Book Reviews

‘Past Tents’ Book Review

Past Tents: The Way We Camped by Susan Snyder, came out in 2006. I almost passed over this book due to the cover but then decided to go back and pick it up.

Oh, am I glad I did! The book is a neat look into the past. It talks of the past of camping well back into the 1800’s and into the first couple decades of the 1900’s. You get a deep understanding of what drove people into the outdoors back then.

Full of historical photos, some of who would become famous down the road, it shows them out in the wilds, camping from the style of a wool blanket on the ground to luxury camping with a full bar brought along.

The gear especially is neat to look at: a catalog page from 1922 advertising “Go Light” ruck sacks. Even better are the writings kept where “go-lightlys” are talked about being mocked. “That’s something these go-lightly boys never think about.” Heh……and UL hikers think they are new? 😉

Or how cold snaps on a trip in the Sierras caused the women with long hair to have to break ice out of their hair while the ladies with modern bobs got up and had coffee (1929). The writings on why women should take to bloomers and dump skirts is a classic!

One writing (from a man) includes:

The party must be at least half ladies. I have found them more enthusiastic, more patient with hunger and hard climbing, and more plucky than men. When a spirited young women gets off her long skirts and corsets, gets on a pair of mountain bots and strong gloves, with short, strong dress, she will come as near to flying as anything human I have ever met.” (Dr. Dio Lewis, 1881)

If you love history, you need to read this book – you will love it!