Jan 15, 2019 at 1:20 pm #3573202
We’re trek planning and obviously that affects gear planning. I’m debating between taking my 20 degree Zpacks bag (purchased on the Gear Swap here) or my 40 degree EE Enigma.
This also affects my layering strategy. I have some 4.5oz Montbell wool long underwear bottoms, 1.5 oz EE Copperfield wind pants, 5.25 oz Kuiu fleece hoodie, 4.1 oz Houdini and a Ghost Whisperer in my quiver.
If I go with the Enigma, the wind pants (or long johns), Kuiu and Houdini could serve dual purposes as additional sleep layers and hiking layers as long as I don’t eat while wearing them. The GW at 7.9 oz could fit in there, too.
I have a rain kilt that can double as a ground sheet and work with the wind pants.
So which campgrounds are the cold ones that might make me lean toward the 20 degree bag over the 40 degree quilt? I think I sleep average, not hot, not cold.Jan 15, 2019 at 1:41 pm #3573203TAG in AZBPL Member
In my experience, the “cold” sites are at altitude. Whenever you are sleeping above 9′ feet, you could have a cold night. I’ve heard from a number of crews that they’ve had snow flurries camping on Mt Phllips. That being said…it also depends on when you go. If you are at the ranch in late June, nights will be cooler than in early August. Also, if you are there in mid-July and get the gift of rain for 3 or 4 days in a row.
To answer your question more directly, if you are going early in the season, I’d probably take the Zpacks. If you are going toward the end of the season, then you can probably get by with the Enigma.Jan 15, 2019 at 1:47 pm #3573204
We’re going at the end of July into the beginning of August. I could bring both, check the forecast and leave one in the van.Jan 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm #3573209Matt DirksenBPL Member
@namelesswayLocale: Mid Atlantic
If you have descent R value in your sleeping pad system, I’d think the 40d Enigma would be fine. in 2014, I went with a 50d Enigma (w/ Xlite+1/8″ ccf pad). I had a down vest & a Cap4 hoodie if neccesary , and only had to sleep in the Cap4 on two “chilly” nights up in the Valle. Other than that, I never had any issues w/ feeling cold. I also tented with another adult so the ambient temp in the tent helped as well. While I know folks have had mid-30 degree nights on Phillips, that’s very much the exception.
I know my experience is anecdotal, but I personally believe requiring a 20d bag is overkill, esp. if you have good layering strategies and a good pad setup. Adding a ccf pad could be a lighter strategy (and more multi-use).Jan 15, 2019 at 3:51 pm #3573217
I plan to tent alone. I have a couple of options for a pad. I might take my thinlight pad, too, as it makes a more comfortable seat on my Helinox Zero chair (butt falls asleep without it) and provides some protection/R value under my inflatable pad for little weight. I’ve been told adults will have some down time during activities and the chair is worth it.
As much as *I* would like one of the higher mileage treks, our crew would not do well with them. I’m going to have them select a trek priority list very soon.
Based on the activity survey they did, I think trek 12 will be one they’d like. Highest camp is at 9777′ (Baldy Town) for the last 2 nights.Jan 15, 2019 at 7:46 pm #3573247Steve GBPL Member
@groversanLocale: Middle East-Levant
I agree with Matt — you don’t need a 20-degree bag. I used a 45-degree “canoe bag” on our early July north country itinerary in 2015. With a ThermaRest Neo-Lite sleeping pad, a knit hat, and dedicated long johns (only for sleeping) I stayed very warm. I did not think I needed a heavier bag. I also brought a super light weight “nano puff” style jacket that was great for the mornings as I got the coffee water boiling. Another suggestion to consider to save some weight and hassle — instead of a chair, cut a 2-foot piece off a Z-Rest closed cell foam pad (the kind with ridges) and use that as a sit pad. It can be deployed instantly. If I was in full relax mode in camp (while the Scouts cooked, for example) I was usually lying on my back (head propped on my pack) with my boots and socks off reading a book. The last thing I am glad I brought were sandals for wear in camp — but any kind of light-weight breathable camp shoes would work.
