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LIghtweight Philmont Experince
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John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Trek 23 on 07/18/2008 16:15:14 MDT Print View

We were on trek 23 also. It was fantastic.
Hope you have a great time.
Please give us a full report when you get back.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Trek 23, July 10-22 on 07/24/2008 20:33:33 MDT Print View

We just returned from Philmont. Wow. It was a much bigger and better experience than I anticipated. Our 2 crews had a great time. This was my first trip to Philmont. Our guys benefited greatly from the info shared here at BPL.

The significance of Philmont is helping the transformation of boys to young men. That it happens in a landscape as beautiful as the Sangre de Cristo is incredible. Here I will focus on our crew's experience with lightweight gear in the Philmont backcountry.

My crew was on Trek 23 starting July 10. We used lightweight gear and skills. Our 6 crew members and 3 advisors were relatively comfortable on the trail and in camp.

Leaving basecamp our packs carried 3 quarts of water and 2 days of food. Pack weights ranged from 20 to 35 pounds. We had an advisor with even more but he is a really large fellow. This one dad carried a huge pack, over 5,000 cubic inches. I am still amazed at all the stuff he had in there.

Here are some of my observations and experiences for lighter gear at Philmont --

We began last fall encouraging all of our crew members to go light with backpacks, sleeping bags, and other personal gear. Most did. Some changes were as simple as replacing Nalgene bottles with a Platypus or Aquafina bottle. The biggest weight reductions were in crew gear.

6 guys from the 2 crews used the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus. My son's only complaint was that the hipbelt was uncomfortable when he had to carry 4 days of food and 4 liters of water on a long, warm day.

Several guys used packs that they already owned or had available. Even so no one had an outrageously heavy load. Almost all our guys carried packs in the range of 3,000-4,000 cubic inches capacity.

I used a ULA P-1 pack that I've had for several years. It's a great pack for me and comfortable to carry. I used a MLD 3/8" foam pad as a sit pad and pack frame. The greatest feature of my pack is the hipbelt pockets where I carried my map, compass, camera, sanitizer, sunscreen, and such. Another advisor with a ULA Circuit also had a positive experience.

We had guys using both down and synthetic sleeping bags. Several of the boys carried 2.5-3 pound 20 degree synthetic bags. 2 of the boys carried the REI Sub-Kilo down bag. We had 2 guys use 45 degree down bags with a fleece jacket and fleece pants.

My sleep system used a Western Mountaineering HighLite, a 35 degree, 18 oz. sleeping bag plus a BMW Cocoon UL 60 Hoody, fleece beanie, and liner gloves. I was plenty warm. Philmont stresses separate sleep clothes. For me that was army surplus Polartec silkweight underwear. It was too warm to use the long underwear on at least 3 nights. Overall my sleep system worked fine. The lowest temperature we encountered was around 42F at Mount Phillips Camp.

My pure luxury item was a Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad. It provided the best backcountry sleep I've ever had. I could comfortably sleep on my side on rough ground. Bliss. Even though it looks like a kiddie pool toy, I had no problems with puncture.

Most of our guys used a z-Lite pad. A couple of guys used Therm-a-rest ProLite 3 pads.

Our shelters were all Tarptents. Our crew used 1 Rainshadow 2 (slept 3), 2 Squall 2 (sleeping 2 and 1), a Squall (slept 2), and my solo shelter, a floorless Virga. The Tarptents worked fine through fair weather as well as wind, rain, and hail. My only refinement on the Virga would be more headroom but 18 ounces is hard to beat. Our other crew also used entirely Tarptents with no problems. We did not carry ground cloths for the floored tents.

We used a Campmor 10' x 12' silnylon tarp for our dining fly. The guy lines were 50' of triptease cord. The dining fly was our only damaged gear. On the last night the crew did not pitch the fly taut. A grommet was ripped out in the wind. It should be easily repaired.

All crew members used light footwear (light boots or trail runners). Only one preferred a sock and liner over a single light wool sock. We used Leukotape for blisters. One crew member had some foot issues. He had even more blisters on a previous trek. I wore Brooks Cascadia shoes and Smartwool Adrenaline mini-crew socks. I also wore Integral Designs eVent Shortie Gaiters. I had no blisters.

