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Lightweight Scouting Dissertation
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Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Lightweight Scouting Dissertation on 01/09/2012 10:18:07 MST Print View

Thanks to all for their help on this, whether directly or through your posts that I read.

Please distribute as you see fit.

I'd also like to expand and improve upon this over time, removing the limitations I imposed, so contact me if you have anything to add, change, suggest, etc. Hopefully, it will be a benefit to Scouts everywhere.

Lightweight Scouting Dissertation

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Looks very good on 01/09/2012 11:15:26 MST Print View

Looks very good. I liked your idea of mentioning trips by Jordan and Skurka and pointing out they were in scouts. Has it been approved yet or are you waiting to find out?

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Looks very good on 01/09/2012 14:04:51 MST Print View

Luke,
It will be approved. They might ask for corrections or more footnotes perhaps. I had sent my first draft a while back and they were fine with that other than no footnotes at the time. It's much better now (like the idea from Phil Barton to add Jordan/Skurka, for example).

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Re: Lightweight Scouting Dissertation on 01/09/2012 15:05:44 MST Print View

Looks like a lot of work went into that. Nicely done.

If you edit it further, it would be nice to include more pictures. Seems like the Scouts always respond well to photos, especially if they are of gear in nice settings. :)

If you are ok with it, I would like to make it available to our troop as we prepare for a Philmont trek this summer.

John

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Lightweight Scouting Dissertation on 01/09/2012 15:13:03 MST Print View

As I said, distribute as you see fit. I'd rather see it be of benefit to people. I'd also hope we could expand it.

The pics were a last minute addition. Would be nice have better ones, but that was the best I could find and I wanted to keep it clean. Several of MikeC's would be ideal, but I didn't like borrowing a few pics without express permission as it was.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Pictures on 01/09/2012 17:47:03 MST Print View

I'm not a professional photographer but if you want pictues I have lot if you'd like some.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Pictures on 01/09/2012 19:53:07 MST Print View

If anyone has pictures (especially with Scouts in them) that would go well in a particular place, I'd be happy to add them. Just tell me where they should be.

One of my main challenges was MY troop doesn't backpack yet. It's been quite frustrating, but we'll get there eventually.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Last minute changes on 01/11/2012 09:25:43 MST Print View

It has been accepted, but they said it was fine if there were things I wanted to add so any last minute critiques are welcome!

Kai Larson
(KaiLarson) - F
Re: Last minute changes on 01/22/2012 01:08:37 MST Print View

Good summary. I don't agree with your conclusions regarding goretex footwear, however.

I happily wear goretex shoes. Particularly in snowy conditions, I like being able to keep my feet dry. I hate hiking with wet, cold squishy shoes/socks.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Last minute changes on 01/22/2012 10:24:57 MST Print View

You'll note winter was one exception to perhaps wearing boots, but winter wasn't within the parameters. I'd still caution on Goretex type footwear depending on the type and level of the snow but they can work just fine as you know. I haven't hiked much in mine yet, but I do know my feet can sweat quite a bit in them.

Kai Larson
(KaiLarson) - F
Re: Re: Re: Last minute changes on 01/22/2012 15:09:50 MST Print View

My scout outings are typically in the mountain West. We hike in the Rockies, and can get snow in July. Where you're from, I guess that isn't an issue.

I have hiked many hundreds of miles in Goretex footwear. I guess I just don't understand your caution (other than price.)

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Like Your Bibliography on 01/22/2012 15:30:38 MST Print View

Michael I looked over it again and I really like the way its come together. Very good work. Its something I would give to someone who was new to UL backpacking whether they were scouters or not. Make a few common sense modifications and it works for anyone.
I like that you included Andy Skurka's new book in the bibliography. I can't wait to read it but I'm guessing it will be a good resource.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Goretex footwear on 01/22/2012 16:25:15 MST Print View

It's not just me that cautions against Goretex footwear. Unless you're not going to be walking through creeks the majority of people here don't wear them either. Aside from price and inability to dry they are also heavier than a similar shoe without it.

