Philmont Equipment Suggestions

Provided by Brad Jones
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Sat, 30 Jan 1999 18:28:10 -0500 (EST)

from equipment lists compiled by Dr. Bob Klein, SM-111, Arlington, VA.
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Additional comments provided by Cooper Wright: Venture Crew 1519 (Alexandria, VA)

I posted this to the OA list in response to a philmont equipment list question. Anyone with further comments or questions, I'd be happy to help you out.


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I've visited Philmont twice, both with Troop 111, Arlington, VA. We like to say we do Philmont the "correct" way - i.e., packing what you need, understanding how the ranch works, and being meticulous about shakedowns and trip preparation. Our crew, on both treks, averaged 35 pounds per person pack weight (including food and 2 liters water). Fight for every ounce, and you'll be well on your way to a pleasurable trek. Please send me an EMail if you have any questions about Philmont.

Note that all of the equipment lists, sans some interpretation by me, were completely compiled by Dr. Bob Klein, SM-111, Arlington, VA. You can contact him at He's been to Philmont 7 times, a very experienced soul.

With regards to equipment, a general guide we followed was to have two or three (if you're looking at a wet trek, definitely three) pairs of hiking clothes. If you can get hiking shorts with liners, you're saving yourself some weight, because you can nix the three pairs of 50/50 underwear to match. NO cotton t-shirts, jeans, or UNIFORMS. Don't be one of the crews humping 50 pound packs with their class A's on. You don't need them during the trek; leave them at basecamp. Don't settle for anything but coolmax (or the like) shirts, or 50/50 t-shirts. 100% cotton will take forever to dry and make your life miserable. If you'll allow me to list for a while: 1 pair thermal underwear, 3 pair thick wool socks, 3 pair polypro (wool/polypro can be replaced by 3 set specialized thorlo backpacking socks), 2 pair gym socks (for camp shoes), 1 pair *lightweight* camp shoes (running shoes), 1 pair long pants (good idea is zip-off long pants, you've got a pair of hiking shorts and long pants with half the weight - legs just zip off), 1 nylon or wool shirt or fleece pullover, 1 set rain ponchos (or lowe ceramic, gore-tex waterproof suit), baseball hat, hiking boots, 2+ stuff sacks (depending on how you use them - i did one for clothes, one for socks, one for lowe parka).

That's a start for the clothes. You will find that on your shakedown hikes you will find what you need and what you never use. When you get to the ranch, do another analysis of your clothes; do they fit the current climate and forecast? It's a good idea to bring everything, regardless, just because the weather at Philmont is *unpredictable.* With regards to personal equipment (PERSONAL, we'll get to how you separate crew/personal in a minute): 1 plastic bowl (very lightweight), wide-mouth type cup, 3 one-liter soda bottles (NO NALGENE BOTTLES OR THE LIKE!), large lexan spoon (no other utensils for personal, you won't need them), sleeping bag, small backpackers pillow (or woolen stuff sack to put clean clothes in), foam pad (or ultralite ii therm-a-rest -- the 3/4 model), toothbrush, 2 bandanas, backpackers towel, disposable razor, small comb (optional), 10-15 foot lightweight parachute cord (to dry clothes with), pair of lightweight work gloves (for work project - can be left..err...donated to work site after you're done.), a backpack (duh), a waterproof pack cover, a very light daypack (no more than 10 oz), personal money, post-card stamps, plus any medication w/ second set for advisors to carry.

Sorry for the long list, but it's the only quick way to get it out of the way. Notice that the personal list does not include things like, pocket knife, 3 carabiners, or lawnchairs. There are several additions here that are not in the philmont guide (it's pretty useless with respect to packing), but they make life so much easier. Don't take anything more than the bowl, cup, and spoon to eat with, everything is "slop" and doesn't need cutting.

