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69RoadRunner

Philmont Gear Review

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1 hour ago, SteveMM said:

My son has a brand new (read: no food ever inside it) solo tent that the'd planned to take to Philmont, but he was told that they only want participants to use two-person ones because it reduces the amount of space in camps taken up by tents.

 

If you have an odd number of scouts in the crew, he could use it.

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1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

Why not?

Barry

There are campsites where you'd struggle to find enough spots if everyone is using a hammock.  As others said, it's likely that a large number of hammock users would do harm to the trees, even if you required the use of sticks like the bear ropes.

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10 minutes ago, 69RoadRunner said:

If you have an odd number of scouts in the crew, he could use it.

True ... yes.  Also, if an adult is on the trek who doesn't have a child also on the trek, then the adult must tent alone, of course.  My son's trek had an even number of boys, so he just left his one-man tent at home.  He reported back that the Philmont tents were no problem at all. 

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1 hour ago, Double Eagle said:

.  And please don't suggest Philmont allow hammocks. 

 

1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

Why not?

Barry

As others noted, bear tacos is one reason (though pretty unlikely).  Main reasons are tree damage, spreading sites out to the trees, also there are wandering deer etc that could get hung up on the hammocks.  Potentially a better shelter in a tent.

Last thing may be it would be a might chilly.  You would still need pads, potentially heavier sleep gear, rainfly, etc.  Not sure you would save a great amount of weight

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1 hour ago, SteveMM said:

True ... yes.  Also, if an adult is on the trek who doesn't have a child also on the trek, then the adult must tent alone, of course.  My son's trek had an even number of boys, so he just left his one-man tent at home.  He reported back that the Philmont tents were no problem at all. 

They won't exactly prevent you from doing it, but Philmont doesn't want parents tenting with their kids anymore.  I don't think it's a YPT thing, but more of a keep the kids in the crew together thing.

We had 3 adults, 2 of us with kids in the crew.  The other 2 adults used Philtents and I took a 1 person tent.  

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1 minute ago, 69RoadRunner said:

They won't exactly prevent you from doing it, but Philmont doesn't want parents tenting with their kids anymore.  I don't think it's a YPT thing, but more of a keep the kids in the crew together thing.

We had 3 adults, 2 of us with kids in the crew.  The other 2 adults used Philtents and I took a 1 person tent.  

Our troop didn't run into that suggestion as far as I know.  My son's trek had eight youth and four adults. The four adults each bunked with their sons.  The four remaining youth split into pairs and bunked together. 

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8 minutes ago, Jameson76 said:

 

As others noted, bear tacos is one reason (though pretty unlikely).  Main reasons are tree damage, spreading sites out to the trees, also there are wandering deer etc that could get hung up on the hammocks.  Potentially a better shelter in a tent.

Last thing may be it would be a might chilly.  You would still need pads, potentially heavier sleep gear, rainfly, etc.  Not sure you would save a great amount of weight

It's all about the trees. It started back in the 80s I think by some political activism of protecting the trees from man. It wasn't about Philmont, but National reacted in about the mid 90s. Hammock users know how to safely protect trees. But, when running thousands of youth through the trails in a 3 month period, blanket policies are just easier. 

As for the single man tents, I don't remember that being a problem 15 years ago. We used them. I wonder if bears is part of the reason for the policy. If Philmont is really concerned about camp LNT, they could reduce the size of the crews. I've heard that National would rather troops not use single man tents for all their camp outs. Youth protection? Who knows.  My reasoning for a tent-mate was sharing the weight of the tent. 

It wasn't too long ago that many crews slept together under the tarp. 

Philmont has it's own policies for it's own reasons. The first rule of making camp in the wilderness is shelter because hypothermia can happen anytime with the elements. Anyone who has spent much time in the mountains understands how quickly the rain can hit without warning. The first procedure at Philmont for making camp was hanging the Bear Bag. You wouldn't think that a big deal, but by coincidence after I mentioned shelter and hypothermia to our Philmont Ranger, we were hit with a thunderstorm that dropped 2 inches of hail, a huge drop in temperature, followed with 30 minutes of rain (perfect hypothermia situation). We had just got through setting up the tents, but had the storm hit 30 minutes earlier, it could have been more dangerous. I may have been sensitive because a few years earlier we had the exact same situation on the lakes in the Northern Tier and experienced some hypothermia. Of course the Philmont policy isn't without reason, a scout was attacked in his tent by a bear the previous year, so Philmont was on hyper-bear-alert.

The only reason I bring it up is that I believe the majority of visitors to Philmont are first-time backpackers and they should learn the accepted habits of wilderness camping to take back to their troop. Shelter, water, food.

Barry

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7 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

The only reason I bring it up is that I believe the majority of visitors to Philmont are first-time backpackers and they should learn the accepted habits of wilderness camping to take back to their troop. Shelter, water, food.

Barry

When we go on hikes, even short ones, we stress the rule of 3's for being out and dictating what your priorities may be.

