Feb 25, 2020 at 8:40 am #3633135
My Troop is signed up for the 2021 treks. I embraced the backpacking light mentality a few years back and I have been teaching my son the advantages of keep his pack light. We both have our base weights down to under 15 pounds.
I have been reading through a lot of the posts in this forum and I like a lot of the ideas I am hearing:
Bring your own lighter 2 person tents rather than use the heavier Philmont provide tents.
Carry one pot (you bring with you) rather than the 2 provided to cut weight.
Bring your own Tarp, lines, stakes rather than the Philmont provided.
Bring extra smartwater bottles and lightweight bladders for every person rather than a couple of 2.5 gal water bags to distribute the weight across everyone.
When I mentioned these ideas to some of the other Troop leaders that have been on recent treks, they made the comment that it all depends on the Ranger you get. The Ranger can insist you take 2 pots, that you use the provide tarp, that you have to have a 2.5 gal water bag, etc. Does this jive with your experiences?
We have a good, long time to prepare, so I am trying to convince the other Scouts and parents (who have to buy the gear) that a lighter pack will make the trek so much more enjoyable. Hopefully, this will give them time to look for sale or used items and save some money.
I am going to suggest many shakedown backpacking trips, so the Scouts will be comfortable with the gear.
My hope is to get everyone down to a 35 pound pack once food and patrol gear is added. (Do you think this is possible?) I am trying to convince the group that we should show up with all our own lighter gear so that we wont need to use any of the Philmont provided gear. But, is this that even allowed? I do not want to spend money on gear and then be told we can not use it.
And what happens when you show up with certain gear and then you are told you cant use it? If I bring a 60L pack and then I am loaded down with a bunch of extra stuff that wont fit, do you have to buy replacement gear on-site? And if the Scouts are comfortable with what we are currently using and then we are forced to switch to new gear or a new way of doing things, how does that work?
Maybe I am being overly paranoid, but I just want to get a feel for what is really allowed and what is not.
Thanks for any feedback.Feb 25, 2020 at 9:08 am #3633138James ABPL Member
Our troop went last year. Our Ranger was pretty laid back. He made sure we had everything we needed but wasn’t too concerned about the particulars. I think if you forgot a rain jacket, they you may have to buy a replacement. Other than that, if you have the gear, nobody will care too much about the specifics.
We tried to emphasize lightweight where it made sense. However, we did use Philtents (other than the adults who tented solo) and the Philtarp. They worked great, kept us dry. Keep in mind you’ll be saving a tremendous amount of wear-and-tear if you use their tents.
If you have unlimited funds, by all means get all the latest lightweight gear. The Ranger won’t have any issues with it.Feb 25, 2020 at 9:24 am #3633141
Thanks for the quick reply! Are adults allowed to camp solo? I thought 2 person tents were required unless you had an odd man out?
I wont say we have unlimited funds, but I, personally, am willing to spend “some” money on patrol gear to make the trip more enjoyable. A lot of the other Scouts don’t seem to have much backpacking gear yet (mostly car camping gear), so spending just a little more for better equipment rather than buying mediocre equipment might still be a good option. And having the time, hopefully pick up gear on sale or used.Feb 25, 2020 at 12:01 pm #3633161
Adults can tent solo. We had 3 adults. Two used Philtents and I took a Tarptent Aeon. There’s no objection to you using a solo tent. We also had an odd number of scouts for part of our trek (don’t ask) and 1 older scout tented solo.
If you are going with 1 pot, you’d better be very well practiced in doing patrol cooking with it. We took two six quart pots to save some space. The bulk of Philgear and Philfood is worse than the weight.
We took our own tarp. The ranger was fine with that as long as we knew how to set it up. We didn’t use it much.
You can take your own tents. My son took a sil Duomid with inner but the rest of the crew used Philtents. It’s certainly easier using their tents.
While you need to make sure you have plenty of space in your pack, make sure everyone can securely lash a tent or sleeping pad on the outside in case you discover you’ve run out of space inside. Do this ahead of time.
My son was under 35 pounds (OK, we didn’t weigh before hitting the trail) with his REI Flash 55 and Duomid. That pack was pretty tight. He had the tent and CCF pad strapped on the outside. He had pretty compact and light gear that I found on sale.
