Feb 1, 2012 at 11:10 am #1285021
Heading to Philmont next year (July 2013) with two treks from my scout troop.
We plan on incorporating as many BPL concepts as possible (sil nyl tarps, lightweight stoves, good gear choices, etc). As the amount of gear is reduced and better gear replaces heavier and bulkier gear it is unclear what size packs we should be looking at.
I've read everything I can find on appropiate backpacks for Philmont and I'm well aware of the PSR recomended sizes of 4800-5200 ci for internal frame and 4000-4200 ci for external frame packs.
When embracing the BPL philosophy, at what point are the PSR recommended pack sizes inappropriate (i.e. too big)?
Can those that have gone down this road give some guidance on what you used?
To keep things in perspective I would also need to know about any special gear you used that would shrink your needed volume (e.g. used tarps instead of tents, 2 quart pots instead of 8 qt, UL down sleeping bag, etc).
Thanks in advance!
Long time lurker/first postFeb 1, 2012 at 11:24 am #1832820
Volume is an issue primarily due to the food.
Food comes in bags that contain 2 meals each. For a 4 day resupply that means you need the space to carry 6 bags of food plus your share of other troop gear.
If you have lightweight, compact personal gear you can get by with a smaller volume pack than they suggest. I recommend purchasing some Philmont meals to check pack volume. You can get them directly from Philmont.
Read some of the other articles about packing light at Philmont to see what is possible.
I'm headed back this June and am really looking forward to it!
JohnFeb 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm #1832834
Most of our scouts used the Osprey Exos 58 with states a gear capacity of 3500 cubic inches and a weight of 2 lbs and 8 oz. We could have gone with smaller backpacks, but for our preparation hikes in Yosemite we needed the ability to carry bear canisters in our packs.
We had a competition "Be the biggest Loser" going on during our preparation phase and the scouts were really competetive in winning the three prizes. As a result they left unecessary stuff at home and lightened up whereever they could. In the end the lightest pack was 12 lbs and the heaviest 18 lbs. These are some of the decisions they made.
1) Tent: BD Betalight – just 19 oz for two
2) Groundcloth: Polycryo – just 2 oz
3) Sleeping Bag: Some down (Kelty Cosmic) and some synthetic (NF Cat's Meow)
4) Cooking: We ordered the Philmont meals for our prep hikes. Seeing the Mountain House meals our boys decided to leave pots and messkits at home. They would just bring quart sized Freezer ziplocks and a spoon. The Mountain House was re-hydrated in the bag and than half of it poured into a ziplock. Both scouts would eat out of bags and after finishing their meal the boys just needed to roll up the bags and lick their spoons. There was no dishwashing required and no dealing with the sump. So they left the pots and the frisbee and the spatula, etc. all back at Philmont.
5) Bear Bags: The scouts each got a 1.8 oz silnylon dry-sack (20 l) for their food. Instead of taking the heavy bear bags from Philmont and throwing everything in there they used these. The added advantage was that there was no time lost for sorting items. Everyone would just clip their drysack to the bear rope in the evening and clip it off in the morning. That was fast and effcient. The drysacks came in different colors and the scouts wrote their names on the bottom, so they could see from below which one is theirs. A great side effect of that was that they sorted out food they didn't like when splitting up the food packages. We had done all our prep hikes with the Philmont meals and the scouts knew what they like and what they dont' like. So every time when we re-supplied at Philmont, we would immediately break the bags open and split the food. That reduced weight and volume as well.
Have fun at Philmont,
ManfredFeb 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm #1832868
I'm going to Philmont this summer and I have been preparing for my trek for over a year now.
The backpack I chose is the ULA Circuit. It has a total specified capacity of 4,200 cu. inches with all the pockets. I had tried both the Exos 58 and the REI Flash 65 prior to the ULA Circuit which was my favorite of all 3. I really wanted to like the Exos 58 the best, but it just didn't seem as solid as the ULA Circuit.
Our troop purchased Philmont meals and I found the Circuit's extension collar perfectly able to carry 4 days of food (6 packs)along with my other gear.
