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Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go?
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go? on 06/23/2009 16:32:53 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go?

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
How Light Can You Go? on 06/23/2009 19:34:44 MDT Print View

Another great article Doug! My Troop will be there in August and we will certainly be using a lot of your ideas to keep those ankles in shape.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: How Light Can You Go? on 06/23/2009 20:40:24 MDT Print View

Thank You, Doug!

Now wish me success in getting our troop to lighten up.

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Wrong measurements on 06/24/2009 02:59:56 MDT Print View

Your kg measurements are wrong in the summary, for example:

Total Weight Worn or Carried 10.9 kg = 384,48 oz or 24.03 pounds.

Michael Danielson
(mcd57) - MLife

Locale: Middle TN
How light can you go? on 06/24/2009 10:48:44 MDT Print View

Loved your article. Taking a crew out to Philmont the first week next year (2010). Will apply a lot of the principles to the crew members because they are new to backpacking and I have a lot of training to do to get them ready for next year.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: How Light Can You Go? on 06/24/2009 11:25:05 MDT Print View

Great article Doug -- I wish every Scout and Scouter would read it (and heed your advice) before going on their next backpacking trip. 77 pounds, not so surprising -- we had adults in our troop that would have 60 pounds for a weekend.

How did the Mountain Hardwear Stimulus work in heavy rain? I'm trying to convince myself that my Mountain Hardwear Quark (same fabric) is really waterproof.

Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
oz vs kg on 06/24/2009 17:47:44 MDT Print View

HOLY COW. The math error is totally mine. I promise to get more sleep, um, next week.

Thanks for pointing it out, Hendrick!

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go on 06/24/2009 18:00:03 MDT Print View

Any chance you can post the link to the actual excel spread sheet you used for philmont? We are going in 2010.


Edited by tkknc on 06/24/2009 18:02:21 MDT.

Larry Risch
(dayhiker) - F
Day Clothes, where to they go at night? on 06/25/2009 11:47:55 MDT Print View

So if you can't sleep with them what do you do with them? Hang them with your food?

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go? on 06/25/2009 17:53:29 MDT Print View

Doug, awesome- Thanks!

I work really hard to get Scouters to lighten up, but they're generally the toughest bunch to get to shed weight. I got my Eagle in the 80s; I vividly remember the pack list including things like towel and washcloth, bowl, plate, knife, fork, spoon, cup, etc, etc... so I know they can come by it honestly. Can be remarkably more resistant to change. I've been working with one group in particular who won't let really, really little guys go on a trip with anything less than 5,500 cubic inches... they actually made one of the Scouts return a pack that was 4,900 cubic inches. It was the only pack he tried on out of about 4 in the 85-95L range that felt good; I could have added a simple accessory pocket. In short, it's great to hear of Scouters getting out there with less. Refreshing! (For all involved.) One group I've worked with is headed out to Philmont soon; they've been following some of my advice and that of BPL, but seem to be working down from more traditional weights and philosophy. I have faith that they'll take to your approach!

Thanks again for a great article!

Edited by 4quietwoods on 06/25/2009 17:55:23 MDT.

Douglas Prosser
(daprosser) - MLife

Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
Re: Day Clothes, where to they go at night? on 06/25/2009 22:27:22 MDT Print View

Since we can not sleep with our day clothes nor packs I put my day clothes in a 1 gal zip-lock & my pack in a 1 gal zip-lock. I then put them under the dining fly.

Douglas Prosser
(daprosser) - MLife

Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
Re: Re: How Light Can You Go? on 06/25/2009 22:31:30 MDT Print View

The Mountain Hardware Stimulus worked really great. I was like you looking at this very thin light fabric was it going to work. It did really well. It is not quite as breathable as my Montane wind shirt but it is very good. I also gave up my Tilly Airflow hat & hike in the Stimulus Rain Hat. It worked great during a number of storms. The Rain wrap was funny but worked so good I do not think I'll take anything else in the warmer weather for lower body rain protection.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go? on 06/26/2009 10:10:57 MDT Print View


Great article! I appreciate you writing it. I really enjoyed it.



