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B A C K P A C K I N G    G E A R

N o v e m b e r    1 0,    1 9 9 8



I. Big Four

A. Sleeping Bag

1. The single most important piece of gear each crew member takes because it is the final defense against hypothermia.

2. The clothes you carry are broken down into three categories:

a. Hiking clothes

b. Keep warm in camp clothes.

c. If it gets too cold in camp (especially at the high altitudes) the only thing that will keep you warm is your sleeping bag. TAKE CARE OF IT!!!

3. Sleeping bags loose warming ability when they get wet. There are 3 ways they get wet:

1. Stupidity - lying in a puddle of water or getting in your bag wet. It only takes a minute to wipe off with a bandanna.

2. From the entrance to the "waterproof" stuff sack. Always stuff in a plastic garbage bag and goose neck it to make sure that it is waterproof.

3. Perspiration - The bag needs to be aired out each day or the 20 degree bag becomes a 25 degree bag the next night and then a 30 degree bag the next night and so on.

4. If a crew member can not take care of himself, it then becomes THE ADVISOR'S problem and they always tell you at the worst possible time ( like at 1am in the morning when it is really cold outside)!! Do any of your crew members not possess the maturity to take care of himself?? Sometimes it is all that an advisor can do just to be able to hike the 5 to 10 miles per day. If you are burdened with babysitting the scoutmaster's or committee chairman's son it is easier to solve the problem locally rather than at Philmont.

5. Sleeping bag specifics

a. Must be rated to 20-25 degrees

b. Shapes:

1. Mummy - Preferred

2. Modified Mummy

3. Rectangle - too heavy

c. Fills

1. Down

2. LiteLoft

3. MicroLoft

4. Polargard HV - need compression sack if also using an internal frame pack.

6. Sleep Clothes kept inside the sleeping bag away from your other clothes. Clothes worn during the day are typically used to wipe hands and mouth when eating and become smellables.

7. Use full length sleeping pads because it keeps your bag off the bottom of the tent where it might get wet during a rain storm and if your tent leaked.

a. Advisors definitely get a thermorest. It is worth the $50-60.

b. Scouts can use the ridgerest or other CLOSED CELL foam pad.

B. Rain Gear

1. Purpose of rain gear is to keep you warm. After hiking a mile while wearing a poncho or other rain gear, the hiker will feel as wet as on the inside as the outside of the poncho because of the condensation from the perspiration.

2. The only rain gear that Philmont mentions are rain suits. Ponchos are not mentioned in the Guidebook to Adventure.

3. Cheap vinyl ponchos just won't work. The poncho must be able to last 11 days out on the trail.

4. Test the gear for leaks.

5. If you have to purchase a new poncho, consider spending a little more and getting a rain suit.

6. It must be water proof, not water resistant.

7. Coated Nylon with taped seams is the only acceptable rain gear for Philmont.

8. However, Gore-tex Rain suits are nice.

C. Packs

1. Pack must be large enough to carry all personal gear and crew gear. "I don't have room to carry it" is no excuse. Everybody's pack must be large enough to carry their fair share.

2. Check pack welds for cracks.

3. Check pack straps for wear especially around the grommets.

4. Waist strap should fit. Smaller waist hikers can take a towel and duct tape it to the back of the waist strap.

5. Shoulder straps must be adjusted to flat across the shoulder or slightly elevated.

6. Internal or External does not matter, just that it fits.

7. Pack Repair Kit

1) 5-10 "O" rings

2) large clevis pin

3) Sewing Kit

4) Jansport packs require nuts and bolts. Have the hiker furnish the repair items.

5) Safety Pins

D. Boots

1. Scout should wait until March or April to purchase boots.

2. Assure that boots have been hiked in 30-50 miles prior to departure.

3. Ask the crew to walk in their boots at least once a week (lawn mowing) to keep feet using the boot.

4. Since the scouts will not walk in their boots once a week, take a hike the weekend before we go to try to get blisters. This will give a 5 days for the blisters to heal and will identify where moleskin needs to be placed while at Philmont. The alternative is to get blisters on first day and suffer for the next nine days.

5. Leather boots should be discouraged for scouts because they are more expensive and harder to break in. Some outfitters state that they must have for Philmont. This is not true.

6. Synthetic boots work very well at Philmont.

7. Make sure that the boot has a place to brand the Philmont cattle and horse brands on the boot.

II. Christmas Stocking Stuffers

A. Thermal underwear (polypropalene) is almost a must for older hikers. Cotton long johns are hard to dry. Some rangers say that they are not needed. I TOTALLY DISAGREE.

B. Carmex - for chapped lips and coating nostrils.

C. Socks:

1. Thro-lo Hiking Socks

a. Hiking Crew - No wool, faster to dry

b. Lt. Treking Crew - Some wool, fast drying

c. Treking Crew - Some really heavy, probably too heavy for Philmont.

2. Wool Hiking Socks

3. Polypropalene liners.

D. Mag Flash Light - Tie a string around the flashlight and wear it around your neck and always store in same place in your pack. At night, there will be only two places to locate the flashlight.

E. Nalgene Water Bottles

F. Advisors Only (Softer toilet paper - we know why. I like to use kleenix tissues in small packages)

G. Hat. Baseball hats do not protect the top of ears which typically get sun blistered. Use bandanna to cover ears.

H. Sandals. These shoes are used when crossing high streams when you have to walk through them so that your boots will not get wet. (There are only two places where this is a problem) . Teva's work great but feet get dirty and the dirt help create blisters the next day. Therefore, rinse or wash your feet after wearing Teva's. Also, at night, your feet will get really cold so socks are required.

I. Compass (Three per crew)

J. Wool sweater or shirt is really required. Polar fleece also has a good warmth when wet ratio.

K. 3 bandannas (no need for a small towel) .

L. Camp suds or biodegradable dish soap (palmolive)

M. Travel size tube of tooth paste

N. Small Toothbrush

O. Lexan Spoon (unbreakable)

W. C. Feurtado
Philmont Training Coordinator,
Baltimore Area Council

See also: