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Barry is spot on!

The lightest piece of gear is that which isn't packed.

His rec's are also why I recommend using backpacks even for car camping instead of dragging an entire trailer and a full patrol box as it provides a minimum baseline. Then  a patrol can decide what one or two items they need special for the car camping trip (eg dutch oven). 

Making the switch from backpacking to car-camping (or canoe) is much easier than the other direction.

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Most every UL pack setup these days is based on Jardine's Ray-Way pack. I haven't checked here for awhile because I was off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this year. My base pack weight was around 10

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

I get the distinct impression that modern packs will not have the longevity of older, canvas ones. My original BSA Yucca pack is now permanently attached to the war surplus plywood (!) GI M4  pack boa

I first read this about 1980 and was moved to transcribe it... 

   *(( The true author of this article is unknown. It is here copied from the COME HOSTELING newsletter, Sept. 1980, of the Potomac Area Council of the American Youth Hostels, who received it from Dick Schwanke, Senior PAC Staff Trainer, who read it in the APPALACHIAN HIKER by Ed Garvey, who got it from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Conference Bulletin, which quoted it from THE RAMBLER of the Wasatch Mountain Club of Salt Lake City, which reportedly cribbed it from the I.A.C. News of Idaho Falls, which reported it from the 1966 PEAKS & TRAILS. I offer it here for your enjoyment and inspiration. Note that some of the ingredients are a bit dated. Adjust as necessary. Enjoy!))  

"Courageous Cookery"          by John Echo*    

            Once the convert backpacker or cycle camper has accepted the subtle gustatory nuances associated with sustained operations beyond the chrome, he should try the advantages of ultra fringe living so that he will realize what he is paying for his nested pots and pretty pans carried so diligently and brought home so dirty after every "wilderness experience". The following system works. It is dependable and functional. It works on the big rock. It even works when the weather has gone to hell, you are wet and cold and the wind is blowing down the back of your hairy neck. It is not for the timid. It consists of a stove, a six inch sauce pan, a plastic cup and a soup spoon. If you insist on a metal cup, you must never fail to mutter "I'm having fun, I'm having fun", every time you spill the soup on your sleeping bag.

          Breakfast: Instant wheat cereal-- sugar and powdered milk added-- ready two minutes after water boils. Eat from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water, boil, and add powdered eggs and ham. You'll never taste the cereal anyway. In three minutes, eat eggs. Do not wash pot. Add water or snow and boil for tea. Do not wash pot. Most of the residue eggs will come off in the tea water. Make it strong and add sugar. Tastes like tea. Do not wash pot. With reasonable technique, it should be clean. Pack pot in rucksack and enjoy last cup of tea while others are dirtying entire series of nested cookware.

          Lunch: Boil pot of tea. Have snack of rye bread, cheese and dried beef Continue journey in 10 minutes if necessary.

          Dinner: Boil pot of water, add Wylers dried vegetable soup and beef bar. Eat from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water and potatoes from dry potatoe powder. Add gravy mix to taste. Eat potatoes from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water and boil for tea. Fortuitous fish or meat can be cooked easily. You do not need oil or fat. Put half inch of water in pot. Add cleaned and salted fish. Do not let water boil away. Eat from pot when done. Process can be done rapidly. Fish can even be browned somewhat by a masterful hand.

          Do not change menu. Variation only recedes from the optimum. Beginners may be allowed to wash pot once a day for three consecutive days only. It is obvious that burning or sticking food destroys the beauty of the technique. If you insist on carrying a heavier pack, make up the weight you save with extra food. Stay three days longer.


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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

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, 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.


"Take less, do more" - Gossamer Gear slogan

I hear you.  I'm trying my best to be smart about the gear they take.  The thing that shocked me was that the scout who was telling me this said the SM looked at it like a badge of honor. Yikes! 😖

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True story:   Scoutson joined the Troop of my Scout years, much to my approval. They went hiking/camping quite often. To celebrate his "crossing over", we told him he could pick out anything in the store as a present. He already had a good backpack/frame, sleeping bag, cook set from other trips.  So, he picked out a 5 D cell Maglight.  For camping?  Well, he chose it.

Took it on one (one) 5 mile overnight hike.... after that, it sat in our pantry for backyard work.... 