My standard hiking clothes worked just fine -- Tilley LT6 hat, RailRiders Adventure Shirt, Mountain Hardwear zip-off pants, and Patagonia briefs. The one thing I'd change on clothing would be to bring a second pair of underwear. Since we had so many opportunities for showers (5 of our 10 days on the trail) it would have made it easier to wash. In a lot of ways, Philmont is luxury backpacking. Our trek had access to abundant water and hot showers.

We had our own crew t-shirt printed. We found a synthetic t-shirt at Wal-Mart ($6). With a silkscreen for our own small logo the entire shirt was less than $10. Most of our boys wore the crew t-shirt and shorts as their hiking clothes.

All our crew members except me carried a Crazy Creek chair. With the opportunity to sit on a porch most evenings for advisor coffee, I never felt deprived not having a chair.

The largest weight savings were in the kitchen. We built around 2 MSR Windpro stoves for each crew. Each crew carried 6 227g (1/2 pound) canisters. There were plenty of canisters at the 2 trading posts we visited. I bought 2 extra canisters at Ute Gulch but we didn't use them.

We used turkey bags for cooking our hot dinners at Philmont. We heated water in two 2-quart GSI aluminum pots with lids.The boys would combine the supper's 5 x 2-man freeze dried meals in a bag. Usually they would reinforce the turkey bag with a Philmont meal bag. They learned to add about 60% of the recommended hot water to the meals. We never had a soupy dinner. Using the bag cooking we never cleaned pots except for one spilled meal and coffee. We were able to sanitize our bowls and spoons for each meal in the 2 quart pots. A crew will need larger pots or a third stove to make this approach work.

There's been some discussion about the need for sanitizing It's part of the routine taught by Philmont rangers. So, it's not worth fussing over. It helps to remember that teenagers may not be completely hygenic. So, it's cheap insurance for a gastric event.

We had a small issue with serving food from turkey bags. It's not easy to serve from a bag using a spoon. So, we started cutting off a corner and squeezing the bag like a pastry bag. The technique works well but it's hard for the boys to master. We did have an accident where dinner hit the dirt. We recovered OK but not every crew member was equally able to server food this way.

Most of our guys carried an Orikasa bowl and a generic Lexan spoon. This was ideal for our hot meals.

We carried a 1 foot square of fiberglass screen for our sump filter rather than the frisbee. We used a long handled plastic kitchen spoon for mixing.

At wash time, everyone would lick his bowl and spoon clean. Then we'd add 2 drops of Dr Bronners soap and a little hot water. There was no food mess. This approach also insured that every crew member got his hands clean once a day.

Our ranger had no issues with our approach. I was surprised that we were only the second crew he had encountered this year using bag cooking. It is fast and easy. There is almost no mess to clean.

The only Philmont issued gear that we carried were the bear bags and ropes. The Philmont system works fine even if it is a bit heavy. With our light packs the boys hardly noticed. We provided our own oops bag, a large nylon stuff sack, and a carabiner to attach to the bear bags. We made sure that each guy's stuff was in a ziploc bag or stuff sack rather than just tossed in the oops bag.

For cutting tape and food bags I used the scissors of a Leatherman Micra. That was shared with crew members. I don't think I ever used the knife. We did use the screwdriver to repair a pair of glasses.

We used the Philmont provided Micropur chlorine dioxide tablets for the few times that we needed to treat water. Most of the time we were able to get water at a staffed camp where chlorinated water is available. The best water we found was at Ute Springs. One of our advisors carried a Katadyn Hiker. I think he used it at Porupine where we were alongside Rayado Creek.

We enjoyed delicious coffee on the trail. Every morning we would make 3 or so pots of cowboy coffee in my SnowPeak Trek 900 pot. After boiling the water we'd move the pot to a cozy and add 3 heaping spoonfuls of coffee grounds. The coffee would steep for 3 to 5 minutes. We would filter by pouring it through an MSR coffee filter basket. Within days we had 5 coffee drinkers. We carried two 12 oz. bags of Starbucks coffee and had plenty for the trip. Coffee grounds can be discarded using a yum-yum bag (1 gallon ziploc).

Our crew navigator used a map and compass flawlessly never taking a wrong turn. I carried a Garmin Geko 301 GPS as a backup. We did not need it. I saw a few crews carrying large GPS units with map displays. These were overkill.