If you have parents who don’t spend the time shopping sales, you can do what I did and send the group emails when you find sales. Then watch as everyone ignores you and hits the trail with heavier, bulky gear.
Probably the toughest single personal item is the sleeping bag. I sent links to cheaper options for compact ones, but that was ignored. Cheap sporting goods store bags are bulky and heavy.
We made Fozzils Bowls crew gear. Theses are light, cheap and fold flat. This also means they can be licked clean, which REALLY helps cleanup.
Have gear checks. Leaving unnecessary stuff at home is the cheapest way to go lighter.Feb 25, 2020 at 12:06 pm #3633162Feb 25, 2020 at 12:08 pm #3633163John OBPL Member
I’m sure you guys will have a great time. This forum is a great resource that you’ll find helpful to get your crew well-prepared to have the best time that you can afford.
Our troop was a 2018 wildfire refugee crew that was fortunate to go last year in 2019. We traded it for our 2020 slot but from what you’ve said, it looks like we’ll be out there again with your crew in 2021.
As you know as far as all forums, it does not lack experience and opinion so we all read with many grains of salt. My opinion to success is having patience and flexibility.
To a few of your points which lean towards “Ranger-dependent”, I would agree that it is mostly true, however I believe the answers you seek are more situationally dependent on the time of year and your intended trek… so it jives but, as an example, we had a troop go in late June (early Summer), mostly in the North Country with a couple of nights at the upper level of elevation to include Baldy where there was still snow on many of the trails. I personally know the Scout that didn’t have a 20 deg bag and he and a couple of others on his crew were directed by their Ranger to pay it out to the Tooth Of Time Traders. On the other end of the spectrum, my crew went relatively late in the summer (August) and all in the South Country with a few lower peaks (Black Mountain & the Tooth)… much warmer and left most of the equipment list back at basecamp than we brought on the trail… average base weight was 23#s so your 35#s is possible but situationally dependent.
My point is that the Ranger takes into account for the terrain, weather, trek, etc., to make the call during the shakedown in basecamp as a safety measure. So if you go with several nights at high elevation and snow is on the ground, I’m not surprised of the prudent mitigation measures.
Most all of the Scouts in our 2019 crew were cross-country runners, avid soccer and basketball players so hiking with gear wasn’t an issue. We conducted (6) six shakedowns mostly on the AT in Virginia and Maryland as the 2018 wildfire offered us more time, but I insisted on the crew taking the entire equipment list as it would be more beneficial for conditioning which made the trip more enjoyable when we ditched lots of it on the actual trek and no one had to buy anything extraordinary at the TOTT.
Most all Scouts used the Philmont tents (cost effective and space saver on the plane). My son and I had lightweight tents which was nice but again, a pricey endeavor.
We brought our own dining fly and only when used it for the first few days with our Ranger but just carried it for the remainder of the trip as it was unncessary.
There wasn’t any lighter crew or individual gear brought from home to be lighter that wasn’t allowed on the trail, but it does all have to fit so make sure that each pack has the ability to fit all that food, crew gear and water if you have camel it for a couple of days.
Hope this helps more than make your head hurt… so don’t think too hard…
“Though he had always been a careful planner, life on the frontier had long ago convinced him of the fragility of plans. The truth was, most plans did fail, to one degree or another, for one reason or another. He had survived as a ‘Ranger’ because he was quick to respond to what he had actually found, not because his planning was infallible.” – Lonsome DoveFeb 25, 2020 at 8:50 pm #3633234
To properly train your crews for Philmont your crews needs to have and use all the same or similar Philmont crew gear. Having a 10 to 12-foot square dining fly with cords, stakes & poles and know how to set it up (whether you do after Ranger training or not), 2-man tents, 6 to 8-qt cook pot & stir spoon, matching stoves each capable of boiling 3-qts of water, bear bags & ropes, Micropur water purification tablets, TP & hand sanitizer, etc.(see Guidebook to Adventure)
And all the proper personal gear needed at Philmont: 75L pack, 20° sleeping bag & pad, rain gear, synthetic base and warm clothes layers, substantial foot ware, bowl, cup & spoon, etc.
All this gear should be the best lightweight gear you can afford. You will use it throughout your scouting career.
And your crews need to train using Philmont’s techniques on three or more times on three-day/two-night trips (Backpacking Merit Badge requirement #10). This means cooking, eating and cleaning up by the patrol method.
