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Every Scout should know how to sew. When far from home, there may be a need to replace a missing button, stop a small tear from going on a rip, patching a hole in the fabric, re-attaching a pack strap.. We have merit badges for woodworking, metalworking, welding, etc, but none for sewing. Probably not macho enough for an identity questioning age group.

There were several make-it books in the 1970s such as "Light Weight Camping Equipment and How to Make It" by Gerry Cunningham.


is an old site. The gear projects are listed on the left. I've made the tarp tent several times. The key to lightweight camping is to get it to last a year or two, and not 40.



mainly promotes his sewing kits. His book "Beyong Camping" is worth a good hard read



The forums section has about 180 pages of how-to and feedback on gearmaking



One of my favorites. His article on backpack design is worth considering (Ultralight Load Carrying)


Going to Philmont? In many cases the trails are smooth enough that you could just strap everything to a two-wheeled golfcart


I don't have a current source for good cheap fabrics (ripstop, silnylon, etc), but a Google search should bring up plenty of potential suppliers



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Have always wondered why some minimal degree of sewing wasn't part of the deal - think it used to be an Eagle Required MB, wasn't around for that.

It's a useful life skill not just in Scouting - no matter how much your spouse likes to sew - YOUR shirt never seems to get the button back on no matter how many other projects she completes - UNLESS you know how to sew. I like wearing my clothes and learned how to sew early on - my Mom wasn't a big believer in boys not being able to take care of themselves...

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Back before the all available,cheap plastic woven tarp, my Scout Troop made their own tarp tents out of 6 mil poly plastic , some really heavy tape (heavier than today's duct tape) that a government dad obtained from his job, and a grommet setting tool. 12' square, grommets every three feet, one grommet set off center in a reinforced diagonal spot, they took them to Philmont . Called the "Exploreer" tent in Boy's Life, I used them for many years backpacking. Seperate plastic/shower curtain ground cloth.

Might last a couple seasons if you were an active camper.

When the plastic got holed or ripped, you used it for a ground cloth. Made a new one in Mr. Coombs basement.


I have demo-ed a tarp tent to our present boys, but no one has taken up the idea. They seem to like the insectless guarantee of the screened in tents. But still, take a 15 by 10 foot tarp, stake one short side down for 5 feet as the bottom, curve it up over yourself, and make an open sided shelter. Four sticks, eight tent pegs, some cordage, enough room for you and your pack.

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  • 7 months later...

Sold some of our older boys on making Litepac backpacks so they'd be more motivated to come to meetings. There were a few tents, survival kit, mess kit, backpack, etc instructions published by Ernest Schmidt from Schiff then collected in a Boys' Life reprint, which someone has digitized here: http://dankohn.info/~scouts/boys_lif..._equipment.pdf

Didn't much work in terms of getting them to more meetings; they cut out the fabric then everything sat for 2 months until they took them home to finish (doubt any did). I can't imagine the cost in leather for the packs nowadays, fortunately I had a huge piece laying around from 20 yrs ago. Tents would probably still be pretty cheap.

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