My trips have been in the mountains, but no snow I've had to hike through yet. I'd still wear normal trail runners just like most PCT thru-hikers do. Might change what type and thickness of socks depending on how extensive it was.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Like Your Bibliography on 01/22/2012 16:43:18 MST Print View

Luke,
As some others here have discovered, it could be useful as a newbie gear primer. As I pointed out they could save more weight and money by going to items not covered because of BSA rules (alchy stoves) or patrol method (solo tents & cook kits). Maybe I should add a chapter for non-BSA, too?

I hope his book his good. I was disappointed by his sample chapter but it sounds like he's really changed and added quite a bit since then.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Bibliography on 01/22/2012 16:55:19 MST Print View

I think the book will be good. From what I've seen of Andy Skurka's gear lists I don't think there will be anything shockingly new, just good common sense UL stuff. It appears to be well illustrated so that will make it an easier read for non-gear geeks. I also think it makes UL more credible to a skeptic. Gotta admit Andy has an impressive hiking resume

As far as your article goes I think you could easily modify it and turn it into a basic backpacking guide. I wonder if you could get it published somewhere?

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re Re Bibliography on 01/22/2012 18:49:49 MST Print View

I have no interest in publishing. I'd rather just keep it in PDF format though I do wish it were more of a community effort (like open source software).

David B
(FunnyBizness) - F
Re: Lightweight Scouting Dissertation on 01/25/2012 20:14:21 MST Print View

Well done! Bravo!

A few comments:

Hand sanitizer and soap: Personally, I think hand sanitizer is a waste of space. I put a little Boraxo powdered soap in a small spice container. One ounce lasts a really long time; it weighs less than bar soap and never turns gooey.

Dehydrated food: It might be worth mentioning that dehydrated EVERYTHING is available online.

Patrol tarp: 8x10 or 10x12 silnylon. Not a must-have, but a really-nice-to-have. Especially in the rain.

Packing: Your drawing showing how to pack your pack is great!

Kitchen: Consider adding paper towels to the list. Scouts like them, and might use TP if not PT is available. Gross.

Again, nicely done. Thanks for doing this.

Daniel Smart
(smartd) - M
Re: Lightweight Scouting Dissertation on 01/30/2012 22:31:06 MST Print View

I've been a Scoutmaster for several years and took many Scouts backpacking. I totally agree that one scout with too much gear can ruin the whole trip for everyone. It is every hard to have a proper shakedown, but I now think its mandatory. Too bad about Alky stoves. I think the boys would have a great time making them and using them.

I think its good to give this info to new Scout dads, so they understand what good gear is and avoid buying inappropriate stuff too early.

Thanks for your hard work. I will read it in detail and may make some suggestions.

-=Dan=-

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
overweight packs on 03/20/2012 13:18:51 MDT Print View

The PDF is great and I hope to convince others in our troop to read it carefully.

I know this post is a bit late, but I just returned from a scout hike this weekend and still see packs far heavier than needed and scouts hunched over for miles carrying them. This weekend, one of the scouts came with a 105 # pack that actually had 2 dumbbells in it.

Part of the issue (IMO) is that scouts are frequently told that carrying this mass is the way to build up strength and endurance. They are encouraged to carry extra weight. Additionally, the Be Prepared rule is used as an excuse to carry unneeded gear. Some overpack in anticipation of being in Spec Ops in the future where these packs are carried.

My suspicion is that this damages knees and joints over time and serves to make the hikes death marches.

I try to keep my kids' pack weight under 20# for now and hope to get it down further in the future. I want them to enjoy the outdoors for life.

Thanks, steve

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: overweight packs on 03/20/2012 15:55:07 MDT Print View

105 pounds?!?!? I'd guess that's more than most infantryman. How old and big was this pack mule?

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
pack weight on 03/20/2012 18:10:32 MDT Print View

This scout is 16 yo,70 inches tall, maybe 165 lbs or so.