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I grew up with an external frame pack. Bought an internal when they first came out. Bought a second one  years later. Finally went back to an external pack. I like the external packs better. The internal frame packs are mostly a duffel bag with nice straps. The result, looking down, is a round cross section. An external pack is more rectangular. On the whole the center of mass is closer to my back and much less tiresome to carry all day. They're also easier to pack. There are more pockets so everything has it's place. A bear canister they can take up the entire inside of an internal pack. I can lash it to my frame, under the pack.

I'm not saying they're perfect but I wish there were more companies making them. They are cheaper than internal packs. I also think both styles are starting to merge. As the frames get a bit more sturdy on the internals then some of the issues I have with them might go away. A carbon fiber frame that was built for my back would be the ticket.

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32 minutes ago, MattR said:

I'm not saying they're perfect but I wish there were more companies making them. They are cheaper than internal packs. I also think both styles are starting to merge. As the frames get a bit more sturdy on the internals then some of the issues I have with them might go away. A carbon fiber frame that was built for my back would be the ticket.

My Zpacks Arc Haul uses carbon fiber stays that you flex. The arc creates an air gap between the pack and your back to reduce back sweat. It's not perfect, but much better than other packs I've used.


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  • 2 weeks later...
On ‎10‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 10:45 AM, shortridge said:

If any external frame fans really want their heads to explode, check out the ultralight sub on Reddit and read about Ray Jardine. Base pack weights of 10-15 pounds - or less!

Most every UL pack setup these days is based on Jardine's Ray-Way pack. I haven't checked here for awhile because I was off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this year. My base pack weight was around 10 pounds. I used two different Ray-Way packs that I sewed myself. One was ~39 liters and the other was ~44 liters so a bear can would fit in it when I went through the Sierra, both weigh only 10oz each. One really doesn't need much gear, especially when you're out there to hike, not sit around in camp.

To keep this scouting related, here's my vlog for the day I summitted Mt. Baden Powell.


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On ‎10‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 10:55 AM, Tired_Eagle_Feathers said:

So I dug my old backpack out of the attic and discovered that the nylon straps are disintegrating.  The frame is aluminum and the bag part is fine.  I can probably make new straps from leather.

I looked online at REI and all the backpacks today look like a giant duffle bag with straps.  Not at all what I grew up with.  How do you attach a bed roll, sleeping bag, and tent to these new kinds of backpacks?


if your pack has a brand name, search online and send them an email concerning repair of the bag,

even if a manufacturer does not have a lifetime warranty many times they will try to repair it or give you credit on a replacement,

also if your frame is a common size they sell replacement bags without the frame,

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External frame packs are good for heavy loads.  Today, unless you have some specialized trip (hunting, very cold temps) or a very long haul before resupply, there's no reason to have a very heavy load.

If you do some research and shop around, including cottage industry companies like Zpacks, Gossamer Gear, UGQ, Enlightened Equipment, TarpTent, etc., you can find light, compact sleeping bags and tents that fit in the pack.  You don't have to look like the Beverly Hillbillies' truck with a Thermos, lantern and ping pong table strapped to your back.

Take just what you need.  Choose gear designed for backpacking.

Here's my work in progress gear list for Philmont. https://lighterpack.com/r/1y08fv

I shopped sales, so very little was bought at full price.  I found cheaper options for my son.  He had the nerve to grow 1.5 sizes between me getting him trail runners and our second hike!

Here's part of a document I wrote for our crew:

Here are places I use and others have suggested. Buying at the end of a season is usually a good way to
find clearance sales.

1. Thrift Stores – you never know what you might find.
2. REI – I love REI, but do not buy things at full price! Get a membership and shop the sales. Big
discounts are on their garage web site at https://www.rei.com/rei-garage They also sell
returned items at https://www.rei.com/used Anniversary sale starts May 18.
3. Used Patagonia Gear – Patagonia is a brand with excellent quality, but at a high price. Even
used, it is not exactly cheap, but you might find something https://wornwear.patagonia.com/
Their lightweight synthetic and down puffy jackets and fleece shirts are something to consider if
you find a bargain.
4. eBay – I bought a nice synthetic insulating jacket (from Ukraine!) and my rain jacket at big
discounts. You need to know what specific item you want. Browsing is very time consuming.
5. https://www.campmor.com/ - many discounts, 20% off your first item (look for that coupon on
the top of the page).
6. https://www.steepandcheap.com/ - everything is discounted.
7. http://www.backcountrygear.com/ - many sale items available.
8. https://www.backcountry.com/ - many sale items available.
9. https://www.massdrop.com/ This is a unique site. They work with manufacturers to offer
quality items at a discount. If enough people commit to buying the item, the discount is greater.
I purchased socks and a titanium coffee mug here. The downside is that it can take a month or
more for the items to arrive.
10. https://smile.amazon.com/ - not always the cheapest, but I have found deals here. I also like
reading the reviews. Use the “smile” version of the site and pick a charity. It costs nothing to do
it and you help a charity.
11. https://mytrailco.com/ I bought my son's pack here. Keep in mind the Backpacking Light 70 is
frameless. This means you can’t overload it. I also bought a rain jacket, rain pants and other
items at good prices.

