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Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer

Philmont Guidebook to Adventure: "Remember, the key to successful backpacking is to go lightly."

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by Doug Prosser | 2006-04-19 03:00:00-06


Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer - 1
Rock climbing at Cow Camp, Philmont 2004.
Courtesy of Larry Keil, ASM, Troop 815, Danville, CA

Whenever you walk around base camp at Philmont Scout Ranch during the summer you will see the "cripples": Boy Scouts, mostly adult leaders, who have broken down on the trail and had to be removed from their crew and evacuated from the backcountry. They are almost always limping but quite often you will find them hobbling around with crutches. For each one you see in the base camp there are many more on the trails that are just barely making it and regretting their decision to come to Philmont. Why is this happening when Philmont is one of the great adventures in Scouting? The two most common errors are insufficient training and carrying too much weight. When these two errors happen simultaneously that person has created a dangerous situation for himself, and his crew.

Philmont publishes a pamphlet, Philmont Guidebook to Adventure, which gives Scouts information on the Philmont experience, the training, and equipment needed to hike its trails. The equipment list is extensive (read "heavy"), with lots of gear and multiple sets of clothing. Most people who read this pamphlet assume that this is the recommended list of equipment to bring to Philmont. It is not! There is one paragraph in this pamphlet that is the key to your success at Philmont that most people miss:

Gathering Your Equipment

Backpacking requires proper equipment just as any outdoor sport. Without suitable equipment you will face unnecessary hardships. Take only what you need. After several overnight camps you should be able to conduct your own shakedown to eliminate items you didn't need. Remember, the key to successful backpacking is to go lightly. Check your equipment against the recommended lists on page 12 and 13. This is the maximum. All backpackers can reduce this list and still be comfortable, clean, and safe.

Philmont Guidebook to Adventure 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006

The above paragraph sounds like something Ray Jardine wrote instead of the Boy Scouts of America. Statements like "take only what you need," "eliminate items you don't need," and "the key to successful backpacking is to go lightly" have been heard for years throughout the lightweight backpacking community.

This article will show you a reasonable list of gear and techniques that will allow you to carry a lighter pack and truly enjoy the wonders Philmont has to offer.

When I asked my 18-year-old son (Philmont trek 2002, Rayado 2003) how others or I could lighten our packs, his immediate response was, "Bring your 18-year-old son and give him all your gear." He was joking, of course, but there's a lot of wisdom in this statement. At Philmont you function as a "crew" or team. You succeed or fail as this team. If you have immensely strong Scouts they can and should carry more of the group gear than the weaker ones, whether boys or leaders. This allows the whole crew to move the most efficiently around Philmont.

Philmont assigns a Ranger to your crew for the intake process and to hike with you for a few days. The Ranger will get your crew through the intake process, ensure that you bring the appropriate gear, and train the crew on Philmont techniques. Your particular Ranger is the one you need to convince concerning the clothing and equipment you bring. Many people who frequent Backpacking Light will know a bit more about backpacking than your average 18-22 year old Ranger, but please do not harass them. Just take the time to explain yourself and your choices and most of the time they will go along with your choices. I recommend that you not challenge them on anything to do with bear protection. In 2002 we wanted to bring lighter ropes and bags, but our Ranger disagreed. We took the Philmont ropes and bags. In 2005 we had a similar event. I cannot see them approving the Bozeman Mountain Works AirCore Pro URSA Dyneema Bear Bag Hanging Rope even though it may be a better and lighter choice.

Philmont does a really good job of having thousands of Scouts camping in close proximity to lots of bears with very few problems and needs to be congratulated for their efforts to keep everyone safe.


The gear on the list below was selected specifically to meet the requirements of Philmont Scout Ranch while being as light as possible. Although the list was compiled for Boy Scouts and Scout Leaders attending Philmont, it will work equally well for others interested in a lighter pack.

  • Seasons: Summer - lows to the 40s F, high 80s to 90s F, short afternoon showers common
  • Length: Four days between resupply
  • Where: Philmont Scout Ranch, Sangre de Christo mountains, New Mexico

Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer - 2
Equipment check on day one, Philmont 2004.
Courtesy of Larry Keil, ASM, Troop 815, Danville, CA

Rationale for Selected Gear

The gear you carry is broken into five sections: Personal Equipment: Clothing; Personal Equipment: Gear; Personal Equipment: Sleep Systems; Crew Equipment Issued at Philmont; and Crew Equipment Provided by Your Crew.

1. Personal Equipment: Clothing

Philmont sets some standards that influence your clothing choices. They require completely separate sleep clothing, full rain suits (no ponchos), and long pants for various activities. These requirements dictate some of your choices, but still allow you to go fairly light.

