Mountain Men
A Social Studies unit compiled by:
Kenneth Limb
Utah State University Student


        Mountain men began discovering the Utah area as well as the rest of the West in the early 1800's.  Many towns and landmarks are named after these courageous men.  Learning about mountain men will appeal to the student's sense of adventure.  The students will learn about the lifestyle of these men both generally and specifically, and will learn of outstanding stories of survival and hard work.  These students will not only work on the state curriculum, they will learn what it is like to live as mountain men and women.
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Lesson Plan

Mountain Man Clothing


*The students will know what the mountain men wore.
*The students will know what mountain men's clothes looked like.
*The students will be able to describe special features and purposes of mountain man clothing.

Much of surviving the wilderness depended on what kind of clothes the mountain men wore.  The children should be able to identify purposes of different types of clothing and how the clothing was worn.


Orientation/Anticipatory Set
Tell students that we will be talking about a special kind of tool that the mountain men used to survive in the wilderness.  Have an article of clothing in a bag or a box and let a few students touch and feel the clothing.  Ask them to guess what the article is.

Lesson Development

  1. After a few guesses, take the article out and talk about it. Tell its purposes and why it was important to mountain men.  Following, are some of the articles and the reasons they are important:
    -Mainly made of deer and antelope hide, buffalo in the winter, and goat and sheep for special occasions.
    -Length reached between the waist and knee with a sash around the waist to carry knives, hawks, small pouches, and pistols.
    -Older shirts weren't sewn, but held together with ties or laces on the side. -They were decorated according to the Native American tribe that was nearby.  Most had fringe on them.  Fringe served as water drainage during rainstorms and could be pulled off to mend clothing.

    Breeches (leg coverings)-
    -Mainly made of deer and antelope hide, but sometimes wool cloth from sheep and mountain goats.  Buttons were made of antler, brass, or pewter. -It covered from the thigh of each leg to the ankle.
    -Many times they were decorated with hair locks and painted designs.  They were held up by string from the top of the legging to the belt.
    -Many wore hide breeches that were cut off below the knee and then had wool sewn on to form the lower portion of the leg.  When the trapper waded through the water to set beaver traps, the wool did not shrink up as the hide sometimes did. -Buffalo hides were wrapped around the calves of the legs in the winter as a protection from the snow and frostbite. Moccasins-
    -They allowed the trappers to move along without noise, which was important when hiding from animals.
    -They were made of one piece of soft leather folded and sewn up the side. --They were decorated with beads, tin cones and fringes.
    -Animal tails were sometimes sewed to the bottom of the shoe to prevent tracks.

    Hats and Caps-
    -They were worn for warmth in the winter, and protection from sun, rain, and hail in the summer. -The most popular was the wide brimmed, low crowned type. -Usually made of felt or beaver.
    -Decorated with beadwork, quillwork, skins and feathers.  Some also put the skulls of dead animals on their cap.

    -Made for decoration and warmth
    -Made of soft buckskin and beads

  2. Follow the procedure of sharing each one, showing the article while explaining the features and importance of the articles.


Play a questioning game where you ask the students questions about the mountain man's clothing and they answer in groups.

Assessment Plan:

The students will discuss answers to the game's questions and will come up with answers and reasons for their answers.  Students' knowledge of the material can be assessed by their input to the discussion.


  • Articles of clothing borrowed from a mountain man enthusiast (I borrowed mine from Steve Murdock, who is on the board of trustees for the American West Heritage Center.)
  • A box or bag.