November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
My Tips learned at Philmont
Display Avatars Sort By:
Mark Rash

Locale: North Texas
My Tips learned at Philmont on 07/11/2012 13:49:59 MDT Print View

Crew 626-A-02 is safe and sound back at home. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about things I learned while there that may help you.

RANGERS - it is a total crap shoot whether you get one that will work with you or not. We were lucky to get a Ranger who let us use our gear the way we wanted to use it. Be sure to be very kind and humble to your ranger when you first meet. Let them do their thing.
TIP #1 - if you are using a cooking method other than the "Philmont Method", i.e. freezer bags or turkey bags, it seems the magic words to use are, "We brought our own pots." There is no need to be specific about your cooking method until after you've been through the equipment check-out process.
TIP #2 - if tip number one doesn't work, tell your Ranger you'd like to go talk to Christine (the head ranger) about it. NOBODY on staff at Philmont EVER wants to be brought to their superior. I saw attitudes change significantly when this was mentioned.

COOKING METHODS: The freezer-bag method of cooking worked stupendously for us and I would never willingly do it any other way. We took two MSR Reactor Stoves which worked perfectly every time. There is no need to take a larger pot, the smaller 1.5L pots pack better, are easier to pour from, and are no hassle to boil multiple loads of water. Make sure your crew has at least one cup with measuring lines to make getting the right amount of water easy. Our crew had both GSI Stacking cups and the Sea-to-Summit X Mug. I highly suggest taking a Sharpie and marking the 3/4, 1, and 1-1/2 cup lines on the cup so they are easy to see. Most meals required about 1 cup of water per person, although one meal required two cups per person. If you are going to a dry camp, eat your dinner at lunch time so that you won't need to carry water for the evening meal... just eat the dry lunch pack.
TIP - do not take an electric ignition lighter. Mine failed at altitude. A lighter with a wheel that sparks will still ignite a stove whether the lighter makes a flame or not.

SLEEPING BAG - I took two bags with me to test in base camp... a 20 degree Western Mountaineering Alpinlite, and a 30 degree Stoic Somnus. I ended up carrying the Stoic bag because it is unseasonably warm at Philmont right now and the lowest overnight temperature we encountered was 50 degrees. I slept in only my underwear. No sleep clothes and no long underwear. Our Ranger didn't really check for specific sleep clothes, only that we had two shirts, and two shorts/pants.

CLOTHING - I took a long-sleeve fishing shirt and switchback pants which I wore almost all the time. I carried the lightest T-Shirt and shorts that I had to wear when I washed my primary clothes. The only time I had the pants zipped on my switchbacks was during the conservation project. I took two sock liners and 3 pairs of ankle wool socks (DaFeet Woolie Boolie). I don't know that the liners were necessary. My shoes were Salomon XA 3D trail runners which did a great job. I wore Dirty Girl Gaiters, but I doubt they were necessary. You are either walking on dirt that is powder consistency or rocks at least the size of your fist... not really any small pebbles to get in your shoes.

Clothes Washing - Camp Suds and a 1 Gallon Zip Lock bag make a great washing machine. For hard to clean dirty areas, put the soap on the dirty area and rub the material together between your fists. This works better than the washing boards. This reminds me... no need to take any soap or hand sanitizer of your own; the base commissary and trail commissaries will provide all you need.

Sun Protection - I ended up not ever using sun screen. My cap with a drape worked fine.

FOOD PACKING - My backpack was a ULA Circuit... more than adequate for Philmont, but packing the Philmont food took some finesse. What I finally ended up doing was taking all the food out of the plastic bags they come in and dumping it all in a 20L Sea-to-Summit sil-nylon bag. I could then stuff this bag in my pack and let the food move around to where it rode correctly in the pack. The downside to this method is the food isn't as organized and it takes a couple of minutes to dig out the correct food at each meal. Either write down what is in each pack or just look at one of the kids' packs at meal time to see what to get.

BEAR BAGGING - ONLY run up the food in the first bear bags. Keep all other smellables down until time to run up the oops bag. This includes toothpaste, medications, sun screen, camp suds, wipes, etc. Just keep it all in the fire ring. It is incredibly inconvenient to have to bring down the bear bags to get this stuff. The oops bag goes up at 6PM, so plan accordingly (be sure and go number two by then so you can use the soap and hand sanitizer). My advice is just use the Philmont ropes and don't try and use Amsteel Blue.

