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Outfitting a troop for backpacking without bankrupting everyone

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  • #61
    We tried a no-cooking trek once, but almost everyone picked as a "thorn," the strangely depressing lack of a cooked meal at the end of the day.

    We encourage a no-cook lunch and a fast cleanup breakfast, but I'm going to have a hot dinner after a day of burning energy on the trail. And we'd like the Scouts to develop the skill to feed themselves something enjoyable and nutritious at the end of the day. It's up to them, of course, but we try to set an example. Of course, lay days are a great time to have an elaborate breakfast.

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    • #62
      As I mentioned, no cooking is but one option. Cooking one meal is another option. Hot breakfast/dinner with cold lunch is yet another option, etc.

      There is nothing right or wrong about these decisions, they are all just options. Nothing is cut in stone here.

      Which option one chooses is entirely up to the group and the aims they hope to achieve. Heavy equipment on a short trip? Less costly and there's nothing wrong with it. As the boys get bigger and stronger, the gear lighter and more high tech, the farther they will go. It's not a good idea to start out with a 50 mile hike with high tech/light equipment with the new Webelos cross-over boys. But maybe it would work well with the 16-17 year-olds who are looking for a good adventure.

      Eventually with the knowledge base they acquire along the way they might be able to translate that into how to family camp with their wives and children to make it enjoyable for them to enjoy the out-of-doors as well. But they aren't going to take their new Tiger Cub boy out for a 10 mile hike on his first outing.

      I've been camping for 58 years now and I know for a fact it took me a while to sleep outside the trailer in my little pup-tent I bought for myself. But each time I went out it was to push the envelop. Today I have more equipment than I can carry. Some for static camping, some for kayaking, some for canoeing, some for hiking, some for backpacking, and I recently bought a pop-up camper for me and the Mrs. so we can spend more time on the river instead of setting up camp with a tent. The coolers and stove are still there because we bought a cheap run down camper that doesn't have plumbing, stove or refrigerator in it. I have paid more for my kayak than I did this trailer, but it serves a purpose. It means I get out and have a base camp from which to operate other activities. I can also drive later into the evening before setting camp and be up and gone quicker in the morning on long trips.

      Do not look at these sorts of things as right or wrong, just as good for the moment until I get something better. I don't know what that something better is until I get out and find out what I have isn't meeting my needs anymore.

      The very first purchase I made as a kid was a military trenching shovel. Well that got put away in the closet when that practice went out of vogue and other options deemed better. But when it comes to digging a trench for a fire and moving coals for a Dutch oven, nothing is better.

      Constant learning and evaluating, judging cost vs. utility, improving along the way and going further into the woods each time is the goal of scouting. What you do along the way isn't right or wrong. Life is easier when things go right, but great educational opportunities are offered up when things go wrong. It's all part of the same process.

      Static camp now and want to push the envelop? Bring the trailer but park it in the parking lot 1 mile away. The boys will soon learn to evaluate what to bring into camp without being told. A 2 mile hike to get something is going to produce some great learning. Eventually you might not even need the trailer because no one wants to go back and get junk only to drag it out Sunday morning.

      Then make it 2 miles and the boys will quickly figure out that pre-planning of one's pack is important.

      Then make it 3 miles, etc.

      Eventually you will find yourself measuring the enjoyment of the experience in terms other than miles because they will be irrelevant.

      Stosh

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      • #63
        Problem I see is that everyone thinks they have the best way to do things.

        My Perspective..I don't have enough Information especially the Where and the When and Also the How Long to give you proper Advice as to trek specific..
        But...
        Problem with Troops buying Equipment..Less likely to be cared for..People want the Newest Gadgets..So older Stuff gets used less..You never have enough or to Much..This year you may have 60 boys in 5 years you may have 6. Newest items are always Expensive a few years later they are Cheaper than ever. While You May Envision the Troop forever hiking Endless Miles From Sun Up to Sun Set..The Youth May decide the Want to trek a Hundred Yards set up and Enjoy swiming, Rock Climbing, Climbing Trees and other Fun Activities instead..there went your plans..even worse they loose interest and never attend outdoor Events simply because they prefer to rent Cabins in National Parks. The Number of Volunteers may Drastically Drop off and only two people with Small Economy Cars can drive 40 boys have way across the Country for your 500 Mile 30 Day Excursion.