Have a great trek — sounds like you have your gear in good shape — so train and train some more and enjoy the adventure (!)Jan 15, 2019 at 8:00 pm #3573249
Good to know I should be OK with the 40 degree quilt. I have a down hat for sleeping. The MB long johns, Kuiu fleece hoodie over a light t-shirt and decent socks should be a pretty flexible system and reduce the amount of body funk that gets on the quilt. :)
I have a pair of Shamma sandals ordered. I’ll push the crew to consider flip flops. Main purpose would be to air out my feet.
I’m on the fence with the chair. Well, not literally. That would be dangerous and funny. I’m going pretty light otherwise, so it’s a luxury I can afford, weight-wise. Plus, it does look like we’ll be relatively low on the mileage. We’ll see.
I believe I’ve read that coffee is available at staffed camps, but is that evening only? I plan on bringing a little lightweight stove for me and the other adult(s) to share.Jan 15, 2019 at 8:17 pm #3573251Steve GBPL Member
@groversanLocale: Middle East-Levant
Glad my notes were helpful — couple follow ups:
— I brought flip flops and I put them on at lunch (long break) and wore them in camp. I would not, however, encourage flip flops or open toed sandals for the Scouts. They have to work harder in camp (more rooting around getting water and setting up bear lines for example) and they need better foot protection. I expect the Ranger (who accompanies your crew for 2-3 days) will say the same. Scouts are better off with a light-weight pair of sneakers or camp mocs / you’ll see most of the Rangers wearing Teva-type sandals with socks in camp.
— If you love coffee and can’t live without it (like me) — you must bring “gear” to brew your own! (I put myself in charge of boiling water for our adult crew every morning and making the coffee) The Scout campsites can be a long way from the “staffed portion” of a staff camp (I think our campsite was almost a mile in the case of Metcalf Station!) and you would be counting on young Rangers / Staffers for your coffee supply — it’s not good coffee (sorry guys!) and it is in short supply. Bring a big stash of hi quality instant coffee (I know that’s a bit of an oxymoron, but there really are some good instant coffee products these days for camping) or go all out and bring real grinds and make your coffee “cowboy style” in a small cook pot — this works great and requires no equipment except some coffee grounds and the fuel to heat water (I used a butane canister stove for simplicity / we did most of our actual cooking on white gas). Here is great video of Cowboy Cook Kent Rollins making coffee the old fashioned way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tq7Si7cp2jM
Feel free to hit me with any other questions!Jan 15, 2019 at 8:38 pm #3573253
The cold campsites are the high ones. We had sleet and rain followed by frost at Mt Phillips. That was the only night I wore my puffy jacket in a 30 degree bag in a Six Moons Designs solo tarp tent. If I were to do now, I would take my 40 degree quilt. I would recommend that you just watch your local weather forecast and test your sleep system in your backyard on a 30 degree night. For most of the other camps, I was very warm in the 30 degree bag and never zipped it up and sometimes slept on top of it.
Flip flops. My recollection is that Philmont policy requires closed toe footwear. IMO all members of the crew should be following the policy, Scouts and Adult leaders. Frankly I think a pair of mesh trail runners or mesh mid top boots are fine to wear the whole trek even for water crossings.
Luxury items. I took Thermarest foam sit pad which doubled as a pillow at night. I also took a small Exped pillow for between my knees. There is a lot of downtime, so if you are willing to carry a chair and keep within your target base weight, take it. If you are over 40 years of age, take two pads. You will sleep better for the first three nights.
