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Backpacking...well kinda...
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Jonathan Edwards
(tiggere) - F
Backpacking...well kinda... on 09/16/2011 11:16:47 MDT Print View

Hey guys...when I started out as the Tiger Den leader I told my parents not to go out and buy a bunch of camping items for car camping...I explained to them that when they move over into Boy Scouts that they will be doing a lot more backpack style camping instead and will have to repurchase new equipment...well the question came up about tents and the other basic requirements that we would need to start with in putting together our I would like some advice on what you guys would put together as a list of basic supplies KNOWING that we will be car camping for the next 4 the major items that we need to start with and the "other" stuff we can pick up as we have the funds to purchase...

As for tents...we MUST have a tent as that's a I was looking at an Alps Mountaineering Extreme 2 ( or the Chaos 2...the Chaos is lighter but at the expense of having a much smaller protected rain fly area...I was wondering though if the Marmot and Kelty tents they sell at Dicks Sporting Goods would be of equal quality...they actually weigh less that either of the AM's...we are not weight weenies at this stage of the game...what we need is packability and durability for future use...

Cooking stoves...there are so darn many but I think we need to look at each parent/child providing their own stoves and cooking their own meals...once we move to scouts we can worry about upsizing for the extra capacity...what do you guys recommend...

I do have us a day hike camping trip planned for the Spring of next year but due to BSA regulations we are only able to camp at the main campground at the trail head and we must day hike in...

do you normally follow the 1# for 5# rule when packing a kids pack?

Thanks for any and all advice...

Edited by tiggere on 09/16/2011 11:18:18 MDT.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Gear for the occasion on 09/16/2011 16:27:39 MDT Print View

As Cubmaster, I counseled families to buy a useful "car camping tent" in one of two categories: a) cheapest you can get that's not junk, or b) one you'll be able to use for years, since Boy Scouts car camp at lot, too, and you may get to go along from time to time.

In the "a" division, I am a fan of the Walmart specials. $30 bucks for a 'glas poled dome tent that will last a few seasons before failure... a good buy. In the "b" divison, folks are happy with the REI Hobitats and other such tents. We have a Big Agnes Big House 4 that's excellent for car camping (and I've humped it into the High Sierra, too, but don't tell anyone here lest screaming result).

Essentially, I think you have to consider that certain types of gear are really useful for the car camping you do as Cubs and some of you will do as Scout leaders. Personally, I'm not a fan of "individual family cooking" and much prefer to have folks cook together, so several in my former pack own the large 2 and 3 burner propane stoves and/or classic Coleman 2-burners, each of which are useful for use in a "camp kitchen" with shared food/prep/cleaning. Those same units are useful for Scout car camping, either in the "old goat" patrol of adult leaders or, in the case of the Colemans, as patrol stoves if the Troop doesn't own and maintain such things in the Patrol Boxes.

Once your Boy Scouts start backpacking, they're not going to be able to carry the stove type that's used in a patrol box, so your Troop may invest in actual lightweight patrol stoves or you may prevail upon certain Scouts to just bring theirs...but either way, you'll not want to have each Scout carrying a stove, fuel, mess kit and such --way too much weight and not enough interaction between the team members. So, I think you can hold off on the backpacking gear until you're in the Troop.

looking ahead on 09/16/2011 18:35:24 MDT Print View

I think its admirable you are trying to encourage people to spend once, and spend smart, to save them money in the long run. It would pay benefits too, like comfort in inclement weather on campouts if a tent is really waterproof, vs. having to bail out and leave in a cheapie.

My first tiger cub campout with my son, it started to pour down rain after dark. Everyone went and got in tents. Some put tarps over the top, etc as additional protection. I remember hearing a commotion in another nearby tent (parents and kid). Then "the zippers broken". Next thing was a car engine starting. That family left because the tent was a cheap tent.

However, I dont think its possible to look that far ahead for everyone. Many will still try to be as cheap as possible. Id encourage them to buy moderate quality gear that wont let them down and ruin their and their sons experiences. Names like Coleman can be trusted most of the time. And if they want to plan that far ahead, thats great, but I wouldnt expect it. Tigers and Cubs camp fairly luxuriously with parents. Im talking 10x10 tents with cots, full size air mattresses, gas barbecue grills, generators, lights, Satellite big screen TV, bicycles, etc.

