Sustainability - the crude could stop coming out of the ground tomorrow, and people - well, what people were left - would still be painting oilcloth and knitting wool socks for centuries to come. Try that with Goretex and Vibram.
Human scale - with a couple exceptions, most all of it can be fabricated oneself with a minimum of tools - even the tools to make the tools are a bare step or two away from raw trees and rocks.
Simplicity - There just isn't a toy for every little need. Some stuff is improvised on an ad hoc basis - many many others dispensed with entirely.
It really is a fascinating hobby - most important I think for how it focuses the mind on just how little is necessary to live... and how much is required for our lives as we know them.
Down in Oz, Loup is working on an interesting series of posts [one two three four] tying together the living history side of things with the whole
It really does seem to scratch some of the same itch I think - I doubt there's much coincidence that at least in America the historical hobbies seemed to blossom when we were in the midst of a decades-long ideological conflict that forced us not just to plumb our own national identity, but also face the possibility of it all burning down if the missiles started to fly.
Add to that, well - it was the first generation or two where most folks started living off the farm and getting homesick for it. (Of course, some folks had the good sense to just not leave in the first place. ;) )
All that together, I think it's no surprise that undercurrent of rootedness and self/clannish reliance runs through both cultures.
Now - all that comes with a boatload of caveats. I think in an age of FLIR and radar imagery and whatever else the Better Killing Inc** folks have come up with in the last several decades, the days of encamped Wolverines in the mountains are probably pretty much done. Add to that there's a world of difference between a nice week or three in the bush, and building a new home from the trees.
On a more practical scale though, I can't deny it's a nice cozy feeling having a full larder at home, basics that are easy to move, and standing invitations with friends in several different parts of the country.
It's nice to be useful. :p
... Which brings me back around to Loup's talks, and why the hobby itself has some neat side benefits. You do stuff.... know it in a way you just can't from a book.
Recently in conversation those same Foxfire books came up again - the idea being how useful they'd be if things soured for us in the first world.
Now, all credit due to the folks who said that- they know and have done a heck of a lot more than I ever have. I am but an egg!...
And yet, the old bardic instinct comes back...
Knowledge between pages is useless. Worse than useless, for it leads to false confidence.
It's the knowledge in your head and in your hands what makes the difference.
So keep talkin' y'all. Thanks for the lectures... there is an audience out here on the other side of the lights. ;)
Next on the project list - fiddle bag and shoes!! :)
* One of the more curious splits I've seen amongst those in this hobby is the cultural/political one across timelines of interest. It's hardly a universal, but broadly speaking it seems to me the more right- and libertarian- types tend to gravitate to the post-gun powder era, roughly F&I to just post US Civil War, and the more left of center types to the medieval period. Why that may be is a discussion for another day. :p
** So when's that book coming out, Tams?