A more compact form of valise and bed combined is the “carry-all,” or any of the many makes of sleeping-bags, which during the day carry the kit and at night when spread upon the ground serve for a bed. The one once most used by Englishmen was Lord Wolseley’s “valise and sleeping-bag.” It was complicated by a number of strings, and required as much lacing as a dozen pairs of boots. It has been greatly improved by a new sleeping-bag with straps, and flaps that tuck in at the ends. But the obvious disadvantage of all sleeping- bags is that in rain and mud you are virtually lying on the hard ground, at the mercy of tarantula and fever.
The carry-all is, nevertheless, to my mind, the most nearly perfect way in which to pack a kit. I have tried the trunk, valise, and sleeping-bag, and vastly prefer it to them all. My carry-all differs only from the sleeping-bag in that, instead of lining it so that it may be used as a bed, I carry in its pocket a folding cot. By omitting the extra lining for the bed, I save almost the weight of the cot. The folding cot I pack is the Gold Medal Bed, made in this country, but which you can purchase almost anywhere. I once carried one from Chicago to Cape Town to find on arriving I could buy the bed there at exactly the same price I had paid for it in America. I also found them in Tokio, where imitations of them were being made by the ingenious and disingenuous Japanese. They are light in weight, strong, and comfortable, and are undoubtedly the best camp-bed made. When at your elevation of six inches above the ground you look down from one of them upon a comrade in a sleeping-bag with rivulets of rain and a tide of muddy water rising above him, your satisfaction, as you fall asleep, is worth the weight of the bed in gold.
My carry-all is of canvas with a back of waterproof. It is made up of three strips six and a half feet long. The two outer strips are each two feet three inches wide, the middle strip four feet. At one end of the middle strip is a deep pocket of heavy canvas with a flap that can be fastened by two straps. When the kit has been packed in this pocket, the two side strips are folded over it and the middle strip and the whole is rolled up and buckled by two heavy straps on the waterproof side. It is impossible for any article to fall out or for the rain to soak in. I have a smaller carry-all made on the same plan, but on a tiny scale, in which to carry small articles and a change of clothing. It goes into the pocket after the bed, chair, and the heavier articles are packed away. When the bag is rolled up they are on the outside of and form a protection to the articles of lighter weight.
The only objection to the carry-all is that it is an awkward bundle to pack. It is difficult to balance it on the back of an animal, but when you are taking a tent with you or carrying your provisions, it can be slung on one side of the pack saddle to offset their weight on the other.
I use the carry-all when I am travelling “heavy.” By that I mean when it is possible to obtain pack-animal or cart. When travelling light and bivouacking by night without a pack-horse, bed, or tent, I use the saddle-bags, already described. These can be slung over the back of the horse you ride, or if you walk, carried over your shoulder. I carried them in this latter way in Greece, in the Transvaal, and Cuba during the rebellion, and later with our own army.