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Will they let you do this?
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Noah Kirschbaum
(kirschdude) - F

Locale: Iowa
Will they let you do this? on 12/27/2008 14:31:46 MST Print View

Hi, I cant wait for my first Philmont trip (sadly its not till the summer of 2010). I was wondering will the staff at Philmont even let you go ultra light there. For example will they let you use a bivy or tarp tent instead of a normal tent?

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Will they let you do this? on 12/27/2008 15:34:13 MST Print View

If you haven't read this article, you should b/c it is invaluable:

In general, it is difficult to go truly UL at Philmont due to the Philmont restrictions (fully-enclosed shelter, lots of crew gear). However, going LW is very feasible. Though I wore boots on my 2006 trek, I would have no problem at all wearing trail runners. Anyway, you are sure to have a superb time at Philmont - it was one of the best weeks of my life. Remember, a light pack and good fitness are the keys to have a successful and enjoyable experience.

Adam Kowis

Locale: Austin
RE: Will they let you do this? on 12/30/2008 19:18:40 MST Print View

I was a Philmont Ranger last year and potentially next year. I am also close friends with most of the Ranger leadership, so I am in tune with policy changes for the coming year.

If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email or post your question.

Bivy sacks are not allowed independent of an enclosed shelter. They are referred to at Philmont as "Bear Burritos." This policy is not entirely grounded in reality. I have cowboy camped many nights in the Philmont wilderness (without a crew) with no problems. However, last year a meadow crashing staffer was examined by a bear.

Edited by akowis on 12/30/2008 19:20:33 MST.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Will they let you do this? on 01/02/2009 14:52:37 MST Print View

Hi Noah,
you can go lightweight, but the "Guidebook to Adventure", the official Philmont guide, requires tents. You can find several versions of the booklet on line, so you may want to read that to know what the limits are. It's not difficult to get to 18-20 lbs (no water or food) without great expense.


Edited by eaglemb on 01/02/2009 14:54:14 MST.

Frank Renfroe
(frenfroe) - F
Re: RE: Will they let you do this? on 01/05/2009 10:45:22 MST Print View

We are headed out to Philmont this June. What tents are provided at Philmont and their weights? I'm working on our scoutmaster to "go light". Hopefully we can get him to go w/a silnylon fly, lighter rope and light canister stoves w/turkey bagging.

I'll be using a Tarptent Cloudburst and have a Kelty Teton 2 we could use for my son and his tentmate. Will a 35 degree bag and a liner be sufficient?

What are your thoughts on boots vs. trailrunners?


Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Tents at Philmont on 01/06/2009 14:00:24 MST Print View

I would highly recommend NOT to use Philmont tents. They are built to last through a few seasons and a few hundred scouts or adults. I think they weigh in at 7 lbs. with stakes (about 12 of them needed to set up properly is what I saw). They are big and bulky.

Get your own tents and get used to using them. There are a lot of options.

We had a few different tents. Each leader has his own. 2 of us had Gossamer Gear The One. Never got wet in 6 days of rain. Another one had a real small single man North Face tent. Stayed dry but had a lot of condensation. Another had an even smaller, almost bivy like tent made by Black Diamond. We all did fine.

2 shared a Tarptent Double Rainbow. Great tent. 2 entrances. No leakage.
2 shared a Tarptent Contrail. Not really made for 2 adults but 2 scouts seemed to fit okay.

Others had our troop tent which are North Face and about 4.5 lbs. Each kid takes 1/2 the tent in the form of the fly and the tent. The stakes and poles can be split up also between the 2 boys.

All items given to you by Philmont are going to be heavier than what you would most likely bring.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
RE: Will they let you do this? on 01/06/2009 15:34:56 MST Print View

What are your thoughts on boots vs. trailrunners?

I never make footwear recommendations ... but at the end of the day I'd say "look for a good deal on some lighter low cut shoes, use them on a LOT of early training hikes and you'll develop your own thoughts in time to decide between boots and shoes. Then purchase whatever you settle on in time to get used to them b4 Philmont." (you HAVE started training walks by now, right?)

My own footwear journey (to date) ... It took me about 5 years to ween myself from boots. I started out convinced that I needed monster boots (would have bought Limmers if they were in budget). I wish I'd saved my first pair to show as examples, I'm sure they were heavier than the first downhill ski boots I owned;-)

Then I picked up a pair of Merrell Chameleon Ventilator mids on sale at REI ... positively loved them and if I could have found the same thing in low cut I'd have tried them in a heartbeat and bought several if they felt as good as the mids.

I used Merrel Moab Ventilator Mids at Philmont in 2007, was very happy with them and continued to use them until worn out. I see that there are low cut Moab Ventilator wides available and might try them ... except for this pair of Inov8 Roclite 318 GTX I tried. They were absolutely comfortable right out of the box and still comfortable now that they're just about worn out. Too bad about the GTX but I can tolerate that during our MN shoulder season.

I now frequently scan for good prices on Inov8's and have a pair on the shelf waiting for the end of the winter.

