Jul 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm #1238013
@gmartellLocale: Mid Atlantic
I'm looking for a new pack for our 2010 trek and was considering the Ohm, but was wondering if it would be big enough for a Philmont trek. I've been moving toward lightweight and while I'm not quite there yet, I will be by Philmont. My current base weight is around 18 lbs, but I targeting sub 15 lbs by next year.
We're planning on using very little of the Philmont gear (only bear bags), following a lot of the ideas on BPL. Thanks to Doug Prosser and others for all the knowledge sharing.
I know a Circuit would work well, but I'm concerned that it will be too big a pack for overnigters or other short trips after Philmont. It doesn't seem like it's able to reduce volume for smaller loads.
Thanks in advance,
GreggJul 23, 2009 at 11:04 pm #1516117
I wouldn't think the Ohm would have enough room for your share of troop gear, and food. Maybe it would. But I doubt it.Jul 24, 2009 at 6:04 am #1516137
@gosmithpaLocale: Southern Arizona
Just got back on July 10th. I used a Catalyst which worked great for Trek 25. Both my sons used them too. My oldest used one for Trek 30. Mine was about 33 lbs. leaving base camp; 18 pounds total upon returning. I think the Ohm is probably a little small. Catalyst is probably a little big but worked great. At times with food and 6 liters of water it was filled to the top.
GlennJul 24, 2009 at 7:08 am #1516150
I think the OHM would bee too small. Of note, the Circuit is really not THAT big for use after as a 'day pack.' The main bag is 2400 cubes not using the extension collar and the front pocket is elasticized so stays flat against the pack when not in use. It compresses quite well as well so can effectively be used as a smaller volume load carrier without issue (IMHO).
Go for the Circuit.Jul 24, 2009 at 9:07 am #1516183
Gregg, you'll have to try it out with your own gear. Brian Frankle is a very helpful guy. You might just see how you could exchange the pack if it doesn't fit. Based on my experience the Ohm might work. But the Circuit is a sure thing.
I carried a ULA P-1 on a prior trek, 2,450 cubic inches in the pack bag. It's a very close match to the Circuit. I never had to use the extension collar at all.
We had guys carry the Circuit on the prior trek and this year as well. They worked very well. No one had issues with volume.
If you're lightening your gear below 12 pounds you should be fine. You also have to think about the crew gear — dining fly, stoves, pots, first aid, etc. Has the crew also lightened the shared load and its volume? What about your tent? Are you using a lightweight down sleeping bag?
The food is high volume. That is a bit harder to test.
Finally, this year I carried a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus – 2,800 c.i. in the pack bag. Again, I had plenty of room in the bag.
I think that I could use an even smaller pack. But your mileage may vary.Jul 24, 2009 at 10:59 am #1516227
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I have never seen or worn an Ohm, however, I used a GG Mariposa Plus on my trek last year. The Mariposa Plus has 2,800 cubic inches in the main compartment and including the outside pockets it has a total of 3,600 cu. My base weight before food and water was 12 lbs. which included any group gear I had, such as a 4 qt. pot, stove and a bear bag.
Your pack choice will alsol depend upon how much troop gear you take. We all went lightweight and besides the our own tarp, 2 pots, bear bags, ropes and the never used Philmont issued Frisbee, we were pretty much hiking like we usually do.
To me, food and water are the main issues. Food at Philmont is heavy and more importantly, BULKY. Nonetheless, even with a 4 day resupply I never filled my pack main compartment to the top. If I were to buy a new pack for Philmont I would buy a Gossamer Gear Gorilla just because it is a paired down version of what I already have.I think I would still have room in my pack. As far as using an Ohm you just need to make sure your base weight is low enough so that you can handle the heavy resupply days.
It also depends upon how bulky your items such as tent, sleeping bag and pad are. If they are real bulky you may run out of room. I used a Montbell SS#5, Torsolite (which does not go inside the pack), GG The One and a Polycro groundsheet. Few, clothes, toiletries, etc.
I never ran out of space and was always comfortable.
