Mar 21, 2021 at 6:29 am #3705617Tim BBPL Member
I have a practical question that is confusing us as leaders. The rules are that you sleep in one set of clothes, which you never wear on the trail and that the purpose of this is to never have food-stained or smellable clothes in the tent. Your backpack is located under the rain fly at least 50 feet away.
So the question is, if your hiking clothes never are in your tent, how do you change? Do you change alone under the rain fly then walk across the campground in your bed clothes to your tent? In the morning, do you walk in bed clothes back to rain fly to get your hiking clothes from your backpack and change there?
Or does every scout change quickly in their tent, but leave their hiking clothes in a bag outside their tent to be retrieved by one scout to deliver to the rain fly?
Wile I find all of this very inefficient and impractical, and a far cry from how I backpack, I want to adhere to the letter of the rules for Philmont. We’ve each read as much as we can in the guidebook, but beyond the rule that no hiking clothes ever in tent, there is no clarity as to how to accomplish this in the rain, cold, and with privacy.Mar 21, 2021 at 7:54 am #3705619Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Ha! This sounds like a rule written by someone who’s never actually tried to do it…Mar 21, 2021 at 8:41 am #3705625Jay LBPL Member
“never in your tent” is a bit of an overstatement. Most people either change in their tent then take their day cloths out and put them in pack pack. Or take their sleep cloths into the woods to change and take their day cloths back to their pack.
Naturally you would take more care if your day cloths had a really big spill than just everyday crumbs and dribbles. A big spill would probably mean they go up in the food bags.
And as of 2019 – packs were no longer being stored under the fly. They are being leaned up against a tree (not hung from a branch). The explanation was that packs in a line/pile under the fly all get damaged as the critter is finding the smellable in the one pack.Mar 21, 2021 at 9:21 am #3705629Tim BBPL Member
Jay L, this is all a bit strange to me. It makes me chuckle a little bit. But we will follow the guides. We had a service camp out this weekend. It was under 40 degrees, rainy and windy. To follow the Philmont rules in this situation, we would have had to go into our tents and change into bed clothes. Then what? Run over to our backpacks against trees in the Bearmuda triangle 50 foot away, take off the 3/4 rain cover, put our wet clothes and shoes in there, strap back on the cover and run back to the tent barefoot in the rain. Then get into the tent wet and cold while hoping our backpacks don’t collect too much water from the driving rain?
While this may have been part of the Lowcountry Spring, I also get told over and over how cold it will get at night in Philmont.Mar 22, 2021 at 6:59 am #3705737James ABPL Member
If clothing gets food on it, then it becomes a smellable and needs to be bear-bagged.
Otherwise, I would change into sleep clothes in my tent, the main purpose of which is to keep your sleep system from getting dirty. I just left my dirty clothes in a pile in the corner of my tent. If they’re not covered in food, then no reason they can’t be in your tent.
I suggest using Wilderness Wipes or similar to “bathe” before getting into your sleep clothes. If you’re not used to the arid West, you’ll soon discover that everything gets quite dusty.Mar 22, 2021 at 4:14 pm #3705809TAG in AZBPL Member
We chose to follow the spirit of the rule rather than have our Scouts walking around camp every evening their sleeping clothes. With our crew, we had them limit the gear in tents to sleeping bag, pad, pillow, sleeping clothes and a light source. As long as their hiking clothes were not covered in food, we had them keep their hiking clothes in their tent so they could change before and after sleep in privacy.
The reality is…if you have Scouts walking around camp in their sleeping clothes, the sleeping clothes will end up dirty and covered in food. Which defeats the purpose of sleeping clothes.
One other note — bring a big garbage bag to put over your pack at night. Like most of you, I long ago ditched a pack cover for a pack liner bag. But, a big plastic bag will help keep your whole pack dry if it rains overnight.Mar 22, 2021 at 9:21 pm #3705880Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Bibs? That way they won’t spill food on their clothes….just kiddingMar 22, 2021 at 10:53 pm #3705888
Ha! This sounds like a rule written by someone who’s never actually tried to do it…
+1Mar 23, 2021 at 7:48 pm #3706008Joshua BBPL Member
If your scouts have opaque ponchos, they can be worn for some privacy while changing outside the tent and would also provide the rain and wind protection for the 50 foot walk (assuming they don’t wear them while cooking/eating). Sometimes my poncho serves as my only clothing while washing the rest of my clothing–private enough for the back country.Mar 29, 2021 at 11:43 am #3706806David YBPL Member
@moonshineLocale: Mid Tenn
Philmont’s intent is for you not to sleep in any clothing that may have a food odor (bear bate) and to keep your sleeping bag as clean as practical over a 10-day experience under difficult circumstances.
