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Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re:Straining on 06/24/2008 15:24:51 MDT Print View

Your comment about people looking down on lightweight packers is funny but true. I've packed a lot of ways and have found packing light to be much more fun for me. I remember getting to camp at times with a heavier pack and couldn't wait to plop that bag down on the ground. Many times I will get to a camp and not even notice I have my pack on since it fits well and just isn't that much of a bother. I prefer the lightweight side through experience.

My question this time is: we have a shakedown this weekend. I want to show them how the sump works but I don't really understand it completely. I would imagine you are supposed to strain any extra food on the frisbee and then I guess you could either burn or pack out that food. I guess it would be for leave no trace and bears. Do I have the concept right? Is there that much to strain after some fine scout has licked the bag clean?

Thanks again. This site has helped us prepare for Philmont and its "ways".

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Unpackaging Philmont Food on 06/24/2008 15:45:05 MDT Print View

I am not sure how you get from Philmont meat sauce to a CYANO-acrylate, and don't want to know! I didn't think their food was that bad ...

I note the bit about washing up. After dinner I put a cup of water in the used cooking pot, add 2 drops of 'green' detergent, and warm it up. Then I wash all the cutlery we have (2 spoons, two knives), our 2 cups, our 2 bowls and finally the cooking pot itself, using a 2"x3" sponge (a few grams). My wife dries with a little cut-down tea towel as I pass things to her. This way we stay clean and healthy for months on end. The tea towel dries on a pack in the day.

Trash bag - we use ONE second-hand bread bag for wet things like tea bags. It goes in a small nylon stuff sack which takes all the (shaken out and folded up) dry packages left over from the soup and freeze-dry. A 6" x 8" stuff sack will hold all our rubbish for a week, easily. And that is about as much weight of food as I normally want to carry.

Freezer bag cooking is not really used in Europe or Australia. Too messy for our liking.


Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Cooking Systems on 06/24/2008 17:41:28 MDT Print View

In bear country - like the Sierras - I use a Watchful Eye Designs OP (odor proof) sack for a trash bag, and I don't try to cram it into the bear can.

I'll wash out dehydrated dinner packaging, but refuse to try to wash the smell out of all my empty candy/energy bar wrappers and the like. And after 2 hot days on the trail, even the best washed trash begins to odiforate.

I've had Yosemite bears actually walk right past it in the dark and not notice it.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re:Straining on 06/24/2008 20:10:05 MDT Print View

My question this time is: we have a shakedown this weekend. I want to show them how the sump works but I don't really understand it completely. I would imagine you are supposed to strain any extra food on the frisbee and then I guess you could either burn or pack out that food. I guess it would be for leave no trace and bears. Do I have the concept right? Is there that much to strain after some fine scout has licked the bag clean?

Scott, I think I have the entire routine. Last year was my first trip, I'm not certain our ranger gave us the whole story ... but I've heard it many times from other more experienced folks.

Your crew is issued:
* a scotchbrite style scrub pad that you cut into a dozen postage stamp size pieces
* approx quart sized ziplock style bags
* campsuds
* one "rubber bowl scraper"
* the dreaded frisbee

After the evening meal:
* one or more scouts pick the cook pot clean (eating as they go)
* heat some water in the cook pot
* pour a little hot water into each crew member's bowl/cup/whatever. They use that to loosen food particles and then drink the water (human sump). I avoided that by using a folding bowl and licking it clean (a habit that I have to watch myself lest I do it back in town)
* two drops of camp suds into the cook pot (still has hot water in it)
* use one of the postage stamp scrub pads to wash personal gear and cook pot
* pour the wash water thru the frisbee into the sump
* use the bowl scrubber to remove any food particles from the frisbee ... place the particles and scrub pad into a ziplock bag ... place ziplock into your garbage bag

The next meal you'll start by bringing water to a boil and dipping all personal eating gear in it.

Concerning heavy packers "looking down on ultralighters" ... in reality, you'll be likely be looking down on them from above after you've walked past them resting on long climbs. I am far from fast and I wasn't even our crew's habitual caboose but we passed multiple other crews most days and were rarely passed.

Edited by jcolten on 06/24/2008 20:12:18 MDT.

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Cooking Systems on 07/03/2008 21:43:36 MDT Print View

This is an example of a Philmont meal.

philmont meal packaged

This is the meal unpacked.
philmont meal unpacked

You can order the meals from Philmont in the fall. I would suggest ordering the meals, so your crew can practice.

Edited by tkknc on 07/03/2008 21:44:07 MDT.

