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Outfitting a troop for backpacking without bankrupting everyone

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Thanks to this thread, our newly revived Troop is going down the "Lightweight Patrol" path. I found this thread when searching for Patrol equipment recommendations. The Scouts are fully onboard as t

Brew.....Backpacking successfully and comfortably is very region specific.....While I am very comfortable and successful in my outdoor adventures on the east coast woodlands and mid range mountains....I also understand that it is significantly different in the Cascade Mountains, White mountains and desert environment....I would need to do some reading and seek advice from those more experienced.


Leave no trace is different as well.... an example is some places you must backpack out your bodily waste so you would need to carry a poo tube. Other places you can't get off the trail period because of alpine or desert crust....


Some places you are required to carry a bear canister....even in some locations in the Adirondacks and south east now.


Altitude sickness, probably not in Wisconsin.


Stoves volcanos are hard to use because we have complete burn bans and dealing with wet wood is an issue....Canisters are fantastic for scouts to use....Pocket rockets are standard fair and do a great job. Jetboils are more money and the group cooking system might be alright for a scout group, the personal systems are too heavy.


Liquid fuel, lots of fiddling around and extra maintenance all though they out perform canisters near or below freezing......


We buddy cook, boys pair up smaller cheaper pots. Generally they eat either directly out of the pot or the ziploc bag their meal is in. long handled spoon and cup are the only utensil's I carry.


Water Purification.....I carry a 4 liter platapus system gravity....works well. I can carry 8 liters of water from the water source per trip....enough for a group of 10.


No dining flys...


We backpacked last weekend, 40 degrees it started to ran round 7.....that was ok because it was dark....the boys got 12 hours of sleep that night....


I don't like the boys owning their own tents for this type of outing......We started out with mid summer trips and using plastic sheeting for make shift tarps.....the problem is if they get wet and it is cold there is no easy solution......My parents would send their scout with a walmart or dicks tent and not think anything of it.


I have been buying tents for this.....I have a mix of sierra design zolo2's and marmot limelight 2.......The zolos are great because they have two doors....I like the marmot construction better and it seems to be more water tight. had the zolo has misted thru once during a serious down pour.....both can be had for $125 via google search....



Backpacks......Golite has specials running on their website.....$90 will get you a small or medium 60 liter pack.....my son uses one very nice.... Campmor has some youth sized packs for $49.....They have a plastic frame and every scout that uses them ends up bruised......I use a granite gear pack.... They don't need a 90 liter pack.....something 50-70 should be plenty......Osprey, kelty are decent scout packs.


Sleeping bags while backpacking are always a problem...A walmart or dicks bag will not compress enough to fit well in an internal frame pack......Functionally they are fine.....but they are just huge....... Steepandcheap offers 30 degree down bags from $80....I have a couple I loan out.....They can be compressed to the size of a softball....


Clothing....mostly what they have in the closet....Just make sure they test what they are gonna wear on the shake down trips. if you shakedown during the spring of fall make sure they carry clothing they only sleep in, that way they don't go to bed wet....



What I have done for our troop is purchased or got donated gear.....The packs and sleeping bags are my personal property and are checked out by the boys....





It is a huge expense and daunting for a parent looking at it.










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That's what I'm asking, and that's why I focused this question on affordability. I can hit the trail for the weekend with my pack, my Hennessey hammock, and enough food and water to get by. But, I don't know how to translate that into a troop setting. The challenge is to arm the group with enough information so that they can make well-informed decisions while keeping it affordable for our demographics and budget realities. it might be a case where we have to downscale expectations, or perhaps even build in more day hikes into our plop camping to make use of the equipment we have as we grow into more adventure. Knowledge is the first step, and that's what I'm trying to gain here and elsewhere.

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BD makes all good points.


The problem is that whatever you do it's gonna cost money. You will probably need to accumulate troop backpacking gear over time. You can't buy it all for one trip, at least not for a troop of any size. I outfitted my Philmont crew with ultralight tents, stoves and dining fly for about $1,000, and that was for 8 people.


If your troop has decided that backpacking is going to be a big part of their program than you start buying gear as needed. If this is a one time thing, (and it might be if they've never done it before) than you go with what you can beg, borrow or buy. Once the commitment is made to include backpacking as an important part of your program than you can start raising funds and buying gear on sale, buy used gear or even making your own. I don't see any other way.

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"1 stove per 4 Scouts sounds about right. I think Kudu calls this a 'Cook Group'."


Yes, two (2) "Cook Groups" per Patrol.