And when they truly start REAL backpacking, they will need/want much higher quality gear ($$$) than anyone can fathom when they are a tiger.

Even if you steer some of them to 5lb 2-person tents, by the time they get to backpacking, some will want 3lb 2-person tents, Then when they go on a real backpacking trek like Philmont or at summer camp, many will want even lighter tents..

Yes, you might keep them from wasting $75 now, but thats just the way things work.

Edited by livingontheroad on 09/16/2011 19:42:22 MDT.

Jonathan Edwards
(tiggere) - F
re.. on 09/17/2011 06:34:30 MDT Print View

yes...comfort and portability are what I was aiming at...but I think you are both right that this is so new to them they are testing the waters to make sure it's something they want to continue to do...I do have a couple parents that I know will be around for a while...we are starting our second year (Wolves) and they are just as ready to go camping as I am...most of the guys (myself included) have enough car camping equipment for everyone in our Pack...we are already to the "want to pack light" stage...I just don't want to see people spend a lot of money on equipment when they can use ours for now and be getting stuff that will last when they do purchase...does that make sense?

I remember the first Parent/Son weekend when everyone came out with their brand new tents and equipment only to have the temps drop to 25 degrees...and here they are in their 45 degree Walmart bags...had a lot of empty campsites the next morning when we got up (left in the middle of the night)...this is the other reason I am trying to get them to buy the right equipment the first time around...most of the moms said they didn't want to go camping again because they were cold...well you were in a 45 degree bag in 25 degree weather...yeah...your gonna be cold !!!...but this is COMPLETELY unacceptable to me and I will make it my personal duty to be sure that everyone in my Pack knows exactly what the weather will be doing and that they are prepared...the boys need this and if the moms don't go the boy doesn't go and we lose them...all they really need is a good tent, a good bag, and a good canister stove... camping like we are doing for the next 4 years everything else is fluff...

also note when I said stoves I meant something like Jetboils or Pocket Rocket type stoves...the ability to boil water at your site when you first get up sure beats the hike to the camping hall only to find out the coffee isn't made and will be ready at breakfast which is at 8am...current time 6:30am...DOH...

As you can see by my avatar, my son and I are outdoor junkies...we love to be outside hunting or fishing...most of my parents don't have the love of the outdoors that we have and I just want them to be comfortable and enjoy it to the fullest when they do venture out...

So help me there a better tent I should be looking at other than the ones I mentioned?...lighter/better options? and as for canister stoves I have read mixed reviews on just about all of them...for the most part I will be re-hydrating/raman noodles/soup and making my REQUIRED coffee in the mornings :P...I would like to stay away from liquid fuels for now (although all my current stoves and lanterns are liquid)...I think the MSR Dragonfly would be perfect but I would have to read the BSA regs and make sure that liquid fuels are allowed everywhere...I wouldn't mind having a somewhat light pack but I'm young so I will live...thanks for your comments...

tents on 09/17/2011 08:05:28 MDT Print View

Not all will stick with it. I dont know any percentages, but in my experience its fairly low. Many will never see a pack.

Most boy scout troops do quite a lot of car camping, with scattered high-adventure activites mixed in. Scout campouts are for learning and demonstrating skills, and working on merit badge requirements. Not just for fun. Car camping with patrol boxes,and a big troop trailer keeps everything organized and available to camp frequently,every month. It allows for parents to drop kid off on friday evening, and come back and pick them up on Sunday afternoon. If it was harder, campout participation would be low, and rank progress would suffer.

When they start camping every month, rain or shine, most do buy a decent quality tent with taped seams that will keep them dry. (they learn fast, all it takes is getting soaked once) Kelty, Eureka, ALPS, and even Coleman. The number of true cheapies diminishes. The ALPS gear when purchased from Scoutdirect, is unbeatable for quality for the price. But it is not light. Most tents weigh 5-7 lbs. This can be split between 2 scouts for backpacking, but honestly, is still really heavy and bulky. (My own goal when backpacking is to carry shelter wt of 1-1.5 lb/person).

I know what you are saying about sleeping bags and temps. At a campout last winter temp was in low 30s, my sons tentmate asked him thru chattering teeth "Im freezing, are you cold?". My son answered " No, Im actually toasty!". He has a good sleeping bag, while MOST still have bags that cost under $40.