HYGIENE - I carried two Clorox Handi-Wipes. One I could get wet and use to wipe all the dirt off and the other I could use to dry off with. Same thing in the two cold showers I got to take... used one handi-wipe as a wash cloth and the other as a towel. These weigh almost nothing and take up almost no space. I also carried a package of Coleman Bio-Wipes. I would use one of these each time I went number two. Before wiping my backside I would wipe my face, my hands, my underarms, my nether regions, and then my backside. The ability to do this was worth the 8 oz. penalty of carrying the wipes.

WATER - Our crew usually started each hike with 3L of water. On Tooth Ridge we ended up drinking 4-5 Liters per person. Each person in the crew had a 1L Gatorade bottle and then two 2L Platypus bladders so that every person had the capacity to carry 5 liters of water. We used the Philmont supplied purification tabs when needed... no other mechanical or chemical purification was needed.
TIP - If you are using a 2L bladder with a drinking tube, it may carry better in your pack if you only put in 1L of water and then squeeze the air out of the bladder. This makes it carry flatter against your back.

When dealing with Philmont staff, be nice. Rarely will they do exactly what you want the first time you ask, so be firm and persistent. Remember that you're dealing with college kids and their primary concern is that NO ATTENTION be brought to them by their superiors.

Keep an eye out for "Philmont Jesus" He's a Rayado Ranger named Ben who looks just like Jesus and he has a great sense of humor about it. If you go to Apache Springs, be sure and introduce yourself to Victoria. She was hands down the nicest, most helpful staffer I encountered the whole time. And if you're incredibly lucky, you'll get Teak Lastein as your Ranger. Also, if you see Rangers walking up to the porch, you better get to the swap box before they do... it's like watching Pirahna feed on a slab of beef.

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
Re: My Tips learned at Philmont on 07/11/2012 17:35:35 MDT Print View

Thank you very much for posting all of your helpful tips! They are greatly appreciated! Our trip is in 2013 which will be here before I know it.

Again, thank you for posting your report.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
A couple of non-trek questions on 07/11/2012 19:34:08 MDT Print View

At in-processing, did they require copies of the insurance cards? Actual shot records?


Larry M
(Maethros) - MLife

Locale: Mid South
Re: A couple of non-trek questions on 07/11/2012 19:55:05 MDT Print View

Copies of insurance cards - yes.

Shot records - no.

david richardson
(drichi) - MLife

Locale: midwest
bear ropes and tents on 07/12/2012 14:00:02 MDT Print View

Well I just rolled in this AM to K.C. from Philmont on the train. I would like to praise the Z-Packs heximid solo-plus tent with a bathtub floor ground sheet, this is the best tent that I have used yet in 5 trips to Philmont. It is the driest tent that I have ever had, even with the beak not deployed in a down pour for several hours. The mesh just stops the splash like nothing I have ever seen. We did use my Amsteel bear ropes that we used 2 years ago again. It seems to depend on the ranger, ours was extremely interested in them and liked them a lot. All bear ropes are supposed to be wrapped around sticks on the tie-off trees now, which made the Amsteel that much better. dave

Edited by drichi on 07/12/2012 14:15:54 MDT.

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
Re: My Tips learned at Philmont on 07/22/2012 05:24:21 MDT Print View

Thanks for the washing machine tip. I used that this past week at summer camp with my troop. Worked really well.

David Paul
(Coaster) - F
Dispose of Bio Wipes? on 08/01/2012 08:40:16 MDT Print View

How did you dispose of the Bio Wipes, pack them out? Never been but going soon.


Mark Rash

Locale: North Texas
Bio Wipe Disposal on 08/04/2012 09:56:41 MDT Print View

If the Biowipe was not used for bathroom wiping then we packed them out. If they were used for wiping after going #2 then we dropped them in the latrine. The Coleman BioWipes are supposed to be more or less non-scented.

bill berklich

Locale: Northern Mid-West
30L Food Bags and other comments on 08/08/2012 13:09:34 MDT Print View

Mark - Just got back. I snatched your 20-30L food bag idea for our crew. Our Crew Leader didn't think much of it when we started but once he saw how easy it was for our crew to snatch their personal bag and go and how much trouble our sister crew had every morning he changed his mind.