Here is Bob Geier's easy, illustrated guide for beginners:




As you slowly invest in good equipment, move the more mature Patrols into using the same gear for all campouts. They can backpack Baden-Powell's minimum 300 feet every month :-)


Yours at 300 feet,





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If you're just boiling water than 1 stove and pot per patrol is sufficient. Most meals take 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water per serving. Now if you're actually cooking food than you need more capacity. But with the the foods available today, (and not just the freeze dried stuff, there's plenty choices at the grocery store) there's no need to do anything but boil water.


Too bad you can't make your own alcohol stoves. You could outfit your entire troop in stoves for nothing.

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It all depends on your ability to learn. I found that with the right knowledge and planning we were able to outfit two groups (18 people) 9 day trek into the BWCA at a cost (including transportation) far less than what it would have cost the boys for 6 days at the local council summer camp.



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How about the next camp out, the troop purchases the pocket rockets and plans a backpacking menu.........


This will get them experience in meal planning, what they like and don't like.... Eagle nailed it, go to the grocery store, not the outfitter for food. they have a variety of Knorr meals, my favorite cheesy mashed potatos with spam or bacon.....


I would suggest that you have the boys try the various water purification methods here too....It is a bad idea to take a young man on a multi day trip and discover on day 1 he won't drink water purified with chemicals because of taste.


The next campout the boys bring their choice of backpacking tents plus cook on the pocket rockets.....


Backpacks are tough......the boys will outgrow them and they are expensive.....that is why the troop owns the small and medium ones......



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I think Scouts should definitely be encouraged to cook - remember, there's a purpose behind all this. Basement's right that the grocery store is the place to get backpacking food, not the outfitters. It's also pretty cheap to dehydrate your own food - there are $40 dehydrators on the market, and you can even make your own with an old box fan and some furnace filters (really, Alton Brown can show you how!).


I like the idea of doing a dump camp in a backpack style as part of the shakedown.

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Granted, cooking is an important part of an outing, but it is a luxury. I would definitely expect 2-3 meals a day in car camping to be cooked. However, on a backpacking treks where ever oz. counts, one needs to make adjustments. Full regalia for COH and a swimsuit at the waterfront.


Boomer is correct. There's a lot of time wasted and distance lost when one has to stop and cook while backpacking. You're not there to cook and clean up, you're there to hike. Even at an advanced age as myself I can cover more territory than people half my age because the hare has to stop and cook, etc. while the turtle just snacks as he walks along.


Many of the discussions on this thread attempt to find happy ground between the car camping on one side and backpacking on the other.


I haven't really found the grey area to be much of anything that really challenges the boys. We're going to go backpacking with car camping equipment... Yeah, right, sign me up! Or we're going backpacking but retain the car camping attitudes... Yep, another winner! Or we're going backpacking, but we can only cover 10 miles a day because we're going to need to stop and cook 3 times a day... Can't wait!


If I'm going to go backpacking I want to spend more time and cover greater distances than the "normal" people who backpack within 10-15 miles of the parking lots where they have plenty of cars to shuttle them back to the other lot.


I guess I want to go to the places where very few others are able to go. And as a matter of fact, I have yet to get a complaint out of a boy that would rather have a couple chocolate bars and keep going verses keeping going because we have a couple of hours of daylight yet. Who really wants to have to cook in the dark? Well, there goes 2 hours of back country hiking right there.


When I was at Philmont, we hiked from dawn 'til noon each day. Stopped and rested, did the activities, etc, in the afternoon and hit the sack early. Basically it was a 1/2 backpack, 1/2 camping trip. We could have seen twice as much of Philmont if it had been a real backpack trip.


And as I mentioned before, I'd rather carry food than stove, fuel, pots, pans, water filters and tent. There is such a thing as car camping without the car. It's called camping, not backpacking.



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"When I was at Philmont, we hiked from dawn 'til noon each day. Stopped and rested, did the activities, etc, in the afternoon and hit the sack early. Basically it was a 1/2 backpack, 1/2 camping trip. We could have seen twice as much of Philmont if it had been a real backpack trip."


I can sell boys on a 1/2 day hiking followed by a 1/2 day of activities like Philmont. I don't think I can sell them on all day hiking. If I could I'd take them on a 3 week hike on the John Muir trail. If you would have hiked all day at Philmont think of all the cool stuff you would have missed.(This message has been edited by Eagle732)

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When I used to go backpacking alone three decades or so ago, I woke up and hiked five miles before stopping to make some hot chocolate.


I made up a bag of ham 'n cheese sandwiches before leaving which I ate twice a day for several days, cooking mac 'n cheese or something similar for dinner. All intensely calorie dense foods.


I could easily get along without a stove at all.

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