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Using the Zeltbahn
By Jonathan Bocek


Figure A Figure B Figure C

The Zeltbahn, despite its incredibly wide range of uses, is often seen being worn or carried incorrectly by reenactors.

Foot Soldiers

To make a poncho for a foot soldier, you would fold the zeltbahn in the manner shown in Figure A.  The center "neck" hole is in the middle with the two corners brought to the front and buttoned together.  You then would button the top and side flaps together with the top (middle) flap being on top.  This is to allow the water to run over not into the seam.  You will leave some of the upper portion buttons undone to allow for the arms to be passed through.  Finally, you pull the zeltbahn over your head and put your arms through the armholes.  Note that the flap seams are worn in the front.

For an example: CLICK HERE



To make a poncho for a soldier riding a bicycle, you would fold the zeltbahn in the manner shown in Figure B & C.  Begin as if you were doing a dismounted zeltbahn, but instead of just having the top (middle) flap reach the bottom of the two sides, you would make the middle flap short.  This will leave the first two buttons on the sides undone (note the fingers pointing in Figure B).  Wrap the side corners around the upper thigh and button them to the inner side, creating a leg like shown in Figure C.

For an example: CLICK HERE



The average Heer units did not receive issued camouflage clothing.  To counter this they used their shelter half (zeltbahns) since they were made of camouflage material.  Basically, to achieve this standard camouflage look, you would follow the instructions for the Foot Soldier Poncho.  Once this is done and put on, then you would put your equipment on over top the poncho.  This will create a camouflage "smock" look.

For an example: CLICK HERE


This was just a basic overview of the different ways to wear a zelt while in the field.  Of course, there are many more uses for the zeltbahn, but we just wanted to touch on the most obviously overlooked or misunderstood aspect.  There are many types of shelters that can be constructed using this item, which may eventually lead to another article.



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