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Tired_Eagle_Feathers

Tell me about backpacks.

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The idea of going spartan with gear isn't new. The old timers of yesteryear made the same distinction as we do between car camping and backpacking. They just used different terms.

The old "trampers" or "pedestrian camping" of yesteryear had different load outs than when base camping. They wrote books about them. Some were incorporated into the Scouting books.

In 1884 George Washington Sears wrote: "Go light; the lighter the better so that you have the simplest material for health comfort and enjoyment".

Edward Cave wrote a few books for Scouts in the 19-teens as he saw the ideas missing in the early handbooks. I have original copies of these. Much of the same ideas in all the writers of the times.

So, lightweight gear loads isn't a new concept. It has just been rediscovered.

Edited by DuctTape

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29 minutes ago, Tired_Eagle_Feathers said:

I don't know if I have it in me anymore to be able to go on hiking trips with my son when he gets into Scouting, which will be a shame.  But if I do, it's going to be very spartan packing.  Hard enough to drag my 280 pound, 48-year-old self up a trail.

I was not sure at 64 if I could still carry a pack when we had our first backpacking trip (20 miles) after my great nephew crossed over from Webelos.  I bought him an adjustable Deuter internal frame pack, and bought myself a Deuter Air Contact Lite 50 + 10 internal frame pack, that is the most comfortable I have ever owned.  I loaded them up at REI and we walked the store for about 1 1/2 hours before buying.

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Some has already mentioned ALPS Mountaineering. They still make a few external frame packs. My two older hoodlums and wife have externals they got from thrift stores or yard sales. The one I got for the wife was the one I dreamed of getting as a Scout back in the day: Coleman Peak 1 with Ramflex frame. I have a medium A.L.I.C.E. that I started backpacking with and have two  50 milers with. Pack is still usable, and I modified the A.L.I.C.E. frame by using MOLLE 2 belt and straps on her. Joke in the troop growing up was : government surplus. if it's designed to survive combat, it may survive Boy Scouts. I have since upgraded to a large A.L.I.C.E. pack, using the medium as a day pack.

But I also have an internal frame pack. I used it a lot more when I played pack mule at cub camp outs. Also use it for backpacking because it is significantly lighter than A.L.I.C.E.  Even trying some interesting mods, i.e. using wife's Ramflex frame instead of aluminum A.L.I.C.E. frame, the internal is lighter.

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2 hours ago, DuctTape said:

The idea of going spartan with gear isn't new. The old timers of yesteryear made the same distinction as we do between car camping and backpacking. They just used different terms.

The old "trampers" or "pedestrian camping" of yesteryear had different load outs than when base camping. They wrote books about them. Some were incorporated into the Scouting books.

In 1884 George Washington Sears wrote: "Go light; the lighter the better so that you have the simplest material for health comfort and enjoyment".

Edward Cave wrote a few books for Scouts in the 19-teens as he saw the ideas missing in the early handbooks. I have original copies of these. Much of the same ideas in all the writers of the times.

So, lightweight gear loads isn't a new concept. It has just been rediscovered.

Duct, I'm intrigued re the old timers.  Any specific titles you'd recommend?

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1 hour ago, desertrat77 said:

Duct, I'm intrigued re the old timers.  Any specific titles you'd recommend?

As shortridge said, "Woodcraft" by Sears.

"Camping and Woodcraft" by Horace Kephart

"The Boy Scout Hike Book" and "The Boy Scout Camp Book" by Edward Cave

"The Campers Handbook" by Thomas Holding

"Camp and Trail Methods" by Elmer Kreps

many of these can be found digitally.

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I almost forgot,

 

" The book of camp lore" by Daniel Carter Beard he also wrote "Shelters Shacks and Shanties" which is awesome.

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“The American Boys’ Handy-Book” by Beard is also a great read. I so wanted to make a houseboat when I was a kid. Definitely written in a different time ... “Just stop in at the local sawmill and see if the workers will give you some castoff boards for free!”

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Technology is changing the definition of lightweight. REI has some light stuff, but if you want the best, lightest stuff, you have to go to the cottage industry like Zpacks, Mountain Laurel Designs, Enlightened Equipment, Gossamer Gear, Tarptent, etc. 

There are compromises. You trade away durability for less weight. Also, Dyneema (formerly Cuben Fiber) is not cheap for tents and packs. Silnylon is light and and a reasonable price, but don't expect it to last decades. 

For those reasons, many of these things are not appropriate for scouts, but a scouter can consider them.

I plan on taking my Zpacks Arc Haul to Philmont next year along with my Zpacks Duplex and Zpacks 20 degree bag. I've bought stuff used and timed sales, so "A scout is thrifty" can mean getting good quality at a good price, not just cheap. Right now, my base weight is between 11-12 pounds and that includes the luxury of a Helinox Chair Zero and a Faux Pro (cheap GoPro type camera) with batteries.

If you want a light backpack at a good price, check out the My Trail Co. Backpack Light 70.  Just over 2 pounds (less than half your typical REI pack) and $169 is quite a bargain.

https://mytrailco.com/collections/packs-pack-accesories/products/backpack-light-70

A scout who aged out told me about our troop's last Philmont trip. He said the scoutmaster at the time had a pack trail weight with water and food of 70 pounds. I have to wonder if he was carrying a dutch oven.

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Anybody combine a few MBs and help a scout build their own pack?

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2 hours ago, qwazse said:

Anybody combine a few MBs and help a scout build their own pack?

I remember when Boys Life had instructions on how to make gear. The BSA fieldbook (early ones) had some instructions too.

Some of our scouts have made the "little dandy" wood stove.  a neat metal working project which could be part of that mB.

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1 hour ago, Tired_Eagle_Feathers said:

My dad was poor as a kid.  They had to borrow a bucket of water from the neighbors to flush their toilet.  As a scout and made his own pack.  Had a wooden frame.

My dad did the same. Their "uniform" was an arm-band with the troop # and patrol emblem.

His wooden frame was also a camp chair.

Making gear is not difficult, but definitely a lost skill for most adults. Easier to sell popcorn and buy the gear some folks believe.

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3 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

A scout who aged out told me about our troop's last Philmont trip. He said the scoutmaster at the time had a pack trail weight with water and food of 70 pounds. I have to wonder if he was carrying a dutch oven.

I'm not surprised at all. If you look at Philmonts published guidelines and just pick any ol cheap gear, it gets heavy quickly. Also, inexperienced back packers tend to want everything, not realizing one good knife and one back packing saw works fine for the whole crew. I have never taken a knife with a crew of scouts.Then there is the SM rule of taking care of the scouts by bring extra socks, caps and gloves, first-aid and FOOD.

Our troop is a back packing troop, so we got better over the years of understanding exactly what gear is really needed for a crew. One rope for a bear bag, one good knife, saw, and good cooking gear. The fewer tents, the better. And nobody carries the whole tent, it is divided out among crew.

But, where I found the most abuse of weight is with the food, especially at Philmont where the crew is carrying at least for five or more days. Add the water and the pack weight can easily double. The adults generally will compensate for the small scouts when the whole crew should share the load.

But, don't feel sorry for the 70lb SM packs, feel sorry for the 95 lb Scout with the 65 lb pack. There a lot of them because nobody is showing them how to pack lightly, or at least balanced.

Like most things, backpacking is a learning experience.

One rule I learned the hard way is that if you don't want to carry a lot of gear, don't get a big pack. It's too easy to say "I've got room, throw it over here.". My present pack is half the size of the previous pack.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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