Small Home Gazette, Spring 2013

Women in the Woods

The average woman of 1830 had a traditional dread of everything mannish; she cultivated the languid; her appetite was rather delicate; she was given to fainting. If she could have foreseen the Yankee girl of 1908 she would have believed that the Amazons had returned to life and emigrated from the banks of the Thermodon to people the United States. (Editor note: In Greek mythology, the legendary capital of the Amazons, Themiscyra, was found on the river Thermodon.)

Photo of lady hunter.And of a truth the girl of the day is a different being from her grandmother, taller, stronger, healthier. All she has lost is just a bit of womanly tenderness, after all a real loss, but more than compensated for by her gains. She has been benefited even more than her brother by the “nearer to nature” movement, and sports have become almost as much a part of her life as of his. There is no reason why she should not imitate her ancestress who accompanied her husband into the wilderness and there carved out a home.

Camping-out may be made as easy as one likes, and her participation in the more strenuous phases of forest life, as big game hunting, or mountaineering, may depend-alone on her physical prowess. One other thing, however, she will probably do well to consider, namely, the question whether or not she is really wanted on the trip; for there is unfortunately a very large class of male sportsmen who absolutely refuse to be “bothered by women-folks in camp.” It must be confessed that in too many cases a man takes his ladies into the woods entirely on their account, from a sense of duty, and that ladies in the majority of cases are really a bother, for they require, tacitly if not actually, constant attention of one kind or the other, and their comparative lack of mobility hampers the movements of the party. I say “in the majority of cases,” for women there are who fall in with forest ways so readily, and who help themselves, and understand how to make the men feel at liberty to do what they like without regard to them (all in reason of course), to the extent that the lords of creation at the end of the trip vote them “bricks” and “not a bit in the way.” That is high praise for the woman camper, which she should strive to merit.

Woman with axe and leanto.The important thing to cultivate is independence. Let the men of the party once discover that the lady does not require to be mollicoddled or waited on all day long and that she is a “good sport,” which is another way of saying that she takes everything as it comes, and her path will be easy, as well as that of her male companions. But from the nervous woman, or the petulant one, or her who screams at sight of a mouse or an innocent daddy-longlegs—good Lord deliver us! It is mostly a matter of that first of social qualities, tact. Blessed is she who is helpful without seeming to interfere; happy is she who is not afraid that her hands will roughen, her feet grow broad, and her crow’s-feet deepen.

Tent.Several women with experience in camping have favoured me with their views, and the gist of their wisdom follows. It is understood that spring and summer are the seasons in question.

Ladies’ Camping Equipment:

  • Outer Dress: Full duxbak or khaki suit with fairly short skirt; extra cloth skirt; brown or dark grey knickerbockers. Silk neckerchief. Canvas leggings. (Editor note: Duxbak was a brand of rain-proofed sportsmen’s clothing.)

  • Underwear: Two or three sets medium weight combination flannels.

  • Shirts: Grey flannel shirt, similar to men’s, with watchpocket in breast. Sweater.

  • Stockings: 3 or 4 pair coarse cotton (or silk or light wool) for high boots. Heavy wool stockings for moccasins.

  • Headgear: Felt hat with stiff brim (to keep veil from face) or straw sailor-hat. Dark chiffon veil. Black silk head-net.

  • Old shoes.Gloves: Pair of thick chamois. Rubber gloves if much washing or other camp-work is to be done.

  • Footwear: High waterproof laceboots for tramping. Moccasins for canoe. Felt slippers for camp. Knit bedsocks.

  • Toilet-articles: Tooth-brush, tooth-powder, hand-mirror, brush and comb, soap in celluloid case, leather bottle-case, sponge-bag.

  • Vintage ad for Pond's Extract.Medicines, etc: In a bottle-case—Pond’s Extract, brandy, Jamaica ginger, vial ammonia, soda-mint tablets, coldcream.

  • Specialties: Rubber wash-basin. Two small nesting pails for hot and cold water.

  • Waterproofs, etc: Yachting oilskin jacket. Light-weight rubber poncho. Rubber hood with cape.

Photo of woman with a moose.A word in regard to appearance. Men like women to be real women, to be modest, and to be as good looking as they can be. Modesty is not so much a matter of dress as of demeanour. One woman can wear knickerbockers without a skirt and appear perfectly natural and modest while another—simply can’t. But, in the name of all that is beautiful and practical, do not wear those things called bloomers, great formless baggy balloons, that are as ugly as they are awkward. Knickers should be well-fitting though loose and easy and should be gathered below the knee either by straps or light elastics.