There is a learning curve. Usually they start with the same cheap gear they used in cubs,but by the time they are 13 and ready for high-adventure, they have accumulated a servicable (but heavy) tent, maybe a decent sleeping bag (but its not light or packs small). Then they may get a 5.5-6 lb Kelty pack for christmas before they go to philmont, etc. That is why their packs still weigh 40 lbs when they hit the trail at philmont.

Cooking in boy scouts is done by Patrol, in groups. Stoves are shared equipment. You will only need one stove for every 3-4 boys, or something like that. Maybe two per patrol for backpacking. In car camping, we use big, stable, indestructible two burner gas stoves and 5 gal propane cylinders. 10 yr old boys cannot cook on backpacking stoves! They can barely cook on the big stable ones.

If you really want to get 2person tents that will be used in the future, look for 2P double wall tents that have included poles, and weigh in the 3-3.5lb range. MSR, Big Agnes, etc. That is only 1.5 lb eachor so when backpacking. These will be fairly small for 2 for car camping though for a few yrs. Most heavy dads couldnt even fit in one by themself, much less with another person. These tents are more expensive and confining than other tents that would work better for car camping.

In the years that pass before these kids are capable of real backpacking, lighter more durable items will also come to market.

Truthfully, I know where you are coming from. I took the same approach for my son and I. When he reached boy scouts I bought higher quality, lighter weight, smaller tents that could be used for backpacking. But I can say that those tents never will, because they are still too heavy by my current standards.

Edited by livingontheroad on 09/17/2011 08:20:05 MDT.

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Alps Mountaineering & Scouts on 09/19/2011 08:50:35 MDT Print View

You have to LOVE the deals offered by Alps Mountaineering and the gear is EXCEPTIONAL for the investment!!!

Love their Zephyr tents - work great for cubs or boys even taken them to Philmont.
Their self inflating Comfort Air Pads are wonderful!!!
And their bags are great as well!!!

Get on their mailing list - quiet often they run promos (especially around the various holidays) of pack, tent, bag combos & discount pads..... last years was tent, bag & pack for $155!!!

Enjoy the adventure!

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Right tool for the job on 09/19/2011 14:59:08 MDT Print View

For the Cub Scout car camping, AND the Boy Scout car camping, I'll just say it: you don't want a Pocket Rocket or a Jetboil, etc... They're too small and don't put out the BTU you need to cook for anyone but yourself.

For those trips, you want a 2-Burner Coleman running on the large green propane canisters or white gas (I use a 50yr old white gas version) or one of the Camp Chef 2 or 2 burner units you can get from Costco, Walmart, etc. and that run off the large, white propane tanks used for a backyard grill. Those put out 30k BTU per burner, will support large pots and skillets like you need to cook for groups and work great with the Coleman drip coffee maker that makes for very happy adult leaders (our Scout troop hauls one on the Colorado River and we can brew coffee constantly...). They also work with the Coleman lantern that mounts on top of the pole/supply line to light your camp kitchen. All of these work well with kitchen equipment you scavenge from home or the dollar store.

Such "big rig" stoves are the ticket for any car camping, and not too shabby as a haul-along for resident and Boy Scout camps so that you can easily do the coffee/cocoa thing in camp.

Once it's time for backpacking, then comes the propriety for the small, lightweight, more $/ounce stoves and cook kits for Patrols and individuals. You'll still want the big rigs for car camping, though.

Jonathan Edwards
(tiggere) - F
equipment on 09/22/2011 07:05:20 MDT Print View

Yes quite a few of us have the Coleman 2 burner stoves and lanterns...thats why I didn't see the need for the others to go out and purchase that stuff again for car camping...between three leaders we have enough equipment for the whole pack of about 50 boys...I'm of the mindset of use our equipment now (like you can ever wear those stoves and lanterns out) and gear more towards smaller lighter quality gear in the beginning...

But I didn't take the cost aspect and the "just trying camping out" aspect into it...I can see where it would be more expensive for them to buy good backpacking equipment and then hate camping...this is probably one of those times when you can't learn from others experience as everyone has a different comfort level along with the "is this for me" folks...