Philmont requires long pants for some of the activities (spar pole climbing, horseback riding, conservation projects). These activities could conceivably be done in your rain pants. I tried this during my 2002 trek, but now my rain pants have numerous pieces of duct tape covering the holes I put in them at Philmont doing these activities. Since most people prefer to hike in shorts, a better solution would be a long pair of pants with zip-off legs. A good choice is the Ex-Officio Amphi Convertible Pant. In addition to zip-off legs, it has a built-in brief so that you do not need to bring underwear. For a shirt, I recommend one with an SPF-30 rating and sleeves you can roll up or down. RailRiders, Ex-Officio, and REI make nice shirts, among others. Another advantage of these shirts over T-shirts is that the fabric weave is much tighter making it hard for mosquitoes to bite through the shirt. Remember to treat your clothing with Permethrin prior to coming to Philmont. All you need to take is the one pair of zip-off pants and one hiking shirt for the whole trek. When you get a chance to shower at one of the staff camps wash your shirt, pants, and socks; put them back on and they will be dry usually in less than an hour. I take two pairs of hiking socks, one to wear and the other to change into part way though the day or when getting into camp.

Boots are not necessary since almost all hiking is done on well-worn trails, and your pack weight should be below 30 pounds. Running shoes with good tread will do fine, especially if they are trail runners. Make sure they are broken in before going. A wide brim hat finishes off your hiking clothing.

I have used Frogg Toggs at Philmont for rainwear. I combined them with an umbrella to keep the rain off my face. The umbrella also functions to keep my pack fairly dry. The Gossamer Gear Micropore Rain suit costs $25 versus $70 for Frogg Toggs and weighs less (10.3 oz vs. 16.2 oz). Several people in our crew tried the Micropore Rain Suit on my 2005 trek with mixed results. Some of the suits were really trashed after a 10-day trek. The consensus of our group was that the Frogg Toggs were a better choice, but for Scouts it's hard to overlook the low cost of the Micropore Rain suit.

You will also need to bring a warm sweater and/or jacket/vest. I found that a lightweight fleece or wool sweater works OK but adding a lightweight vest really keeps you toasty socializing with other groups at night. If you find you are getting cold due to wind, just wear your rain suit to act as a wind barrier. Don't use down exclusively for your insulation, in case it gets wet. Mix some wool, fleece, or high loft synthetics into your clothing line. I use a PossumDown (wool) sweater, Patagonia synthetic vest, and a down sleeping bag.

2. Personal Equipment: Gear

When I was in Philmont in 2002 I used a Gossamer Gear G4 pack with a trash compactor bag inside as waterproofing. The G4 worked well at Philmont but it seemed a bit too big even with the bulky food that you get issued. The Ranger was skeptical, but accepted my setup when I showed him I had everything on his list, and then some. In 2005 I used a Gossamer Gear G5 pack (silnylon version). This pack has a smaller volume than the G4, but my gear has also gotten a bit lighter and smaller. The Ranger never questioned me about the pack. Some members of our trek used a GoLite Gust pack (20 oz), and some the Granite Gear Virga (21 oz). The Virga has compression straps to secure the contents better than the Gust, but all the adults and Scouts were happy with their selections. Some of the others took heavier packs that they have owned for a while but are cutting down on other weighty items. Most lightweight packs will work at Philmont if you get total weights to less than 25 pounds with food and water. You need to keep a big enough area in the pack to carry about four days of food, which is usually the most they issue at any one time. Plan on the space for this food to be approximately the size of a bear canister but made up of numerous smaller packages. When the food is issued, go through the food bags and remove items that you and your food group will not use.

Take your water containers of preference. A bladder system, such as Platypus or CamelBak, helps you easily stay hydrated. Bring enough water containers to hold at least 4 liters so that the nights you are in a dry camp you will have water for the morning. If everyone has an extra 2-3 liters of water you do not need to carry the Philmont extra water containers, thus saving a little bit of weight. One other suggestion when going into a dry camp: eat your dinner for lunch near a water source, since dinners require water, whereas lunches and breakfasts are usually dry.

I carry my small pocketknife, whistle, and a couple of photon lights on a necklace so I know where everything is when I need it. The other personal gear you will need are a plastic bowl, cup for hot liquids and a spoon for eating. Some other items are a small propane lighter, personal first aid kit, medicines, sunglasses, and a "stash" of coffee if you are a big coffee drinker. If you really need your caffeine, chocolate-coated coffee beans were really popular on our 2002 and 2005 treks. Remember to bring two cotton bandanas, one for cooking with and one for personal needs.

Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer - 5
Troop 257 group photo after arriving back at base camp at the conclusion of their 2005 trek. Tent City, where everyone spends their first and last night at Philmont, is in the background.
Courtesy of Doug Prosser, ASM, Troop 257, Ventura County Council, CA

3. Personal Equipment: Sleep Systems

Philmont requires separate sleeping clothes from the clothing you wear during the day. This is because your hiking clothes could be contaminated with spilled food, thus leaving odors on your clothing that bears might be attracted to while you sleep. Philmont is very serious about bear avoidance. They spend a lot of time teaching your crew the "Philmont" way to prevent bear attraction. Please do not challenge them on these issues, just go with the flow. They have been very successful in preventing most bear attacks with thousands of Scouts going through the Ranch, always camping in the same fixed locations. Your sleep clothing choices depend on a) whether you sleep warm or cold, and b) the rest of your sleep system. Night temperatures are rarely colder than the low 40s. I sleep cold, so I wear lightweight fleece pants with a long sleeve synthetic shirt and sleep socks that double as shoulder pads on the G5 pack. I add, as needed, a lightweight beanie, wool sweater, and vest.