Good LuckJul 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm #1516534
@gmartellLocale: Mid Atlantic
Thanks to everybody for the info, which confirmed what I was thinking – an Ohm was probably small for Philmont. As far as compressability goes, Dave Ure pointed out the main bag is 2400 cubic inches which is pretty good. I guess I didn't catch that when looking the ULA web site. I've ordered a Circuit as I see Brian is going to be off hiking from August to December. I've got two weeks to return it if the "walking around the house test" doesn't work out.
Gear thoughts: We're pushing the crew on lighter gear but we have several families with more than one person going, so the trek costs alone are a big factor in what they can afford in gear. The big items were pushng to lighten up on are tents, sleeping bags and packs if they don't already own one. To minimize crew gear weight we're bring our own sil dining tarp, bear bags and Amsteel Blue rope. We still exploring cooking options, but we will not use Philmont cooking gear.
GreggJul 26, 2009 at 8:30 am #1516585
Got back 10 days ago. I used a Golite Odyssey, a 90 liter pack. We had some small boys who couldn't pack a lot of the troop gear and we took some weight off our 2 oldest advisors. I needed the room of the Odyssey, at least on day 1 & 5 when we were hauling 4 days food. Your crew may be able to spread the load around more evenly but I would think you'd still need at least a 75 liter pack.
The food is very bulky and no real way to reduce that. The suppers are awful tasting by the way. Bad enough that I was quickly dreaming of Vienna sausages and Beanie-weanies.
Under no circumstances use the Phil-tents. They take forever to set up, take 14 stakes to do it right, and weigh at least 10lbs.Jul 26, 2009 at 2:56 pm #1516650
@eaglembLocale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
I've used a Catalyst on 3 treks, great pack w/ sufficient capacity to carry your share of crew gear and 3 or 4 days of food.
Unless you're a superultralight'er, I don't think a pack with much less capacity will work: The food and crew gear can alone swamp most smaller packs.
MikeJul 26, 2009 at 8:04 pm #1516694
A Circuit might work. I used my Catalyst on a 4 day group trip in Northern NM a few weeks ago, and the size was handy(had lots of group stuff and food). But I'm thinking it would have all fit in my Circuit.Jul 27, 2009 at 9:22 am #1516764
I've worked at Philmont as a Ranger, Rayado Ranger, Ranger Trainer, and ROCS instructor. It has been my experience that large capacity packs work best for all applications. Outside of the ranch on week long hikes or on the Colorado Trail I carry a ULA Conduit or Granite gear Vapor Trail, but on the ranch its back to the Dana Designs redirect at about five pounds. The Om will be too small. The Cataylst is a great pack and I've seen many people use it with success without having to radically change their, or their crew's gear. If you plan to climb baldy it works as a gear day pack when compressed. Be sure to take your chap stick out of the hip pocket before you hang your smellables as this is a common mistake with this pack. In all it will probably be cheaper to replace the pack and take less stuff than to re-buy a super light kit of gear. If you are concerned about the pack being too large after philmont, just pack your gear in a less compressed manor. I find a larger less dense pack much more comfortable than a tiny dense one.
Looking at earlier posts I saw that you plan on taking your own bear rope. I don't speak for the ranch on this but, they will probably ask you to use their bear ropes. Take yours but be ready to use the provides cord. In recent years they have softened on the cooking policies, but make sure everyone in the crew has the specialty methods down. It has always been difficult to mediate the official methods with ultralight ones. The number of staff practicing light weight methods has grown exponentially and with NOLS teaching a light class, I would not be surprised to see changes to the official policies in the near future.
I hope you have a great trek and let me know if I could help out any more.
BPL needs a Philmont consultant, don't you think. I'm jobless and knowledgeable, they should give me a job!
NickJul 30, 2009 at 11:19 am #1517652
We did Philmont trek 18 in June. I carried a ULA Ohm and it worked great. Used a prolite 3 short pad folded inside for back support, had a summerlite, shared a tent ( I carried 3lbs of tent – it was not lightweight). We used their bear bags and rope and our canister stoves. Left base camp with 30 pounds including 2L of water and an unexpected 5 days of food. Still had room in the back mesh pocket. Came off the trail at 20 pounds in my pack, no water and only a few snacks. The ohm worked great, carried like a dream. Used it for day hikes and resupply side hikes as well.Aug 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm #1521658
Brian made one last Ohm before his 2 month vacation. One of my leaders carried it on Trek 32. Another leader carried a Circuit as did 3 of the boys. Another leader had a Catalyst.