He wants very much to be in special forces and he decided to become strong this way. He made the hike, but I told him that he could fall and injure himself seriously under that weight, esp while we are crossing streams, quickly ending the career he hopes for. It cant be good for his back and knees in the long run. He is not the only one with the same goals and methods in place among the scouts.

He is the extreme in our troop, but the problem of really small, 70 lb scouts with 30 plus lb packs is prevalent and more than once I have ended up with an extra pack to salvage things.

I think an overloaded pack can be a source of status. I hope your book helps stop this thinking and I think it will if I can get parents to read it, esp the scout leaders. Thanks for making it available.

steve

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Really helpful on 09/11/2012 14:24:07 MDT Print View

Thank you so much for sharing this. As a father of a Webelo about to cross over we are entering a new realm of outdoor opportunities and related skills. This is true for both of us really as I've started camping and hiking myself in support of my son - I did not grow up in an outdoors oriented household so this is new for me as well. I've been working to acquire appropriate gear when possible in preparation for this and the last two car camping trips we've significantly pared down our gear in preparation for having to carry some/all of it on our backs (not just in scouting - I anticipate hiking and camping with him on our own as well).

I think the only bridge I've had a hard time building is the idea of not having a tent ... admittedly it could be my southeast location but bugs and critters are widespread and aggressive - having a small spot to gain some relief aids my outlook and spirits.

Anyway - I continue to learn a tremendous amount from this community - thank you for your generosity in sharing.

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
Bug tent on 09/11/2012 15:46:36 MDT Print View

Hi Phillip,

I recently finished a scout 55 mile hike in the desolation wilderness where the bugs, ESP mosquitos, were aggressive. I decided to carry a Henry Shires tarp tent at about 1 1/2 lb. It was quick to set up and the Contrail is basically a tarp with bug netting and a floor. It worked very well for me in the Sierras.

Steve

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Bug tent on 09/11/2012 20:36:33 MDT Print View

Thanks for the kind words, Phillip. I was pretty much in your shoes 3+ years ago when I also found this site.

I second a tarptent if bugs are a major concern. I use a Lunar Duo anytime I am not solo. I added mesh to my first homemade tarp, and it worked quite well in the Wind River Range. However, it is sized for just me. I used the new non-mesh polycryo version a few weeks ago since bugs haven't been a problem here because of the drought.

If you visit my profile, you'll see my YT page that has a Smokies trip report with my 6 year old that may interest you (I don't discuss gear other than his though).

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Tents/tarps on 09/12/2012 08:20:18 MDT Print View

Thanks I'll check out that trip report. I really like that my son is interested in the outdoors - I want him to enjoy some things I did not get to enjoy growing up - and for the record I'm having a great time learning myself!

It is a bit of a process. My first tent I got on clearance at Dick's - knowing he was going to join scouts but anticipating car camping with the cubs mostly. And also hoping to get my wife and daughter involved. It is a Eureka Tetragon 8 which is a fine tent - decent reviews - etc... but at 10 pounds plus it isn't really an option for backpacking. I got a Marmot Limelight 3P which at around 6 pounds is doable. Again I was trying to get something that would potentially be useful for future car camping trips with both my wife and daughter along (separated into two tents - and knowing my wife might not enjoy a true 2P... or the kids for that matter)...

My wife says she has little interest and while my son originally complained that the 4P was too small for 2P - and really balked at the much smaller 3P - he now wants his own 1P tent... go figure. At this point I'd be better off with a true 2P shelter instead of the tetragon as it doesn't get used much anymore. If my daughter comes along they can share the 3P and I'll be by myself in the 2P - with her initially I don't anticipate backpacking - for the moment that will be with my son.

Looking back - were I to do it all over again - the first few campouts I would have rented a few different tents from REI to get a real sense of what we needed and would use - and used that as a fallback if my wife ever wanted to come along and I needed a bigger tent. Then invested in one or two smaller options. I love the Limelight actually - it is a great tent and quite comfortable for two people and gear - but see that we could have survived with a true 2P - or even two one person shelters in the tarptent vein... alas I didn't find this site early enough it seems!