Philmont requires a tent; no tarps or bivies are allowed. They do not require that a tent have an integrated floor, so many lightweight options are available. The Scouts in 2002 and 2005 used the Mountain Hardwear Kiva, which holds up to four Scouts. Our Scoutmaster and I used the Betamid in 2002, and this year we purchased a Betamid Light to save even more weight. Some people use bathtub-type ground cloths, because the campgrounds are all very hard and flat, thus allowing water to pool around the tents. A flat ground sheet will work fine, however, if you pay attention when setting up your camp, just like you would on any other camping trip.

As I've aged I have migrated to thicker and thicker sleeping pads, to increase the quality of my sleep on the hard ground at Philmont. I am currently using the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pad at 25 ounces. In 2005, three of our crew slept on the Big Agnes pads.

In 2002, I used a three-quarter length thin Therm-a-Rest combined with my Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest closed cell foam pad and a Western Mountaineering MityLite sleeping bag. In a tent, a 30-40 degree bag will work well when combined with some of your insulation layers and a hat. In 2005, I used a Pertex Quantum Arc X down bag, which is both warmer and lighter than the MityLite. I was much warmer sleeping with the Arc X and I may need to lighten my sleep clothing for the next Philmont trek. One other topic that concerns people at night is bugs. We really had no problems with bugs in 2002 and 2005; I never even had to use any Deet or my head net.

Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer - 4
Fish Camp just after Troop 257 has finished setting up camp in the rain. The Scouts under the 8'x10' silnylon dining fly are breaking out the food packets for dinner and getting the cooking started. Note the Micropore Rainsuits, two Mountain Hardwear Kiva shelters, Black Diamond Betamid (purple/white), and Black Diamond Beta Light (blue/gray silnylon). Philmont, 2005.
Courtesy of Doug Prosser, ASM, Troop 257, Ventura County Council, CA

4. Crew Equipment Issued at Philmont

Philmont will issue gear to your crew if you do not bring your own. The Philmont gear is heavy and designed to take the constant abuse that Scouts can deliver. If you plan well you will not have to take much of Philmont's heavy gear. Below is a discussion of the gear listed in "Philmont 2005 Guidebook to Adventure."

The first item is a nylon dining fly (12'x12') weighing about 4 pounds. Its two collapsible poles weigh about 1 pound. Instead, have your crew take a silnylon tarp at least 8'x10' along with extra titanium stakes and lightweight line. In place of the dining fly poles, our crew used two hiking poles velcroed together to give them added height, just single poles if we wanted to keep the tarp low. For whatever reason, our Ranger did not want us to tie our dining fly to trees.

Do not use the Philmont tents, since they weigh about 5.5 pounds for two people. There are many current lightweight options under 2 pounds per Scout (see above). The cook kits Philmont provides range from 4-6 pounds per cook group and cutlery kits weigh 0.5 pound. Each cook group needs a 6-8 liter pot (4 liters is a bit small), and a 2-liter pot for some desserts. Another option for desserts is to mix them in plastic bags. We did this in 2005 with good success; only one dessert bag blew up on a Scout who was too rough with it. Leave the fry pan at home. The whole crew will need one other 6-8 liter pot to boil water for sterilizing eating utensils and for washing. Philmont is really big on regularly sterilizing your eating and cooking gear. The only cutlery item you need is a large spoon and a serving cup with a handle. Leave the spatula at home.

Due to the Philmont logistics, we always use two stoves, when in theory we could get by with only one. Many of the memorable activities at Philmont happen in late afternoon and early evening. The Scouts want to get out there for those activities as fast as possible. One stove for cooking and another stove to boil water means our crew can finish their meals and get out to the activities much faster. In my opinion this is worth the added weight of a second stove.

The next item from the Philmont cook kit is hot-pot tongs (two pairs), weighing about 0.5 pounds. I never saw a use for these since we bring a cooking bandana (our only cotton item) that works great for grabbing hot items.

The next item on the list is a camp shovel, weighing about 1 pound. This is a relic of early days when latrines were dug at each camp. Today every campsite has an outhouse, so we leave this behind.

The next items are plastic trash bags, salt, and pepper. The packets in which you carry your food provide sufficient space to stuff your trash, but trash bags may come in handy as emergency rain wear if a Scout's rain gear gets lost. The salt and pepper are in small individual packets, which generate a lot of small pieces of trash. A better option is to bring a small container of each, along with some additional spices for your trail meals.

Philmont provides scrub pads, toilet paper, and small containers of both dishwashing soap and hand sanitizer. We also bring additional hand sanitizer bottles with us so that we have them readily available when cooking, eating, or returning from the outhouse. We think this is one of the most important aspects of avoiding sickness on the trail.

Philmont also provides Katadyn Micropur water purification tablets, a variety of other cleaning equipment, and bear bags and ropes. Philmont uses a plastic strainer to filter food particles out of wash water and drain it into an underground sump. A spatula is used to scoop the larger food particles from the strainer to be thrown in your trash. I feel a fine mesh screen circle, 6-8 inches in diameter, could accomplish the same function as the plastic strainer, and the spatula could be replaced with a small thin flat piece of plastic like a credit card. I'll be doing this next trip to Philmont.