Coffee. Most of the staffed camps have coffee out only at the evening cracker barrel. But the coffee is usually over perked if not burned. Make your own cowboy coffee or even better, use an MSR gold filter. The advantage of using an MSR filter is that you can separate the coffee grounds, store them, hang them at night, and dispose of them in the crew garbage bag that gets deposited at the next staffed camp. This practice would of course follow Philmont LNT and bear safety policies. The best of all worlds is to make cowboy coffee in your pot and then pour the foamy aromatic liquid through the filter into your cup. I recommend that you bring 1 pounds of Peets Major Dickason ground for a french press. If you need creamer, bring Nestles Nido powdered whole milk.Jan 15, 2019 at 11:55 pm #3573286
Philmont’s highest and coldest camps:
Baldy Town, Staff Camp @ 9851 ft. (slept there once)
Clear Creek, Staff Camp @ 10240 ft.
Comanche Camp, Trail Camp @ 9641 ft.
Comanche Peak, Trail Camp @ 11070 ft.
Copper Park, Trail Camp @ 10530 ft. (slept there 4 times)
Mount Phillips, Trail Camp @ 11650 ft. (slept there 3 times)
Red Hills, Trail Camp @ 10280 ft. (slept there 3 times)
Thunder Ridge, Trail Camp @ 10310 ft.
Wild Horse, Trail Camp @ 10420 ft. (slept there once)
If you need to carry extra clothes to be warm in your lighter sleeping bag it does seem you are saving any weight. I would think any clothes would be heavier than more down.
I carry a 20⁰ down bag with my old Therm-A-Rest and never needed more than a T-shirt and shorts even on Mt. Phillips with sleet/ice precipitation.
With my 13 oz. Therm-A-Rest Trekker Chair Kit my sleep pad converts into a camp chair.
For clothes I only carry two changes of hiking poly T-shirt and nylon hiking shorts (sleep in one set), two changes of socks, lightweight fleece full-zip top, rain parka and pants. No hat, gloves or long johns. I rotate and launder my two changes of hiking clothes and socks as needed so I sleep in clean set.Jan 16, 2019 at 12:05 am #3573291
Thank you for the coffee info. We’re good with instant coffee. When we car camp, I do a French press for coffee. I’d rather not deal with packing out grounds. As I tell our troop, a properly caffeinated scoutmaster is the number 1 safety issue in scouting. :)
I agree with the more down is lighter than more clothes. I’m definitely considering that. I also look at multi-function clothing (where permitted) and which bag is more comfortable. Some things could be a last minute decision based on weather forecasts knowing they aren’t always accurate for the mountains.Jan 16, 2019 at 1:33 am #3573303
Weather forecasts over a 12 day period if available would be dubious at best and would only be for the city it covers, not remote and higher elevations.
Count on a short rain storm every afternoon and as hail in higher elevations during July.
Just go prepared for rain every day and cold every night.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.”Jan 16, 2019 at 2:07 am #3573308
I agree that weather forecasts get more imprecise over a longer time window. That being said, there are many sources for forecast weather at Philmont.
Weather.com and accuweather.com give you forecasts based on their models for the base camp at Philmont Scout Ranch, Cimmaron NM.
For the backcountry, you can also extrapolate using various rules of thumb for altitude change from the any vendor’s forecast for Cimmaron, NM. The rule being 3 to 5 F degrees drop per 1000 feet in elevation excluding wind chill, micro climates etc. https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/25964/
There are various weather forecast sites for outdoor recreation in high country that use modelling to forecast weather for high points. For example https://www.mountain-forecast.com will give you forecasts for the various local peak where you love or Philmont, NM. You search by range, sub range, and peak. You can toggle between Celsius and Fahrenheit. There is a lot of data there. I usually look for the “freezing level” line since I am not sleeping at the summit. :-)).
The Weather Underground will also offer forecasts for Philmont Scout Ranch. But more useful at times is a drill down on the closest weather station to search for the coldest night historically for the month and place you are backpacking in. Then use the rule of thumb above to extrapolate for from the elevation of the weather station to the elevation of where you are sleeping.
All this being said, I think you might find frost and 30 degree weather at the highest camps like Mt Phillips. Most of the camps have very balmy nights.
BruceJan 16, 2019 at 12:34 pm #3573354
The possibility of extended cold rain would go with the extra layers. I’m hoping that our late July/early August trek will give us a better chance at warmer, drier conditions.