        Difference in Camping Styles from Different Eras..I grew up on the Self-Reliant Hardship Camping..vs Today's Luxury Camping..

        We Built shelters and Suffered Bugs..No Zippered Tent Openings..No Tent Floors

        Back in My Day...we made Campfire Carried No Stoves..Even at Philmont. Now Days Many places you can't have a Campfire ..Sometimes no open Flames at all..At Times here in Texas we can't have the BBQ Grill going without a Charged Water Hose or a Fire Extinguisher. A Charged Water Hose is a Hose turned on with a Positive Water Shut Off head..

        Weather..Effects the Gear you carry.. I carried 2 Blankets in the Summer..Not a Sleeping Bag...In Winter I used a Sleeping Bag..

        Meals...
        Trail Mixes to Snack on..
        Energy Bars..
        Dried Fruit..
        Easy to prepare meals..such as Tin Foil Meals...Wrap Up Ground Beef with potatoes and Carrots place in Coals..You could also Prep breakfast by placing Coals in a Hole...Place in stones...Place in Tin Foil Breakfast Packets..Place Tin Foil Over and Cover up with Dirt..In Morning Hot ready breakfast.
        Folding Reflector Ovens..anyone else remember these?

        Now a Days even Walmart Carries High Calorie Dehydrated Meals..Simply add Hot Water..You can even buy MREs and the water activated heat Heat Packs..
        Fresh Foods, just maybe you might be going somewhere where you can fish. Surprised the Crap out of our Ranger at Philmont when we had Trout for breakfast several mornings..Once surprised the Adults because we had sirloins steaks and baked potatoes because we knew on a Hike that we would pass by a Store along the route. We got Maps ahead of Time. I have even managed to hunt Rabbits and other game Animals..Leaders freaked when we had Turkey one dinner..I had my Hunting License and Turkey Stamp..Even Had Ducks. Even if you Trek the Appalachian Trail from End to End, there are supply locations to buy and Restock.

        Water Filtration..Another Modern Marvel people can't live without because we are spoiled..Do some research you just might find that You will have plenty of Water sources along your Route..Boiling Water is a great way to get water and adding tea or juice mixes makes it easy to drink....I HATE HATE HATE plain Water wouldn't drink it as a kid..Still Won't as an Adult..

        Clothes, Hate to say this but in My world Jeans was the only type of pants I wore and Still do...BSA Pants suck big time..I hate Switch Backs.........Aughhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

        A Simple Tarp is a great Cover and year around item

        Comment


        • #64
          Haven't been by in a while or I would have responded sooner. The paper I wrote for my University of Scouting dissertation was done for people like you. You can find it at http://topshotsystems.com/Lightweight_Scouting_Dissertation.pdf

          Comment


          • #65
            That's a very good document.

            I see you recommend chemical water treatment and others in this thread do too. However I have had the filters recommended by another troop as a more surefire way of assuring water safety.

            Thoughts?

            Comment


            • #66
              There is no way to assure absolute water safety......All it takes is one scout with dirty hands or for an inattentive boy to set the clean side of the filter system down in the mud.....


              Chemicals are the most reliable if you can get past the taste.

              Comment


              • #67
                Well, yes, of course, even your typical well water at a campground can cause problems and hygiene is always an issue.

                This seems to be a good synopsis of the different types:

                You already know that pristine-looking backcountry lakes and streams can be contaminated with tiny, gut- twisting bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. But do you know which of the many water treatment methods on the market is the best for you? Here's how to decide.