5. Equipment Provided by Your Crew

This section addresses those miscellaneous gear items that your crew may bring with them that will not be supplied by Philmont.

Philmont recommends a sewing kit with heavy thread and needle. During our past treks we brought a "hotel" sewing kit but we never used it for anything other than draining blisters.

Bring enough tent stakes to put up all your tents, plus the dining fly (in windy conditions) instead of the recommended 10 per person.

Two to three collapsible water containers, 2.5 gallons each are recommended so that when you go to dry camps your crew can bring extra water. In 2002, a number of us brought extra Platypus 2.5 liter containers and in 2005 a few of the crew brought 2.5 gallon containers that they could inflate and use as pillows at night. Either way works fine but it is convenient having some larger containers. I also recommend that you have the crew fill all their water containers and purify them prior to going to bed so you can hit the trail immediately in the morning. You usually need to remind the Scouts to make sure this happens.

Two or three backpacking stoves are recommended. We brought two MSR Simmerlight stoves. Since we had two stoves, we did not bring a repair kit, but we did bring two, 33-ounce and one, 12-ounce fuel containers. We ended up with way too much fuel. I think that a 33-ounce fuel container per stove will provide adequate fuel in between food/fuel pick-ups.

One crew first aid kit is required but the list of items in the kit Philmont suggests is a bit much. Our first aid kit was not any different than we take on a weekend trek. Every Ranger staffed camp has extensive first aid supplies, trained first-aid providers, and the ability to transport people out of the backcountry, so you will not need to provide care for multiple days.

Our crew brought along duct tape wrapped around each of our hiking poles. The duct tape was used for a number of things during the trek but the most important was to patch holes and tears in Micropore Rain suits.

One waterproof ground cloth (5'6" x 7'6") per tent is recommended, but we only brought the ground cloth that came with our tents and did not bring this item. Three 50-foot lengths of 1/8 inch nylon cord are recommended but we only brought two 50-foot lengths that we mainly used for tying up the dining fly. We could have saved some weight here by using the AirCore line to tie up our dining fly.

One adult in 2005 brought along a picture guide to plants which some of the boys found interesting. Our crew brought one 4-ounce bottle of sunscreen, one 2.5-ounce tube of 3M Ultrathon insect repellant, and no shampoo. In three treks to Philmont I have never felt a need to use insect repellant so this may be another area to save a little weight. We do bring a small bar of soap for showers and/or use a little Camp Suds.


Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer - 3
Untangling bear bagging ropes, Philmont 2004.
Courtesy of Larry Keil, ASM, Troop 815, Danville, CA

I have shown you a way to solve one of the two reasons for failure at Philmont: carrying too much weight. The other reason for failure is lack of training before going to Philmont. The people who walk regularly had no real problems hiking around Philmont while those who did no real training were hard pressed at times to complete the day's hike. All adults and any Scouts who are not playing sports in high school need to get out and walk five to seven days per week. Everyone who has not done this has slowed down our crew whether adult or Scout. When walking, carry a daypack or the backpack that you will be taking to Philmont. Each week you are walking, increase the weight in your pack by 3-5 pounds until it is a little above what you will carry at Philmont. In 2002, my training route took me past a supermarket where I would stop every other day and buy a bag of dried beans or peas and throw them in my pack until I had 30 pounds to carry. Each week, increase the distance that you are walking until you are doing 3-5+ miles daily. Try to plan your route such that you include some hills. Have your crew plan weekend treks twice a month for a few months before going to Philmont so that you all can learn to work as a team. Refine your gear list until you have it optimized.

With the steps described above you and your Scouts will enjoy the trip of a lifetime, and just maybe get to come back one day with you children and even possibly your grandchildren.

My gear list for Philmont follows. It includes specific brands and models/styles of gear for reference only. This list neither represents an endorsement of any particular product nor suggests that any product listed is the best choice in the context of any particular situation. The list is easily adaptable for Scouts and Leaders and each person's specific needs.