Philmont expects you to change into your sleep clothes (stored in stuff sack) in your tent just before climbing into your sleeping bag. Place your dirty sweaty hiking clothes in the stuff sack (as long as you haven’t spilled food on them) as human scent does not attract bears (pg. 45). A stuff sack full of clothes makes a decent pillow. In the morning reverse the process.
I do not find any rules that contradict this procedure and during 8 treks have never had a Ranger object or suggest otherwise.
If you have spilled food on your clothes wash them out immediately in your backcountry washing machine (2-gallon freezer-grade plastic bag) and put them back on to air dry. You should be doing this as often as possible (every couple of days) any way, “A Scout is Clean”.
We hang our packs off the ground (covered with its rain cover) to avoid mini-bears chewing sweat (salt) soaked straps and hip belts. We use Philmont’s method of surrounding the tree with short sticks under the hanging cord (or strap) to avoid damaging the tree’s bark (same as used for bear bag ropes).
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineMar 29, 2021 at 4:50 pm #3706844Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Wilderness Wipes. I have no experience with this product but they sound like a smellable and would therefore have to go in the oops bag, yes?
At Philmont a lot of the rules IMO don’t make any sense but seem based on tradition and convention. Some of the bear safety rules seem to assume that you are safer sleeping in a tent than sleeping under a tarp.Mar 29, 2021 at 5:29 pm #3706845
Some of the bear safety rules seem to assume that you are safer sleeping in a tent than sleeping under a tarp.
Do the bears know this?
Or is it that little Boy Scouts feel safer if they are in an enclosed space and can’t see the bear’s legs under the edge of the tarp? Just wondering.
CheersMar 30, 2021 at 5:26 am #3706943Erica RBPL Member
I have had way more animals go after my pee spot than my food. Salt is a precious commodity in the back country.
If there are signs around I might hang some dirty socks on the outside of the food hang bag. Also, I don’t bring really smelly food into bear country. Mainly vegan or freeze dried stuff.
I feel safer inside a tent if there is something moving around at night.
When I turn on a light the tent looks other-worldly from the outside. Maybe strange enough to bother an animal.
Sometimes I keep a pot and stone near the tent to make noise.
A friend told me how to scare a bear. They got to try making all kinds of racket to no avail. Finally someone clapped their hands once really loud, Sounded like a gunshot. The bear took off at a run.Mar 30, 2021 at 9:47 am #3706982David YBPL Member
@moonshineLocale: Mid Tenn
We carry “Dehydrated Wet Ones”, otherwise knowns as paper towels. Take a sheet of paper towel for each day you’ll be on the trail, cut them into quarters and kept in a one-quarter freezer-grade plastic bag. A quarter sheet with a little water from your bottle becomes a scentless wet wipe and can be disposed of in a latrine with your TP.
Philmont’s tent rule (“all crew members are required to sleep in a tent” with a sewn-in floor pg.13) is to keep snakes and mini-bears away from sleepers and to not have food odors that may attract bears.
Philmont makes their rules based on past experiences to prevent further problems.Mar 30, 2021 at 10:24 am #3706987Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
@ Roger I dont really know. I have a couple of theories though.
In the Stephen Herroro book on bear attacks (Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, Revised edition, 2002) he speculates on page 48 that the absence of a tent might have contributed to Brown Bear (Grizzly bear) attack in Glacier Park in the late 1960s by bears that had been habituated to human food by visiting open garbage dumps.
But his book also explains that different Black Bears (the species at Philmont and in California) exhibit very different behavior. So I suspect someone at Philmont might have taken the Herroro anecdote out of context and applied it to create a safety rule about an entirely different species of bear, not to mention ignored the scientific axiom that correlation is not causation.
My other theory for the possible origin of the Philmont policy goes like this. Back in the day before the invention of lightweight backpacking tents, Scouts were camping under tarps. And since it rains a lot in summer in the Rockies where Philmont is located, the Scouts were also cooking their dinners under the tarps and then proceeding to sleep under them. The Philmont bears, already most likely habituated to human food, then would come foraging directly around sleeping Scouts every now and then. The evidence for this hypothesis is the Philmont literature refers to the tarps that are handed out as standard equipment as “dining tarps.”Mar 30, 2021 at 11:29 am #3707008Brad PBPL Member
Keep in mind that Philmont says all adhesives must go in the bear bags, including any tape.
The tents they hand out are seam sealed with tape.
So not everything makes sense.Mar 30, 2021 at 3:52 pm #3707044
All very interesting. Thank you all.
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