M Bushwhacking Gear: Heavyweight Fabrics and Compatible Construction Techniques to Improve Clothing Longevity for Off-trail Bushwhacking

by Roger Caffin

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Article Summary:

Not all walks are on nice clear trails: sometimes you go off-trail, through the scrub and forest. This is especially so in Australia, where I live, as we just don't have much in the way of 'trails.' That's why in Australia we call it 'bushwalking.' Both American forest and Australian bush can be a little harsh, making much available ultra-lightweight gear unsuitable for off-trail bushwhacking use. The original plan for this series was to see what commercial gear is suitable for serious bushwhacking use, especially in the area of clothing. Commercial reality is that very little is available. For every single bushwhacker (or bushwalker), there are hordes of people more concerned with street fashion and 'looking cool.' They don't need performance. Guess where any manufacturer will focus his production?

These days, I make most of the gear for myself and my wife. This lets me focus on selecting both materials and construction which will take the sort of rough treatment we give our gear. In most cases the design and manufacture is quite simple - no street fashion frills are needed. So this series will focus on what features are needed in serious bushwhacking gear, and what can be made by the reader. Along the way we will explore the fascinating world of modern fabrics and materials, not to mention some interesting design issues.This first article will focus on heavy fabrics: their strengths and weaknesses. I will use gaiters as an illustration and present construction techniques that help material better withstand heavy use.

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