Philmont Gear List
hat with brimwide-brimmed hatDorfman Pacific4.3120
hiking shirtshort sleeve wicking shirtTroop Cool-max shirt5.0140
hiking pantslong zip-off pants with built-in briefsEx Offficio Amphi Convertible 12.8364
hiking sockslightweight merino wool or Coolmax trail running socksThorlo Lite Walking Level 2 Mini-crew Socks2.982
hiking shoesbreathable, lightweight trail shoesLowa Vento II, size 1346.41316
bandanacottonSurvival Bandana x 2 (one for cooking; one for everything else)3.288
watchmultifunction: compass, altimeter and timeSuunto Vector1.954
neck cordnylon line - holds light, whistle, knife, can-openerKelty Triptease line - reflects light at night, easier to find2.570
lightersmall butane lighter, without child lockscheapest on the market0.514
eye glasses casecombination glasses case and retainerBackpacking Light Hides TechnoSkin Sunglass Case/Retainers0.615
eye glassesprescription-0.720
sun glassesclip-on sun glasses and case-1.438
hiking polesadjustable poles with duct tape wrapped on Komperdell Pro Series AS 21.2600
insulation layerwool shirtPossumDown Sweater, XL10.3390
insulation vestsynthetic vestPatagonia Micro Puff6.0170
rain/wind suitjacket and pantsGossamer Gear Micropore Rainsuit (pants XL 4.2 oz, jacket XL 5.5 oz)9.7460
warm hatwool or fleece beanie/watch capgeneric lightweight beanie1.234
sleep pantsfleece pantsREI Polartec 100 Teton Pants, large10.3290
sleep shirtnylon short or long sleeve t-shirtLL Bean synthetic shirt8.0226
sleep sockwarm socks/used as pads on pack's shoulder strapsunknown brand3.7106
extra hiking socklightweight merino wool or Coolmax trail running socksThorlo Lite Walking Level 2 Mini-crew Socks2.982
overhead shelterlightweight tentBlack Diamond Beta Light ($140)22.0622
overhead shelterlightweight flooring for tentBlack Diamond Betamid Floor ($55, 20 oz, partner carries)0.00
tent stakesstandard, shaped like shepherd's crooktitanium stakes (6) (2 oz, partner carries)0.00
sleeping baglightweight downPertex Quantum Arc X Variable Girth Down Sleeping Bag16.4466
sleeping padthick inflatable pad (my one comfort!)Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pad Mummy, extra-long25.0710
backpacklightweightGossamer Gear G5 Ultralight Backpack, silnylon version, size small7.7216
waterproof linertrash bag to protect clothing from water and for emergenciestrash compactor bag with two extras6.9198
sleeping padclosed cell foam cut down to use as frame for packTherm-a-Rest Ridge Rest 3/4 length closed cell pad-cut down 7.0196
utensilspoonLexan soup spoon0.38
dishplastic margarine container, smallany brand1.850
spicespersonal usehot pepper0.926
cupplastic 8-12 oz cup able to take boiling waterfree plastic cup from Family Fun Cuts that fits in cook kit0.824
water bottles3 liter sipper w/ tubeCamelBak insulated 100 oz Unbottle9.5272
extra water bottle2.5 liter, empty except for dry campsPlatypus 3 liter1.028
mapswax coatedPhilmont official map and plastic bag5.3150
first aid/medicationsminor wound care assorted wound and blister care items, antimicrobial ointment2.057
hand sanitizer2 oz bottle for pre-cooking/eating and post-bathroomleast expensive available3.085
toilet papernon-scented toilet papersmall amount in plastic zip-lock bag6.0168
personal hygieneteeth and body cleaning kit small toothbrush, small toothpaste, small soap in zip-lock bags2.057
lip balmSPF 15 or higher-0.38
bug barrierhead netCampmor Backpacker No-See-Um Head net0.822
umbrellalightweight umbrella folds smallMontBell umbrella5.7160
foodPhilmont provided 3lbs/day/personAverage 2 days carried (Best Guess!!!)96.0454
wateraverage carried - 2 liters2 L64.01814
water treatmentchlorine dioxide based treatmentKatadyn Micropur Purification tablets 0.38
TREK SHARED GEAR (split between 10 people on trek)
stove and windscreenlightweight White GasMSR SimmerLite stove and windscreen x 2 (13.8 oz each)27.6773
fuel bottles and fuelwhite gasMSR 33 oz bottle x 2 (estimate 2 lbs each)64.01792
cookpotlightweight aluminum or titanium, 4-6 quart4 liter aluminum pots x 3 (10.8 oz each)32.4907
guylines100 feet nylon rope 1/8 inch or lessREI Braided Nylon Cord, 1/8 inch, 100 ft5.6160
dining fly10' x10' lightweight tarpsilnylon 10' x 8' + 4 titanium stakes16.0454
first aid kitexpedition size kit with common medicationsAdventure Medical Kit Weekender with some additions23.0650
spices-salt and pepper4.0113
cooking utensilsspoon and spatulaMSR folding large spoons x 2 and 1 spatula2.776
bear bags and ropePhilmont provided3 bags (0.5 lb each) and 1-150 ft, 1/4 inch rope (2.5 lbs)64.01811
sunscreenSPF 30 or higher4 oz bottle5.4152
insect repellantDeet based3M UltraThon insect repellant2.572
sewing kitsmallhotel kit0.12
repair kitminimalnylon ties, pins, clevis pins (if needed), stick of hot glue2.056
plastic strainerFrisbee styleprovided by Philmont8.0224
dish soapbiodegradable3 oz Camp Suds3.496
scrub padssmall2 cut down scrub pads0.612
hand sanitizeralcohol based4 oz Purell x210.0283
camera digital camera and extra batteriesPentax Optio S 509.0255


(1) Total Weight Worn or Carried6.52.9
(2) Total Base Weight in Pack11.05.0
(3) Total Weight of Consumables10.04.5
(4) Total weight of Trek Shared Gear1.80.8
(5) Total Initial Pack Weight (2) + (3) + (4)22.810.4
(6) Full Skin Out Weight (1) + (2) + (3) + (4)29.313.3

