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Outfitting a troop for backpacking without bankrupting everyone

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  • #16

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    • #17
      Well sure, a caveman wouldn't carry anything except a sharp rock that he'd use to make whatever he needed when he got there!

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      • #18
        Plenty of good advice above - JBlake and Beavah posts cover most items well.
        Concentrate on the basics. Think about what you need to do (not what you need) and get simple items to do it.

        There are a few basic items on which it is wise to spend what it takes to get quality:

        Socks: Owning just two pair of good wool socks is better than owning 20 pair of cotton socks. Some weaves are more suited to warm and some to cold - but all are better than cotton. Wool is great in all climates, it doesn't become as smelly in socks as cotton does. It keeps your feet dryer, and it doesn't lose its insulation properties when wet. Wool socks wash easy and dry fast enough. Wear one pair while you air the other. Some synthetics are OK, maybe. If wool makes you itch - spend a little more and try Marino wool.

        Shoes: They should fit, be in good repair, and be suitable for the terrain - light hikers or cross-trainer all purpose type shoes will be more versatile than heavy duty hiking boots.

        Underwear: Do not go with briefs or boxers or anything cotton. Get two lightweight jogging/gym shorts made of synthetic lightweight fabric and wear them as underwear. Get them in dark colors and make sure they're the kind with the super thin stretchy "underwear" liner. Owning two pair of these beats owning 20 pair of briefs or boxers. Wearing these, you're still decently dressed without your pants, yet they're no more bulky as underwear than are briefs or boxers. They work fine as swimming trunks. They dry very quickly. At camp you wash them by wearing them into the shower with you (and again - they dry quickly). In the field, you wash them when you wash yourself.

        Undershirts: No cotton. Dry-fit type fabric. Wicks away moisture. Doesn't get as odiferous as cotton. Stays cleaner. Washes easy - dries fast. Get dark colors. Two will do - even for long term camping - you wash the t-shirt you've been wearing when you wash yourself - just like you do with your shorts.

        Hat: - appropriate to the climate and sufficient to shade your face and ears - light and easy to pack and made of quick dry - easy wash fabric would be nice but is not of paramount importance.

        Pants: No jeans or anything else 100% cotton - a blend may be OK. Get some pants made of decent fabric - think about the climate. Make sure they fit relatively loosely - not baggy but relatively loosely with plenty of freedom of movement.

        Shirt: No need to get anything fancy - just Long Sleeves - light fabric (Not 100% Cotton - a blend may be OK) for hot weather - something warm (wool?) for cold - always wear a t-shirt (as described above) and a long sleeve shirt. Your outer shirt should fit a little loosely. Don't go around with your arms in the sun.


        (This message has been edited by Callooh! Callay!)

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        • #19
          A little unorthodox here: single burner Coleman stoves are very durable, don't break easily and work well with your existing gear. One of those for each patrol is not a bad option until a few boys decide to invest in their own lightweight stoves. One cylinder covers a lot of meals, plus coffee!

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          • #20
            more bad advice from different regions of the country.......What works in the desert does not work in the eastern mountains or cascades......

            So stop blindly offering advice.

            So lets see the parents are going to spend at least $100 on backpack, sleeping pads, wool socks, synthetic this and that.......completely stupid.......You will never go past go and collect $200.

            We are talking about a walk out to a campsite, hopefully less than 5 miles spending the night and walking out.... This maybe a one shot deal.......

            As a SM I would go with someone experienced first, without the troop. Having the boys along an trying to figure things out is a recipe for disaster....


            Brew if your interested, I have all the gear you need, tents backpacks stoves, cookware and even water purification, I wouldn't mind a road trip, just send me an email at Basementdweller1@gmail hopefully east of the Mississippi.....





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            • #21
              Thanks for all the advice, as wildly differing as it may be

              I agree a shakedown hike is in order. But even that we must prep for.