Oh, I carried a Conduit. . . . Never crossed 20 lbs except when hauling water to a dry camp.
Crew gear was pared down to 2 pounds for each crew member (including tents, Cloudburst 2's and Squall 2's by Henry Shires). We were stopped multiple times and asked how we could carry such little packs.
Thanks Henry and Brian for all your help outfitting our crew!Aug 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm #1521668
2 pounds of crew gear. That's too cool.Aug 23, 2009 at 10:17 am #1522611
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
The OHM is rated at 3200 cu inches.
I took a 3200 cu inch Osprey pack to Philmont and had more than enough room. I would have taken a smaller, lighter pack except for the need to carry water for a dry camp and the adult requirement to have enough room in your pack to off load those in need, for example in case of injury. My pack weighed 19 pounds on day one with 2 liters of water and 4 days of Philmont food. For common gear, I carried a stove and fuel and the means to brew fresh Peets coffee daily.
The real question is whether the rated 12 pound load of the OHm will suit your needs.
In reference to all the complaints above about the Philmont food, I would judge the food mediocre rather than "awful" although there were many breakfast and lunch items that I found inedible, these you leave behind or trade at the commissaries.
I also carried a couple of oranges and one apple, and a collection of spices to augment the meals.
On bear ropes and bear bags, I was a bit shocked at the damage to the forest floor and to the trees used to affix the ropes that was occuring around some of the bear cables. I asked one staff member if Philmont had ever considered building bear boxes or using portable bear cannisters, and from the response I got it was clear that the staff member had no experience using either type of device. While the BSA is officially committed to Leave No Trace, there is room for improvement at Philmont.Aug 23, 2009 at 10:21 am #1522613
The OHM is rated to 3200 cubes but the main bag is 2400. The rest comes from the side and front pockets, nad an extension collar. It sure seems smaller than 3200 cubes….Aug 24, 2009 at 7:58 am #1522723
Depends on your gear, but I carried 7 days of food + sleeping and cooking equipment for two persons and still had much room left in my Ohm. I even had my sleeping pad inside as back padding. It was a summer trip tho.Nov 1, 2009 at 11:32 am #1541651
A few months ago I posted what I thought to be a fair piece of advice for what type of light pack on a philmont trek. To my surprise many people came forward claiming to have used the Ohm or Circuit for their treks. Great. I believe light gear can and will change the way the ranch is run and managed and I hope to hear more stories of fun injury free treks. Having to have carried one too many injured adults scouts out of the backcountry leads me to believe that lighter pack could mean a much smaller health lodge (hospital) in base camp.
This being said, unless your CREW takes a light approach, bringing a low volume pack can be counter to crew building. Showing off a light weight approach belongs on training hikes. The Philmont experience, so often spoken about, is grounded in an ethical approach to the crew dynamic. By ethical, I refer to Levinas' notion of "assuming responsibility for the Other".
While carrying a small pack lets one remain injury free and comfortable, it does little for the others in the crew and thus runs counter to a "crew" mentality. Being the one guy with the tiny pack in a crew was the position I took as a first year ranger in 2002 when I rarely carried more than 20 lbs in a pack smaller than the Ohm. The approach garnered awe, but cast me as the other or outsider and made being relatable to the crew I was leading difficult.
A few more cubic inches of volume than you need at home with loosely packed lightweight load can make the difference between having people stop you to take a picture of your tiny backpack or being able to take on more weight for a struggling 110 pound 14 year old with a pack that weighs 55 pounds. Awe is great, but common respect is much more gratifying.
NIckNov 3, 2009 at 6:26 pm #1542380
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I do believe that crew building is an important aspect of Philmont, however, I do not think a kid or adult that has prepared beforehand to carry a lighter load has to carry the same weight as the rest of the crew (if that is how I understand your post).
We arrived at Philmont a day early due to train schedules so we had some time to burn. We hung out around the scale and watched the many 55-65 lb. packs being weighed. Occasionally, we would see a kid with a 35 lb. pack and give applause. One kid came in with I think was 32 lbs. which is lightweight for Philmont. He was quite pleased. However, a few minutes later one of the adult leaders came back and weighed his pack. He was quite upset and said "This is not right, the rest of the boys have heavy packs and he is not carrying his fair share. We'll take care of that" I was totally blown away. This kid took his packing seriously and now he was being penalized.