I also hope that figuring out my gear will help me advise the crew on their gear. With scouts, I do understand you have a different standard. I’ve given them recommendations for 20 degree bags at decent prices for relatively light, compact bags (Kelty Cosmic and Outdoor Vitals).Jan 16, 2019 at 4:18 pm #3573364
For extended cold rain unless you are sitting under the dining fly you won’t want extra layers.
If you are hiking in it you will be generating more heat than you can shed and be sweating in your rain gear. Backpacking up mountains with a pack is hard work.
If you are in camp you can get in your tent under your sleeping bag.
You may spend a rainy afternoon under the dining fly play cards and need some more layers but I wouldn’t carry the extra weight for card games. But that’s just me…:-)
We do lead by example. You can suggest proper gear but in the end they will do what they see. Peer pressure has the strongest influence on youth but if you don’t have older Scouts that have been before to lead by example then it is up to you.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.”Jan 16, 2019 at 4:34 pm #3573367
All good points and I’ll have to shakedown my gear as much as the scouts.
This troop was a car camping troop when we joined. I only recently took over as SM. I’m trying to introduce more backpacking to the troop, but it’s boy led and they tend to continue what was done in the past.
We’ll have one 16 year old, an the rest 14 and 15 year olds on this trip. One of our immediate challenges is getting them to acquire appropriate backpacking gear. It doesn’t have to be ultralight, but their sleeping bags and pads are HUGE and heavy for backpacking for example.
I told them we’ll use Philtents and we have REI Half Domes for shakedowns. I told them they are free to purchase a backpacking tent, but come to me for advice, first. I got my son a silnylon MLD Duomid/innernet to use on sale. If that doesn’t work, it’ll be on the Gear Swap. :)
So that leaves their packs and clothing, for the most part. Most already have packs and I’m not making them buy new ones if the ones they have work even if they’re heavy. I did inform them of lighter, reasonably priced options.
I’ve also provided them with options for appropriate clothing.
The thing is, I’ve purchased higher end gear than I’d suggest to scouts. I’ve gathered it over time and almost all of it on significant discounts. That’s why my son has a Uniqlo down ultralight (that he’s probably outgrown), a My Trail Co. backpack and a Outdoor Vitals down bag.
I spent a lot of time finding reasonably priced, light, appropriate options and sent it out in a PDF. I suspect most didn’t read it or have continued to put off making purchases. Some have contacted me and have upgraded gear.Jan 16, 2019 at 5:29 pm #3573372
A Scout is thrifty!
here are some of the recommendations I make to my troop:
Montbell, a Japanese company with a big USA web site, has high quality, price worthy synthetic down sweaters and jackets branded “Thermawrap”. LLBean is also a good source of price worthy gear especially syn down and down clothing, and rain jackets/pants and now to compete with Amazon, runs periodic sales.
Cascade Designs the maker of Thermarest pads, MSR stoves, Platypus and other brands runs 20 and 30% discounts off their web site 3 or 4 times a year. If you sign up, they send you emails about the sales.
etc.Jan 16, 2019 at 6:06 pm #3573376
All good ideas, Bruce. I’ve sent them emails when places were having big before Christmas sales. I suspect many ignored them, will find out their scout needs something and end up paying more. I tried.Jan 16, 2019 at 6:13 pm #3573379
For Crew tarps, David Olsen at OwareGear has offered Scout discounts in the past.
We took an Equinox tarp that was on sale from Campmor but the tie out point was a grommet.
Subsequently we upgraded to a Integral Designs (now Rabb) tarp but they are quite pricey but very well constructed with cloth webbing tie outs.
There was a thread on BPL in the two months or so about sources for cost effective tarps from cottage manufacturersJan 16, 2019 at 6:26 pm #3573381
We have this dining fly from Amazon. We haven’t used it yet. The shakedown where we were going to set it up had to be canceled.Jan 17, 2019 at 5:23 am #3573480
Your Sanctuary SilTarp at 23 oz. is very similar to the Equinox Ultralight tarp at 19 oz. that we have been using at Philmont. Yours weight may include cords and stakes where ours is just tarp before cords and stakes. Go with it.