              I also agree the boys should be making the decisions--but they need to know the options and considerations beyond what's in the handbook and field guide. So this is all quite useful stuff.

              I do like the idea of getting by with what we have, and making minimal investment in what we do not (i.e., starting with tablets rather than a filtration pump). However if they have a miserable trip they may not put it on the agenda any time soon and that would be too bad. On the other hand I have rarely seen boys have a bad time in the outdoors.

              I have been talking to another troop in the state but it is hard to reconcile their experience with our own since they are more well-heeled and the families bought a lot of individual gear. But they are a good source of advice for the type of gear and considerations most relevant to this climate.

              Keep the responses coming and I will keep digesting them.

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              • #22
                Brew....

                so what is your experience/training to take the boys on such a trek?????

                What is the boys outdoor experience and ages???? I remember a year ago you were a webelos den leader.....If you have a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds this is a really bad idea. Most of those age fellows cannot manage themselves on car camping trip.... Maybe backpack into your campsite at the local BSA camp and back out the next day for a trial.

                They do not have the body mass to carry a pack with the sort of gear they can afford any distance. Remember do not exceed 20% of their body weight so for a typical 11 year old that is going to be 25 pounds max. 5 pound sleeping bag, 5 pounds backpack, 3 pounds his share of the tent, 1 pound sleeping pad, water and he is done...No stove or patrol shared gear.

                So what is the group size going to be????? 15 or 20????? remember LNT and most land managers limit group size to 10 and some significantly less

                Brew you need to get trained and get some experience before you take the troop out.......

                This is how and why the BSA has such a horrible reputation in the outdoor community.



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                • #23
                  I don't see anything wrong with a short one day shake-out weekend to see if the gear you have selected is appropriate. Obviously it doesn't do much for issues like weight and durability. One isn't going to carry 5 days of food on an over-nighter to test out how well they can handle the weight. And the shoes/boots they select won't tell you whether they will hold up on at 10 miles a day.

                  When I went to Philmont a few years back, my SM yelled at me for the trekker boots I had rather than heavy leather hiking boots. He then yelled at me and the boy who took my advice and bought the same shoes I had. Well, after 110 miles and all 5 highest peaks of Philmont, the boy and I were the only two in the crew that didn't have blisters.

                  Yes, one can do backpacking without high quality gear, but a lot of times it makes it a lot nicer. However, I wouldn't suggest going out and getting the best for the first outing. Work yourself into it using and evaluating each piece of equipment and replace if something better is out there, then move on to the next piece of equipment.

                  I have a real nice external frame backpack that I use occasionally, sometimes I take my external military pack which is about half that size, and for a 3-4 day hike, I still take my BSA Yucca pack (straps only, no belt no frame) and bedroll from when I was a kid. A tumpline supplements this setup very nicely and allows for overpacking the Yucca. For reenacting, it is just a bedroll (extended weekend, three nights usually static camp, but some events had movement every day).

                  Start with small hikes and work yourself into hikes of greater distance and duration. I can't imagine anyone taking a 6 man family tent on a one week trek without having warning lights popping up all over the place.

                  On these shakeout hikes, have every boy evaluate every piece of equipment he has and share the knowledge gained with all of his buddies. Compare the different packs, tents, stoves, menus, clothes, etc. and have at least an hour or two after each hike discussing the pros and cons of everything carried. Then build on that knowledge.

                  Stosh

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                  • #24
                    We are in a slightly different position because our challenge is to maintain that "hike in" attitude. We rely on a lot of individual gear and, therefore, a culture of hand-me-downs. A high school female who has been conditioned that her biggest expense should be dresses for prom and homecoming will not be properly equipped at all. I suspect your boys are somewhat further along than that! You just need to figure out what the "real gaps" are.

                    So here's what we do. An older scout or venturer brings a pack (fully provisioned) to a meeting. He/she unpacks it, talks about how the gear was organized and how it was acquired. Then while answering questions, reassembles it. If you don't have such a scout, find out at roundtable if a troop/crew would be able to loan you their experienced youth for an evening.

