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my sons first backpacking campout

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How old is he?


The average Philmont pack can weight anywhere from 35-70lbs. If its not too long of hike don't worry too much about weight.


Like others have said, big retailers like Bass Pro, REI, Dicks, academy, and others either won't have the knowledge or the selection of QUALITY packs. Look for more local or regional outdoor stores (Backwoods is my fav.) They are operated by people who use the gear they sell. When they fitted a pack to me they had bags of cloth for weight, so when weight is added you can feel the pack and how it sits on your hips.


Ebay is also a great way to get some of the expensive things for cheap!


DO NOT WEAR COTTON!!!! Cotton is heavier than a lot of synthetics and also if wet takes a LONG time to dry out. (fleece socks at norther tier took about 2 minutes in the son)


I have a Mountain Smith pack(technically mine). Kelty is a good brand for kids/teens. Alps, and even Jansport makes a few good packs. I wouldn't recommend an Osprey pack though.. EXPENSIVE stuff.


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Great advice so far. My only advices is:


1. Have your son get the information from his troop. They'll be able to offer lots of advice.


2. Don't feel that you have to buy the top-end gear. Mid-level gear will do fine for what your son needs. Great advices on the Alps Mountaineering gear. 45% discount!


3. Let your son pack himself. During our yearly backpacking trip most new Scouts have too much and say their parents told them to pack this and that. They should pack only what they'll use/need.


4. My experince has been that the biggest weight/space saver is in the sleeping bag. Lots of Scouts use lower quality rectangular bags that simply can't pack small. He'll want a high-quality mummy bag eventually. Might as well get a good one now - ask his leaders for advice on that too.


5. Don't hang stuff from the outside of the pack!! Dont't know why, but lots of Scouts seem to do this. Then gear starts banging around and falling off.


6. A great book that your son (and you) will enjoy reading for years is the "The Complete Walker". Trust me, he'll keep it into adult-hood and enjoy it as much then. I have two versions - one from my childhood and one from a few years back - I treasure them both.

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"5. Don't hang stuff from the outside of the pack!! Dont't know why, but lots of Scouts seem to do this. Then gear starts banging around and falling off."


Kenk, read your #2 and I think you'll find your answer. Besides, if you hang it off the pack like that, you'll be able to get to it quicker;)



I too will agree to check out Alps Mountaineering. I just got one of their internal packs and a backpacking tent. My mom paid a little over 100 bucks for both of them combined! And the items are pretty solid too!

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My recommendation is to borrow as much gear as you can for this venture. It takes a few backpacking trips to figure out what works and what is just a waste of weight and money. Lord knows how much of that that gear sits in my garage. Hook up with a another scout family who might have plenty of old gear they can loan you.


Once your scout has some experience, he will know what he wants, what works, what's a gimmick. The key thing to think about is make sure he has fun on this trip. One bad experience early on can destroy his future outdoor experiences.


After a few trips, check on Ebay for high end gear as us gear nuts trade up. You can get really good deals on lightly used top end gear that is just a few years out of date.

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For sleeping bags go with slumberjack.


I have a 30 and 20 degree used for regular camp outs and high adventure. They are farely light, pack down small, and still a little bit roomy for the claustrophobic.


I love them.


I know one of them is called the superguide, can't think of the other. They aren't terribly expensive either.

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When we were buying youngest son his first pack, we looked at adjustable frame packs at REI - middle son pointed out they were having a clearance, and we ended up buyning 2 non-adjustable frame packs (small and medium) for less than $100. He used the small for a couple of years (then several others in the troop borrowed it to try out) and has used the medium for 300+miles of backpacking. All for under $100.

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Choosing a sleeping bag is pure alchemy. Temperture ratings are always subjective and suspect. The enviroment where the bag is to be used is also another factor to consider. At high altitudes, or desert treking down is the better choice. In areas such as Arkansas, primaloft insulation would be superior to down.


As sleeping bags are only half of the equation, the weight of one's bottom insulation must also be considered. In cold weather/winter conditions my technique is to use a full length Ridge Rest, and a 3/4 Therma Rest. The Ridge Rest protects the whole bag and the lower body, while the Therma Rest adds an additional heatloss shield for the body's core.


One last thought concerning sleeping bags is to remember that they are your last line of defense against hypothermia. A few extra bucks for a quality bag is always worth the investment


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