New Boy Scouts Gear List for Three-Season Mild Conditions - 3

About the Author

Doug Prosser is an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 257 in the Ventura County Council, California with 11 years experience. He lives in Camarillo, which is located on the coast in southern California between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. He has participated in numerous hikes in the local mountains and has planned many treks into the High Sierras for his Troop. He attended Philmont Scout Ranch as a Scout and as a leader, most recently in 2005. He started out with 50+ pound packs and continues to lighten his load, always looking for a better way of backpacking. His friends have dubbed his garage "Doug's Camping World." Doug has a strong interest in teaching both kids and adults how to enjoy backpacking. He continues to train and gear up for an extended trek on the Pacific Crest Trail within the next few years. Doug can be contacted at


"Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer," by Doug Prosser. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-04-19 03:00:00-06.


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Philmont gear selection..
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Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Philmont on 09/26/2008 14:21:38 MDT Print View

Our troop took a vote, and we're going to enjoy Philmont as we drive up Cimarron canyon to Eagle Nest, and on to Red River. I think we'll have just as much fun base camping at my vacation house, and spending a week to ten days in the Wheeler Peak / Latir Wilderness. Or maybe Valle Vidal. Growing up in the Texas Panhandle, we spent a ton of time at Philmont in the off season, and I just don't think I could adapt to the authoritarian attitude they have now.

Michael Danielson
(mcd57) - MLife

Locale: Middle TN
Philmont on 01/01/2009 08:54:44 MST Print View

I still enjoy reading this article after a year and a half of rereading it and its comments. I am extremely interested in your most recent gear list since I will be going again in 2010 and I am in the process of drastically lowering my gear weight. One thing that bothers me still is some of the negative attitudes about this camp. If you do not like it don't go again. Also the majority of the scouts do not have the Rockies, Tetons, etc in there back yard to enjoy and hike. This camp gets them an experience that they will never forget. That is why it is always booked up. Also the rules are due to liability issues that have come up due to poor decissions made out in the back country. One prime example was when I was there in 1972 and a youth took a shower and washed his hair before he went to bed. This help attract a bear to the camp site and he was seriously hurt. So leaders, where ever you go, you must have "rules" for safety and liability sake.
By the way I have camped under a tarp at Philmont numerous times without any problems. My son was there for three weeks in 2006 didn't even use a tarp or a tent for quite a few nights during the trip.
Keep up the good comments for I am enjoying them. I like all backpacking, and I still want to go back to Philmont!


robert hogrefe
(rhhrhh) - F
Re: BSA & Philmont rules on 02/15/2009 17:41:33 MST Print View

Hi, just joined, this is a test. I have more to say, if this succeeds, thanks, RHH

robert hogrefe
(rhhrhh) - F
Re: BSA & Philmont rules on 02/15/2009 17:58:17 MST Print View

Dear Mr. Prosser,

I have really enjoyed all you info and expertise, it is indeed the best. If you ever want a real challenge, go and see what the BSA Northern Tier program still uses. Last summer we carted 60-70 lb "kettle" and "elephant" packs on portages, along with 70lb aluminum canoes, sometimes carrying both together. It is, I was told, a tradition thing at NT to do things like the pioneer/voyagers of long ago. Needless to say, many sprains, near misses on bad steps resulting in broken bones and very sore bones and muscles were the norm. As the only adult with our crew (NT provided an 18 yr old guide also), I was shocked at not only the safety issues but what it was teaching the boys. Literally every boy but one got sick to a varying degree with a cold, cough, or sore throat by the end of the 9 day trek. It was just too much exertion on top of many hours of paddling every day. The entire NT program needs an overhaul in terms of today's light and ultra light options for every aspect of the program. We have heard it said that NT is the most demanding of the BSA High Adventure camps, and the present design guarantees it will continue to be, but only to the detriment of the campers, young and old. It would be wonderful to see the advantages of going light and efficient realized at NT, they just might get more people to return and enjoy the wonderful environment up there. YIS, RHH.

Patrick Starich
(pjstarich) - MLife

Locale: N. Rocky Mountains
Philmont Cooking Bags? on 05/16/2009 11:17:17 MDT Print View

In addition to oven bags, has anyone discovered a zip top cooking bag like those used by Backpacker's Pantry and Alpine Aire that could be used to repack and prep the Philmont meals? The Philmont meals include a lot of excess packaging and you can't cook in the meal pouch. Rehydrating meals does not require "cooking" them in a pot. BTW: It helps to stir the meal with a stick right after adding the hot water and before sealing the bag.

