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Putting your scouts Backpack on a diet

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So how much weigh do you permit your scouts to take backpacking??? I am speaking of base weight which is everything but consumables which for the purposes of this discussion are food water and stove fuel.


So inexpensive light weight gear solutions, What do you do, made???


I like gatoraide bottles vs Nalgene light free solution.


I like popcan stoves, but they are not currently permitted, because they are homemade and alcohol is not a preferred fuel. So do you ignore this and continue to use them????


Tarps or hammocks instead of tents??????



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I cannot remember what the standard is, 1/3 or 1/4 of total body weight (want to say 1/4) but whatever the standard is, that is what my troop used. Sometimes the older scouts had to carry a larger share of patrol gear than the younger scouts.


One thing I've done and my troop has done, is "shake and bakes." He have folks put everything on a tarp or poncho to shakedown anything that is not needed. One time we had to "bake" someone as he tried to bring some reading material that mom would not approve.


One thing I make a point of doing: even after doing a shake and bake, keep an eye onthe gear so folks do not lighten their load at the expense of others. On one trip, the one my pack broke on, my "buddy" developed a blister the size of a baseball (he deliberately got one and infected it to avoid the backpacking portion of training) We had already shaken down, but we left our packs with the patrol while we went to the medic. Long story short, when the word got back to the patrol that blisterboy wasn't going, his share of the patrol gear got added to my pack since I was his buddy. Was not a happy camper about that, especially since my no name pack frame broke under the weight.

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Depends on your ruggedness/luxury levels and attitude.


I have backpacked for a weekend using the old Yucca pack (canvas) and canteen (aluminum). It holds more than I need and it doesn't have a waist belt. I counter that with a tumpline and have no problem.


The canteen is small (1 qt), carry purification tablets.


The "heaviest" part of the load is the wool blanket/gum blanket bed roll.


Food is no cook, trail mix, beans, jerky, sausage, oatmeal, etc. Spoon and cup are all I take for the "kitchen".


I only plan on cooking where I can have an open fire. Then I have pocket knife, matches and an aluminum mess kit.


I have on occasion done the trail mix only treks for 3 days (and only starved to death twice.)


I have found over the years that there is a direct ratio between ruggedness and luxury and luxury is often times something I don't want to put up with in order to get that much further into the back country. The variance between the two extremes is measured in attitude.


I would challenge the boys to lighten the load or endure the pain. Unfortunately there are a lot of adults that cannot make it into the woods very far because the troop trailer can't get there.


I have seen so many boys take stuffed military duffle bags to a camporee wondering how they would have enough time to wear all those clothes before the weekend was over. Getting military duffles with shoulder straps doesn't really solve the basic problem.


If measured against body weight I should be able to carry a bit less than 50#'s. There's no way I would ever consider carrying more than 20#-25#'s.



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Alas I am at that stage in scouting where I am playing packmule for the wife and 3 kids. In addition to my large internal frame pack, and my ALICE for the wife, each kid brings book bag, and the is usually a large cardboard box or two of supplies that I use my cart for. Needless to say I have a dream of someday packing light again.


That said, oldest is using ALICE this weekend b/c he want to be able to carry his own gear. I think I am starting to be a bad influence on him ;)

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I've been pretty lax with my venturers, and that costs us in distance traveled. For the scouts ...


I would suggest 1/5 for new boys who are not in a weight training program. The older I get the more I realize I need to be at or near that mark!


The other point of patrols is to divide up components. Cook kit from utensils from burner from stove. Tent from fly from stakes from pegs.


Finding a lighter sleeping bag cheap is one of my bigger challenges.


I'm skeptical about the weight exchange between tarps and tents. But then I use a very small tent or carry half of a buddy's larger one.


Multiple trips of varying challenge are important. The kid who hasn't done the 4 mile shakedown hike should not be on the 15 mile weekend. (Unless you have a plan "B" that can safely reduce the trip to 6 miles if things aren't working out.)


Once they've felt the load they'll more likely listen to those tips about weight saving, balancing, etc...

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There are those times I will hit the backcountry for three or four days with only a four point blanket with a tump line for my pack, a sill tarp, sheath knife, flint and steel kit, canteen, cup, plus several bags of tea, jerky and pemmican....

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E92 - Yes. And sometimes we adults will present our packs to the youth so that they can see different styles/priorities.


The problem with venturing age kids is the attendance and communication issue. In their mind a backpacking trip is a one-time event where, in reality it is a multi-weekend preparation program.


I have one young lady who missed the training weekends, had her friends get her "up to speed", then was miserable on the back-country weekend. (Her mom loved it, BTW!) She swears she will never backpack again.


le Voy - Do you encourage the youth in your unit to head out as minimally as you do?

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I work at the Council level as a river guide, a climbing director as well as a white water canoeing instructor, and a black powder instructor. I'm there to assist Unit leaders with their outdoor programs, and/or train new Scoutmasters to enhance their outdoor skills...(This message has been edited by le Voyageur)

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Converting from conventional to ultralight camping takes time. You might start by reading Ray Jardine's "Trail Life". The previous edition was called "Beyond Backpacking". Your library should be able to get one of these.

As hikes get longer in distance, you might start demonstrating lighter weight gear to the boys. In the early 50s Boy's Life had a series of articles on light weight gear the boys were to make. I believe it was called something like Lite-Pak Camping.

What is effective is to bring two packs to the troop meeting - one a conventional pack filled with conventional gear, and the other a lightweight version. Plus a scale to show the weight of each. Allow the guys to try on each loaded pack

There is still a use for conventional gear. Its heavy-duty aspects seem to hold up better at Camporees where not much hiking is done, and a day pack suffices. My guys use a cardboard carton for their gear to save on the expense while saving their lightweight gear for hiking trips.

Some people frown on hammocks because the ropes may wear away the tree's bark.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My base is 20% if it were up to me.


Tarps unless bugs are an issue or the Scout doesn't know how to pitch correctly in bad weather. The latter can be solved with training and practice. The former is more of a personal preference thing.

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