My feeling is that if the kid is already carrying "his fair share" of crew gear he should not be penalized further. If the crew had 22 lbs. of crew gear to spread out amongst the kids then they should all carry an equal load; not an amount to equalize pack weights. Philmont literature does lip service to packing lightly. This kid did it. He should be able to carry the load he packed plus troop gear and that's it. If I were that kid I would be seriously PO'd.Nov 4, 2009 at 7:36 am #1542546
I think you are completely correct that the pack weights should not be totally equalized. Even Philmont policy states that you should carry no more than 30% of your total weight. I think this percentage is the closest to a maximum healthy load. For me the max I could carry would be 55 lbs. (1/3 of 165lbs) My point, convoluted though it may be, is that equalizing pack weight is not necessary. A close range to some proportional load is ideal. More important, and more in relation to the beginning of this thread, is the question of pack volume. By simply having a loosely packed light load one can easily aid those crew members that are having difficulty with their equitable load. This gives the crew flexibility. Having the lowest volume pack that is tailored to you ulltralight load doesn't give this flexibility.
Thanks for writing me back. This was an issue much discussed among some of us working in the Ranger and Conservation departments at the ranch. It is nice to hear feed back to what has been an internal discussion among some staff members.
NIckNov 4, 2009 at 8:44 am #1542566
Our crew last year had football players, and midgets, lol, especially one 85 pound 5' string bean. We let the boys figure out their loads, and the smaller ones were adamant about taking their fair share. No problem, lets' go. Well, starting off with 4 days food on one of the tougher second day hikes at the ranch, the smaller guys started to melt on the last big uphill stretch. We let the crew sort it out, and they did, moving some weight around. Same thing happened 3 days later, after resupply, then very large up hill section. Lighter boys gave in at stop and weight again redistributed. Worked out by the boys. But at the beginning, our lighest boy was carrying over 40% of proportional load, too much. But he was going to tough it out, take his share, despite adults urging change. It worked out. Philmont does require a larger pack space, just because the darn food is sooooooooooooo big to pack. If you have no room to pack it, that is not fair to the rest of the group.May 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm #1611346
This is an old forum and my advice might be too little too late, but I stumbled across this randomly browsing the web and thought I'd weigh in.
Like Nick, I am a veteran of the Ranger Department (5 years total as a Ranger, Rayado Ranger, Ranger Trainer and Mountain Trek Coordinator), in fact, Nick and I worked together (Hey Nick!)
I see you mentioned that you hope to bring a lot of your own crew gear. There is a delicate balance to the art of bringing your own crew gear to Philmont, and most crews get it wrong and make things difficult for themselves. Countless times as a Ranger I had to tell disappointed crews that the expensive gear they brought and were excited about would not work. As a general rule, my advice is not to bring any crew gear with you that you haven't field tested at least a couple of times to make sure it works. But here are some more specifics.
First things first, do not bother trying to bring your own bear ropes or bear bags. If things are still they way they were when I worked there, they won't let you (or you'll have to check them out anyway). While the ropes are somewhat bulky, they are sturdy. While the bearbags are nothing pretty, they work and you are guaranteed to have plenty of space for food and smellables. I'm not saying that the system couldn't be improved, but don't forget that 30,000+ people use these every summer with little or no problems, you can't beat that kind of field testing. And as I said, you probably don't even have a choice. So save your money and space in your travel bags and use the ones Philmont issues.
Pots and pans are also an iffy thing. Certainly Philpots are not the lightest in the world, but they get the job done. The biggest thing you have to keep in mind is that Philmont meals are all one-pot affairs. So if you have more than 8 people in your crew, you are going to need a huge pot to cook all that food. Don't bother bringing anything less than 6 quarts in size, and really 8 quarts is best (especially for bigger crews). If you can find a lightweight pot that size, then ok, but otherwise save yourself the hassle and expense and just rent one of the Philmont pot sets,your ranger will show you what you need to take with you (cookpot, washpot, lid, spoon.)