Do pack shakedowns before every training trip and the weight will come off.
When the Ranger observes your crews have all the proper gear and know how to use it, he will have no grounds on which to object. Our Rangers generally leave us and head back early.
I carry an old Gregory Wind Rivers pack that weighs about 7 pounds, an old 72” x 20” Therm-a-rest self-inflator and my pack fully loaded with food and water getting on the bus weighs under 38 pounds. The boys’ packs weigh less.
The Scouts can carry tons and not slowing them down, “youth is wasted on the young”.Feb 25, 2020 at 10:11 pm #3633245
As far as carry extra water into dry camps, instead of having two Scouts carry two of Philmont’s 2 ½ -gallon, 20-pound, “Scout killer” water jugs for only 20 extra quarts of water, we have every crew member carry a 2 plus quart collapsible bladder/canteen for his personal consumption.
Every crew member carries 2 extra quarts of water at only 4 extra pounds each. This gives us 24 extra quarts rather than only 20 quarts in the two jugs and doesn’t kill anybody.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineFeb 25, 2020 at 10:33 pm #3633248
When your Ranger see that you’re carrying all the proper personal and crew gear during his pack shakedown he won’t give you any push back.
There is no substitute for experience, but training, training and training helps.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineFeb 26, 2020 at 7:30 am #3633262
The phrase “depends on your ranger’s judgement” has an unspoken part – “depends on what you demonstrate to the Ranger”. The Rangers are not dumb, and believe what they see with their own eyes. If the Ranger starts feeling you are being “tricky”, he or she will probably want to see more in depth evidence of what you have AND what skills you have.
If you have a tarp that is at least 10’x10′ and isn’t made of tissue paper, that should be fine. You WILL need your tarp in the monsoon season.
ToTT have very nice Osprey packs for a low rental fee if someone has a blowout on the trail or has an inadequate pack. Trail deliveries might take a day to arrive at your next staff camp.
An unmentioned reason to have extra room in your pack is that if someone gets hurt (but still ambulatory), their gear gets split up amongst everyone and you hike on. One of the advisors lost a toe nail halfway through our very long last day. He could walk, but the terrain on Tooth Ridge was very irregular, and he couldn’t walk with his pack on.
Sleeping bag – depends on your route and the month. If you the sleeping bag rating isn’t good enough, try to “counter offer” by showing the Ranger you definitely have long johns, gloves, and a hat.
One downside to using Philmont tents and tarps – you will have to hang them up and dry them out ASAP when you return to base. You aren’t off the hook until the QM is happy with their dryness and cleanliness. Our last day was 11 hours of walking, and we arrived at base after 4 PM. We barely made it to the mail room before they closed to hand off our stoves. As it was, I and another member didn’t get showers until after dinner. We used our own tents and tarp, and we took care of them 28 hours later when we landed at home.Feb 26, 2020 at 9:25 am #3633274
Good points. Just showing up with super light substitute gear without the skill to use it won’t convince many Rangers. If your crew has been training with substantial gear most Ranger will know?
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.“ MoonshineFeb 26, 2020 at 9:32 am #3633275
Thank you for all the replies!
Brad P – Thanks for the information! I had read many of your posts and saw your gear review from when you got back (I have been reading up on the site) and it is very helpful to know what worked and what didn’t. Please continue to update it as you remember different things. My son and I are all decked out as we have hiked a bit already. Getting the other Scouts to a good place is what I am working on. I had a show and tell with some of the other parents the other night where I let them look over some of the gear I use and also had comparisons of equipment. Examples were; Nalgene bottles vs Smartwater bottles, synthetic sleeping bag vs down quilt, heavy pack vs lighter pack. Trying to get the idea across that there are ways to cut weight and make a big difference in pack weight. I also heard from one of my fellow ASMs that REI (we have a local store) will give a class on lightweight backpacking. I might look into that as well. Trying to give them the information as to what they should really be spending their money on since they have to spend some anyway. I like the idea of mailing out sales and specials. We will see how it goes for me.