John Meeks
(jmeeks) - F

Locale: North Carolina
Coffee on the Trail on 07/04/2008 17:57:34 MDT Print View

I hit the trail at Philmont on 8-1 and am concerned about my morning cup of coffee. Here is what I know I can do.
1. Pack enough Java Juice for the 10 or 11 days. I figure two packets per day.

2. Grind my own beans ahead of time and use the french press feature on my Jetboil. The cleanup is not appealing though.

3. Take Folgers coffee bags or instant. I see this as a last resort just because of the quality.

Your suggestions are truly apprecited.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Coffee on the Trail on 07/05/2008 04:46:47 MDT Print View

John, you're right in listing many ways to make coffee on the trail. There's an excellent article in BPL Magazine, issue #6 by Mike Clelland on trail coffee.

Your french press will make the best coffee. But you're right in it being a hassle to clean. With the Jetboil it's also heavy.

I use what Mike recommends -- carry coffee grounds and make cowboy coffee. After removing a 900 ml pot of boiling water from the fire, I add 2 heaping Tsp of coffee. I let sit it for 3-5 min then pour each cup through a MSR coffee filter basket. It's not a huge mess to clean. The coffee is good.

The added weight is less than 1 oz for the filter and about 12 oz. for the coffee to be shared over 10 days. I will usually bring a pot cozy anyway.

Java Juice is lighter but not as good. Instant ain't coffee.

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
re:coffee on 07/05/2008 07:14:06 MDT Print View

john, i find if you let the Folgers coffee bags sit long enough in the boiling h2o, it's not bad..i use the back of my spoon to get the last of the coffee in the cup before letting the bags dry.. if you need to get going in the a.m. hang the bags on the outside of your pack until totally dry. the weight is marginal and you are not having to throw grounds where bears might be. as far as the freezer bag cooking, it does work. i purchased the book to make my own meals. quite tasty....and a lot cheaper, too.

Edited by clt1953 on 07/05/2008 07:38:29 MDT.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
coffee on 07/05/2008 08:59:20 MDT Print View

They had a supply of some kind of instant at the advisors meeting the first night we were in base camp that some of the guys took advantage of and all the staffed camps have advisors coffee in the evenings (although that doesn't help in the mornings). I've also heard of people taking chocolate covered expresso beans. I think you can get them at the Tooth of Time trading post in base camp.

I was concerned about the same thing. My main concern was the time it took in the mornings to prepare it (fire up the stove, get the coffee out of the bear bags and cleanup). We tried to hit the trail early so timing was an issue.

After considering the alternatives, I just quit drinking coffee for a month before we departed. I was surprised that I didn't miss it at all while I was there. One of our other advisors didn't drink it while he was there and he didn't seem to miss it either. YMMV

I'm sure enjoying a nice hot cup right now though!


p.s. are you the John Meeks in Dallas?

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Tulsa Phil on the trail on 07/05/2008 09:49:40 MDT Print View

Phil, we're headed out this afternoon. Will see you on the top of Mt. Phillips.


Barth Tillotson
(barth) - F
Philmont Coffee on 07/05/2008 21:51:26 MDT Print View

I took Java Juice last year, and had "cowboy coffee" in some of the staffed camps during "advisors coffee".

I ended up finding that the Java Juice was often better than the very-uneven results made by the staff, especially the younger ones.

John Meeks
(jmeeks) - F

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Coffee on the Trail on 07/06/2008 21:13:07 MDT Print View

Thanks to everyone that weighed in on this critical subject. Today my wife administered a blind taste test between Nescafe Taster's Choice Gourmet Roast (instant), Java Juice (concentrate), and Maxwell House Coffee Bags (like tea bags). As you can see, I spend WAY to much time thinking about coffee, but with all other gear ready and acquired this is a good way to spend the restless time waiting to get out to Philmont.

It is hard to admit, but the Nescafe won out on flavor and aroma. Also, there would be no trash, no clean-up with instant, and it's the lightest weight option. To truly put this to the test I will take this on our last shake-down this weekend. Thanks again for the feedback!

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
a little late but... on 07/10/2008 22:10:46 MDT Print View

Sorry to peek into this thread a little late. I was on Yahoo checking out sites linking to and this thread came up.

I don't do FBC but there also isn't a ton of cleanup with my style of cooking. Anyway if you have any questions I am at your disposal. :)

paul buzzard
(troop208) - F
coffee on 07/14/2008 10:11:59 MDT Print View

We just got back and had coffee everyday except maybe 3 days. I made a cheesecloth bag that had a drawstring closure on the top, (the cheesecloth was triple layer) and then put a coffee filter into the bag. Added freshly ground,(right before leaving anyways) coffee, (whoo my pack smelled intitally!) and put in water right away. Boiled water for about a minute then let sit. Man, what a trail treat in the morning.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 07/28/2009 19:48:27 MDT Print View

Our crew just got back from Philmont this month
were we used a new lightweight food preparation
method we had come up with and practiced with
actual Philmont meals before leaving for the Ranch.