As you are looking at gear that goes in your pack, keep in mind how bulky it is at the same time you look at weight. A down sleeping bag will compress more than a synthetic bag.
Also mentioned above was using the freezer bag method of cooking. This allows you to carry two 2L pots instead of the 8L and 4L pots required for the "Philmont Method" of cooking. That reduces both weight and bulk.
If you haven't purchased stoves yet, I suggest you give the Primus Spider remote canister stove a look. $50-$60 and not too heavy.
Primus Spider for $49.99
Please come back here often and let us know what you're thinking… I really enjoy these discussions.Feb 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm #1832887
Gossamer Gear's web site has a picture of a troop that all used Mariposa Plus backpacks, and I think they're a lot smaller than that recommendation.Feb 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm #1832927
"Also mentioned above was using the freezer bag method of cooking. This allows you to carry two 2L pots instead of the 8L and 4L pots required for the "Philmont Method" of cooking."
We cooked using that method on our last trek and took two 4 liter pots. Our crew found that it wasn't quite enough volume and recommended one 4 liter and one 6 liter pot. That's what we're doing this year. It's still smaller and lighter than the Philmont pots.
But whatever pots you take, you need the space in someone's pack for them.Feb 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm #1832938
Keep in mind that Philmont doesn't allow you to use a tarp as a shelter… you are required to have a tent. That doesn't mean the tent has to have an attached floor. Many people have written here how they used floorless shelters with a piece of tyvek or polycro as a groundcloth.
Also keep in mind that solo shelters for scouts are not allowed. It is at the discretion of your Ranger if adults are allowed to use solo shelters, but it seems rare for a ranger to deny leaders the use of solo tents.
I tell you this so you can account for the bulk of a tent in your pack selection. If you have traditional two-piece tents, one buddy can carry the fly and a pole, and the other buddy can carry the tent and other poles/stakes. If you have single-wall tents then one buddy can carry the tent and the other buddy can carry more of the food.Feb 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm #1832982
Our crew used JetBoil Sol canister stoves on their trek last summer. They would just heat 2 cups of water and add that to the Mountain House bag. Once the food was re-hydrated, half the food was poured into a ziplock bag and the two tent buddies would each eat out of the bag. Thus no pots were needed at all. We had to check out the frisbee and spatula, but we left them in the locker after explaining our cook method to our ranger. Doing it this way meant no pots, no bowl, no frisbee, no sponge, no spatula — only a spoon. We also needed only 2 JetBoil Sol – they boil two cups of water in under three minutes. Cooking was really a low key thing for us and we gained lots of extra time for extra activities.Feb 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm #1832984
If you are looking for a low-cost low-weight silnylon dining fly, you might consider this 10×12 silynylon tarp from Campmor. It is $109.99 and weighs 19 oz.
I also noticed Campmor has the MSR Windpro remote canister stoves on sale right now for $59.97. This is one of the stoves my crew is taking to Philmont (the other stove is an MSR Reactor with 2.5L pot). They come with a foil windshield, round heat reflector, and carry case. Not ultralight, but not really heavy either.
If you go with the Spider or Windpro stoves, take a look at these 2 quart aluminum pots $9.95 for 5.7 oz pots. Two stoves with two of these 2 quart pots should be enough to boil water for a crew of 12 (figure 1 cup water per person per rehydrated meal = 12 cups total = 3 quarts water per meal).
Finally, if you haven't done so already, please read these articles here at BPL:Feb 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm #1833069
I completely missed your post above about taking 4L and 6L pots. I have a couple of questions…
1.) How many people were in your crew?
2.) Did you have meals that required more than 2 cups of water per package?
Here's why I ask… My crew will have 8 (maybe 9) people. In our previous shakedown campout we bought Phil Meals to practice with. We were okay with the Reactor stove and its 1.5L pot along with the Windpro stove and a 2 quart pot. Our two meals were the Mac & Cheese and the BBQ Beef. Neither meal used more than 2 cups of water per entree packet (2 people). I boiled 4 cups in the Reactor pot and 4 more cups in the 2 quart pot on the Windpro. One of the meals also had an apple cobbler which we had to boil more water for. We boiled this while the entree was rehydrating.