Our troop's outdoor program includes a lot of weekend backpacking. We earned to minimize food weight and maximize nutrition and variety by modeling our camp meals on old Philmont menus. Check out the web or see for one. You can easily find good (or better) substitutes for Philmont menu items at most grocery stores. We portion-out and repackage nearly everything in zip-locs, reducing excess packaging by about 4oz/meal for a crew of 10-12. We "cook" only water and use it to rehydrate cocoa, oatmeal, coffee, soup cups, and freeze dried meals (Backpacker's pantry and Alpine Aire most often). This strategy minimizes prep time, waste, and trash. Philmont food fits our model well, except for the dehydrated meals.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Philmont cooking bags on 05/16/2009 12:06:38 MDT Print View

Patrick, we found that there was a mix of packaging for food at Philmont. I'm attaching 2 pictures. The first is a typical dinner. All the freeze dried food is in very thin, light mylar packaging. There isn't a lot of weight savings to be achieved here. We rehydrated all of these meals in other plastic bags, usually a turkey cooking bag.2008 Philmont dinner

The other meal shown here is a typical lunch. You might consider whether you want to carry all of the packaging or not. The benefits of the cardboard, for instance, are that it does protect the crackers going to be carried in packs.2008 Philmont lunch

Since you will usually pick up several meals at a time you can make some choices. You could strip out some packaging. You can also choose to eat any "heavy" meals first. Finally, you could choose not to worry about it. We pared back weight on the gear where where we reasonably could. We only carried a max of 3.5 days of food. The weight savings we might achieve would not be that great. We didn't give a second thought to food weight.

Philmont is a great experience but it's not altogether a wilderness trip. We had opportunities to discard trash every day on last year's trek. Even if we weren't staying near a staffed camp we would always pass through one along the way. Since our guys chose a trek with a lot of program options we usually only walked 3-5 hours a day.

Hope you have a great time at Philmont. We are crew 624-E2 this year. See you in the Sangre de Cristo.

Edited by flyfast on 05/16/2009 12:08:11 MDT.

Patrick Starich
(pjstarich) - MLife

Locale: N. Rocky Mountains
Philmont "Cooking" on 05/16/2009 13:56:51 MDT Print View

I like the way commercially produced dehydrated meal packs are semi-rigid and stand up on their own. Turkey (oven) bags are thin and flimsy. Do you put the bag in an empty pot for support??? I guess you could use a small nylon stuff sack to support the turkey bag and avoid carrying an extra pot.

We also travel with crackers in box, but find rice crackers and mini pretzels more durable. The scouts inhale Pop Tarts (yeech!) but they crumble if carried out outside the box.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Philmont cooking on 05/17/2009 06:26:47 MDT Print View

Patrick, yes, the turkey roasting bags have to be supported once you've added food. I have to say that your mileage will vary. We have had good luck with this method. Others find it easier (fewer accidents) to just cook in the pot.

We dump our dried food in the turkey bag and add a little less water than the recipe requires. The boys stir mostly by squeezing the bag. A spoon helps too. More water can be added if needed.

Once the food is hydrated we place the turkey bag in a homemade cozy. The insulated cozy allows for the 10 minute rehydration and protects the turkey bag. The cozy is made of Reflectix material (shaped like a low-cut paper bag from the grocery store) and weighs about 2 oz. We've used a fleece jacket in the past. But someone ends up smelling like dinner.

We serve by cutting a corner off the turkey bag and squeezing as in a pastry bag.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Re: Re: Philmont cooking on 05/18/2009 13:49:55 MDT Print View

We basically did the same thing when we went last year, but instead of turkey bags we just used the plastic bags that the Philmont food came it, and we didn't use cozies. They would usually find a couple decent sized logs to put close together to hold the bags up and keep them from tipping over.

If you try this, make sure you check the bag, one side has air holes (I seem to remember it as the bottom) and you want that to be the side you open for the top.

Our boys really liked not having to KP the pots, plus using that method meant that we were able to use 13 oz Open Country 4 quart pots rather than the 2 pound 8 quart Philmont pots. A 4 quart pot is fine for boiling water but is really pushing the size limit if you cook in it.

paul buzzard
(troop208) - F
Philmont cooking on 05/19/2009 08:53:47 MDT Print View

I brought turkey bags last year. We tried to use them first two dinners, and boys being boys, they always put a hole in them "carefully" mixing the food with a spoon, lol. So we quit because the pot got dirty anyway. We just brought one of the big pots and cooked in it. The scraper they supplied was used by the hungriest one, and there was never very much to clean up at all. I brought a lite GSI 3 quart non stick as well that worked well for the meals that had two courses, and general water boiling. IMO, concentrate on your boys big 4 for weight savings, if they don't have good stuff. Get the parents to invest in equipment. The weight savings can be large, as well as the space, if they have big synthetic bags.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Cook in a cup on 05/20/2009 12:16:17 MDT Print View

I still like the method we used at Philmont. We heated 2 pots of water using canister stoves. When the water got to a boil we first sanitized our utensils and cups, then each kid transferred their meal into a cup for rehydrating/cooking.

No food was ever cooked in a pot and therefore we never cleaned a pot. The only item that got cleaned was the cup the boys cooked in and ate out of which they had to clean anyway. After the meal we just swished a bit of water around in the cup and drank it. No bits or pieces left. We would then pour a bit of hot water in the cup and clean. The "dirty" water can then be poured in the sump pit since there are no food bits.

We did not have to use the frisbee ever, except when the Ranger was showing us how to use it. It was funny because the Ranger was demonstrating the sump method and basically had nothing to strain or to put in the sump.