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More from that document:

Rain Gear
Philmont requires a rain jacket and rain pants. Ponchos are not allowed.
This is a tough subject as lightweight raingear can be very expensive. Many Philmonters suggest Frogg
Toggs and Dri Ducks, which are often available at Wal Mart. These are light, inexpensive, but are not
durable. They have several versions of Frogg Toggs. The lightest ones tear easily. Consider these,
although I do not know the weight. Frogg Toggs are a little oversized so they will fit over insulating

My Trail Co. often has discounts on their rain jackets and pants. Don’t get the wind jacket or wind pants
in lieu of rain gear. They are not waterproof. https://mytrailco.com/collections/mens-rain-gear

Also, search sales for rain jackets and pants under a pound.
A light rain hat is optional if the jacket has a hood, mandatory if it does not. A wide brim hat can work
well in sun and rain.
Windshirt (optional, but I found a cheap option)
On a cool, windy morning, these very light jackets combine with the fleece layer to provide a great deal
of warmth for the weight. These are usually too expensive to recommend for scouts, but I found a
cheap option on Amazon. The sizing is shown in Asian and US sizing, so go up two to three sizes from
Asian and do not tell your scout that they are marketed to women.  They look like rain jackets but are
not fully waterproof and much lighter.

Amazon wind jacket


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Lightweight Insulating layer from that document:

Insulating Layer
This item might not leave the backpack, but we need to have it available, depending on the trek chosen
and weather conditions. These can be either down or synthetic. Down is lighter and warmer by weight,
but typically more expensive and loses more insulating ability if it gets soaking wet. This should not be
worn as an outer layer during rain, so It shouldn’t get soaking wet. This should weigh a pound or less.
A relatively inexpensive, light down jacket is available at Uniqlo. Jason and I each have
one and it weighs around 10 ounces! Keep an eye out for sales and clearance items.
Uniqlo light down jacket

This layer is more critical depending on the Philmont Trek the crew chooses. There are synthetic options
too, but keep it light and pack small!

Insulating Layer 2 – Fleece
Old Navy has a good, lightweight fleece hoodie at a good price. This works well with a wind jacket since
fleece does not block wind well.
Old Navy fleece hoodie


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Sleeping System
Philmont suggests using a 20 degree bag. Depending on how cold your scout sleeps, 20-30 degree bags
should work well.
Down bags are lightest and compress the most. They are more expensive, but with care, last longer
than synthetic. A down bag must be kept as dry as possible, even more so than a synthetic bag.
Ideally, the sleeping bag should be less than 3 pounds.
Shop the sales, but the Kelty Cosmic Down bag is a good price for down.

Outdoor Vitals has good prices on down sleeping bags. I bought one for Jason when they had a big sale.
Outdoor Vitals bag

Dry Bag
A dry bag that easily fits the sleeping bag is a must.

Sleeping Pad
Many pads come in 20” wide and 25” wide sizes, in addition to multiple lengths. Due to the limited floor
space of two person tents and small size of scouts, the pad should be 20” wide.
Backpacking pads are either closed cell foam pads or inflatable. Self-inflating pads tend to be too heavy
and bulky. For scouts, closed cell pads are simpler and cheaper. If using an inflatable pad, the scout
must be able to blow it up and bring a repair kit. These can develop holes, so another reason to lean
toward closed cell. Inflatable is more comfortable for most people. That is more of an issue for us old
Look at the weight of inflatable pads. The lightest ones are expensive.
Nemo Switchback – highly recommended. Currently REI exclusive.

Thermarest closed cell:

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