Had the same problem with my sleeping bag. It's a 35Deg Montbell and only "kind of" comfortable on one night when it got to 46F. The rest of the nights I used it as a quilt and it was still too hot. I did like having a clean shirt & short to sleep in and did take 3 pr of sock sets. Changing daily kept the blisters down to zero. Used the Wash Bag every other day and so did most of the boys.

Can't say enough good things about Henry Shire's Rainshadow 2. Excellent tent. The whole thing weiged in at less than half of our REI Half Domes. Also my Pack was a GoLite 72L Pinnacle (now a Jam 70). It handled my step off weight of 32lbs with no problem and carried gear, 4L water and 5 day of Phil Food with room to spare (though not much).

Bill Rose
(BRnPA) - F

Locale: Philly suburbs
Philmont Tips - Clothing Question on 04/17/2013 11:51:26 MDT Print View

Mark - Did you take any sort of warm shirt, like a light-weight fleece? Sounds like it was hot enough so that you didn't need anything to keep you warm at night around the fire...



Mark Rash

Locale: North Texas
Patagonia Nano Puff or Stoic Hadron on 04/17/2013 16:15:23 MDT Print View

New Mexico was under a burn ban last summer, so we weren't able to have a campfire, nor even have hot water in the showers (wood burning water heaters). It was a little chilly at night and in the morning at the higher altitude camps. I carried a Patagonia Nano Puff pullover that I wore when I was cool. It was certainly adequate to the task. I have since bought a Stoic Hadron down pullover which I like even better.

I also carried merino wool long sleeve top and bottom baselayers which I don't think I ever wore.

Based on the weather we had, if I could do it over, I would not carry the merino wool pieces. I might even leave the pullover at home and just use my W/P/B rain jacket.

- Mark

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Patagonia Nano Puff or Stoic Hadron on 04/17/2013 17:12:13 MDT Print View

I've been on two Philmont treks which certainly does NOT make me an authoritative source. I don't get cold easily and could get by with what Mark say's he'd carry if there's a next time.

BUT, just be aware that Philmont weather can be highly variable and one person's experience does not a valid generalization make! I was there in 2007 and about half our campsites were higher than 9500 ft. I never felt cold. One of our other crews that year experienced an afternoon hail storm and the hail had not all melted by the next morning ... considerably colder than what I had on the same day.

Bill Rose
(BRnPA) - F

Locale: Philly suburbs
Staying warm and dry... on 04/17/2013 20:18:29 MDT Print View

I have an Arcteryx Atom pullover for warmth and an EMS rain jacket, so I think I'll be dry and warm, though I'm thinking of something light as a base layer, like a thin wool long-sleeve shirt from a thrift shop. Is this over kill? Or, would my current silk long sleeve top, a polypro t-shirt, and the Atom/EMS jacket be enough to stay warm if it dips down? I'd rather not take a long sleep wool shirt if I don't need it. (Decisions, decisions...). Thanks!

david richardson
(drichi) - MLife

Locale: midwest
warm clothing on 04/20/2013 10:13:30 MDT Print View

I think that you will be just fine with what you had planned. dave

Rod Tussing

Locale: NorCal
Philmont Treks - Must adults double up? on 04/30/2013 13:50:28 MDT Print View

Hello, I have read many posts about Philmont on this board - thanks to all for sharing your experiences! This is my first post - We have a trek scheduled for August 2013 with 6 youth and 3 adults. We adults would prefer to sleep solo and it seems that many others do as well based on the gear lists I have seen. I am considering picking up a SMD Skycape Scout Tent - would this work at Philmont and would I be allowed to use it solo? Thanks for all the great info!


Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Our adults were all sleeping solo on 04/30/2013 13:58:58 MDT Print View


we called Philmont before our trek and were told that adults can sleep solo -- they get that request all the time from crews with heavy snorers.

I took my SMD Gatewood Cape to Philmont as my tent. Our ranger liked it a lot - as did several advisors from other crews we met along our route.


david richardson
(drichi) - MLife

Locale: midwest
tent on 04/30/2013 16:07:17 MDT Print View

I used a Hexamid solo-plus with a beak last year and was very satisfied. I was very impressed at how the netting stopped any rain splash. I used a Z-packs bathtub floor groundsheet as well. I will use the same again next year as well. dave