We didn't go quite as light as I was first inclined on our first aid kit. That was a wise choice. We carried some skin lubricant (lanolin creme for cycling) that worked well for chafing. We had a few things that thankfully were never used -- Epi-Pen, band-aids, non-stick dressings, and antibiotic ointment. Meds we carried included ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, acetaminophen, Immodium, Gaviscon, cortisone cream, Lamisil AT, and Benadryl. We could have used some simethicone for flatulence! The trail diet didn't agree with everyone. Since we split the kit between the crew medic and me weight was not an issue.

We also provided each boy with a baggie containing 8 or so band-aids, moleskin, and a 2 oz. bottle of sanitizer. We could have skipped the moleskin since everyone used tape for blisters.

Finally, there are obviously challenges on every Philmont trek. The crew learned to work together well by about the fourth day.

I somehow sprained my left ankle on the 9th trail day. A very helpful staff member at Abreu found some ice for me. With the ice, a compression bandage, and a handful of Aleve I returned to the trail pain-free the next morning. That simply wouldn't happen with a 50 pound pack.

I also learned to check your Scouts' packs again on the morning you leave basecamp. They may sneak some items back in that they will later regret. They also may make some questionable decisions about what to leave behind.

Our best guess is that the crew walked somewhere around 80 miles on our trek. We found ourselves in search of extra calories all the time. Our guys would hit the swap box at every staffed camp we entered. Most of our guys lost some weight. Our other crew on trek 4 had a different experience. Walking only 50 something miles they had more food than they could eat. Their crew was dumping extra food in the swap boxes.

We owe thanks to the great gear manufacturers that helped us out. Gossamer Gear, Tarptent, and ULA all provide deals for Boy Scouts.

I was quite surprised to see the very large, heavy packs carried by many crews at Philmont. Based on questions from some other advisors I think that many crews just aren't aware of ways to take weight out of their packs. Our experience is that lightweight gear doesn't have to be expensive. It does take planning, careful buying, and a lot of coaching for the Scouts. Philmont is a much bigger experience than I anticipated. Our crew found that we could carry a lot less weight than most and have a wonderful time.


Edited by flyfast on 07/27/2008 17:31:23 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Trek 23, July 10-22 on 07/24/2008 21:36:56 MDT Print View


Thanks for the great trip/gear report.

Pete Ziolkowski
(omegaman) - F
Re: LIghtweight Philmont Experince on 08/01/2008 12:35:20 MDT Print View

I am on a 809 crew on trek 27. I was planning on using my homemade silnylon tent (no floor) with tyvek ground cloth. I had read this is not allowed and I am about ready to install a floor. Does anyone know if having a floor is a requirement?:

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Re: LIghtweight Philmont Experince on 08/01/2008 12:53:47 MDT Print View

Pete, are you an advisor? I was for 710-B2. I used a Tarptent Virga with no floor and a Tyvek ground cloth. No one said a word to me about it. I know that Doug Prosser also describes using a floorless tent. John Meyer describes using a GG Squall Classic with a Tyvek ground cloth.

Hope you have a great time. We sure did.

All the best,

Edited by flyfast on 08/01/2008 13:52:08 MDT.

Douglas Prosser
(daprosser) - MLife

Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
Leaving for Philmont tommorrow AM on 08/02/2008 00:09:50 MDT Print View

I am off for Philmont. I am enrolled in the Trekking 1 course here at (Desert Southwest)so I have attempted to push my pack weight as light as I could with the help of Don Wilson & the rest of our class. So far my pack weight without food & water but with tents, stakes, water containers is 7.5 lbs. I hope to be able to write an update to my article here highlighting a number of the items we have been talking about & implementing at Philmont. Our group gear is extremely light so I hope to be well under 20 lbs with food & water , maybe even 15 lbs when I get on the bus next Tuesday morning. I'll post an update when I return after August 18th.