We thought of using Turkey bags but to us they seemed more messy. I know a lot of people use them and I think it's a better way of cooking than using the pot to cook in. I just don't like to haul around trash bags with cooked food in them.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Philmont gear selection on 05/20/2009 17:20:50 MDT Print View

Briefly I have used various types of "freezer" bags to re-hydrate my meals, they all leaked after 1 to 3 uses except for the type used for vacuum food storage , but those are more expensive. (however they seemed to retain heat better)
Recently I have started to experiment with the Decor branded microwave containers. The lid stays in place very firmly (liquids won't spill if turned over) and they do seal the heat in. There is a steam valve. With the valve closed the lid will puff up but returns to the original shape once it cools down. Very easy to clean.
I do detect a bit of a plastic taste but not more than with most bags.
The 20 oz mug is 2 and 3/4 oz, the 27 oz bowl is 3oz.
Decor containers

Fareez Chowdhury
(Fareez) - F
Philmont cooking on 05/20/2009 20:33:10 MDT Print View

My crew's heading to Philmont at the end of June. We bought a large amount of Philmont dinner packets for our shakedowns. The easiest and least messy way we got our dinners cooked was to put the boiling water in the packet directly, and that hand shaking the pouch. No mess, no pot cleaning.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Plastic Cookware on 05/22/2009 14:41:11 MDT Print View


Those are nice cups. We had a few of the boys at Philmont use Glad containers. They come round, square or rectangular and in many sizes. We just heat water and each kid rehydrates in his own bowl with a lid. No bags, no pot to clean. Each kid just "sumps" his own.

Remember, this is for Philmont.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Decor on 05/22/2009 19:55:09 MDT Print View

I'm not sure this will help members in the US, since Decor is an Australian brand, but I also use them, although I like their more generic models. They're also polypropylene, like the GSI Cascadian line. Fine for temps up to about 150 celcius (Boiling water is 100 celcius)

Decore bowl and cup

Nesting bowl cup

The 800ml bowl and lid weigh 63g and the cozy is 17g for both pieces.

The 350ml cup and modified, drink thru lid are 37g and the bottom cozy is 12g. The extra lid is also 12g

{Now in Americanese :^)
The 27oz bowl and lid weigh 2.22oz and the cozy is 0.60oz for both pieces.

The 12oz cup and modified, drink thru lid are 1.30oz and the bottom cozy is 0.42oz. The extra lid is also 0.42oz}

The extra lid allows me to shake a drink mix or mix milk powder or store something without spills.

Bruce Prickett
(brucepr) - F
Weight of consumables = 10 lbs? on 10/04/2009 10:26:21 MDT Print View

Doug: your table shows the weight of "consumables" at 10 lbs per person. Does this include water? 3 liters is 6.6 lbs (not including the bottle or bladder), leaves about 3 lbs for four days of food.

My son is going in 2010, and he's quite small for his age, though an experienced packer. Bottom line is he will be counting the ounces.

Our Scoutmaster worked at Philmont for a summer, and the other leader has organized or helped lead all our recent backpacking trips, so I'm focussing on getting my kid ready to keep up.

Jack Kaufman
(Bsatroop85) - F
Hiking Poles/ Tents on 11/11/2009 21:00:59 MST Print View

A. My Troop takes tarps to put on the ground
b. the Hiking poles with Duct Tape isn't a great idea. the Duct Tape is a smellable and personally i dont like to put my whole pack in a tree at night or wake up to a bear...

Larry Huff
(profsparrow) - F
Backpacking Chair on 06/17/2010 16:20:45 MDT Print View

There was a comment earlier about backpacking chairs. I am successfully using a chair I found on "" The chair weighs about a pound. It's kind of hard to describe but there is a heavy duty nylon seat with a pocket in each of the four corners for the titanium rods. It sits on two legs when put together, which only takes a few moments. You balance with your legs. I can fall asleep in it, but don't when there are scouts around with cameras (they like to push a person over and then take their picture for laughs later). Anyway, it's VERY comfortable, almost like sitting in an easy chair. The seat when disassembled fits in a small sack that fits easily in my backpack.

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Re: Backpacking Chair on 06/21/2010 20:20:08 MDT Print View

Just stumbled across this thread. I was actually a ranger at Philmont a couple of years ago, so if anyone wants any specific questions answered, I will answer them as soon as I can (still have many contacts that are Ranger Trainers, ACRs and the chief ranger is a good friend of mine).

Anyways, 2 ideas for camp chairs. 1. You will pretty much see every ranger with a crazy creek. Very comfortable and I just used mine as my sleeping pad (maybe better for the young kids and then the adults). 2. My bunkmate my last year out there used his therm-a-rest and some climbing webbing; sat on the edge of the thermarest, bent it up his back, then wrapped the webbing around his shoulders and his knees. Thought that was pretty genious and only "cost" him around 2 oz worth of webbing.

Good luck to all those going to Philmont and enjoy it.


Larry Huff
(profsparrow) - F
Re: Backpacking Chair on 06/23/2010 15:24:43 MDT Print View

By the way, I should have posted a link to the chair I was talking about...It's 19 oz. Here's the address...