How to care for ladies in the wilderness

Have you ever wondered if it is practicable for women to be in the great outdoors? If so, how long should their gowns be? And should they have a stove? All these questions and more are answered by John M. Gould in his classic work “How to Camp Out”, first published in 1877 (

I’ll let his immortal words speak for themselves.

From Pages 93 and 94, “Ladies as Pedestrians”:

“I have once or twice alluded to ladies walking and camping. It is thoroughly practicable for them to do so. They must have a wagon, and do none of the heavy work; their gowns must not reach quite to the ground, and all of their clothing must be loose and easy. Of course there must be gentlemen in the party; and it may save annoyance to have at least one of the ladies well-nigh “middle-aged.” Ladies must be cared for more tenderly than men. If they are not well, the wagon should go back for them at the end of the day’s march; shelter-tents are not to be recommended for them, nor are two blankets sufficient bedclothing. They ought not to be compelled to go any definite distance, but after having made their day’s walk let the tents be pitched. Rainy weather is particularly unpleasant to ladies in tents; deserted houses, schoolhouses, saw-mills, or barns should be sought for them when a storm is brewing.”

And a few select passages from Pages 94 and 95, “Ladies and Children in Camp”:

“In a permanent camp, however, ladies, and children as well, can make themselves thoroughly at home.They ought not to ‘rough it’ so much as young men expect to: consequently they should be better protected from the wet and cold.”

“Almost all women will find it trying to their backs to be kept all day in an A-tent. If you have no other kind, you should build some sort of a wall, and pitch the tent on top of it.”

“It has already been advised that women should have a stove; in general, they ought not to depart so far from home ways as men do.”

There you have it gentlemen. The next time you call upon your damsel to depart her sitting room to frolic amongst the creepy-crawlies of the untamed wilderness, you shall be well versed in how to properly care for her frailties.

All joking aside, it’s very interesting to read this type of thing from yesteryear and to see how attitudes have changed. When I read this to my wife, she thought it was funny…but she did approve of the parts about not doing heavy work, being cared for tenderly, having warm sleeping equipment and not being “compelled to go any definite distance” while on the march. 😉

EDIT: To clarify, my wife is not a helpless, frail whiner. She was half-joking about approving of some of the things and is certainly capable of carrying a load, starting a fire and doing plenty of other tasks like this.


4 comments on “How to care for ladies in the wilderness

  1. Perkunas says:

    Luckily my gal aint posh type. She makes fire with firesteel, uses her axe well, whittles lean-to parts, and sausage sticks, carries all her own gear,has a modest requirements and all. About the best female companion ive been involved in the woods. I just get annoyed till the point f hate, if i´d have to stare some person whi whines with her two left arms, and cant carry a damn thing etc.

    tender care.. bedroom stuff at most 😉

    • Sounds like a good woman there. 🙂 My wife was half-joking when she said she agreed to that stuff. She is also a forest-roamer and isn’t afraid to get dirty. She’s actually pretty independent and isn’t afraid to show that she can carry a load etc.

      Hmmm, I don’t know. I think tender care also has its place in the wilderness. 😉

  2. OZme says:

    It is interesting to read about yesteryear How to. And luckily, my wife knows and does what she should be doing instead of calling me to carry her…:)
    But for sure my wife has different needs than me when in woods, so need some adjustment on packing list from my usual packing.

  3. Ron says:

    heheheheheh How times have changed….
    If you want to read a good book from the past to your women, try the “Housewife’s handbook” from the ’50’s!
    That should make them so much more appreciative of us men today!

    As for camping with ladies, I think my wife would stand het ground, too. We never tried it, because we never had someone to take care of our kids befor. Maybe next summer….
    Allthough bringing the whole lot should prove to be quit a challenge, but I want to have some fun and rest, too…..

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