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: adding the wife on 09/12/2012 09:01:43 MDT Print View

Not to get my own topic off track much, but my advice on getting your wife involved would be to make it a date (no kids). Make it easy and comfortable for her. If she has fun with you she'll be more willing to do it again. I also have a video of taking my wife on her first bp trip in ~30 years for our 17th anniversary - the one titled Shades State Park. She had fun but didn't want to get her feet wet. LOL. I carried her across one creek. Of course, maybe your wife doesn't even like car camping in which case I sympathize. :) Same thing would apply to your daughter, too.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Good points re: wife - question re: layers on 09/12/2012 09:40:57 MDT Print View

I won't derail this thread but thank you for the tips on the wife - I think she is a lost cause but my daughter very much wants to go car camping at least!

I do have a specific question regarding the layering system you discuss.

I generally take a base layer - in colder weather it would be long sleeve versus short sleeve in the warmer months of some sort of synthetic shirt. Generally something I already have as gym/workout gear in wicking fabric. I'll add an insulating layer to that - for both of us this is generally a fleece of some sort. Then we both carry a top shell layer that is usually going to double as a rain shell. What is the difference between the wind layer and the rain layer I guess is my basic question?

For example, my top layer depending on temps is either a lighter RAB event jacket or heavier 3ply Gore Tex shell. My son has a 2ply rain jacket as his top layer.

What would one use as a wind layer different than that?

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Good points re: wife - question re: layers on 09/12/2012 10:11:24 MDT Print View

> I think she is a lost cause but my daughter very much wants to go car camping at least!

That's good. Your wife will let you go out more so she can get a break. You get more quality time with your kids. Win-win. :)

As for the outer layers, the main reason people go with separate wind and rain layers is flexibility. A wind layer will never repel rain like a rain layer. A rain layer will never breathe like a wind layer. The DriDucks is the closest compromise that I'm aware of. It's waterproof and breathes the best but is still something like 5x worse than a windshirt in that regard. It's also fragile if you're going through brush and thorns a lot. I've been using mine 3 years now and it's torn up good on one wrist in particular, but I haven't had to wear it much either.

A windshirt will only add 3-4 oz, but they normally cost over $50 even on sale so my opinion for Scouts/newbies is $20 DriDucks can suffice for both layers under the conditions of my paper. Many claim the windshirt is their most important layer, and I will not argue that at all. The DriDucks work great for blocking wind (as would your's). The issue is if you can notch down your speed so you don't sweat too much. I rarely zip mine while hiking unless it's a downpour in cool temps.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
I need to show this to my son's future troop on 09/17/2012 14:18:08 MDT Print View

We went on our first campout with my son's future troop - we got there late due to other commitments so not a ton of interaction but the bigger scouts were welcoming.

I checked out their backpacking gear list and was surprised by the backpack recommendation - they are promoting an internal frame backpack capacity of at least 79L ... I can see that for the 16-18 year olds but I doubt there is even a model that will fit my 10 year old and he certainly can't carry that much weight if the darn thing is full. They also require boots at least 6 inches ... I just got a pair of trail runners to replace my old hiking boots and I'm sold on them as an alternative...

I'm going to have to do some exploring with the leaders - I'm not suggesting they have to go ultralight but an 80L pack seems to be encouraging a bit more than is necessary given that the troop has 2 person tents they share and troop wide cooking setups so he's got to carry his pad, bag, clothes and some shared gear...

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: I need to show this to my son's future troop on 09/17/2012 14:50:28 MDT Print View

Sounds like the typical old-school troop. You and your son can be the groundbreakers. :) You will need to be able to accommodate any group gear, but you can suggest lighter alternatives.

The 70L GolIte Jam would be my MAX capacity. I've carried my Pinnacle (what the 70L Jam replaced) on a plane with 7 days of food. I also loaded it just for fun with 47 lbs, but it was NOT meant for that unless you add to the suspension. I only had to "hike" a 1/4 mile with it. My normal max weight is low 30s (base is ~11).

