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outfitting a troop for backpacking

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  • #16
    Looks like you got some solid advice.

    And your story seems a lot like mine. Adults in the troop have really worked hard to build up inventory. So half our trips we use patrol boxes, half we travel light.

    Our crew/troop operate pretty closely together. But, in spite of many offers, the crew has opted not to "own" any of the troop gear. One of our goals is to get the youth to invest in gear that will carry them through the college years.

    So my role as crew advisor:
    1. I don't put a hitch on my van. This spares us the temptation of borrowing the troop trailer.
    2. I train crew QM to "listen" for what youth need, "look" for avid backpackers who may have hand-me-downs or loaners.
    3. My committee keeps a close eye on those garage sales.
    4. Thus our troop QM is more of a gear keeper (configuring camp boxes, etc ...). While our crew QM is more of a librarian (trying to keep equipment in circulation).

    This covers the youth who want to try hiking before throwing down mucho $$ on stuff they'll only use once. Also, most of the boys that come from the troop have the gear they need and some skills to teach new crew members.

    I suspect your troop will operate in some middle ground between what our troop and crew does. The real issue: determining what you will maintain as community gear and what each boy needs to maintain in personal gear.

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    • #17
      "The real issue: determining what you will maintain as community gear and what each boy needs to maintain in personal gear."

      This is certainly a background concern of mine. An example -- mostly everyone in the troop uses their own tent (and nobody owns a lightweight tent) because the troop tent stash is made up of mostly older tents which are mildewed, probably with missing parts (a QM is supposed to be checking into that). I don't necessarily want the troop to purchase higher-quality lightweight tents if they're just going to be treated the same way as the old ones. In another thread from last year, I talked about a suggestion a guy from another troop gave me, which was that his troop subsidizes the cost of the first tent a Scout purchases (from an approved list of tents, I think). In general, though, the reaction from this forum was negative.

      Stoves? We've got a few older Coleman propane stoves that are still in working order. We've talked about purchasing lightweight stoves for canoeing trips (and future backpacking trips), and a few of us have our own lightweight stoves (I even have an old Svea 123 that still works).

      So here's another question...for backpacking, how many of you do without group tarps? I don't recall carrying one at Philmont, circa 1975, but then again I don't remember any rain on that trip either.

      Thanks,
      Guy

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      • #18
        In reference to tent, if you take care of them they will last. My troop didn't allow personal tents except adults. We usually used the 4 man Eurekas amongst 2, sometime 3 people. each patrol was given so many, and we stenciled them with troop #, Patrol name, and tent #, so we could track down who damaged them.

        Whoever didn't take care of their tent, would be using the original, heavy canvas Baker tents that the troop got when it was first started. So no floor and mosquito netting for you. We only had 2 problems in the entire time I was with that troop. #1 was when the CO used our new fiberglass shed as a dartboard, causing numerous leaks and damaged equipment and #2 when two scouts borrowed a tent for an OA event at a public campground. One couple had their tent stolen, and they let them use ours, deciding to sleep under the stars Like I was. Long story short, when the scouts got it back, it was still wet with dew and had lipstick smeared all over the inside of it. Luckily we were able to dry it out, but the lipstick never did come out. Luckily the scouts didn't get harrased since I verified the story, but it's the last time I lend out a tent to non-scouters.

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        • #19
          Keeping in mind that it's been over 20 years since I did this, but my troop was serious about Backpacking for 10+ years. We car camped at camporees and the first campout of the year, but that was it.

          The Troop invested in Eureka Timberline tents and they were great for what ever type of camping you did. Back then we were using Coleman Peak-1 stoves so we provided the white gas. Everything else from pots, stoves, packs, etc. was provided by the boy. Later we acquired some packs as kids aged out and stopped backpacking so the parents gave us their pack.

          They and I learned that when you are in the middle of nowhere and miles from a vehicle that there is a reason to buy good equipment. I thought good breathable rain gear wasn't needed until the time I had to backpack a whole day in a Wal-mart poncho, I came home and bought my first Gore Tex jacket that next week. If cost is a problem for the boys I really don't know how you get around that. The troop can buy stoves, tents, pots and pans, but not boots, sleeping bags, etc.

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          • #20
            I second the Eureka Timberline. They are a bit heavy but can be split up among several boys. They are reasonably priced and are pretty "scout proof". They are a bit hot...an issue in Florida.

            I have a lighter weight Eureka Apex for myself (it is easy for 1 person to set up at night and it is lighter.

            I used both tents with my Webelos to practice setting up tents and I found that the Apex was more likely to get damaged by boys.

            The Timberline has aluminum poles which still work if bent.

            The problem with tents is that after folks get some camping under your belt your tastes change or you lust after some new tent you saw at a campout. You may wish to have Troop tents for the first years (who tend to basecamp more) and let them get their own tent after they get some experience.

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            • #21
              As you can see, everyone has their own ideas about equipment and outfitting. You might visit 50miler.com for information about tents, sleeping bags, boots, and other equipment. They also have a book called "Backpacking for Boys" which is available as a free download from the site or through their Facebook page. In our Council there is a ScoutReach program that collects and redistributes used tents and things to new Troops.

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              • #22
                First, you need to decide where you'll be traveling. The gear for hiking desert plateaus is slightly different from the gear used to hike in the Smokies in the Spring.

                I heartily suggest reading Ray Jardine's "Beyong Backpacking"

                Two sites I've personally found useful
                http://www.tarptent.com/projects/tarpdesign.html
                http://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html

                My senior Scouts are starting to find Backpacker magazine more useful than Boys Life for hiking & camping

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                • #23
                  Our troop's gear situation sounds similar to yours. We have grown considerably in the last 3 years to the point that either we go toward compact, lightweight backpacking or buy another gear trailer. Our troop provides tents, stoves and cookware, but are encouraging scouts to buy their own backpacking tents as they are able. The troop has a number of 2-3 man tents, but they are a bit heavier than we like. We recently bought a dozen primus canister stoves from REI for about $22 each. These and some old Coleman single-burner backpacking stoves we have and some personally owned backpacking stoves worked out on a recent backapcking campout. We think that 1 stove for every 4 scouts is about right, with a couple of backups just in case. Right now they are mainly only using the stove for boiling water, but hopefully as we get more experience the menus will improve too.

                  By the way, you can call REI's Group Sales and setup a troop account. Then you get 12% off and of course pay no sales tax since scout troops are non-profit, tax exempt.

                  These primus canister stoves aren't the lightest, but they were inexpensive, are simple to operate and are easy to carry. Plus, they are backed up by REI's return policy if they don't hold up reasonably well. The fuel canisters are costly, so as the older (or more responsible) scouts show more interest in backpacking then we plan on buying stoves like MSR Whisperlites and work toward having those be our stove of choice. We're going to start issuing tents to patrols and hold them responsible for care and repair. If that appears to work out then we may buy lighter weight (less durable) backpacking tents.

                  It's still in the experimental stage in our troop.

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