But to repeat the above advice: Feet are too variable so make your own journey in search of the right footwear. You have time to get a good start before your Philmont trip (especially if you aren't as stubborn as I was)

Frank Renfroe
(frenfroe) - F
Will they let you do this? on 01/06/2009 17:15:18 MST Print View

Thanks for the replies.

Pretty much been in the gym for several months. 20 min. elliptical machine, 20 min. stairclimber, 20 min. fast walk @ 10% slope plus a light weight routine. I need to start walking the neighborhood with the pack and kitty litter. Had ACL reconstruction and menicus repair in one knee 4-5 years ago, since then that quads been weak on sustained downhills. I just got poles to help with that. The knee's one reason I want to minimize my load.

We've done most of the AT in Georgia, plan to do a section every other weekend for about 2 months before our trip.

I've always used boots but am leaning towards trail runners. Using Vasque Breeze XCR right now, they are pretty light for a boot. I found them new/unused for under $25 in a REI scratch n dent sale a few months ago......and they fit Great. Right now the plan is to wear them and carry trail-runners for afternoons and maybe try them on some trail sections.

Spoke w/scoutmaster yesterday......seems to be willing to push our crew to go light.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Will they let you do this? on 01/06/2009 21:49:28 MST Print View

Frank, footwear is a personal decision. Almost every member of our 2 crews last year were in light footwear. Only one had any foot trouble but it had more to do with cleanliness than anything else.

My overall impression of Philmont is that trails are well designed and maintained. There were a few rocky places. But shoes performed fine for me.

I second Jim's idea. You don't need to use any of Philmont's heavy gear. The link below tells our experience with a lighter approach. We are going again this year and I see several opportunities to lighten up even more.

Philmont is a blast. Hope you enjoy your trip. Doug Prosser's advice on BPL is fantastic. I wrote a bit about our experience with focus on gear --

Edited by flyfast on 01/07/2009 04:39:37 MST.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Footwear on 01/11/2009 12:54:04 MST Print View

Another vote for Merrill Moab Ventilators, but every foot is different.

As noted earlier, footwear is a personal decision, and probably the most critical. Somewhere on BPL there was an analysis that showed that lighterweight shoes were much lower impact on your body than heavier "backpacking boots".

2 years ago my (expensive official high support and heavy) boots split in half. My camp shoes were the Ventilators, I did the remaining 6 days, and felt better. Last year I did the whole trek in them and felt great.

YMMV, but I'm sold on lighter weight gear, shoes in particluar.


paul buzzard
(troop208) - F
gear on 01/12/2009 10:11:21 MST Print View


I went last year and used the Vasque breeze model you have without goretex. If your boots work, and fit great use them. I practiced walked on our sledding hill using 27#'s of charcoal in my pack. I think using your pack with weight is all you need to practice, since you are in good shape. If you are planning on using poles, practice with them.

Gear. We bought an Oware 12'x 12' sil nylon tarp, and it was worth the money, about $150. We had somehwat rainy trip, and this tarp was pure gold. We used our hiking poles to set it up. Practice was key prior, as we could rig it in a number of ways, and had precut ropes we brought along, with pole connectors also. Best thing we purchased. Way lighter than theirs. If you use white gas stoves, make every effort if possible to buy good known gas prior to arrival. We used theirs, (had to, flew into denver, then bus to philmont)and stove performance sucked, and it wasn't the stoves. Have a gear shake down now. Get the parents to spend money where possible on lighter weight, smaller gear. Sleeping bags are prime target, followed by rain gear, sleeping pads, and packs for big weight savings. Packs for size. Too small a pack = problems with boys carrying their share of equipment and meals. That leads to other problems, lol. Campmor brand 20 degree down bags are a great choice for small, light, and relatively low purchase price. Your troop should get 10% discount there also if you set up account. Good luck

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Weekend Prep Trips on 01/12/2009 13:23:45 MST Print View


You said "We've done most of the AT in Georgia, plan to do a section every other weekend for about 2 months before our trip. "

Use these trips to really get comfortable with lightweight. There is a tendency to fall into the "I am only going out for a weekend so I can carry that" syndrome. Instead, each time you go really assess what you took, what you used, how you used it, etc. Then figure out how you can do it lighter or do without some items. If you do not get into the habit now when it comes time to pack for Philmont you won't be comfortable doing it then.

When I was getting our group together I told them to think of Philmont as three 4 day hikes in a row. Just take what you would take on a 4 day hike. You can clean clothes, get resupplied often and can even buy goodies at a commisary. You will be amazed at how much stuff you really don't need when you have the outdoors all around you.

Edited by scottbentz on 01/12/2009 13:24:47 MST.

Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
RE: Frank's exercise routine on 02/26/2009 14:47:26 MST Print View


Your gym routine sounds great for winter training. I suggest that you supplement it with real walking, preferably off-road. You need to train for more than pure strength or pure endurance. Given your old knee injury, you also need to be training the secondary muscles for stability and control on uneven surfaces. Walking off-road has benefits similar to those that free weights provide for upper body.