Pete Ziolkowski
(omegaman) - F
Re: Re: Re: LIghtweight Philmont Experince on 08/02/2008 20:23:32 MDT Print View

Thanks Phil,
I am 809R1. I made the classic Shires tarptent (bigger version) from the plans posted on the internet. I typically use a tyvex just big enough for my sleeping pad. I went and bought some more tyvek and am in process of having a ground cloth that covers the full foot print. I plan to velcro it in just in case. I went to PSR in 2004 and no one checked my tent and probably the first person to really see it is the ranger on day one and realistically I doubt if they would say anything but to be compliant, I thought this was the right route.


John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
floorless tent on 08/04/2008 15:24:00 MDT Print View

The Philmont requirement is for a fully enclosed tent. This is at least partly due to the attempt to prevent the hantavirus carried by rodent droppings. I believe the "Guide to Adventure" booklet has pretty good detail on the requirements.

We did our best to follow their rules out of courtesy to the staff and an example to the Scouts. That being said, it is unlikely that the ranger will check the advisor's tents. Ours didn't.

enjoy your trek!

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Tents without floors on 08/04/2008 18:15:36 MDT Print View


I just got back from my trek. I will post a critique when I get a chance. However, as regards to a floor, I would seriously consider taking a tarp with floor or a tent with a floor. Most of the time I use a Six Moon Gatewood Cape as I usually hike in the Sierras with little rain.

At Philmont we had 6 days of rain. Some of it was real hard rain. I am glad I took my Gossamer Gear The One since it has a bathtub floor. We had rain in the day, rain at night. Never in the AM. Water would pool, and run under the crews tents on many occasions no matter how well we thought we placed them.

I know others use floorless tents but I would feel more comfortable with a floor.


Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Our Lightweight Experience on 08/08/2008 18:25:36 MDT Print View

Since last January, I have been working with our crew, 4 adults and 8 scouts, regarding pack weight and philosophies. This Forum helped me tremendously since Philmont has its own way of doing things. We were somewhat prepared for the Philmont way.

Since we arrived by train one day early we had time to sit by the hanging scale at the Welcome Center to watch the many scouts and leaders weighing their packs. I would say that 43 pounds was an average. I saw one 59 lb. pack and 2 young women had 36 and 39 lb. packs. Good for them. Lightweight for Philmont!

We all made a trip over to the scale before or Ranger went through our gear. No food or water. I had 14.5 lbs. The majority had 16-20 lbs. My son, with his new G-4 that he recently had sewn came it at 12.5 lbs. We went back to the tents for our Ranger review and took various items out. I went back and had a base weight of 13 lbs. High for me but I was carrying a few more clothes due to the time on the trail. Most kids and adults also took items out of their packs and reduced by about the same.

When we finally packed our packs with all of the crew gear, i.e., pots (we brought our own 4 qt. pots, rope (amsteel blue 7/64), stoves (3 canister type), canisters 3- 1 lb., + 3 extra ½ lb. canisters (way too many), bear bags from Philmont spread out in the group, water, frisbee sump and food. Food at Philmont is heavy. We set our packs on the scales and ranged from 20.5 lbs to 39 lbs. For me this was a great triumph. I had concentrated on the pack weights and this was highly acceptable. I had 2 adults I was concerned with and the fact that they came it at 28 and 30 lbs. respectively was impressive. It’s not ultra light, but at Philmont it might as well be. One leader is 63 and he said this gave him a new lease on life. He had given up on packing his own gear and was recently using pack animals. He’s in good shape and at 28 lbs. (including all of his fishing gear) he said he would be backpacking again.

It took me awhile to get into Philmont. We usually do our packing in the Eastern and Western Sierras with no supervision. The first days with a Ranger were slow but necessary. Our Ranger was great but since we were experienced she was finished with us early on but had to remain until the 3rd. morning. Anyway, I really got into the camps, cold, lukewarm and hot showers; sit down toilets and even bombardiers. We had a chuck wagon dinner, cantina dinner and great hiking. During the beginning of the trek I thought I wouldn’t ever return again. After the trek I would gladly accept an invitation to take a crew to Philmont.

My highlights of our Trek 23 were the following: 3 ½ hours of hail, rain, thunder and lightning at Harlan. We got a good lesson in camping in the wet. A beautiful sunset and sunrise at Deer Lake. Constant views of Tooth of Time as we transversed the valley back and forth. Commanche Peak. Camping at Mt. Phillips. Black powder shooting. Tomahawk throwing. Spar pole climbing. Rock climbing. Hike to Trail Peak. Hiking between camps, etc., etc.