John O – I agree, the equipment needed depends on the planned trek. If you are camping at 8000+ feet, you will definitely need warmer gear than if all your camps are at a lower altitude. I definitely want everyone to be safe and have what they need, just hopefully as lightweight as possible. My theory is the lighter the pack, the more fun everyone is going to have. And yes, I am probably over thinking things. I can’t control everyone, but I do want to inform them the best I can. Its a personality flaw I have :)
David Y – I was hoping you would chime in. I have been reading the forums and you have supplied a wealth of knowledge, thank you! I agree that we need to meet all of Philmonts gear requirements and have downloaded the Guide to Adventure and suggested pack lists. Some of your posts are what got me thinking. Your one pot method of cooking which meets the intent of the Philmont Method if not the actual written rule. I am planning on picking up an 8 quart pot for us to use in our shakedown hikes. Here are several I am looking at:
I am leaning towards the FireMaple pot since it doesn’t have handles. If you have any other options, please throw them out there.
I had also previously read your water carrying strategy and I think it is great. Splitting the load up makes much more sense to me. Not to mention splitting up the single (or dual in this case) point failure of a water carrier developing a leak. Current plan is to have each person carry 3 1L Smartwater bottles and a Platy 2-Liter Ultralight Collapsible Water Bottle. Fill the Platy up going into dry camps. With 10 of us, that is 20 liters which is over 5.2 gallons.
We have plenty of time and I am planning to have a lot of hikes and shakedown outings between now and then (the parents seem to definitely agree with this). This might be a great way to get the point across about lighter gear as well. I want the Scouts to get proficient with the gear and techniques they will be using. It sounds like that is the key. If you show up, have a plan and can show you are capable, things will go smoother with the Rangers. Thanks for the advice!
Gerry H – My intent is not to be tricky or by-pass any of the rules. But, if there is a better way, and it is acceptable, why not take advantage of it? Good gear is a must, I don’t want to cut quality, just weight :) Good information about the pack rental, I wasn’t aware of that. Although, I do think having a pack early so that the Scout has trained with it is important. Not sure how to take advantage of the rental thing, I will have to think on it. Good point on the extra pack space, I had not thought of that. But, too much space could lead to other problems. I don’t want to get stuck carry extra gear for someone that didn’t plan well either. Suffering can be a good although hard way to learn a lesson. Thanks for the information on checking back in, that is also good to know.
All – Having said all the above, I assure you I am keeping in mind that the trek must be boy led and the decisions on their final gear is theirs. But, I also think it is my job to show them different options, maybe even suggest/nudge them toward better options and make sure they are trained up on whatever they choose. One of my fellow ASMs from an early trek gave me an example of how they did this. He was telling me they got their crew together in someone’s driveway and experimented with several different ways of filtering water. Sawyer squeeze, Steripen, Purification tablets, GravityWorks, etc. They let the Scouts play with all the different gear and the Scouts decided to take the GravityWorks filter with them. It is heavier then purification tablets, but the speed and convenience factor evidently won out. And yes, I know the filter wont handle viruses, but I am guessing it worked okay for them.
Thanks again to all who have responded. Keep it coming. Right now I am in data gathering mode, so every bit of advice is greatly appreciated!Feb 26, 2020 at 11:09 am #3633285
Philmont requires the use of tablets they provide for purification. Don’t fight this one.
Also keep in mind that your Ranger gear check is done at base camp, not on trail. So it’s not like you’ll be doing a cooking demo with your gear at gear check. Any crew gear you bring to replace Philmont gear needs to be proven in your prep hikes. Then you will need to justify it to the Ranger.
Get one of the little rubber scraper things for the cooking pot. It really simplifies cleanup. You want the pot and all bowls as clean as possible before cleanup starts.
I’m glad we made Fozzils bowls crew gear. I wish we’d made spoons crew gear, too. It’s a small thing, but would make things simpler keeping everything together.
There’s not a lot more you can do with improving crew gear. I really wish I’d been able to get more buy-in from parents on gear choices. I spent a lot of time putting together a document with options and I don’t think many bothered with it. When I’d email out sales that were great deals, few took advantage.
Be smart with the Philfood. Don’t take things that people won’t eat. Swap out the cooked breakfast. Morning routine is rough enough. I would have dreaded watching the crew have to deal with cooking, too.
Don’t obsess over trying to improve upon every piece of Philgear. Change a few things and concentrate on the personal gear. And have fun! :)Feb 26, 2020 at 1:04 pm #3633301
Brad P- is so right, “Philmont requires the use of tablets they provide for purification. Don’t fight this one.”
