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Physical Preparation for backpacking trip

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  • #31
    Every year I take 11 and 12 year olds backpacking on the AT. For the new boys it's all about light weight packs and reasonable distances. I send home a list of exactly what they need to take backpacking, no more, no less. If they follow my instructions they will have a pack of about 20 pounds. We usually do no more than 11 or 12 miles on Sat. and maybe 4 or 5 on Sun. The only time we have problems is when boys don't follow my guidelines.


    • #32
      Is your boy a First Class scout? Not does he have the patch, but has he integrated all of those basic scouting skills? Is he grasping things like first aid, camp cooking, land navigation, and safe swim at a fairly decent clip?

      What does safe swim defense have to do with hiking? Well you may set up an aquatics area at a swimming hole on the trail, but that's not my point. Discipline is one of the key things that makes backpacking a success. A scout who knows there are boundaries for different types of activities will take what he's doing seriously enough to enjoy himself.

      You asked about physical prep. But honestly, the mental prep and maturity are the real anchors for the sport.


      • #33
        Not sure where you got the age 14 requirement. Even for Philmont you can be minimum 13
        So, how did the Second Class five mile hike go? That should be some indication
        Since the 50 miler is not all in one day (???), this should be doable by your son.
        Does it still get cold in Michigan? Starting in January, earn the swimming mb at the YMCA, and start work on the fitness mb. About late March start on the hiking mb. Meanwhile, he can repeat the fitness routine for tenderfoot. No more elevators; take the stairs. Trips to the store of less than two miles should always be by walking. Walk home from school each day.
        Between now and then, time can be spent reading all the lightweight camping books and websites. Good luck!


        • #34
          Philmont Guidebook, page 3; "Participants must be registered members of the BSA who will be 14 years of age OR completed 8th Grade and be at least 13 years of age prior to participation."

          Scouts don't go with my unit until they're 15.


          • #35

            Baden-Powell's test for a First Class Scout was a solo 15 mile backpacking trip, the world standard for a competent camper long before the invention of lightweight equipment

            The "How To" guide for adult leaders:


            The distance increased with each stage of training:


            Yours at 300 feet,



            • #36
              Foot conditioning is huge. Wear the trail boots whenever possible, even around the house, trim the toenails right. Rubbing the feet down with rubbing alcohol each night is said to toughen the skin, I don't know for sure but I've done it when preparing for big hikes and it seemed to help. Try to get up an hour early, throw on the boots and a weighted ruck, try to get 4 miles in by walking two miles away from your house and two back. In the gym, focus on squats and deadlifts to strengthen the knee joints and the back, endoboards (if your gym has one) are great for strengthening the ankles, do shrugs to strengthen the traps to help support the shoulder-straps. Hike on weekedn whenever possible, especially any routes with a lot of inclines. Hill runs are great for building endurance for switchbacks - pick a spot with a hill or incline, sprint up it, walk down to let your heartbeat return to normal, repeat as many times as possible. Don;t do any of this until your doctor clears you - a stress EKG is a good idea if you are middle aged and still trying to stay active. Get a stretching or yoga book and develop a 5 to 15 minute routine focused on stretching the back, thighs, calves, etc., and do each night while watching TV. Use a hard foam roller pad to work out the kinks. For abs, work on stability - various forms of planks, for gradually increasing time periods, are best for backpacking.