It is funny to talk to people about the weight of our packs. Most don’t seem to care and seem to wear a 45 lb. pack as a badge of honor. That’s a badge I can do without. The one thing that really bugged me was when I saw a kid ready to go out with 32 lbs. His advisor came back and weighed it again and said he had to “even it out”. I asked why the kid had to be penalized with more weight just because others had over packed. If the kid was carrying his fair share of crew equip. why should he be penalized?

We kept our weights down by doing the following:

Lighter packs like G Gear Mariposa Plus and G-4, Go-Lite Pinnacles and Jam, REI UL 45, Granite Gear Vapor Trail, etc.
Lighter sleeping bags. No more than 2.5 lbs. My Montbell UL SS #5 weights 19 oz. My son had a WM Ultralite at 25 oz. My other had a North Face Kilo Down, etc.
Lighter tents: 2 G Gear The One, 1 Tarptent Contrail, 1 Tarptent Dbl. Rainbow, 1 Granite Gear Bivy Tent, 1 North Face wall tent (2+ lbs.). 2 of the tents were traditional backpacking tents but weighed 5 lbs. Each kid carried 2.5 lbs. each. They still only had about 23 lbs. in their packs.
Sleep pads: Torsolite, Z-Rest, REI pads, etc. Nothing too extravagant
Smaller pots. 3-4qt. pots. We only needed 2. Next time I’ll take 1-6qt. & 1-4qt.
Amsteel bear rope. 2-150’ lengths. 2nd length could have been shorter for oops bag.
Cooking: canister stoves. Plenty was available in the commissaries. Brought too many. We did not cook in a bag, nor in a pot. Each cooked in their own cup. We really had nothing to clean but the cup we were eating out of. Never had to clean a pot.
Rain Fly: 19 oz. silnylon with alum. stakes.

I really thing the best way to keep weight down is to concentrate on the basic system of pack, tent, sleeping bag, ground cloth and pad.

Clothing. We just brought 1 short shirt, 1 long shirt. 1 short and 1 long zip off pant. Underwear as wanted. Dry Ducks for rain gear. The kids really tore them up but for about $15.00 it’s worth every penny.

My favorite park of backpacking is the hiking itself. With a lighter pack we as a group were able to move along at a good pace and still enjoy the different views. Nobody came close to overtaking us. We often came upon groups that were pulled to the side in what I call the “fixing a flat” mode. They just needed to pull over to rest. We said hello, exchanged pleasantries, and then never saw them again. We just didn’t need to stop that often. I do enjoy hiking and not stopping all the time. To look at a good view, yes: to just catch my breath, no. It’s not necessary.

Thanks to all that posted on this site. It made us much more prepared than we would have been otherwise for the Philmont experience. I am now in withdrawals I miss the backcountry so much.


Albert K.
(archer) - F

Locale: Northeastern U.S.
Re: LIghtweight Philmont Experince on 08/20/2008 16:24:50 MDT Print View

Youth were 15 and 16 year old cross country runners; all boy scouts with limited backpacking experience (under 10 total prior trips). Only other adult was a 22 year old runner. I'm 44. UL was the only way I was keeping up with these guys, even with a reasonable level of fitness.

I hit the trail with a base weight of 12.6 lbs; heavier than my typical 3 season load, but our crew gear isn't ultra-light by any means (about 3 lbs per person).

Here's what worked:

Personal gear:

Contrail Tarptent - We were hit with a heck of a storm at Crater Lake. Hail, flash flood/river through the campsite, you name it. I didn't expect any of the tents to hold up to it. The Tarptent was fine, I staked it with 7 stakes. This thing is light and large. I brought a sep. pack towel to wipe down condensation - it was never needed.

SMD Starlight - Plenty big for Philmont. I used a cut up Z-rest as support and it doubled as my only ground pad. I'd estimate my max pack weight to be about 32 lbs (I carried a tent and some water for a sick scout who was struggling to make it up Trail Peak). 32 lbs is no problem for this pack.