                You want One quick method for use domestically and abroad
                Choose An ultraviolet light purifier like the SteriPEN ($80-$100, steripen.com) bombards water with UV rays, neutralizing bacteria, protozoa, and viruses (which are a particular problem in developing countries). It works in less than a minute and doesn't leave a chemical aftertaste. Caution: This handheld device works best in relatively clear water (strain with a bandana first if it's not) and requires batteries (pack spares).

                You want The lightest possible treatment
                Choose Chlorine dioxide tablets such as Aquamira ($8, aquamira .com) weigh almost nothing (less than an ounce for 30) and take care of all three major types of bugs with a highly active form of oxygen. They're also easy to usejust pop one tablet into your bottlebut they take 30 minutes to kill Giardia and up to four hours for cryptosporidium. (Iodine tablets are also lightweight and cheap, but they won't kill crypto and leave an unpleasant taste.)

                You want The best method for silty water
                Choose Good old-fashioned boiling works everywhere, but it's perfect for ultracloudy rivers and sediment-choked puddles. Collect water in a pot, then fire up the stove: Not only will the high temperature kill bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, but the boiling will help the sediment settle out, leaving clear water on top. Simply bringing water to a rolling boil is sufficient. Cons: Boiling is fuel-intensive and requires waiting for water to cool.

                You want An easy, speedy method
                Choose Pump filters use microscopic pores (.2 microns or less) to snag bacteria and protozoa while allowing water to flow through the filter at one to three liters per minute. They shine where viruses aren't an issue, but can be pricy and require field maintenance. Where viruses are a problem (developing countries, near human habitation or agricultural runoff), choose a filter with iodine resin, upgrade to a purifier (First Need's XL model neutralizes the big three pathogens), or back up with a chemical treatment.

                You want A hassle-free method for big groups
                Choose Gravity filters are quick and trap everything a pump model does, but handle larger volumes of water. (The Platypus CleanStream filters four liters in less than three minutes; $90, platy.com). The lightweight bags pack small and are a snap to use (just hang from a tree, let water drip, and drink).

                --

                If I'm going myself or with my family I'm packing a filter just b/c I like it. For a scout group, particularly one getting off the ground, I'm leaning toward recommending the chemical treatment.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Depending on where you are and the availability of very small amounts of branches and wood, the most useful backpacking stove I've come up with is a simple woodgas can stove made from a 1 qt paint can, a Progresso soup can, and a bamboo shoots can, from directions I found online. It is very similar to the Bush Buddy, I believe, but very cheap. In Shenandoah National Park, where I do some of my backpacking, there is plenty of down wood and dead limbs. I did a comparison on one trip comparing how long it took to bring the water to boiling for dinner for my daughter and me, and this stove took no more than 2 or 3 minutes longer to boil the water, and part of that was just getting the wood burning. And I used no more than a handfull of sticks - that sample sold me on it, because it is lightweight, I have to carry no fuel, I can sit it on a small rock to keep it "Leave No Trace," and I made it myself for a couple of dollars (I bought the empty paint can from my local hardware store, and I ate the soup and stir fry!). I remember at Philmont (1976) we mostly built fires for cooking, and what I would have given to have one of these, considering the challenges of getting a good amount of wood - this takes so little it is surprising. But it depends entirely on a source of wood - if I had doubts about availability I'd still bring my MSR Universal.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Depending on where you are and the availability of very small amounts of branches and wood, the most useful backpacking stove I've come up with is a simple woodgas can stove made from a 1 qt paint can, a Progresso soup can, and a bamboo shoots can, from directions I found online. It is very similar to the Bush Buddy, I believe, but very cheap. In Shenandoah National Park, where I do some of my backpacking, there is plenty of down wood and dead limbs. I did a comparison on one trip comparing how long it took to bring the water to boiling for dinner for my daughter and me, and this stove took no more than 2 or 3 minutes longer to boil the water, and part of that was just getting the wood burning. And I used no more than a handfull of sticks - that sample sold me on it, because it is lightweight, I have to carry no fuel, I can sit it on a small rock to keep it "Leave No Trace," and I made it myself for a couple of dollars (I bought the empty paint can from my local hardware store, and I ate the soup and stir fry!). I remember at Philmont (1976) we mostly built fires for cooking, and what I would have given to have one of these, considering the challenges of getting a good amount of wood - this takes so little it is surprising. But it depends entirely on a source of wood - if I had doubts about availability I'd still bring my MSR Universal.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      > I see you recommend chemical water treatment and others in this thread do too. However I have had the filters recommended by another troop as a more surefire way of assuring water safety.

