Lightweight Backpacking Workshop for Scouts 2

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Home Forums Scouting Backpacking Light with Scouts Lightweight Backpacking Workshop for Scouts 2

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    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Same intro comments as my post above. Review comments welcomed from other Scouters

    First workshop session: 1 hour 55 minutes:

    • The big three: packing, sleeping, shelter

    • A brief introduction to tarp camping

    • Scouts share their big three lists

    • Discussion about how to go lighter: Researching weather and selecting the right clothing, shelter, sleeping system

    • Dual-use items

    • 20 minute exercise on how to set up tarps and other lightweight shelters

    • Lunch time stove demonstrations: Alchohol; Esbit;Isobute: Soto, SnowPeak, Kovea

    • Scheduling prep meeting for field exercise.

    Planning meeting for field exercise

    Review of lightweight cooking: small pots, LW stoves, freezer bag cooking, and cozies

    Assignment of cooking patrols. Scouts may form cooking patrols of up to 3 members and no Scouters. Note while cooking patrols might share stoves and pots, and menu planning, each participant should cook their own meal.

    Assignment of shelter buddies. Scout buddies should share shelters. Scouts in single shelters is OK. Mr. Tolley has an Integral Designs Silshelter 3 tarp under which 3 or 4 Scouts could sleep Except for the group first aid kit, there will be no group gear.

    Overnight field exercise As part of the pack inspection, there will be a contest for the lightest weight pack excluding consumables.


    Tarps (Many of the past Troop 30 Philmont Crews should have tarps to loan) • Tent footprints with corner and side grommets. • 8X10 or 7X9 polyester tarps from Orchard Supply Hardware • Rab Siltarp2 $125 to $135 from, and others • Oware FlatTarp2: (Note Oware offers BSA discounts). Equinox Ultralite Nylon Tarp 8X10. From REI, Campmor, and LLBean. Rab Silwing $125. Mountain Laurel Designs Silnylon Grace Tarp (solo) $135 Ground clothes: Tyvek @ (also scrap Tyvek cloth from house construction projects). 3 or 4 mil painters plastic drop cloth @ OSH

    Montbell. A leading Japanese LW gear manufacturer. Good for down & synthetic insulation.

    REI can be a source for the careful shopper. Packs: Granite Gear, REI Flash, Osprey Talon 33 or 44, Osprey Exos 33 or 48 or 58. Be sure to check for comfort with loads of 15 to 20 lbs. Sleeping bags: 30 degree down bags should be 1.5 lbs.: 800 down 30 degree Marmot Hydrogen. Mountain HW down 32. Some of the newer 30 degree synthetic bags are coming in around 2 lbs. (the Marmot NanoWave 35 @$89. Marmot CloudBreak 30 @ 1 lb 15.8oz. MH HyperLamina Spark 35 1lb 12 oz. @ 220.

    Sleeping bags from mainstream manufacturers are getting so expensive you might look at Western Mountaineering (Mel Cotton’s, San Jose) and

    DownWorks. Front Street, Santa Cruz. The owner has been selling backpacking gear since the late 1970s

    Oware Gear. Broad selection of tarps and other gear. BSA discounts: sells a broad selection of light gear at a range of prices

    Mountain Laurel Designs. Broad selection of excellent high quality gear, especially tarps and packs.

    Zpacks and Gossamer Gear. Both vendors offer a treasure trove of wide range of gear but remember the Scout is thrifty.

    Packaged Food: Pack-It Gourmet, Mary Jane’s

    Pots: You will need a 900ml or 1300 ml pot. Read this first: “Gear and Tools – Buying A Pot,” Options include: OpenCountry 3 cup [email protected] TrailDesigns $15.95, OpenCountry 2 quart pot $14.00 (a little big but workable and light), GSI HaluLite 1.1 liter boiler $29.95.

    Most complete selection of pots here:

    Freezer bag cooking and recipes:


    Stoves and Cooking gear: Soto Amicus without/with ignition 2.9oz $40/45; Soto Micro Regulator with ignition 2.6 oz.; SnowPeak GigaPower Auto with ignition 3.75 oz., SnowPeak GigaPower Manual 3.25 oz., SnowPeak LiteMax no ignition. A bit temperamental to use 1.9oz;

    Evernew, TrailDesigns, AntiGravity Gear. Soto Amicus Stove+Pot Set $69 (multiple web sales going on) See also

    About the workshop leader Mr Tolley has led over 25 BSA backpack and other high adventure outings since 2005. He is also an Assistant Leader, Snow Camping Section, Bay Area Chapter, Sierra Club. His trips have won the Troop 30 Old Goat Award twice!

    *”take less. do more.” is the tag line of Gossamer Gear

    Monique Schaefers
    BPL Member


    Locale: PNW


    Do I understand correctly …?

    • One two hour meeting to discuss the basics
    • One meeting to plan the field exercise
    • The field exercise

    Did you have many takers?  How did it work out?  What, if anything, would you do differently?

    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Hello Monique
    I had about 18 Scouts and parents attend the first meeting which went about 3 hours with all the Q&A. For the overnight, we had a competition for the lightest pack and backpacked to a campsite in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

    What worked well:
    Guest speaker: I had a Life Scout who had done some trips with me in the past come in and talk about his hammock.
    Talking about multiple use gear
    Focusing mostly on the big three: shelter, sleeping, and pack
    Using the scale
    Having a competition for the lightest and 2nd lightest pack
    The itemized spreadsheet. Each Scout actually filled out the matrix!

    What did not work well:
    Some of the folks esp parents gravitated quickly to use of the lightest gear, esp. cuben fiber rather than reducing the the number of items and the weight of systems.

    What I would do next time:
    Spend a bit more time on cooking good food with lightweight stoves. The Scouts like to eat and they like fire and contraptions that make fire like my BushBuddy
    Put everybody in 8X10 tarps for the overnight
    More passionately discourage the purchase of new packs when the backpacker has not sorted out the rest of their kit
    Include a group debrief where folks take out their gear and explain their choices

    Christopher Gilmore
    BPL Member


    Locale: Eureka

    One thing I would suggest is that post-trip you take and lay out all of the gear and look at everything that wasn’t used and mark it for exclusion next time. I found most folks take a ton of gear that they don’t really use.

    Kevin Sweere
    BPL Member


    On this topic, feel free to use / improve the slide deck on this very topic —

    I also now strongly recommend to Scouts (parents) the best $10 they’ll ever spend on gear is:

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