Basic Kit guide

I made loads of mistakes when i put together my first set of kit – I am still sorting some of them out now. It can be an expensive mistake to make so beware of the internet (ironic I know…) With the below you are good for most ethnic groups and periods (assuming you are male) and can build your kit from there. Add stuff in like necklaces (crucifixes etc), Get an over kirtle of a darker colour to show a different rank and build it up gradually – make your kit fit your background though and make it believable. Dont google or look at any pages with the word “Rus”  in it – it will only make you envious and spend loads of money on stuff you can’t really use in the UK :

Helmet

Not essential for Regia but if like me you like your head intact and undamaged I would strongly recommend one. If this is your first persona avoid a spectacle helm. It looks cool but limits what you can use it for and also restricts your vision – get a decent nasal spangenhelm as this will allow you to use it for later periods and different ethnic groups. As you develop and expand yourself its fairly easy to change ethnicity or time period simply by changing your helmet but a decent nasal spangenhelm will be more than sufficient for the first few years. Tip although tempting to get either a dead light helm (for ease of wear) or a heavy one (for better protection) try some on first and get an idea for the weight you are comfortable with. The thicker the metal the better the protection but the heavier the helm is.

Clothing

Keep it simple plain unbleached over Cyrtle and same for leggings, winnegas (leg wraps) of a slight darker colour – you will come to hate these things until you work out how to keep them up. Avoid anything bright or deep in hue for now. Basically the richer your persona is… the more colourful you are. Dyes are expensive and things like deep reds and purples were hard to do – although its a bit different if you are on the Wirral due to both the trade routes that passed through and access to things like common dog whelk etc.

But to avoid any conversations that go along the lines of – “You can’t wear red you are not high status enough”… “Hiberno Norse mate form wirral – common dog whelk, heather and that lichen stuff” until you know your onions a bit more is advisable.

Check with your local group for any society or ethnic specific requirements. Some sort of hood to keep the sun off your head is also advised – be wary of hats though, not much evidence for them outside of specific areas and jobs.

Shoes/boots

Get a basic turnshoe or  boot from someone like merchant of menace. Make sure any leather is lightly tanned and not black etc. Side toggle shoes are also OK but harder to do up. Not everyone had shoes but i would recommend them to save on the nettle stings.

Belt

Think thin… belts were generally thin for this period and longish, should go round the waist and then about halfway down your thigh. Buckles and belt ends will depend on what you are portraying (Norse will be different to Saxon etc) so again.. speak with your group. Light tan colours again nowt dark and definitely no black.

Shield

Yeah get one of these. Dead handy for stopping you being hit. Have a go of some in your group to get a feel for what suits you but it will be round… no kite shields unless you have moved to the 11th cent. My advice would be to have your shield faced with linen, it makes it heavier but makes it last much longer. Different societies have different rules for shield sizes. Regia shields tend to be able to hide whole villages behind them whilst Vike ones are normally a bit smaller. Paint it with your groups design… or get someone who can actually paint to do it for you if its not a simple design and you are a bit pooh from an artistic POV.

Weaponry

This is where things can get frustrating. so you want to be out there wielding “Disemboweler”  a sword handed down from father to son for… nope… Swords were a rich mans weapon. Metal was expensive and a sword only has one purpose so its use was pretty much only the warrior types or rich people. Most people fighting had spears or an axe. Which society you are in here will also dictate your initial weaponry. Regia = big pointy sticks (spears) initially whilst Vike is less regimented. Still if you are portraying a low(ish) status guy then its most likely you would have had a spear or an axe. Speak with your group to determine what is a good fit. I like axes, cheaper than swords and a lot of people do not know how to fight against an axeman. You also instantly become friends with people wielding big pointy sticks as axes are dead good at moving shields out of the way so they can turn people into pincushions.

Armour

Nope – not yet anyhow – its hot and heavy when its sunny and can be a pain to put on and take off. Leave it for now until you are sure and can develop a richer persona. If you do really want to: get riveted maille not butted (Its more authentic and lighter) and don’t get galvanised.  If you have maille some societies also want you to wear something called a gambeson. Think of this as a really thick winter duvet you wear under your armour. So the sun heats the metal up and the gambeson keeps that heat in. in winter probably awesome but when most shows are in summer you just cook.

Gloves

I would say yes.. not for authenticity but for stopping your hands getting mushed. I made the mistake early on of buying gloves that looked ace and did the job. But they were too bulky and got in the way a bit. Just get plain tan leather gardening gloves and shove some carrymat in to protect your fingers etc. Check with your group first though.

Pouches

Dead handy for keeping stuff in but avoid box pouches and go for drawstring jobbies. more authentic and don’t fly open in the middle of a fight flinging your mobile phone and wallet into the path of a marauding daneaxeman right in front of some bloke with a loud voice who will kindly point out to you, and any passing Authenticity Officer, exactly where your phone is.

 

If you are in Regia there is an excellent pdf in the members area which goes into lots more detail but the above will get you started without you having to worry about thing like stitch counts etc