May 4, 2010 at 7:43 am #1258530
So I'm on the committee for my son's cub scout troop and have kinda emerged as the resident backpacker/camping expert. I'm on a mission to change some mindsets here, as the good parents of this troop are anything but lightweight. Our campouts are all car camping, and minivans full of gear for one night of camping are norm. If anyone brought less than 50 pounds of gear for one night, I'd be shocked. This is largely for two reasons: 1) we're in an urban area, and many of the parents grew up in this urban area, without much camping experience except for cabins and 2) we're in a somewhat economically depressed area, so bringing the cast iron skillet from the kitchen is the norm.
This isn't to criticize, just giving you a lay of the land… these are good people who want their kids to have outdoors experience.
I've talked to people about backpacking, and they like the sound of it, but investing a fair sum in just the pack, and then having to carry "all that stuff" is just daunting to them, understandably.
I can take care of the mindset (the urban lack of backpacking experience), but I need help figuring out the economics. My hope is that we can do a fundraiser for troop gear to share, but we'd still need to keep the gear cost down somewhat.
Inspired by this older thread, I'd like to hear updated ideas on the cheapest gear list. Here's some parameters: we can stick to late spring to early fall (average highs to 85, lows to 50), and fit would be for age 7 to 12 boys and adults. Think of "Big 3" but also all the little stuff that eats up the budget. Also, household items that can be re-used/re-purposed or dollar store items would be a big plus. And of course, light as possible :)
Hoping this is a fun exercise… thanks!May 4, 2010 at 8:12 am #1605796
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Kieran, here's my $.02:
I would wait until you are in Boy Scouts to even worry about tackling the whole issue of backpacking vs. car camping. That will be a battle enough then.
Given the economics of your area and the rapid growth of boys that age, I think you are tackling a extremely large issue, more than might be necessary at this stage.
Set the ground work so that when you "cross over" the foundation will be in place to start in that direction.
Read the forums on this issue for Boy Scouts and you will get an idea of what you are up against.
Good luck which ever way you go…May 4, 2010 at 8:17 am #1605797
As a former youth member and active adult leader in the scouting program I have to say that I agree with Tad. Wait until the tier of Boy Scouts is reached and forget about waging this war until then.May 4, 2010 at 8:42 am #1605809
As the Scoutmaster in my troop, it has been a long time in getting the boys (and leaders) to pack lighter. it would never have happended at the Cub Scout level.
I would have to agree with the advice above, wait until Boy Scouts. there is nothing I hate more than seeing a 70 lb boy carrying a 35lb pack (this is the typical Weblos who just crossed over to Boy Scouts first trip). The parents just don't understand ( and my not have the money to buy light gear so they get hand me downs) A parent picks up a 25-35lb pack, with everything under then sun in it and says, thats not "too" heavy. I don't know about you, but I don't want to ever carry 50% of my body weight again (like in the Army). I now ease the weblos into the backpacking with short outings(3-4 mile trips with no elevation gain). A "shake-down" is essential before going out, make sure they don't have too much. I try to keep every boy at 21 lbs or less with food for 2 days, which can be done for less than $250-$300 (if they share tent cost with another family).
Are boys do a couple fund raisers, car washing being popular. Make sure you check out scoutdirect.com the folks at Alsp mountaineering are scouters, so they give a direct 45% discount on all gear. Its not ultralight, but some of it is light and it is all well made.
I recommend the Orizaba 3900 pack 3 lbs 12 oz ($66) or a Orizaba 3300 (which is fine for a weekend trip @ 3 lbs 9 oz and $55). The Clearwater 35 degree bag ($44) @ 2 lbs 11 oz IF it really only gets down to 50 degreeish, other wise the Clearwater 20 degree bag ($50 @ 3 lbs 5 oz ) which is good to about 35 degrees. And the Lynx 2.0 tent ($99), which can be used for car camping as well @ 5 lbs, or the smaller 2 man tent the Zephyr 2.0 @ 4 lbs 10 oz packed ($94). That gives 2 boys a big 3 weight of 8 lbs 12 oz for around $160 (split the cost of the tent or get the troop to buy the tents).
Cubs Scouts is about fun parent boy time and most activities are lead by the parents. Wait until Boy Scouts, where the boys lead the troop. Make sure to check out several troops, don't just join troop 123 because you are in pack 123.May 4, 2010 at 8:45 am #1605810
I'm impatient, I know… *sigh* you might be right. i know they want to do it, getting them there, mentally and materially, may be another issue.May 4, 2010 at 9:05 am #1605820
As Tad suggested be sure to wade thru the scouting forums here at BPL. Below is just one example of a thread that would probably be useful to you.
Check this thread out
I didn't mean to crush you and your ideas but based on my fairly extensive scouting experience the transition into lugging less gear on outings let alone getting people into backpacking can be a tooth and nail fight in many units. It can be tough to leverage the diversity of your group in regards to these goals you have. Your heart is in the right place. I simply feel you will have a better chance at success if you wait a few years and am speaking as somenone who has been there and done that, or at least tried to do that LOL.