Frank Renfroe
(frenfroe) - F
Training on 02/27/2009 12:49:43 MST Print View

Roger, as weather improves and the days get longer we'll be doing more wearing the packs off-road. A friend told me about a neat short trail to practice on a couple miles from my house. He was part of our last Philmont trip and used it a good bit. It's an old rocky logging road that goes over a little mtn. and back dowm. Probably 800' up to 1250' and back to 800' over maybe 1.5 miles. Over and back once or twice a few times a week is the plan.

We have a 14 mile overnighter on the AT on the calender for the whole crew in April. Hogpen Gap to Unicoi Gap. That should pare down the boy's packs and get them looking for lighter gear.

Now doing 30 min. each on eliptical and stairclimber 4-5 times per week. I've dropped over 12lbs. since Christmas.

Really looking forward to getting our trek assignment.

Jason Priem
(jasonpriem) - F

Locale: Florida
Re: Training on 02/27/2009 13:24:06 MST Print View

I agree: your training plan sounds pretty solid. I'm coming back from a knee injury myself, and I sympathize with you. One thing that you didn't mention that I found pretty awesome is working with a wobble-board or something like it. Doing one-legged squats on that thing will really help those stabilizers, which are key. A thick mattress or couch cushion works pretty well, too. Good luck!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Will they let you do this? on 02/27/2009 14:07:13 MST Print View

I've been doing 30-35 minutes a day on an elliptical, and while I can really tell a difference in my conditioning, I haven't lost a pound. I'm just hungrier. So I'm really jealous of that 12 pounds. One-legged squats on a wobble board? I don't think I could do that. And my ortho told me to never do squats again after my knee surgery.

Jason Priem
(jasonpriem) - F

Locale: Florida
Re: Will they let you do this? on 02/27/2009 14:40:00 MST Print View

Good call, Joe; I should've mentioned that different knee problems are, um, different. I would definitely check with your doc or pt before trying any exercise recommended to you by some dude on a message board.

And any kind of squats are really tough on your knee (although not as bad as isolation exercises like leg extensions, which are absolutely brutal on your cartilage). If you do end up doing any squats, make sure you go at it gradually; all it takes is a few degrees of flexion to start strengthening the quads and stabilizers. Don't even think about going past 90 degrees, ever.

The idea is just to work up to doing something similar to what you're going to face on those big downhills--which are basically just 50 million one-legged squats in a row :)

Frank Renfroe
(frenfroe) - F
Will they let you do this? on 02/27/2009 19:38:33 MST Print View

Joe, as long as I was doing weight training with the aerobic work I didn't lose any weight either. My hunger was larger than the workouts! I've cut back the calories a little but not much. One thing that helped was cutting out the barley beverages :-( . Maybe I won't miss them so much out in NM?

We belong to our local hospital's wellness center, a very nice gym with a pool, etc. It's on my way home from work which doesn't hurt either. They have a good staff and the PT department uses the facility too so I can talk to qualified trainers. I talked to one about the lack of weight loss while weight training with aerobics. She recommended I work on core conditioning (planks, abs, and roman chair) and drop the full weight workouts. I dropped the weight workouts, need to add back her core workouts now.

Floyd Wrich
(woodstosea) - F
Will they let you do this? on 03/21/2009 11:20:57 MDT Print View

Did trek 8 in 2006. We were able to keep our weight down by useing our own cooking gear instead of their big pots(found we never needed them). I'd call and see if you can bring your own tarp,their tarp is heavy. It rained almost half the days we hiked and we did use the tarp 3times to cook and eat under. Our trek took place the last week of June,1st week of July. Got down into the 40's at night.Being from SW Fla. this was winter camping for us. Was glad my sleeping bag was rated for 20deg. The major surprise in regards to weight was in the area of the food provided. It was very bulky and was far from light. It caused the only problem we had at Philmont. Those with small backpacks couldn't carry their fair share of food. Unless things have changed I'd have to say that each backpack should have at least a foot or more empty space left open for the food(man was it bulky and heavy!!) When going on your practice hikes add at least 5lbs to everyones backpack's base weight. This way no one will be suprised by added philmont weight. If you bring your own tent, the only two ways to lighten Philmont equipment is in the area of cooking gear and tarp. When we went to Philmont I was a 52 year old ASM in average shape, and I confess that their were a few times on the way up to Baldy I found the going tough. We were surprised by the number of scout masters and scouts who couldn't finish their trek and had to be taken back to base camp. Unless you have an easy trek be forwarned Philmont is not a walk in the woods. For my son and myself it was the best of times and a memory for all time. The whole crew wants to do it again. Happy Trails.

Floyd Wrich
(woodstosea) - F
Philmont food on 03/21/2009 11:47:33 MDT Print View

Thinking about Philmont brought back a memory that will give you an idea about the food. If you get a trek with a donkey, Know that the only thing the donkey is allowed to carry is the bags of Philmont food! We were always amazed by the number of crews that had the donkey being led by the lead scout with everyone else following in single file. Granted that the donkey always seemed to know where it was going. But their's a good reason why those who know, place them at the end of the line. (We figured they were "yankees", but were to polite to ask). Happy Trails PS. no offense intended