In anticipation of meals that have dessert, I bought the bigger pot for the Reactor Stove that will boil 2L at once. I can almost boil 2 quarts of water twice on the Reactor faster than boiling 2 quarts of water once on the Windpro stove. The Reactor is a beast when it comes to boiling water. If I need more capacity for the Windpro stove, then I also have the 4 quart version of the Open Country aluminum pot that I referenced in an earlier post. It weighs 1.05 lbs. 4 Quart Pot
It seems like 6l and 4l pots are more than my crew would need, so I'm curious to see if I'm missing something.
And sorry to Ernie for veering this discussion away from backpacks.Feb 2, 2012 at 6:08 am #1833225
We had 11 in our crew, so we cooked 12 meals.
I'm going by memory and it was a few years ago but it's my recollection that several of the meals needed 3 1/2 or 4 cups of water per meal, plus some of the meals had side dishes that needed more water. Even though the pots are 4 liters, we didn't fill them to the brim to avoid spillover.
Our guys wanted to eat all at the same time so they wanted enough pot capacity to do that.
We also dipped our bowls in the pots to sterilize them before eating and a larger pot would have made that easier.
I'm not sure what the weight difference is between a 4L and 6L pot is, but as a percentage of the overall troop gear it would be a tiny fraction. And the boys are carrying it anyway and if they want a bigger pot and are willing to carry it, it's ok with me.
ok, now back to which pack to take. :)Feb 2, 2012 at 9:55 am #1833331
Regardless of what gear you lighten up and what pack a person carries at Philmont, the rule of thumb I give people is there must be space in your pack to place a standard size bed pillow folded in half. Gives them a real visual, as well as a physical test to see if it will fit WITHOUT compressing. That extra space is needed for everyone's share of crew gear and food…. better to have a bit of extra space than to not have enough.
Check out this link to Philmontforum.com just recently hashed out 'Recommendations for Scout Pack" – yes there are 5 pages of conversation, but a pretty good bit of info –
And this is a SMALL pile of food for a resupply!!
Feb 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm #1833388
Thanks to all for your quick replies.
I can't address everything in one post as some are tangent to my OP (in reality it is all related).
The tarp I referred to in my OP was indeed the dinning fly. You all may be jealous when you hear that Campmor is just 1 mile north of where I work and plan on picking up 1 or 2 of the 19 oz for use at PSR.
I very much like the idea of everyone having a 20L bag for bear bagging their share of the food and the orginazation it will provide.
The "biggest looser" competition sounds very interesting.
At this point the plan is to use tents (the troop has Kelty Gunnison 2.1's which aren't too bad) but as Mark points out add bulk to the packing.
Sarah, that pic of the food pile syays it all. How many days for what size crew was that for? The folded pillow idea was kind of what I was looking for but as I realize mileage will vary depending on other crew gear choices.
At some point I will be looking for ideas on a first aid kit (our current one is 33 oz) and of course stove/pot/cooking options (looks like that discussion has already been started).
Regarding my OP… As an experiment I made a quick pile of personal PSR gear. Some items I just grabbed out of my drawer (like 2 cotton T's, I know these will not make the trip but grabbed them as an example and place holder). I stuffed my NF Cat's Meow bag into the bottom of a Deuter 50+10 pack (3600 ci). Clothes and other items I stuffed into a granite Gear UL compression dry bag and added that to the pack. I didn't bother with 1/2 of a tent as it was clear that the remaining space would be barely enough for food and my share of crew gear.
I can't fathom how Manfred's group could use 3500 ci packs (I'd love to see a complete list of what was actually carried in the packs) and obviously I have alot of work to do to reach tat level. The 4200 ci pack that Mark suggests sounds like it would work with a little more trimming of my gear.
And I'm the scoutmaster, the biggest challenge will be to get the other dads and all of the scouts into the same mindset.
