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Boy Scouts and Lightweight Backpacking
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weight vs. ruggedness on 06/13/2005 04:27:54 MDT Print View

Left this off of my previous anonymous reply.

Weak attempt at humor. The real target should have been the test that was performed by the magazine.

What kind of ridiculous test is dragging gear behind a truck?

You could do this with a solid block of aluminum and it would suffer damage!

I'll stop posting now.

Re:Re: Weight Vs Ruggedness on 06/13/2005 07:56:01 MDT Print View

There is always one "Honor Graduate" (Smart Arse) in every crowd.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Testing gear by dragging. on 06/13/2005 08:07:48 MDT Print View

From my 28 years as an US Army Infantryman, the magazine dragging test was a wimpy way of trying to duplicate a US Army Airborne trooper floating to earth with his gear hanging below him. The gear hits the ground a second or so before him and if he is gets dragged along the ground for a distance so does his gear. The idea being that if the gear is strong enough to take this abuse it should take anything. So you might say that the standard for all Infantry Gear is a sort of drag test. To bad the magazine didn't just go jump out of an airplane and really test the gear.

Edited by bfornshell on 06/13/2005 17:45:56 MDT.

Kim Skaarup
(skaarup) - F

Locale: Cold, wet and windy Scandinavia
General MIL Spec. > scouting gear on 06/13/2005 16:22:55 MDT Print View

Scouting in a lot of peoples mind is a kind of paramilitary activity and all MIL equipment has undergone some tough test before use in the field. (We often dragged the radios out of the APC only by the headset.) As most hiking gear in the past started as MIL gear, I think there was a lot of overkill. We still see that even today.
Well, the SUL gear might be too fragile but most commercial gears will survive even if the user jump of the mountain and kill him self in a 1000 feet free fall. The mainstream companies are slowly moving towards lighter gear, but there is a long way to go still.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Jumping off the mountain on 06/13/2005 17:57:27 MDT Print View

Your comment about gear surviving a leap off a mountain reminds me of a T-shirt we saw on a hiker once: "If you die, we split your gear."

my apology to wt. vs. ruggedness on 06/15/2005 03:18:40 MDT Print View

You are absolutely right.

My sincere apologies and thanks to the poster who correctly took me to task and to the readers of this thread.

"smart-a_ _ _ " - true.
immature - even truer.

Again, please accept my apologies.

Brian Macari

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
jump test on 06/20/2005 17:30:15 MDT Print View

I like Bill Fornshell's idea! Lets get someone to jump out a plane with the packs hanging below them. Coup, are you ready? I think the Go-lite Gust (built from Dyneema only - no moving parts!) is up to that test!! Ryan, just in case he's not paying attention, email this thread to Coup (at Go-lite)! I bet he antes up a test!
[No, I don't work at Go-lite, I just like my Gust!]

Edited by BGMACARI on 06/20/2005 17:31:57 MDT.

Norman Otto
(gnotto) - F
New Scout Gear List on 06/20/2005 18:39:55 MDT Print View

Doug's article results in an excellent balance of lightweight backpacking for young scouts and safety, frugality and common sense.
For the Northeast, I have 2 words of advice on a modified list: Wet & Buggy! Therefore, I'd modify the list for New England Scouts and suggest a Synthetic Insulation Sleeping Bag that maintains warmth when wet (young Scouts can never stay dry given a wet environment) and a Mosquito Net. I'v tried 4 different nets and my favorite is the Repel Sleep Screen (altho heavy -11oz--with poles -don;t loose them & pricey-$39. @ REI). Combine these with a Poncho-tarp (Campmore extra long modified with sewn-in ridge ties is half the price of my ID poncho-tarp)& you are protected. Scouting's Adult Volunteers need to be educated about the dangers (physical & emotional)of heavy packs on young scouts, which BSA has all but ignored.
Yours in Scouting, Downhill Norm, (ASM)

Paul Siegler
(pjsinhoutex) - F
Re: New Scout Gear List on 07/01/2005 17:07:45 MDT Print View

We will charter a brand new troop this fall and plan to shed the traditional cast-iron-in-the-chuckbox camping model. All one has to do is shop the internet or local outdoor suppliers to realize BSA's National Council are seriously stuck in the last century. Combine the pragmatic emphasis on "Leave No Trace" and low-impact camping with "Be Prepared" and one quickly realizes BSA National Supply has some catching up to do.

It is just common sense for an organization like BSA to lead charge in bringing the high-impact outdoorsman of the past into a model based on conservation and care of the environment. The heavy equipment used by most troops in our area requires large facilities to store it, big trailers to haul it, and an army of scouts to load and unload it. Furthermore, the traditional scout camp can leave a huge "foot print" on the land, especially when it rains. Thankfully, these heavy-duty scouting units are largely confined to state parks and council camping areas that already get heavy use. Think of the experiences their boys are missing!