                    We ask around our troop alumni for hand-me-down gear. Half the stuff people have will rot if they keep it stored they way they probably are doing, so they'd be happy to donate it. Encourage parents to keep one eye open at garage sales and flea markets. (That accounts for half my gear and 1/10th my expense, bless my wife.)

                    Next week, we have the boys bring their packs and shake each other down. We plan your next outing within the next month where you can hike a couple of miles in to a site with a known water source. At the end of our hike we evaluate what went well what didn't go well and what you would do differently. One month your boys might want to have a fundraiser to build up the "gear library." (My youth usually discover the importance of gainful employment at this point!)

                    Doing that every month will eventually have your boys in shape for a longer hike. Those two hours hiking into camp will barely make a dent in whatever program you have, and will likely help your first-years accomplish several advancement goals. In a couple of months, your boys will be asking for a trip where hiking takes up most of the weekend.

                    Before you know it, your boys will be dragging you off trail through laurel thickets! Try to have your orienteering And survival skills nailed down by then.

                    Anyway, you get the idea.

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                    • #25
                      Ya know brew if we knew what region of the country you were in that would be a big help...

                      Many backpacking trails have springs or water sources that don't require filtering......or trail systems that are good for a beginner group.

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                      • #26
                        Having read thru the thread and the parent thread, and admitting it's possible I missed something..., If one wants regional specific advice, it's a reasonable suggestion to either give your location or at least include it in your profile so others aren't offering advice from their region that won't work in yours.
                        On the other hand if folks are willing to offer advice and the location info isn't given isn't it a little bit bad form to be barking about the out of region advice - after all they're offering it in the hopes the OP will succeed.

                        SO, not knowing where Brewmeister lives...
                        The thing about cheap is that without access to supplies it can get heavy. But if you are just starting that gives you incentive to learn and be creative right?

                        Depending on how far you are going, and for starting out 1 or 2 miles from the vehicles/trailer is plenty to get you in the right frame of mind - so expensive hiking boots -probably not - just wear what you have, boots can add up to a LOT of weight given that you lift them with every single step.

                        A piece of cheap plastic sheet material from the hardware store (pennies per foot) makes a serviceable Ground cloth for either under a tent or under your sleeping bag under a tarp; and/or Sleeping tarp and/or Dining fly,

                        A blanket from home or two depending on temps, properly folded together make a great sleeping bag and pad.

                        The old Scout Yucca pack(made of heavy canvas back then) is just an oversized book bag of today, most kids have these or you can get them for cheap $5-10 at garage sales and discount stores( are they going to last?, probably not but you'll know how much room you really need if/when you upgrade to an expensive pack), fold the blankets over the outside of the pack and put the sheeting material over the top for rain.

                        Stoves - no way do I provide a stove per Scout. One per four is what we have done at Philmont and is our backpacking standard. Knowing how to care for the stoves we have never had an issue with isobutane either in the cold (-5 F or above) or at altitude (less than 13,ooo). Although it is recognized that there is the potential for problems( at extreme altitudes and temperatures) one of the best things for cold and altitude is the Jetboil (GCS) Group Cooking System which includes an inverter where the fuel canister is upside down in the operating position allowing one to draw liquid fuel out of the canister rather than drawing the pressurized vapor one draws when using isobutane in the valve up configuration. All that said we've operated our regular Jetboils (PCS) and PCS stoves with Pan adapters everywhere we've been simply by keeping the fuel canisters in our sleeping bags and ensuring they go on a surface that doesn't radiate cold into them before the stove starts running.

                        We also used a 3 gallon regular aluminum pot with a regular Jetboil PCS with the Pan adapter set this last Philmont trip and did boil and bag cooking, I didn't go but the adults and the Crew Leader said it was another good way to go. Point is regular pots and pans won't be as efficient as ones designed for the system but are a lot cheaper and can be purchased at thrift stores and garage sales.