Our troop gear list for summer camp is pretty extensive. I decided to compromise between that and how my son and I backpack, and he was able to fit everything in his 70L Jam (including a few luxury items).

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
Big packs in scouts on 09/17/2012 14:57:23 MDT Print View

Hi Phillip,

I would argue not only does it encourage too much gear, but if the pack is not full it may not load well onto the hips and result in too much shoulder bias.

Some scouts and leaders take pride in the extra gear and weight. It seems to be a sign of strength.

I try to keep the packs of my kids a light as I can. I also used Ryan's Ultralight Boot Camp material to help keep them in line.

With respect to convincing wives to go, my enticement is I cook the best meal I can the first night, usually a four course French meal. That seems to help.

Good luck, Steve

Erik Basil
(EBasil)

Locale: Atzlan
Each according to his ability... on 09/18/2012 07:27:31 MDT Print View

With the younger/smaller Scouts, it's essential not only to fit them with a pack that actually matches their body size but that, when fully loaded, doesn't exceed your standards for percentage of body weight (perhaps 20%).

Sticking to this raises some issues, sure:

--increased need for ultra-lighting of personal gear
--larger Scouts might get gripy about allocation of gear to carry
--"one pack for life" is obviously not gonna work

I bring a set of scales to our preparation meetings and the Scouts take turns weighing individual items on the gram scale and larger items/full packs on the hanging scale. They compare and do math, based on their numbers from the bathroom floor scale and I make sure to have at least one large pack ready for parents to try on with 20% of their own body weight in it.

Then we talk about realities, being part of a Scout Team and the fact that if the group going can't carry all the gear without overloading the lighter Scouts, it can't go. This leads naturally back into how we can lighten our gear, such as the packs, the mess kits, the sleeping bags and the stuffed animals...

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: I need to show this to my son's future troop on 09/18/2012 09:56:16 MDT Print View

Phillip, there are two articles here on BPL that everyone has access to on this and other Scouting issues (for backpacking). You can use them along with Michael's dissertation

What a Scout Needs for Backpacking Part 1

What a Scout Needs for Backpacking Part 2

Feel free to share these with your troop or anyone that might benefit.
Tad

James Tisdale
(Jameyt) - M

Locale: PaNW
Love the paper on 09/28/2012 14:33:49 MDT Print View

Only one thing I'd add . . . is about hammocks.

I've got the majority of my guys hanging at the moment. Once it starts to get cold, cold many will be forced down to the ground but they've been going strong all spring through summer and now into fall dry and content up in the trees.

Kirk Harrington
(Stormstaff) - F
Re: Re: I need to show this to my son's future troop on 10/18/2012 15:27:28 MDT Print View

What would be the easiest way to convert those link into a digital copy so I could email it out to leaders and parents without having to link it?

Thanks to all for the work you've done.

We're getting ready for our first backpacking trip (11 miles with an overnighter) in April and I'm sure most if not all this information will be very helpful.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: I need to show this to my son's future troop on 10/18/2012 16:01:44 MDT Print View

Kirk, you could copy and paste the whole thing or give out the link.

Even easier- PM (Personal Message) me with your email and I'll send you a PDF copy of the articles

BTW, you don't have you PM set up or I would have PM'd you already

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Lightweight Scouting Dissertation on 01/08/2013 14:50:26 MST Print View

I'm bumping this simply because it doesn't seem to appear in the forum index anymore since the last post had been deleted during the spamfest we had a couple months back. Now it should have a proper "last post" to show.

George Ramsdell
(ghramsdell)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Thanks! on 10/13/2013 19:48:13 MDT Print View

As a new scouter this was a great resource for me and my son and got us on our way to lightweight backpacking.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Thanks! on 10/13/2013 19:54:40 MDT Print View

I'm glad it was helpful. There are some articles here with similar content you should look at as well if you haven't already.