Let's face it, our goal as scouters is to keep our scouts interested in scouting long enough to have a positive impact on their lives. So next fall we will ask parents to buy two uniforms: 1) an official BSA Field Uniform for indoors and 2) a separate Troop Activity Uniform for outdoors. Our troop activity uniform will consist of layered clothing elements:
- custom troop CoolMax base-layer shirt (olive),
- custom troop fleece jackets (red) with a troop emblem,
- custom troop boonie cap (khaki) of fast-drying poly/nylon,
- any polypro base-layer long and short bottoms for both warm and cold weather (scout's choice),
- the new wicking BSA "Action Shirt" will become our functional "field shirt",
- nylon convertible hiking pants/shorts (khaki): also serve as swim trunks,
- poly sock liners and boot socks,
- a nylon web belt,
- breathable, ventible wind/rain parka and pants (scout's choice),
- medium weight hiking boots,
- knit cap, gloves/mittens for cold weather
- no neckerchief

Standardizing colors should prevent us from looking like a traveling circus. The customized clothes are less expensive than you might think, but require a parent to serve in a procurement position on the committee.

We have developed a minimal gear list that follows the "rule of multiple uses." With few exceptions, if an item has only one useful purpose, leave it at home. This turns into a thinking game for the boys. We have a recommended list of preferred sleeping bags, backpacks and boots that will be regularly updated. The troop will provide backpacking tents (basic Eurekas), cooking gear, etc.

This strategy will be an experiment for us, but we've seen a few other troops adopt the model with good results. Any thoughts?

Re: Re: New Scout Gear List on 07/08/2005 18:22:19 MDT Print View

Scouting will eventually move to the light philosophy. Scouting is a conservative organization that adopts change slowly. For example, when I went to Philmont in the early 80's I had an internal frame backpack. The ranger tried to get me use a frame pack, because the ranger did not "believe" the internal pack would work. How many people have internal frame packs at Philmont today?

As more and more Scouts (and Scout leaders) get educated to the virtues of going light, it will be accepted in time.

A lot of Scout family's have cost restraints, and light gear is ussually more expensive. What ideas do others have for going light and going inexpensive?

Making your gear is one solution and Scouts use to love making stuff. Do Scouts still like to make stuff?


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
re wet feet on 10/15/2006 20:26:24 MDT Print View

> And for weekend trips a waterproof pair of shoes/boots is a good idea.

We walk IN the creeks and rivers at times, for the whole day. Wet feet have never done any harm at all. But good thick socks and comfortable footwear - ah, that's essential.


Rob Bungarden
(rbungarden) - F
Where to get gear on 10/22/2006 12:46:16 MDT Print View

Cost is a big issue and we talk to scout parents a lot about shopping for deals on quality equipment. If you haven't checked it out, look at the Coleman non-profit website. Some of the prices can't be beat and it includes some good backpacking gear.

Michael Sagehorn
(msagehorn) - F
Scout gear list on 06/25/2007 16:14:26 MDT Print View

I like the list Doug put together. It's a mirror image of what I've done for my troop.

The bigger challenge with being a Scouter today, particularly a Scouter whose own Scouting experience was in the backpacking-mad 1970's, is the rigor in getting boys off their butts to do physically difficult adventures. We've always had a good core group of 10-15 backpacker Scouts at all age levels of our unit with 40-50 boys, but even with multiple trip dates a good share of them are plain panty-waists.

I couldn't quite intellectually explain what I was thinking over the past 15 years of service as a Scouter but Richard Louv's book put it all together. His book-"Lost Child in the Woods," is now my mantra for parents.

If lightening the load makes a positive effort in getting more kids out I think Doug has done a great job. I would add a not take boys of any age near water without a full set of dry clothes(lightweight if needed) wrapped up in a sealed plastic bag. Boys will find inumerable ways to get wet at the worst of times.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
So on 06/25/2007 16:49:11 MDT Print View

So can we re-print this, and hand it out to parents?

And I also think cost is the major hurdle to most parents. Maybe I live in the wrong part of the world, but most of our parents balk at spending $200 on a pack and sleeping bag, for an 11 year old who may just play baseball instead. But I am going to steer all the guys toward UL, as much as I can, within cost restraints.

Edited by skinewmexico on 07/02/2007 16:57:28 MDT.

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
Show them... on 06/25/2007 18:57:12 MDT Print View

I went on my first 'mini' backpacking trip as an ASM this weekend. We went to Angel Island out in the San Francisco bay and hiked to our campsight and then went on to do a service project. The boys hiked no more than 5 total miles with packs (we were only there overnight).

