8 Pioneer Tools You Should Have as a Prepper
Can you imagine setting out to head across the country carrying only what you could fit in your wagon? I sure can’t! I recently drove over 2,000 miles and I had all the modern amenities I could ask for.
On my long drive I thought about the pioneers and the settlers and the challenges they faced. It boggles my mind that Lewis & Clark and many others were able to travel that distance (and more), set up homesteads, and do it all with a fraction of what we have today.
Let’s look at some of the tools that pioneers used and why we still use them today.
Fire can be used to cook, keep you warm, and keep predators away. Fire can also keep some insects away, which may not be a life or death matter, but morale can be maintained if you don’t have insects buzzing around and biting you.
Sure, you should keep matches and lighters. As preppers, we think ahead and prep for the worst, so go ahead and bring along some char cloth. Char cloth is very flammable and it only needs a spark to get burning. It is cloth that has been heated in an oxygen deprived environment and it’s easy to make.
Learn how to make char cloth and you will be ready to start a fire when you need it. As a fail safe, keep a magnesium rod, steel, and flint around. You can use the steel and flint to start the char cloth.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven
The traditional cooking vessel of the frontier and early homesteaders. I think dutch ovens are the earliest form of the Crockpot, too.
You can get brand new dutch ovens from Lodge out of Tennessee, or you can find vintage cast iron pieces that are 100 years old from companies like Wagner Ware. The dutch oven works really well for 3 main reasons:
- It is cast iron so dutch ovens are built like tanks. Even if they are abused, they can be restored to like new condition.
- The tight fitting lids have rims which allow hot coals from the fire to be placed on top. Food can cook faster when it is heated from both the top and bottom.
- You can cook a lot of food without a lot of effort. Typically, a dutch oven can be used to make enough food for a large crew of people. Stews are the classic dutch oven dish due to ease of preparation and delicious flavor. Everything can be put in one dutch oven and the protein will braise until it is very tender.
A rifle is the best tool for hunting most of the time. When deer or elk season starts, you can see plenty of people that take advantage of the opportunity to hunt wild game. Pioneers needed to have rifles for hunting and for protection.
Be sure you understand the safe and proper handling of a rifle and the laws in your state for hunting.
One drawback about rifles in a survival situation is that you may run out of ammunition.
Bow or Crossbow
A bow or crossbow can be a great addition to your hunting tools since you can reuse arrows. That is a huge advantage when ammo is in short supply.
You can bow hunt a lot of game, including deer, elk, turkeys, and more. If you haven’t bow hunted before, take your time and learn the right way.
I suggest taking a course with an outfit in your area to get hands on training. You will get the opportunity to ask questions face to face about bows, crossbows, and the right way to bow hunt.
Butcher and Skinning Knives
You can use these knives for some of your normal cooking tasks. I bet that is what the pioneers did since they didn’t make it a habit of carrying around extra gear. However, the main tasks for these knives is field dressing wild game that you have hunted.
Be sure to keep all your cutlery very clean, especially after field dressing activities. In addition, you need to keep your knives very sharp since a sharp knife is a safer knife than a dull one.
Hatchet and Axe
Having a hatchet or axe will allow you to do a number of tasks like chop down a tree, split wood, and drive stakes into the ground. The survival expert, Les Stroud, aka Survivorman, often carries a hatchet or small axe since they are so versatile. Having an axe makes it a whole lot easier to complete vital survival tasks like building a shelter or for gathering firewood.
Rope was used for countless things that are still practical today. Here are a few:
- Tying down gear and objects
- Running a clothes line
- Raising food to keep bears from getting into shelters and tents
- Building shelters
- Pulling objects
Nowadays, paracord is a great substitute for the natural fiber ropes that pioneers used. Paracord is very strong – the standard 550 cord can handle 550 pounds. It is very impressive considering the small size of the cord.
Apple Crusher and Cider Press
This may not seem like a very practical item, but let’s look deeper. You can preserve your apple or other fruit harvest in a unique and valuable way:
Hard Cider and Alcohol
All fruits have some natural yeast on them so when you press the fruit, it will start to ferment naturally. If you have some alcohol in the hard cider, spoilage will be inhibited. In addition, you can distill the cider with heat (in a still) or by freezing it (apple jack). Be sure you understand your local laws about distilling.
The settlers and pioneers were a resourceful and tough set of people. Gritty, courageous, and fearless.
They had some help in the form of simple and effective tools. If you’re seeking to become more self sufficient and more prepared, then you should be familiar with the tools of the pioneer.
Use these tools in your normal life so you can become an expert in their use. Don’t wait until you have to use them – make their use a standard way of life.