ErnieFeb 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm #1833546
@greginmiLocale: SE Michigan
I would only plan to carry 3/4 of the food that Philmont gives you. Our crew routine at resupply was to open all the bags with your partner and get rid of the stuff you don't like. Then we would swap amongst the crew to get more of what you like and get rid of your discards. At the end we would take all our excess and put it in the swap box. You could really cut your pack volume and weight with some smart wheeling and dealing.Feb 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm #1834023
If you carry all the provided Crew gear, you'll need a big pack. If you minimize or forego most of their gear and bring light/small stuff from home, you can get by on a smaller pack. I used a GoLite Pinnacle during my 07 & 08 treks. My individual stuff was light and compact. We used all of their stuff (with the exception of tents) and it was very bulky. My Pinnacle did okay on both treks.
On our scheduled 2013 trek, we're planning on using very little if anything of their issued gear.Feb 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm #1835573
@wunderLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I carried a Six Moon Designs Starlite, 65 liters, and filled it all the way up a couple of times.
The food is bulky. Here is our initial four-day load for ten people.Feb 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm #1836663
I showed up at Philmont in 2011 with a Mariposa Plus and a 10 lb. personal kit. I left camp carrying a 55 lb. Kelty pack purchased at the last moment. In spite of light community stoves, pots, and silnylon dining fly; the weight and space requirements of the first 6 days of food could not be overcome. I left camp in shock!
As a leader ( with the additional gear we sometimes carry), I don't see how the food could be fit into a Mariposa plus. I was under the impression that we would probably carry 4 days of food, or 5 at the most, but with 6 days worth, the volume was staggering. I would say 4000 ci is a bare minimum.
In hind sight, sorting and repackaging food before leaving camp could save considerable volume and weight. The 10×12 silnylon tarp worked well. I liked the idea of bringing your own silnylon food bags as the Phil bags are bulky. We used 2 jetboil sol and brought a jetboil 3 l. pot to boil water. I was amazed at the efficiency of these stoves. On the entire trip we used 1 jumbo canister and 1 small one. About half of what we planned.
Floor less tents are not allowed at Philmont.Feb 9, 2012 at 4:34 am #1836738
6 days of PhilFood
YOUSA! That WILL be bulky … but that's a very rare itinerary. I hadn't noticed one like that the years I've gone.
But first time Philmont trekkers should KNOW that there is no reason to arrive at Philmont and be surprised by how many days food you'll carry. In mid March each crew will receive a planning workbook (will be sent to the person whose name and addr was on your lottery application). The same doc will be available online as a PDF file at about the same time.
Here is the 2011 version (itineraries change somewhat every year). This is a lengthy doc … at about page 24 (2011 version) they start with 2 page descriptions of each itinerary. One page is a map and the other is a day by day summary. The map indicates where the itinerary's resupply points are located and where you will be camping each night. Just count the days between resupplies.
There is also a much shorter Itineraries at Glance web page that includes links to the same two pages for each itinerary.Feb 9, 2012 at 7:43 am #1836788
Looking at the replies, packs run from 3500 to 4392 ci
Osprey Exos 3500
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 3600
ULA Circuit 4200
Six Moon Starlite 4200
GoLite Pinnacle 4392
Walter – Thanks, I'll study your list.
Terrance – Thanks for the 4000 ci minimum. I agree 100% with your leader comment – it happens, especially when you have a few 14 year olds. What size crew did you have? What did you use for shelters (tents or a UL option)? What Kelty did you end up with? This is exactly what I want to avoid!
Those who used packs smaller than 4000 ci…
1. Did the entire crew use packs of this size or were there a couple of packs that were much larger and carried more than their share of the bulk? I can see where a couple of crew members could get away with 3600's but not the whole crew.
2. What shelters did you carry? We are planning on using tents and their bulk seems to rule out such small packs.
This is what I have so far…
Take as little personal gear as possible
Select the lighest and least bulky items personal items possible
Use as little PSR gear as possible as it is bulky and heavy
Study your itinerary for amount of food and water that will be needed
Break down food and only take what you will use
Cooking method will determine pot size
Purchase PSR food for shakedown/practice trips
I'm sure there is more!