Note these are generalities, this makes it simple to remember:

  1. You can survive 3 weeks without food
  2. You can survive 3 days without water
  3. Your may survive 3 hours without shelter in the rain

Key being shelter is vital.  Our SPL on a Webelos visitation campout was explaining the importance of a jacket and the emergency blanket as the troop went on a hike.  The Scouts repeated (in unison) " You can survive 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, 3 hours without shelter in the rain...take proper shelter or die". 

Some of the Cub parents thought it was a bit over the top, my response was that we want all of the Scouts to clearly understand what needs to be the priority when out in the woods.  I asked them what they hoped their son would do if in 10 years he was on a hike with friends on a fall afternoon and a sudden rainshower hits the group, soaking them, the temperature was dropping, and they were several miles from the trailhead; what would you hope they did?  One of the Scouts overheard and said seek shelter, build a fire as much as possible and calmly assess the next step.

I said nothing else.

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Teaching  scouts how to be safe in all their activities is (or was) an expectation by the general public. Over the years as a scout leader in back county activities, I grew to fear two events the most with the responsibility of taking care of other parents sons: lightning and hypothermia. IF they are not respected, they can cause harm quickly.

Our troop is a backpacking troop, so our scouts have enough experience to understand the 3s. But, I was disappointed that Philmont didn't view it's program as teaching basics. Are bears really that much of a risk while a dozen noisy scouts are setting up tents in the daylight hours. Mountain showers are daily occurrence during the summer months in the mountains. 

I think Philmont has the mentality that they can deal with most emergencies pretty quickly because of their vehicle access to most areas of the ranch. In their eyes, the likelihood of real harm in responding to hypothermia or a lost patrol is a lower risk than a bear attack. I can understand that, but the risk for bear encounters isn't isolated to Philmont. The risk are just as great in most of the wilderness areas in the Rockies as well as in the Norther Tier. 

Beary

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Not just western territories  ...

16 hours ago, Eagledad said:

... but the risk for bear encounters isn't isolated to Philmont. The risk are just as great in most of the wilderness areas in the Rockies as well as in the Norther Tier. ...

A bear raided a friend's campsite as she and her buddies were setting up in broad daylight for a ladies' weekend in the hills of NC. The critter knew to strike before the food bag got hung! The rest of her weekend continued in a hotel.

I guess this bear heard @Jameson76's mantra too!

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We were doing a Philmont prep hike earlier this year.  To mix things up, we rented a cabin from PATC.  It was our toughest hike with some serious elevation change.  We worked on as many Philskills as possible, with the obvious exception of tent setup.

Right where a side trail met up with the AT, we encountered a brown bear maybe 10 feet off the trail.  That was concerning.  Then the cutest, tiniest baby bear came down the tree next to mamma bear.  Oh <Not Boy Scout Approved Language>!

Luckily we were not between mamma and baby and we assume at least one other baby had already climbed down hearing us approaching.  We all stood with our arms spread wide and yelled as loud as we could.  Mamma bear just looked at us, probably thinking, "Do you have any idea how long it took me to get these kids UP in that tree?  Now I have to chase them and get them to go up another tree and they're going to be up all night with nightmares about scouts screaming at them!!"

As one naturalist we know would say, this was a good bear.  She was afraid of humans and ran away.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

Not just western territories  ...

A bear raided a friend's campsite as she and her buddies were setting up in broad daylight for a ladies' weekend in the hills of NC. The critter knew to strike before the food bag got hung! The rest of her weekend continued in a hotel.

I guess this bear heard @Jameson76's mantra too!

Well there ya go, we live in a world of contradictions. I guess that's why a scout should always be prepared. 

Barry

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26 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Are y'all still hanging bear bags?  Or have you moved on to bear canisters?  The canisters seem to me a better approach to keeping food and smellables safe from our ursine trail companions.

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bear-resistant-canisters.html 

They are better.  The good ones are expensive, though.  And they're heavy.

An in-between option, still not cheap is an Ursack.  They aren't approved in all national parks, though.  They're a lot lighter.  For weekend backpacking trips, they're probably a better option unless the area requires a hard sided canister.

https://www.ursack.com/

Andrew Skurka has some excellent criticism of bear bags.  When you don't have an established cable, most bear hangs are terrible, sometimes due to not having a decent branch to use.

https://andrewskurka.com/argument-against-hanging-bear-bag/

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21 minutes ago, 69RoadRunner said:

An in-between option, still not cheap is an Ursack.  They aren't approved in all national parks, though.  They're a lot lighter.  For weekend backpacking trips, they're probably a better option unless the area requires a hard sided canister.

https://www.ursack.com/

I like the Ursack, much more packable. That, and in Northern Michigan, while we do have black bears, we're much more likely to lose our food to raccoons and squirrels. 

I'd also recommend their opsack for sealing the odors.

https://www.ursack.com/product/opsak-odor-barrier-bag-2-pack/

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