JRB No Sniveller - I used it as a sleeping quilt and my sole insulating layer. OK, maybe dicey, but I did have silk sleep clothes and a full rain suit. So I wasn't totally hosed if it got wet; clearly it wouldn't have been pleasant, but I've been through worse. Plus it is pretty water resistant and I'm really good at keeping things dry. We got rained on almost every day and I was fine, even at Phillips Camp. Even under my rain jacket, though, I looked like the pillsbury dough boy on cold nights.

Olympus Stylus 790 SW - Waterproof and light. Maybe not true UL, but I like having pictures, what can I say.

Crew Gear:

MSR Reactors - Brought 3, which was deff. one too many (these things are lighting fast). Efficient too. We used less than 24 oz. of fuel the entire trek (10 people, 10 days).

Turkey bags - Light, and made clean up a snap.

Paint strainer bags instead of the Yum Yum thing.

Things that didn't work:

Personal Gear - With scouts, it might pay to ensure you have some nalgenes vs. all gaitorade bottles. I had a scout neglect to put his rain gear on at the first sign of a storm. He got wet and we got to practice field hypothermia treatment (warmed him in his sleeping bag with boiling water placed in nalgenes, covered by socks). This is where a little experience came in handy - it was something I saw a mountaineer buddy of mine once do to a hypothermia patient on a winter backpacker.

Crew Gear - Tried to do a pulley system for bear bagging. A 16 year old got it stuck on a cable - I didn't know anyone could tie such great knots 17' off the ground. Ended up going with the standard system after that. It was mighty sweet up until that point though, but not worth the expense.

MSR Miniworks - super slow; the Katadyn Vario blew it away. Again not UL, but I hate the idea of drinking deer poo tea and the idea of massive chems. Not convinced - scouts deff. pee in streams (yep, saw one), and there are lots of them out there.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Thanks for the report on 08/22/2008 15:50:39 MDT Print View


Thanks for the report. I hope everyone chimes in here after they get back from their treks. The reports are very helpful.

My son took a Contrail and used it with another scout. Even with 2 in the tent they never got wet on some pretty wet nights. Not bad even though they were busting at the seams. I'd never put 2 adults unless it was with my wife.

We didn't use turkey bags. We just cooked in our own cups. Just sump a bit and clean. Not much to put in the sump. We didn't get to use our paint strainers due to Ranger not "allowing" it. We did take them and use them to strain our water after using it for sterilization since it had a bunch of twigs in it.

Not a bad way to spend 2 weeks.

Pete Ziolkowski
(omegaman) - F
Report on 809R1 Trek 26 on 08/27/2008 18:40:53 MDT Print View

Here is my report on our trek. Itinerary #26 which basically starts in the south and ends up in Ponil (79 miles as listed). We were a crew of twelve (9 + 3). Typical weight of the boys was probably about 125 pounds so pack weight was a major issue for us. We had several gear scrubs. To get the weight down, we really limited hiking clothes to one set for wear and another as back up + one additional pair of socks. All the typical stuff (pocketknives, extra compasses, big flashlights etc.) were weeded out. One of our boys only weighed 105 and he was a big concern because he was not one of our strongest hikers. We did get him down to about 21 pounds without water or food.

Crew gear was minimized as much as possible. We used Philmont pots, we brought two stoves and a water filter. The dining fly was probably one area where we could of and should have gone lighter. I made a 10' x 9' silnylon tarp but it was decided that since we had twelve we needed something bigger. I actually carried the tarp as part of my crew gear and when it was wet it was heavy and when it was dry it was pretty heavy. I think we really could have gotten by with the smaller lighter tarp.

The weather we had (last full trek) was a lot different than my first trek in 2004. We had a three day period of wet weather before it went back to typical afternoon thunderstorm weather. We also went through four or five hail storms which included a fifty minute on while we were camping on Baldy skyline camp at dinner time. The first hail storm was on the tooth ridge and the hail was the size of rosary beads and was kind of fun. The hail during this storm was about 10-20x larger and it came down hard and fast. I mention this because this weather did give me pause to reflect on light weight backpacking. In 2004, I never used my warm hat and I was seriously thinking about doing without to save the weight. This hat became my most valuable piece of gear. The lesson here was that we still need to be prepared. I would add that the boys did survive.
In terms of other light gear, I brought my homemade tarp tent (single wall, silnylon). It was okay but average temperature at night was low forties and for those three nights of wet, I did get a lot of condensation. inside my tent but I just wiped it off each morning with my bandanna.
I also brought my homemade sleeping quilt and for the most part that was fine. I ended just using my long under wear as my dedicated sleep clothes though so the shorts and t-shirt I had planned for that became excess baggage. As an experiment I also wanted to see the level of clothes I could get by with and I actually went through the week with two t-shirts, two pairs of underwear, one pair of shorts and one pair of sock and liners. When I needed to wear long pants for program or conservation, I just wore my rain paints.