ErnieFeb 9, 2012 at 8:18 am #1836815
"As a leader ( with the additional gear we sometimes carry)" – this is the mentality that you HAVE to OVERCOME! The only 'extra gear' I carried as a leader was the surprise bag of Twizzlers & Skittles for a treat on that long hard day [or to bribe backcountry staff! ;-)].
All crew gear was divided equally among all of our participants (including leaders). Food was divided by 'tent buddies' and it was up to them to figure it out from there (you and your tent buddy carried all of your food).
Regardless of the age of your crew you should have done enough shake downs for EVERYONE to have their gear situated and not need a leader to fill in the gap.
A 3800 cubic inch pack is adequate for the entire crew…. unless you bring really bulky items – worst offender is sleeping bag and fleece jacket. (But you should have that figured out way ahead of time!)
WORK WITH YOUR GEAR!!! Figure out what will work for you ahead of time. There are NO hidden secrets – you can order Philmont food and even Philmont tents if you want! No one should be surprised when they arrive a Philmont, the expectations are VERY clear.Feb 9, 2012 at 9:47 am #1836864
I agree that an equal share of crew gear is the goal and good for the morale of all (be part of the team). That is why I am trying to figure things 18 months in advance. My 2 crews have alot of learning/preparing to do and its not something you can leave to the last minute.
I also agree on the sbag being the worst offender in the bulk dept but I would put the tent as the #2 bulk offender.
What type of shelters did you carry with a 3800 ci pack and was it in the pack or attached outside the pack?
ErnieFeb 9, 2012 at 10:57 am #1836888
In 2010 I carried a Tarptent Rainbow and this summer will carry a SMD Lunar duo. I carry my tent vertically in the side pocket of my Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian with poles and ground cloth all together. In 2010 we had a crew of only 8 people, so everyone had a large share of 'crew gear'. (5 youth, 3 adults all from different units, minimal shake down experience, we used mostly Philmont gear – pots, bear bags/ropes, 2 Phil tents) I carried the 'dining fly' (my own Kelty Noah tarp) on the opposite side of my pack to balance the weight. (also carried other crew gear.)
You could do similar with a Philmont tents by splitting tent body and poles/fly between tent partners.
Prior to my trek in 2010 I purchased a used Phil tent and still have it. For every Council Contingent meeting we have I set it up… that way everyone gets to see exactly what Philmont offers. I'll have a scout/parent curious about the weight/bulk take it down and pack it up, then they get to see and feel what they will be dealing with – BEST $40 I SPENT!!!
Here is the link to Philmont's surplus gear – http://www.toothoftimetraders.com/philmont/dept.asp?s_id=0&dept_name=Surplus+Gear&dept_id=1018&WT.svl=deptnav1 give them a call and they'll fix you up with a Phil tent.
The point of my previous post was more so that as leaders on a high adventure trek we can't take all the extras – by the time a scout is 'mature' enough to go on a high adventrue trek they should be mature enough to pack and carry all of their gear, or make do with what they have.
Philmont is much more enjoyable if you don't haul all the 'just in case' gear.Feb 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm #1837002
You can add Granite Gear Virga, 3200ci to the list of packs mentioned here.
Your list of tips for lightening up is a good one.
1. Did the entire crew use packs of this size or were there a couple of packs that were much larger and carried more than their share of the bulk?
My pack was the smallest of the crew, easily 1000ci smaller than the next smallest.
It is not possible to divide the shared gear perfectly even, but we do our best. But I carried my share of shared gear volume. Also my share the food.
On my first trek I shared a TarpTent Rainshadow 2. The fabric portion of the tent is in a single piece and is much larger (and heavier) than the rest of the it (poles & stakes). I carried the larger part of that.
On my second trip we had three adults and did not want to squeeze us all in the Rainshadow 2 so I carried all of my shelter … Jay Ham designed shaped tarp (plans available to BPL members and a SMD Meteor bivvy, plans freely available at SMD's website (I altered to have a bathtub floor). That is a relatively small volume shelter.