Guidebook to Adventure page 40, “If using a filter, you must also use additives, or boiling to kill all viruses.” Additives being their Micropur tablets. So, carrying and using a filter is redundant and unnecessary.
We too regard bowls and spoons as crew gear. We have matching bowls and spoons one Scout is responsible for and carries throughout the trek as crew gear.
Richard L- I’d go with the FireMaple pot and lid, the single wire bail makes it lighter and easier to handle.
One of our ASMs insisted on stainless steel so we have a Chinook 41040 pot & lid, but I like yours better.
The best way to convince crew members to have better and lighter gear is do lots of rough and tough training trips in all kinds of weather, pain is the best teacher. Start by having pack shakedowns before each trip to be sure they have enough right gear to survive. Then their experience and pain will do the rest.
We conduct four training trips requiring everyone to attend at least three starting in Sept. the year before they go.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineFeb 26, 2020 at 1:24 pm #3633304
Brad P- We don’t cook breakfast either, we don’t take the time. We are up an hour before dawn and on the trail within half and hour when it is getting light enough to see safely. We can hike farther and faster in the cool of the day without being in the midday sun and heat, be first for programs and first in our next camp for best pick of sites, time for camp duties, map planning, siestas, etc.
Always check the Swap Boxes on the porches of Staffed Camps for meal item enhancements or substitutes, one man’s trash is another man’s gold.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineFeb 26, 2020 at 8:06 pm #3633364Jeffrey PetersBPL Member
One of the things I would suggest is to make sure you let your scouts keep any weight that they shed. I have seen crews make the people who have the lightest packs carry more crew gear. We have always told our scouts that we will try and balance any crew gear equally across the crew . If a scout tries hard and gets his base weight lighter that his fellow scout we let him keep that.Feb 26, 2020 at 8:19 pm #3633365
The extra space/carrying someone’s gear wasn’t to be nice. The advisor didn’t “plan poorly” to hurting his toe and then losing the nail.
The alternative was to crawl to Base Camp at 0.5 miles per hour and get in to Base after closing campfire, or sit at Shaefers Peak, and send runners to Base Camp and wait for an extraction team. A passing ranger who stopped to help spelled out our options. We were prepared by planning and a well developed “team first” attitude.
Empty space in a pack can be eliminated by using the compression straps on the side of the pack that all the gram counters cut off. (Yeah, I went there on BPL:-)
The single best way to get people thinking about the weight of their gear is to have people (including the advisors) trade packs for an hour on a shakedown.
Boys can lighten their clothing without spending big money by going to thrift stores. Around here, decent outdoor clothing goes to the consignment shops, never Goodwill. Explain that only taking the clothes you need makes a big difference. We had guys packing two full changes of clothes on the first shakedown in addition to the set they were wearing. We had to directly spell out that when the packing lists say “two t-shirts”, one is in the pack and one is worn.
Shakedown early and whenever you can. We had day-trip shakedowns with full gear in addition to our overnight trips. We had our crew hang out together at troop campouts, and even went bowling once. Having a “crew of friends” helps every minute on the trail.Feb 26, 2020 at 9:05 pm #3633370
Our Crew Leaders divide out the crew gear appropriate to Scouts’ sizes, older larger Scouts get larger heavier items and so on. Pack weight is not a consideration.
As mentioned before, our crew gear items are assigned to a Scout for him to carry and be responsible for throughout the trek. When only one guy is the one responsible for an item, he tends to be more responsible and careful with it. There is no “it was so-and-so’s turn” to collect the bowls or cookware so items don’t tend to be forgotten, lost or abused.
At any given time, everyone knows where everything is in an emergency.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineFeb 27, 2020 at 8:48 am #3633411
Brad P and David W – Thanks for the heads up on the tablets for water purification requirement. I will pass that on to the ASM going this year. They are the ones planning to use the GravityWorks.
I also like the idea of making the bowls and spoons crew gear. I will suggest that to the Scouts. I can see having one person responsible for them could lead to less lost items.
Swapping out the hot breakfast is another great suggestion. And dumping or swapping out things that the Scouts know they aren’t going to eat is great. Just need to make sure they replace it with something else. I am sure they will need calories.