In terms of other things that seemed to work- Frogg's togs were seen all over and with the exception of that one hail storm seemed to work and crocs shoes also seemed to work.

The bottom line was that the boys had no issues doing the hike and even on long days seemed able to do more if they needed to. I think our crew was a data point for careful gear scrubs before Philmont and raising both parents and scouts awareness on the need for going light.

One final comment. I was really surprised that our ranger toed the company line and told us to bring items like the plastic cat hole trowel. I am not even sure how this got to NM because I had thought that we had pitched it. Alos he recommended that we carry 64 oz of fuel (which we did in three bottles). We only ended up using about 58-60 oz for the whole trek and this included using a real lot of fuel during that hail storm and boiling water for coffee on several of the mornings.

I don't want this to be too long so I will sigh off but.....

I want to go back, I want to go back, I want to go back to Philmont.


Confession- I pushed our boys to bring ridgerest closed foam pads instead of self inflators (faster to pack up and no chance of popping a hole). In an effort to cut down weight I took a ridgerest as well. I really, really missed my thermarest.

Joe Johnstone
(entropy) - F
Re: Thanks for the report on 08/27/2008 20:32:48 MDT Print View

Wow, two people in a contrail is staggering. I can't imagine it, without overflowing the bathtub with 2 sleeping bags.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
2 In a Conrail on 08/27/2008 23:41:28 MDT Print View


I know. However, i have seen 5 scouts in a 3 man tent many times. It's like a bunch of puppy dogs at times. It was my son and his friend in the Contrail. They are both 18 but are trim and fit. It was a bit tight on rainy nights but they tried it out before the trek and got by fine albeit with A LOT of condensation on the wet nights.


Thanks for the report. I also had a lot of condensation in my Gossamer Gear The One on the rainy nights. Wiped it with bandana. If I packed it wet I let it dry out during a stop at a staffed camp or at a lunch break. Spinnaker dries real fast.

Thanks for the report.

Scott W Ellis
(scott152) - F
Re: Philmont 630 H3 trek responses on 05/25/2009 16:09:23 MDT Print View


You mention the Amsteel rope for bear bags. Where and what size rope did you purchase?


Troop152, 2009 Philmont-bound

Glenn Smith

Locale: Southern Arizona
Amsteel Rope on 05/25/2009 19:25:39 MDT Print View


Try this link:

7/64" - we ordered one spool for two Crews.


Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Amsteel on 05/26/2009 12:03:25 MDT Print View


You may want to check Redden Marine also. I know I ordered the Amsteel rope on 2 different occasions. Even though I ordered form Seattle Marine it came from Redden or vice versa. One was cheaper than the other.

One caution: the rope is thin and hard on the hands, especially, when raising a lot of full bags. They can weigh A LOT! You may want to take a stick and make a clove hitch around it when raising.

paul buzzard
(troop208) - F
amsteel on 05/29/2009 15:00:58 MDT Print View


Just look at my post on page one. All the info I know. Reddon was cheapest. I heard they wern't making the 7/64ths anymore, but hope you can find. Great rope, but thin as mentioned. When you have 3 or 4 days food, (we had crew of 13), the total weight is really heavy. We had the full crew for lifting the bags and pulling the rope, when we had full food load. You can wrap the rope around your waist for end guy to help lift. My earlier post summarizes the lengths needed if you do it the Philmont way, and at least when your ranger is there, you will have to. It really is a decent method.

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Amsteel Rope on 05/30/2009 06:28:32 MDT Print View

Seattle Marine has the 7/64" rope in stock at 14 cents a foot. They just shipped me 300'.

Any suggestions on replacement bear bags? I was thinking about a mesh bag for each crew member with OP liners. What size are the Philmont bags?