Several of the boys were under 12. I helped my son with his pack and got him down to 11.7 pounds. Which is what I wanted because he dislikes hiking. He had a better time than on any day hike with this trip. I think because his pack weight was so low. He was skipping down the hill on the way out the next morning.

Now, I really (really, really) love light backpacking. So, what I saw on this trip scared me and I hope we are going to work to correct some of what I saw for our trip next month.

Weight distribution... Some kids had packs that were sticking out two feet behind them because they were carrying old Coleman style rectangle bags. Tents were also hanging off the back with no way to lash them closer to the body.

The Problem (1 of many)... Some parents bought packs based on the size of their child that were less than 2000 Ideal, maybe, but not that practical.

We did a gear weigh in before the trip that helped us out. But when the boys actually loaded the packs... WOW. What a mess. But, at least they were all smiling.

I did alot of selling of Golite's Pinnacle Pack which lists as 1 pound 9 ounces (I've used the Jam also at 1 pound 6 ounces). I wrote a review of it if you want to take a look in reader reviews under framless back packs. You get the 72 liters volume or about 4500 cubic inches and the pack shrinks to a load capacity of about 1500 cubic inches. It will also take a hydration bladder.

The reason I bring this up is the cost of the pack retails at $130 and I picked mine up for $110 on sale with free shipping and no sales tax since I bought it from a reatiler in Florida on-line. Golite has the links to who carries their packs on their web site.

One of the best threads I saw today was suggesting the use of Tarp Tents. Most of the two men are under 2 pounds with a bug screen. Or you can go with just the tarp and be as lite as 8 ounces.

I think we need to concider these. Especially during the summer months.

I agree cost is a major fator. But if we teach the kids to be more adaptable and open minded to different ways of living in the wilderness during our weekend outings I think they will be better off for it.

What do you guys think?

Edited by cuzzettj on 06/25/2007 19:03:59 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
re:Boy Scouts and Lightweight Backpacking on 06/25/2007 21:28:28 MDT Print View

This is a great article for anyone transitioning to lightweight backpacking; I sure wish it was available a couple years ago when I started that changeover. It summarizes the rationale for gear choices then details a list you can literally print out and follow. I am going to point new hikers to this article first and foremost as a brief and clear intro to the gear choices. Great job!

I have never been a Scout, so for the non-scouting version of this article, I might suggest the following things.
- No trash bags as clothing; suffocation/condensation problems. carry at least a poncho.
- No Frogg Toggs, weight and cost are tempting, but they tear like tissue paper. Again, poncho.
- Using sneakers? OK, but replace the breakable cotton laces with 2mm accessory cord.

Edited by Brett1234 on 06/25/2007 21:31:05 MDT.

Larry Tullis
(Larrytullis) - F - M

Locale: Wasatch Mountains
Lower cost BSA List on 08/25/2007 08:20:23 MDT Print View

Great article but many scouts have parents unable to spend $300 on ultralight gear for a scout that may or may not use the gear more than once or twice. I did my first scouting 50 miler hike with a $12 budget (for all gear and food) and admittedly made mistakes that I learned from, but any scout should be able to outfit themselves for under $100 these days.

Peruse thrift stores for synthetic clothing and gear like backpacks, hiking sticks/tarp poles (old ski poles) etc.. Make a synthetic quilt that tacks to a sleeping pad or keep an eye on the sales at discount outdoor stores. Teach them to cook at home with an esbit stove and a single aluminum pot before they go camping. An 8x10 blue tarp makes a fine tarp shelter for 1-6 scouts...but also have the boy practice in the back yard pitching it and sleeping in it before a trip. I started with a plastic tube tent for $1. I closed off one end and quickly learned about condensation. Scouts is about learning, not about parading lots of fancy, expensive gear.

Charles Bilz
(denalijoe) - F

Locale: California
Re: Lower Cost BSA List on 08/25/2007 10:03:44 MDT Print View

Larry, as a ASM, I agree completly with your comments about serarching out clothing and gear at thrift shops. But I would add never buy "official" BSA Gear. It is to expensive and heavy. BSA has yet to embrace lite weight camping. The best experience a boy can have is an outdoor weekend with his troop. Scouts learn by doing.

Patrick Tobin
(patobin) - F

Locale: Mid-South
Lightweight Backbacking on the Cheap! on 10/15/2007 13:47:05 MDT Print View

Hi guys, (and Gals)
I am trying to put together a curriculum for a "University of Scouting" event next spring and I am looking for suggestions. I think much of it will be MYOG type of equipment. But I would really like to cut it to the bare bones as far as cost. I certainly hope this will help get more kids out into nature, without overloading them with an heavy pack.

Douglas Prosser
(daprosser) - MLife

Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
What is the University of Scouting??? on 10/15/2007 22:09:11 MDT Print View

What is the University of Scouting???

Doug Prosser