                      I don't know of a filter that you can verify it's working as you expect in the field. Yes, you can tell when it's clogging but have no idea if it's been damaged somehow, letting through larger particles.

                      Yes, chlorine dioxide tablets can "expire", but you can normally see and smell whether they're reacting as they should be.

                      You will get water faster with a filter. I don't see that as an issue. A large gravity system could be pretty useful though.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Instead of becoming dismayed by the total cost of the changeover, a more gradual approach may grease the skids. Have your senior patrol be the first to change over to backpacking mode, and use them as the beta testers -- determine what works and what doesn't.
                        How does the troop feel about making their own backpacking gear? I am thinking of Henry Shires tarp tent as one example. If interested I will post a couple of construction sites

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                        • #72

                          If interested I will post a couple of construction sites."

                          Of course we are interested!

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                          • #73

                            If interested I will post a couple of construction sites."

                            Of course we are interested!

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              This has gone far afield from "Without bankrupting the troop. "
                              Backpacks can be had for cheap at garage sales and thrift stores. I had a Scout who worked with his father and built a very lightweight pack frame from wood. He packed his stuff in a gym bag and secured it to the frame with bungee cords. It worked great. I bought a Brunton gas pocket (kinda big pocket) stove at a garage sale for $2. Fleet Farm has nice sleeping bags for $14.
                              I got a nice water filter that we ALL use, for about $30. I have two scouts (brothers) who swear by the tent that they've used for years, that was $23 on clearance at K-Mart. ( I wouldn't wnat to use it!) My scouts laugh me off, but when I was a scout ("When HE was a scout") we MADE cook gear out of cans and wire hangers. The can in which a ham comes makes a nice fry-pan. Anyway, you don't have to spend a lot. I have a "green monster" Coleman stove that I've secured to a pack frame with a diamond hitch. I can sometimes get a patrol to divvy up one Scout's gear, and have that Scout pack the stove. We had a cast iron griddle on one trip...We had a family tent that had rooms,(YPT) and that was the only tent we brought, and we ALL "slept" in that one tent. I won't ever do that again.

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                This has gone far afield from "Without bankrupting the troop. "
                                Backpacks can be had for cheap at garage sales and thrift stores. I had a Scout who worked with his father and built a very lightweight pack frame from wood. He packed his stuff in a gym bag and secured it to the frame with bungee cords. It worked great. I bought a Brunton gas pocket (kinda big pocket) stove at a garage sale for $2. Fleet Farm has nice sleeping bags for $14.
                                I got a nice water filter that we ALL use, for about $30. I have two scouts (brothers) who swear by the tent that they've used for years, that was $23 on clearance at K-Mart. ( I wouldn't wnat to use it!) My scouts laugh me off, but when I was a scout ("When HE was a scout") we MADE cook gear out of cans and wire hangers. The can in which a ham comes makes a nice fry-pan. Anyway, you don't have to spend a lot. I have a "green monster" Coleman stove that I've secured to a pack frame with a diamond hitch. I can sometimes get a patrol to divvy up one Scout's gear, and have that Scout pack the stove. We had a cast iron griddle on one trip...We had a family tent that had rooms,(YPT) and that was the only tent we brought, and we ALL "slept" in that one tent. I won't ever do that again.

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