Mountain Man FAQ

Mountain Men FAQ

What clothing did mountain men wear?

Mountain men would often start off their trapping career in ordinary cotton pioneer clothes.  Once they became seasoned mountain men, they quickly realized that this clothing was not practical because it wore out quickly and they could not simply go to a store to buy a replacement.  Leather clothing made from deer, antelope, or bison, depending on what animal hide you could get, would be adopted because it held up well with hard use and could easily be replaced with a different hide.  Tall moccasins that went to mid shin or shorter moccasins in warmer weather were worn.

What equipment would a mountain man carry with him?

Mountain men would have at least one horse but often more to have as packhorses that would carry furs once the furs were collected.  The horses were outfitted with bridles, saddles, or packsaddles.  The mountain men would carry a gun and ammunition (pistol and or rifle), tomahawk, traps to hunt and catch beaver, a sharp skinning knife, and usually a larger bowie style knife for protection and every day tasks.  Some sort of fire starting kit would always be carried.  This could include a magnifying glass or flint and steel, and charcloth.

A good belt with pouches to carry the fire starting kit, knife, and tomahawk were also handy.  Canvas tarp or a canvas tent would provide good three season shelter when a wool blanket or thick bison hide was used for bedding.  A good wide brimmed felted hat was another necessity for keeping the harsh sun off the face and neck.  Dry food such as salt pork, flour and salt and a dutch oven or cast iron pan to cook them were staples that had to be bought.  Mountain men often dried their own meat and fruit, and harvested their own wild edibles.  Some extras that weren’t necessities were a journal with ink and pen, alcohol, playing cards for entertainment with companions, bow and arrows, and goods to trade with Native Americans they encountered.

Who became mountain men?

Mostly unmarried young men who were seeking wealth and adventure and were courageous enough to take on the dangerous business away from ‘civilized’ people ventured west.  They would trap for a year or two, earn their wealth, and then return home to ‘civilization’ if the lifestyle of a mountain man wasn’t the life for them.  Other men would find the lifestyle appealing and would make it theirs.