                        Water purification. Cheapest way I know to go is to get some Activated charcoal(not charcoal briquets ground up, not the same thing) and look up the plans on the internet for a homemade hanging gravity water filter, all else you need is a bag and some sand and gravel and a hose to direct the filtered water.
                        We use Katadyn Hikers and Hiker Pros, one per Patrol unless someone brings their own but this forces a break at water fill stops and encourages consumption while AT the water source I personally add the MSR Sweetwater drops as an antivirus measure but this is actually a very low solution of bleach added in a specific concentration to water, if operating on the cheap go to the web, look up the concentration and make your own. I can't detect the taste and even if I could it's way better than the tablet purifier taste(IMHO).

                        There are all kinds of ways to do this and your own preferences will color the direction you want to go but it can be done on the cheap.

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                        • #27
                          Brewmeister,
                          Oh, also, we typically use less than 6-7 canisters(have 1/2 to a full canister left on the last day) over 14 days with a 12 Person crew at Philmont, so based on your estimation of gas usage I think you are estimating a little high, especially for a weekend trip.

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                          • #28
                            No one has much experience with the volcano/wood-fuel type stoves. Why? "

                            probably because burning wood is many places prohibited even if wood is available.
                            As to filtering water, we stick a paper coffee filter into the toe portion of a (cleaned) nylon stocking and pour the water thru that. Water still needs to be treated afterwards
                            If this trip is to be the trip of a lifetime, you need to ease into it with plenty of ten to 15 mile weekend hike and camps. Do this every month, and the gear requirements will sort themselves out.
                            How is your unit with fundraising? The troop could buy (and retain) backpacks for everyone to use.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              No one has much experience with the volcano/wood-fuel type stoves. Why? "

                              probably because burning wood is many places prohibited even if wood is available.
                              As to filtering water, we stick a paper coffee filter into the toe portion of a (cleaned) nylon stocking and pour the water thru that. Water still needs to be treated afterwards
                              If this trip is to be the trip of a lifetime, you need to ease into it with plenty of ten to 15 mile weekend hike and camps. Do this every month, and the gear requirements will sort themselves out.
                              How is your unit with fundraising? The troop could buy (and retain) backpacks for everyone to use.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                We are in a slightly different position because our challenge is to maintain that "hike in" attitude. We rely on a lot of individual gear and, therefore, a culture of hand-me-downs. A high school female who has been conditioned that her biggest expense should be dresses for prom and homecoming will not be properly equipped at all. I suspect your boys are somewhat further along than that! You just need to figure out what the "real gaps" are.

                                So here's what we do. An older scout or venturer brings a pack (fully provisioned) to a meeting. He/she unpacks it, talks about how the gear was organized and how it was acquired. Then while answering questions, reassembles it. If you don't have such a scout, find out at roundtable if a troop/crew would be able to loan you their experienced youth for an evening.

                                We ask around our troop alumni for hand-me-down gear. Half the stuff people have will rot if they keep it stored they way they probably are doing, so they'd be happy to donate it. Encourage parents to keep one eye open at garage sales and flea markets. (That accounts for half my gear and 1/10th my expense, bless my wife.)

                                Next week, we have the boys bring their packs and shake each other down. We plan your next outing within the next month where you can hike a couple of miles in to a site with a known water source. At the end of our hike we evaluate what went well what didn't go well and what you would do differently. One month your boys might want to have a fundraiser to build up the "gear library." (My youth usually discover the importance of gainful employment at this point!)

                                Doing that every month will eventually have your boys in shape for a longer hike. Those two hours hiking into camp will barely make a dent in whatever program you have, and will likely help your first-years accomplish several advancement goals. In a couple of months, your boys will be asking for a trip where hiking takes up most of the weekend.

                                Before you know it, your boys will be dragging you off trail through laurel thickets! Try to have your orienteering And survival skills nailed down by then.

                                Anyway, you get the idea.

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