+1 on Frank's words about ALPS Mountaineering. Lots of bang for the buck to be had there in my opinion.
Frank's ringing the bell loud and clear today. I really agree with him on the "check out multiple troops" thing too. It might save you a lot of repeated direct head to wall application if you can find a group that already subscribes to the theory of not lugging a ton of stuff everywhere it goes. Then again if you are up for a good scrap lots of scout units own huge tandem axle trailers to haul all their mountains of stuff around too :)May 4, 2010 at 9:19 am #1605822
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
This thread is totally depressing! I find 40lbs heavy and 50lbs definitely too heavy for me. And these are mere cub scouts? I feel like such a wuss. Thanks, Kieran! :(May 4, 2010 at 9:28 am #1605825
Jeff – no worries – you're not crushing in the least. I know I'm fighting an uphill battle here. I also know that I'm planning on moving in the next few months, so I can see the top of the hill (for me at least) haha! I kinda want this to be my parting gift, to say "here's how to enjoy more of what i brought to the group". Our troop leaders envy the tandem axle trailers :)
I definitely hear you guys on the pick-your-pack notice as well. I remember having to choose for myself when I went from cub to boy scouts (I chose the one that cared more about backpacking adventures and crab-apple fights than merit badges haha).
Ben – don't be disheartened. Their parents are carrying the 50 pounds+ in multiple 10 gallon tuperware tubs, 20 feet at a time from the car to the campsite. I want them to stop feeling bad about their gear choice when my son and I walk up from the parking area 1/4 mile away with everything we need on our backs.May 4, 2010 at 9:29 am #1605826
I remember toting around sixty pounds while backpacking as a boy scout. I guess I was not your typical sized scout at 6'2" and 170 lbs and could actually handle toting around an entire yard sale on my back. Back in those days there was no talk of lightweight anything in relation to outdoor backpacking gear. I had a giant external frame pack and a six pound bomber tent as well as a synthetic bag. Throw in clothing by Carhartt, whisperlite stove, stainless pot, gigunta thermarest, and you will start to get the picture. I wasn't necessarily poorly equipped in terms of possessing functional gear it was just really heavy functional gear that I had. I was a young punk back then and I always had a smile on my face even when hiking uphill with that huge pack while wearing 10" insulated goretex hunting boots and Carhartt overalls. Seriously I could have lived thru anything with that gear I had back then but I have learned that I can live thru almost anything with far less and those days are long gone now. Thank goodness for the lighweight revoulution cause I now have the connective tissue of a not so young punk these days. Fun to think back to those young punk days of my early hiking career though.
Ben if you are interested I know a guy who knows a guy that might be willing to sell you some super heavy gear under the cover of darkness on a mountaintop somewhere. The guy has to be careful to protect his good standing here at BPL. So if you are interested just PM me and I will start humping the stuff up to the mountaintop so I can sell it to you :)May 4, 2010 at 9:45 am #1605836
Hmmmm… sounds like my scouting experience. Perhaps its just a rite of passage that I should leave alone? hahaMay 4, 2010 at 9:52 am #1605840
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Thanks, I feel better now. :)
Jeff — ummm, no, thank you.May 4, 2010 at 9:53 am #1605842
Kieran I admire the fact that you want to change the existing culture in your group and leave behind what will hopefully be a lasting and valuable legacy for them to enjoy for years to come.
No seriously check out the link above. I think it will offer you some food for thought.May 4, 2010 at 11:10 am #1605875
Great write-up on the dirtbagging. I may just print that and distribute it to everyone :)May 4, 2010 at 11:16 am #1605877
I thought it was a pretty darn good article too. Good luck in your mission. Over and out.May 4, 2010 at 1:51 pm #1605948
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
Keiran you may not be able to do a true wilderness backpacking trip but these are kids so just going a mile or two into the woods should be plenty exciting for them.
At some point I was thinking I'd post a trip report of a couple of "on the cheap" backpacking trips I did at a summer camp with 8 to 11 year old boys. Basically we would hike out a short distance and camp. We all slept under a big walmart tarp I carried. I also carried the food which was hotdogs for dinner, and bannuck and poptarts for breakfast. Here is what each boy carried
1. Backpack (day pack)
2. Hoody (whatever they already have)
3. Cheap sleeping bag (their own but I had one or two extras if we needed them).
5. Water bottle (an old Gatorade bottle).
This summer I plan to improve on things a bit and buy a bunch of blue walmart sleeping mats. I will also give each kid a disposable poncho and I might be making each kid a fleece sleeping bag. Obviously this is not a list that would work for cold temperatures but if the weather forecast is good and its not that cold you can get away without much gear.May 5, 2010 at 9:56 am #1606405
Thanks Luke. I think you're right about it having to be short. To kids this age, just a couple miles is enough to be an adventure and something magical. I think I'll concentrate my efforts on just starting to expose them to different ways of thinking about equipment (e.g. you don't need the two-burner stove when this alchy jobber will do)
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