This super efficient meal preparation technique not only
minimizes clean up and gray water produced (none), it also
minimizes the amount of trash produced, the amount of fuel
used (we used two 8oz canisters per week with some left
over), and the amount of water needed (important in dry
camps of which we had a couple).

The Philmont foil packages are used to cook and eat out of.
The amount of trash generated is only the meal packages
that Philmont gives the crew.

Details can be found at

Wesley Witt

Locale: Northwest
Re: coffee on 07/30/2009 09:27:08 MDT Print View

I leave for Philmont on Monday. We are bringing Starbucks Via instant coffee packets. I've been using them on my treks this year and think that it is the best solution that I've used in my many decades of backpacking. I have 24 packets in my backpack so that I can have 2 cups of hot coffee every morning!

We are also using the "turkey bag" cooking method to save the cleanup work. My wife made some large cozies that we'll use with the turkey bags.

My crew is all trained in the UL ways and every member is packing light. I think the heaviest pack in the crew is about 22 pounds. We're going on trek #27. We are bringing our own light weight crew gear and will take on no extra gear from Philmont other than bear bags.

In my conversations with many other Scout leaders that have either gone to Philmont or are going this year I received a lot of push back on using ultra light techniques. I had several adults proudly tell me how they went to Philmont with a 55 pound pack. These guys are completely insane. On the flip side I have also evangelized several people into using UL packing and they reported back as having a great experience. It is interesting how so many people have a very negative view of lightweight packing.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Coffee on 07/30/2009 14:01:08 MDT Print View

Wes, have a great time! I took Via this summer (3 a day). It is a good way to go. Hope all your crew does well with the lightweight kit. Let us know how it goes.
All the best,

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
"Completely insane" Hooray for "Wimps" on 07/30/2009 23:54:34 MDT Print View

Wes noted: "I had several adults proudly tell me how they went to Philmont with a 55 pound pack. These guys are completely insane." You nailed it! After about day 4 when the real miles and vertical came into play, it seemed like the heavyweights got interested in lightweight gear.

The heaviest pack of our group this year was 32 lbs, most were 24-28 leaving base camp w/ food, crew gear and water. We were told by our sister crew we were wimps, amongst several other choice adjectives BPL would surely censor. Ironically about day 4, they wanted to swap packs. Theirs were 55-70 lbs. Our technogeeks clocked them at about 1.7 mph average for the trip. We averaged 2.9 for the entire trip, including up and down Baldy.

After the 3rd day, they started giving up activities to try to beat us to the next camp. The last day they left at 3:45 AM from Ponderosa Park. We still beat them into base camp, by hiking much faster clearly due to lightweight gear, reasonable planning, having a navigator that could really navigate, not taking rediculously long breaks and not getting lost.

I guess "real men" as they put it, waste a lot of time on the trail and can't hike very fast.

Proud to be a Lightweight Wimp!

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Macho Men on 07/31/2009 18:52:27 MDT Print View

I think the thought is that a heavier pack means you are more macho than the next guy. A heavy pack doesn't feel all that heavy in your living room. After all, you do have a chair, 3 changes of clothes, pots, pans, lanterns, bivouac equip., storm rated tents, 1.5 lb. footprints, C Cell Maglites, towels, leather (not ankle turner) boots, 4 pairs of heavy wool socks, and many more items that make you will feel just like you are at home.

I was amazed at the old school approach at Philmont. However, if you do read the Philmont handbook it stresses lightening one's pack weight. They suggest a total of 35 lbs. The only problem is, people think that means 35 lbs. BEFORE you get there and add troop gear, food and water. That's why in the UL crowd BASE weight is stressed so religiously. Keep the base weight low and the overall weight will not be too hard; even at Philmont. I told the boys and the leaders to pack like they were just going on a 4 day hike. One of our leaders was 63 years old. He could not thank me enough for having spent the time with everyone to teach them the techniques we have all learned here on this website. He had given up on backpacking. It was a big payoff.

On our final day we kept picking off crew after crew. Our loads were at their lightest and we were just cruising. Other crews would just pull to the side of a set of switchbacks when they saw us coming with what must have seemed to them a bunch of scouts wearing day packs. It was fun. One troop tried to overtake us from behind on the way down from Tooth of Time but finally gave up. Lightweight at Philmont is the only way to go! Wimps rule!!!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Cooking Systems on 07/31/2009 20:49:43 MDT Print View

There are much better ways to prove your machismo than a heavy backpack. Like chasing cheerleaders. Ha!