However, our 5 scouts shared a single shelter, Golite Shangri-la 4+ with MYOG silnylon floor. They split that three ways 1) canopy 2) floor 3) pole&stakes. very low volume for 5 people (don't try that with 5 adults). The canopy is a little larger volume than the floor and the poles&stakes, much smaller. The two scouts carrying no shelter carried larger heavier pieces of shared gear as did the one with pole&stakes.
The answers to your second question is imbedded in the answer to the first.
NOTE: The Golite shelter is not inexpensive. But we shopped sales and bought at about 1/2 of MSRP. We've since picked up a great deal on the 4+ floor with bug netting (on the BPL gear swap). That allows us to use the 4+ during skeeter season
You've started planning early and may be able to do the same.Feb 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm #1837017
We are going in 2013 too.
My crew will be struggling with this too soon.
Eliminating the volume seems to be the goal, the wt will take care of itself.
The philmont gear IS heavy, but is still only ~3 lbs per person when split up, so the wt alone seems to be not an issue to me. ( unless you are the poor guy that gets stuck packing the "wet" 4 lb dining fly that now weighs 8 lbs.)
Some crews have successfully used light wt packs, so it seems it CAN be done.
On my Circuit, i put my down bag in first, then a 1 gal ziplock with a few spare clothing items (socks, beanie, glove liners, synthetic tshirt, longjohns), then puffy jacket and 100 wt fleece, then squeeze down and wrap up the liner. When compressed down the compartment is only maybe 1/3 full. I have easily 2/3 of my pack still available for food and a 2-3 lb share of crew gear, + room in outside pocket.
Outside pockets hold water bottles, tent, raingear. hipbelts hold miscl small things. Of course the tent is pretty small.
I cant imagine not having enough room for even 6 days food. I could fit a bear can in there. It all depends on what else you are trying to bring , and how bulky your personal gear is. If you want a small UL pack, I think a highly compressible bag is a must, along with light and thin insulating gear. Things that cost $$$ unfortunately.
Another key I think, is to have the scouts tenting together in large multi-man floorless shelters(a groundsheet counts as a floor) instead of conventional double wall tents. That saves a tremendous amount of volume and weight. 4 people can sleep in single mid that weighs 25-30 oz including plastic grounsheet and stakes, for a wt of 7-8 oz each, compared to 2.5-3 lbs each for conventional 2 person tents. Only one guy needs to carry the tent though, making room for others to carry bulky gear. Or bulky food.
I second that no adult leader should be carrying a bunch of gear "just in case"
oreven because a kid doesnt have room. It is a crew trip, boy led. As in all scouting things, the adults are not there to carry the the boys, they are there to "advise" and facilitate, (and maybe keep a watchful eye on them.)Feb 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm #1837056
One more experience – in our last 3 crews, our most frequent packs were the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus (about 3,600 c.i.) and the ULA Circuit (about 4,200 c.i.). I've carried the GG. Space in our packs was just never a concern. But that requires attention to helping everyone slim down their gear to fit. Since our last trip to Philmont I have found a GoLite Pinnacle. It's also a similar volume, inexpensive, and carries well.
Philmont food is a lot of volume. We found it helps to discard what you will never eat. But 16-19 year old boys eat a lot. They can carry a lot too. Our older guys would often raid a swap box looking for more calories. We've never carried more than 4 days of food at a time that I can recall.
We've used canister stoves, MSR Windpro usually with 2L aluminum pots. We tried turkey bag cooking. Our experience is that it's easier to let everyone rehydrate meals in a bowl. We have never carried any of the Philmont issued cook gear.
Last, I've also carried a floorless tent twice. Philmont staff always asked questions about our tents and our gear selection. They were interested to see if we knew what we were doing. Our rangers have always complimented the boy on their skills and preparation. Being respectful and patient has always helped us get along with our rangers.
Philmont is a fantastic experience. Hope that your crew has a great trek.
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