I try not to obsess to much but, unfortunately obsessing over stuff is what I am good at :)
Brad, would you be willing to share your “document with options” that you put together? I am working on something like that and would love to cross reference it with yours. Maybe even get some better ideas.
Gerry H – I wasn’t taking a shot at you. I understand that in your case it was an emergency and it was what was best for the crew. And I would have no issue doing exactly what you did. I had not thought of needing extra space for an emergency type situation and it is definitely something to take into consideration. My point was that there could be “other” non-emergency problems that could arise and having extra space could have a down side. I have had other ASMs say to me that if a Scout is overloaded you might have to carry part of his load. That is exactly the situation I am trying to avoid by planning ahead. Keeping packs light and manageable so I or someone else wont have to pick up someone’s extra weight.
I love your idea of trading packs for an hour during shakedown hikes. Especially if someone has an heavier than needed pack. Feeling the difference might get the point across better than just talking about it. I am hoping with proper training and multiple shakedown hikes, the gear will lighten over time.
I also like the idea of bonding trips before going. Having good friendships already built might help alleviate some of the day 3 stress?
All – Trying to split up crew gear as evenly as possible and than giving the slightly heavier gear to the bigger Scouts/Advisers seems reasonable. I think on our trek, most of the Scouts are roughly the same age and size, so it wont be too much of an issue. I have seen some folks on here consider the Advisers as not part of the crew, I don’t think I want to take that approach. I think the crew is everyone and everyone should have to do their part. Splitting the crew gear across 10 rather than 6 or 7 could make a big difference.
Thanks guys!Feb 27, 2020 at 11:54 am #3633440
Let me find a way to share it. It also could use some updating, of course.
It was not difficult explaining to our older, bigger scouts that they would be expected to take more than the smaller scouts who turned 14 weeks before we arrived. They accepted the challenge and those smaller scouts really did more, proportionally.
“Evening out” by giving scouts with lighter personal gear more weight is flat out dumb and counterproductive. Reward good behavior, don’t punish it.Feb 27, 2020 at 1:25 pm #3633452
At every commissary pick-up, starting at CHQ, we go through the food issue and strip out un-necessary and un-wanted packaging and food items. We do not remove vital nutritional foods but we do get rid of the flavored sugar drink mixes intended to encourage undisciplined boys to drink more. They issue a lot of that stuff so this lightens your food issue considerably.
They are the heaviest and least nutritional items and their sticky mess makes anything they touch or get spelled on and smellable that must be bear bagged including water bottles. The stuff is a disaster. Image some leaking inside a pack and on a sleeping bag.
We fill and treat all our bottles before bed every night so as to have two quarts ready to start the next day. 24 full water bottles are too heavy and inconvenient to be Oops or Bear Bagged.
If we are issued some actual electrolytes like Gatorade, we might keep one or two in case someone does get dehydrated or over heated.
We dump the trash in the receptacles and un-wanted food in the Swap Box that are at every commissary.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineFeb 27, 2020 at 2:54 pm #3633464
Make sure it is the Scouts choice to drop drink mixes. I know non-electrolyte drinks are not great health-wise. However, some of the “ready to drink” water in the backcountry literally stinks – usually of sulphur. Lovers Leap water was terrible, and the drink mix made it taste “better than used bathwater”. Other camps had water with a noticeable unpleasant taste, too.
As for spilling it in tents – food and drink NEVER go near a tent, so that won’t be a problem. At night, you wear sleeping clothes (you never eat in). Your sleeping bag and your bottles should not be next each other in your pack. So let the Scouts have ONE smellable bottle. It can go up (empty) outside the Oops bag clipped to the rope.
We actually told our Scouts they needed one “wide mouth” bottle to make drink mixing easier. REI sells a milky white Nalgene bottle that is half the weight (4 ounces) of the transparent ones. They are cheaper than the clear ones, too.
Our Scouts NEVER had leftovers. They volunteered to scrape the meal pot each night. I bought a silicone/squishy mini spatula at the Dollar Store just for that. The 6 inch handle prevented food getting on hands and cuffs. I think less than 5% of our food went into swap boxes, and I think equal amounts came out of the box.
The Pasta Primavera was TERRIBLE. Swap that one ASAP. Ditto on the cooked breakfast. In 2019, PSR had a crazy over abundance of “Sriracha peanut butter”. It wasn’t the worst thing I have eaten, but all of us swapped that out every time. Staff camps made art projects out of the piles.