To pitch a tarp according to Philmont’s plan you need three cords about 25 feet long each and ten stakes. One cord as a ridge line to 4 foot poles on each end to two stakes and one cord along each side laced thru grommets (or fabric loops) and staked out with 4 to 5 stakes per side. It takes the whole crew to pitch one.Jan 17, 2019 at 5:22 pm #3573529
Regarding parents and newbies, I had the same challenges with my crew. We did focus on reducing the weight of the group gear. Have you seen the two or three articles SM Doug Prosser wrote for BPL including this one: https://backpackinglight.com/philmont/
He had many excellent suggestions. In one article, he recommended SlumberJack sleeping bags as lower cost option.
I found that using a scale, talking about about multiple use items, and the choice of pack, can be a big weight saver even when using mainstream gear from REI. For example, each Scout does not need to bring two knives, three flashlights, and 8 oz of insect repellant and 12 oz of sunblock. A 50 liter sub 3 lb Osprey pack will work just as well as a 70 liter 4.5 lb Gregory pack.
We did 4 training hikes, and with each hike the Scouts and the other adults realized that they could go further and have more energy at the end of the day by carrying less weight. The Scouts also pack too much clothes. During your Ranger inspection in base camp, the Ranger should encourage the crew to leave behind a lot of their clothes.
BTW Your tarp choice looks excellent. Your Ranger will work with your crew to teach them how to erect it as a dining fly. It is worth practicing a few times before Philmont just to insure you have brought enough cord and stakes. In the presence of wind or rocky soil, it can really help to have two stakes attached via guylines to each of the two ridgeline attachment points so the force on each pole respectively is distributed equally to two attachment points.Jan 17, 2019 at 6:38 pm #3573542
At our lockin, I had some of the crew bring their current gear so we could weigh and discuss. We have a long way to go. One had a mess kit that had 5 or more compartments. I told him don’t worry, I’m getting several Fozzils Bowls that weigh almost nothing, are easy to clean and are almost 2 dimensional when unsnapped. That will be crew gear.
I tried sending a group out to set up the dining fly with just some printed instructions at a meeting just to see how they’d do on their own. Let’s just say it was not a success, but I expected that. They did learn some things. We’ll work some more.
I’m not worried about their packs, even if they’re heavy. They’ll work. I’ve told them the easiest and cheapest way to save weight is leave stuff at home. My son and I built a simple spreadsheet for our car camping trips that lists stuff to take for each of us. We print it and check stuff off as it is packed. I need to provide that kind of thing to the crew, but geared for backpacking. Sleeping bag, pad, rain gear and just go down the list checking it off and not bringing things not on the list.
I made the mistake of trying to schedule a 2 night trip early. I had to cancel it because nobody could make it. The troop did a backpacking trip in September. We had the gear shakedown and I think we’ll do a day hike that focuses on personal gear, setting up the tarp and maybe cook with a giant pot. We can progress from there with things like bear bags, understanding crew roles, etc.
The weather has put us a little behind from what I’d planned, but we have time.Jan 18, 2019 at 9:31 pm #3573752Jeffrey PetersBPL Member
It looks like you are going the same time that I did in 2017. Your are going at the start of the rainy season. You should expect thunderstorms every afternoon. Some days you will get lucky and they will miss you. So make sure everyone had a rain suit both tops and bottoms. I didn’t see anyone setting up a tarp the old way of having a line threaded thru the grommets. I believe the new tarps they use are just set up a pretty traditional way.Jan 19, 2019 at 2:47 am #3573796
Jeffery, 2X. “You should expect thunderstorms every afternoon.”
One of Philmont’s many axioms is “Never go anywhere without your rain gear and bottle of water.” Meaning side hikes, service project, program features, mine tour, campfire entertainment, SM coffee with staff as you never know when it might storm and you always need to hydrate.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.”
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