Edited by socalpacker on 06/26/2009 10:12:35 MDT.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Once Again on 06/26/2009 13:12:15 MDT Print View


You are the man when it comes to Philmont! I have used your original article with a lot of crews in order to get them used to the idea of not taking the kitchen sink. My brother in law is going in July and, hopefully, he will be one of the lighter crews there.

Our crew loved to hang around the scale and watch people weigh their packs. Once kid had 32 lbs. and the Scout Master was upset because he was not carrying his "fair share". This kid worked hard to get his pack weight down to a respectable weight and they were now going to punish him for doing so. I am sure the SM probably had a 50 lb. pack and he wanted the kid to carry some of his stuff.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go? on 06/26/2009 13:22:30 MDT Print View

Not to hijack the thread (much), but I wanted to ask Doug if he had ever thought about updating his article on gear for new scouts?

Douglas Prosser
(daprosser) - MLife

Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
Re: Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go? on 06/26/2009 14:03:32 MDT Print View

I have thought of updating the New Scout article as well as putting together a Power Point that people could use to teach the concepts. We'll see. I was also thinking of article on John Muir Trail because 4 of us from the BPL Wilderness Trekking course Dessert Southwest in 2008 will be leaving to start on Aug 12th, southboard.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Going lightweight at Philmont on 06/26/2009 18:19:14 MDT Print View

I liked the "fair share" comment. That clearly shows a lack of understanding on the leader's part. His knees must be much better than mine.

Last year we saw packs up to 84 lbs, where the scout carrying it screamed "I won, I have the heaviest pack". I would have love to have seen him 5 days later. We also saw a 70+ pounder with a 10" cast iron skillet and small ice chest filled with bacon and eggs. (Seriously)

Some of the weight leaving the welcome center is dependent upon your first day's destination and next resupply:
How many days of food are you carrying 2, 3 or 4 days?
How much water do you need to carry to the first refill station? This is where many get heavy: Most of the first day's are about 2 miles, where 1 liter is likely sufficient (YMMV).

Last year we had one trekker with a 20 lb pack with everthing includingwater and food. This year we expect to have a 17 lb packer.

I was interested a year ago how low you could go with a rich uncle. I'll look for my spreadsheet, but if $'s were not an issue and exotic materials were available (ala Cuben everywhere) it looked like you could get to the 12 lb range with everything (including food, water, crew gear) on day 1 for ~$2K.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go on 06/26/2009 22:41:04 MDT Print View

I'm shocked that they have a weight limit, but allow boys to leave carrying such a huge percentage of their body weight. Trapped in the 70s..............

Jim Cowdery
(james.cowdery) - MLife

Locale: Central Florida
Weight on 06/29/2009 13:33:18 MDT Print View

I went with a crew in 2005. Two of the leaders didn't follow advice and ended up with packs in the mid forty pound range. Everyone else was below 35 lbs. By the fourth day they regretted carring all the weight!

Pat Rabun
(prabun) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Philmont List on 06/29/2009 15:04:55 MDT Print View

Great article Doug! However, I have a couple of points. First, .5L of water on a Philmont trek is dangerously low for 99% of the people going. Dehydration is probably the number one problem encountered by the Philmont med staff. I would suggest to those reading the article to carry 2L minimum, based on my experience at Philmont and Double H. Second, you can`t do very many treks and only carry 2 days worth of food between resupplying. Most treks have at least one 3-4 days between resupply segment. Philfood is heavy (even after removing the Gatoraide!). Given the above, I`d add about 9 lbs to your packweight (addition food @96oz and water @ 48oz)to get a realistic average weight for most treks. Also, my crews always split the crew gear evenly (including adults), which adds further weight. I think it sets a poor example to do otherwise.
Again, great article! You got me thinking light about Philmont prior to my first trek and I am forever in your debt!