Dining flies are a little easier to manage, but if you do bring your own, make sure you've had a couple trial runs setting it up and using it on a hike. And again, the Philmont dining flies set up with trekking poles are pretty lightweight and durable.
The only thing I definitely recommend you avoid checking out from Philmont are tents. I fact, if you want shave pounds off your crew gear, that's where you should do it. Save your money on all the other stuff by using Philmont's gear and use what you save there to make sure everybody in the crew has a good lightweight tent. Of course phil-tents do work, but they are so heavy (~15lbs) and require so many stakes (10-12) that they just aren't worth it.
I also want to reiterate what Nick says about pack weight/size. It's really a matter of the size of your pack, not so much the weight. Nobody is saying that finding ways to make your pack lighter is a bad idea. But the point that Nick is trying to make is that if you have too small a pack then you automatically exclude yourself from carrying a fair share of crew gear because it won't fit in your pack. In your practice hikes and preparation for your trek, make sure you plan to have a little extra space in your pack so you are certain to have room for extra gear. You will realize on your trek that there are unexpected things that you will have to carry that may take up a lot of room (extra water containers for dry-camps, larger food pickups, crew gear you forgot about etc.) plus there is really no overestimating how much space food takes up. And Nick's right, Philmont's not the place to show off your ultralight packing abilities if it means your crew has to shoulder more of the crew gear.May 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm #1611413
Scott, welcome to the party at BPL. Please read some more about our experiences here with lightweight backpacking at Philmont. Here's a great start — http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/boy_scout_gear_list_philmont.html
No one of us has seen it all. But I do want to say from experience that every single member of a crew can get rid of heavy packs, have a safe time, go injury free, and have a blast at Philmont. Our unit's crews and many others have eliminated nearly all Philmont gear. We **ONLY** used the bear bags and ropes. There are many folks on these forums who have even eliminated the Philmont-issued bear bags. Their gear and techniques were approved by backcountry staff.
Finally, Monanta BSA and backpackinglight.com are offering a great education opportunity for Scouters this week in Montana. Please watch for future developments here. We hope to be the vanguard in encouraging an entirely new mindset about backpacking in BSA. http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/wilderness_skills_ii_bsa.html
All the best,
PhilMay 23, 2010 at 11:09 am #1612789
Hi Scott thanks for the shout out.
I think that you are completely right about ditching Philmont crew gear, minus the bear ropes, and working with the crew BEFORE arriving in New Mexico. Scott will probably agree that carrying hurt scouts and adults out of the back-country is one of the worst parts of the ranger department. Many, not all, of the injuries we have seen could have been prevented by putting less stress on the body, by carrying less weight and being prepared physically.
I also appreciate another post I came across that you made, quite some time ago, about the thrifty aspect of encouraging scouts parents to buy light gear from the start.
What is being hit upon is how to tie the core beliefs of scouts, those in the oath and motto, into a sustainable ethos that relates to the self, land and community.
Scouts have a lot of sayings that encourage lightening up
Being Prepared is at its core a mental state, not a material one
Being Thrifty, and Brave are others that support a light approach that doesn't bow the the fear of over built gear or too much gear.
Being helpful, courteous, kind easily relates to the community aspect
but, the ranger motto "scramble be flexible" is one not known to most but probably most appropriate to light hikers. Scouts need flexibility of thinking and a kit that is equally as flexible.
Rooting an environmental ethos based on traveling lightly, and responsibly caring for those around you is much closer to what the founders of the scouts envisioned. It baffles me why the scouts haven't been at the forefront of this evolution.
Group hiking, like that which takes place at Philmont, allows for the greatest safety in which to learn to live simply and to develop a responsible sustainable caring for those around you. Thus building extra capacity into your pack, strength into your body, and flexibility into your thinking places light weight gear and scouting values directly in parallel.
Having a Library of copies of Lighten Up! for scouts and parents to read before they buy gear could really work. Also, including troop camp outs that are tiered, having older boys backpack and younger boys day hike with them but return to a base camp, encourages emulation of the observed style. While Philmont may be slow to change its gear list, a ground up change at the troop level is completely possible which instils the values of scouting in relation to environmental and social responsibility.
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