Beef Stroganoff is “heaven in a pouch”. Two of our Scouts found Beef Stroganoff pouches in a swap box and had a second supper.
When I was new last year, I saw it here and other forums – don’t obsess on lightening the Scouts packs. Cut the easy stuff, explain, demonstrate, but their gear is their gear. (As long as it isn’t dangerous like cotton jeans and completely unnecessary like an ax). They are young and strong, and their knees are in good shape. A couple of extra pounds (collective gasp from BPL!) is not going to ruin their day. That extra weight will balance out their naturally faster pace and keep them from “running” a quarter of a mile ahead of you. Our “most athletic” advisor was not able to match our fastest Scout. The Scouts had to be reminded the first half of the trek that they had to be able to see the old guys in the back.
Yes, advisors carry crew gear. They ARE (non-voting) members of the crew. Everyone “pays in” (time on shakedowns, planning meetings, carrying stuff), everyone reaps the rewards (chow, vistas, dry place to cook).Feb 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm #3633494
Our crew used Smartwater bottles just for water. Each crew member had a Gatorade bottle that was used for the drink mixes. That made it easy to know what went up in the bear bags. I agree about the mixes helping with the taste of some of the water. They’re burning tons of calories. I wouldn’t deny them. I used them.
There was no way our scouts could take all the crew gear due to bulk, not weight. Us adults took a portion. If your scouts can take it all, fine, but that isn’t a rule.
We’re non-voting, but have limited veto power. :)Feb 27, 2020 at 7:35 pm #3633511
Water at Staffed Camps is OK, sometimes a little too much chlorine / bleach. Once at Ponil their water was so bad we went back to the creek to fill and Micropure our bottles.
I once read an article about bears and their acute sense of smell (among other things). If a water bottle has ever had a sweet flavored drink in it the odor is absorbed into the material and it will always be a smellable. The only solution they offered was to clean it with bleach, maybe.
Because of our rise and hike early practice, everyone fills and treats two water bottles before bedtime in order to have two full bottles at dawn, which means they stay on the ground at night and can’t be smellables. So, everybody’s water bottles can never have had flavored drink mix in them or they bring new ones. Only water and Micropure goes into our bottles.
Good habits start early and at home. All our troop backpacking is done just as we would at Philmont. We do not use or put drink mix in our water bottles there either. By the time our Scouts are old enough to go to Philmont they have formed good habits (take very good care of their gear and smellables).
We do pack shakedowns before every training trip to be sure everyone has the essential to survive and live comfortable. We coach, council and give good advice but we are not anal about it. Ultimately, their pack is theirs to carry. No matter how much stuff, crew gear and food is put on them they can still walk us into the dirt, the advantage of youth. This is just a fact of life at home and Philmont.
This is one of the reasons Philmont stresses this is the Scouts challenge to complete. This ain’t Philmont’s first rodeo. They know more about this than all of us put together. Their experience has shown it is important that the boys carry the all crew gear and food (except just after a commissary pick-up when there is more food than will fit in the boys’ packs).
This ain’t up for a vote. Believe and comply and Philmont will be a better experience for all.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineFeb 27, 2020 at 11:59 pm #3633532
We required our crew to have three one liter bottles. Our Scouts had 2 “only water ever” bottles, and then a smellable bottle. Half of them had a personal water bladder as well, and the others got a troop-supplied 2 or 4 liter “soft side container” (like a Sawyer bag) for the dry camps. Those were also “water only”. I talked most into buying two new Smartwater bottles just before the trip as insurance that those were clean and not old and cracked.
So, we never had a smellable bottle on the ground at night AND had water ready in the morning. Between the Gaia and the three advisors, we never saw them mix them up. It isn’t hard to keep straight.
We used the water bags at night in staff camps, because the walk from our crew area to the camp water supply was often at least 5 minutes each way. It reduced the number of times anyone had to make the trip. Everyone “cameled up” from their bottles in the morning and refilled bottles from the leftover water in the bags. At trail camps we treated water “by the bag” for efficiency.
BTW, our Ranger said that more than a couple of inches of duct tape was considered a smellable, so DON’T mark the clean bottles with tape.
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