Crew equipment is where the real fun begins. If possible, forget about the stuff that philmont gives you. It's heavy and in terrible condition. Copying from the Troop 111 Philmont crew list: 2 medium sized crew first-aid kits, non-duplicative, (1 foot care, 1 medications), 2 plastic maps of philmont, 2 compoasses, 2 whistles (for crews doing small sub-hikes, for safety), 2 small possibles/repairs kits, non-duplicative - incl. duct tape, 20 ft waxed nylon cord, closvis pins and other pack repair items, safety pins, tie-straps, sewing kit, wire, small tube of epoxy, possibly a small leatherman tool), $75 for crew purchases (pitchers of root beer at ponil, fuel, etc. in small denomination bills), 2 alarm clocks, 2 bic lighters, 2 lightweight backpackers knives), 2 collapsible 2.5 gallon jugs, 2-3 backpacker stoves, in carry cases (2 coleman peak ones, or 3 MSR whisperlites, or equivalent), fuel bottles (3-4 pints), plastic backpacker shovel (for cathole/latrine bag - this bag incl. toilet paper, shovel, and biodegradable baby wipes), drying tarp for cookware, 8-10 heavy-duty metal stakes for tarp, unscented bug repellant (for meadow crashing - enough for everybody in crew, but not too much), squeeze-tube of biodegradable soap, 2 bottles scentless shampoo, small bottle of toothpaste (whole crew shares!), sunscreen for whole crew, lip-balm for whole crew, small plastic mirror, quality vitamins - 1 per day for all crew members. Good to have, but not mandatory: 1-2 light notepads for diary, scrub-brush for cleanup, 1-2 hot-pot tongs, a rubber policeman (for cleanup), 12 plastic bags, fuel filter (philmont fuel is...interesting. protect your stoves!), 2 bags of "wet-ones" to clean cooks' hands, 1-2 large, resealable drink jugs (for drink mix en masse at dinner). A game scale is an excellent addition to the crew equipment to weigh everyone's packs and keep them evenly distributed - solves many disputes and keeps pack weight to a minimum.

At Philmont, they'll provide you with something along the lines of the following items, but it's a very, very good idea to take your own equipment as listed here for familiarity on the trail and overall quality. Take a waterproof tarp (12' x 16'), incl. 2 collapsible 6- 8' poles and parrachute cord to set up with. Four bear bags, (large nylon, strong bags, kinda like el-cheapo duffel bags to use. much better than philmont-provided.). 1 heavy-duty bear-bag rope, about 40' long. Create two very abbreviated cook kits- bare essentials). Cleaning gear, including: Scrubbies, SOS pads, Soap, HTH - don't let them know you have HTH!!, a "frisbee" filter, AP paper, and additional plastic bags; all replaced on the trail. Polar pure bottle double-encased in plastic bags in case of leaks.

If you can swing it, take some very lightweight tents along, like eureka! ultralites - they make such a difference in pack weight. With respects to photos, do not let individual crew members take cameras. It's much easier to take two auto-everything cameras and then get reprints at home. Take tons of photos, we take 30 rolls of film (36 exp., ASA-200 and 400, 1-2 rolls of ASA 1000 or 1600 for campfires of mine tours.). New, fresh batteries. There's no sense in having all 12 members of your crew take the exact same picture on 12 different cameras.

This is a start, please keep in touch with me with questions or comments on this and I will help you out. I've got a lot more to share but I'd like to know the experience level of the crew and how many shakedowns you're doing, etc. Good luck, and I look forward to hearing more from you.

Brad Jones
Troop 111, Venturing Crew 898, Arlington, VA
Chapter Chief, Chain Bridge Chapter
Amangamek-Wipit #470

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Brad Jones


provided by Cooper Wright: Venture Crew 1519 (Alexandria, VA)
Sun, 31 Jan 1999 11:29:25 -0500 (EST)


Great post!!! I know Dr. Bob very well and he definitely knows his stuff. Bob is an absolute stickler when it comes carrying the right gear and reducing the overall pack weight. Even his equipment list comes with a max weight per item. If it is over the weight allowance, you need to bring something else. Bob also ensures that no cotton comes on the trail.

Bob and I disagree only on a couple of points. First, I can't stand ponchos. We use lightweight coated nylon waterproof rain suits instead. The rain suit serves as the outer layer for a complete layering system of fleece (middle) and polypro (inner). The role of the rain suit is not to keep you dry, but to keep you warm. Ponchos are the only piece of gear that can keep you as dry on the inside as you are on the outside. A little joke here, but I hope it brings home the point that the enemy in the high country is moisture. You can't be warm if you are wet. And if you are wet and wearing cotton, you are in trouble.

We used one liter selzer bottles as our third canteen last summer. It was very dry last summer and there were times when we carried 3 quarts of water leaving camp. Believe it or not, they are pretty durable and we never had any leak. They are also very lightweight. Note I said selzer, not soda bottles. You do not want any of your water bottles to have a smell to them. Too often in the past, crews mixed drinks in the water bottles and that is why Philmont bears are now conditioned to go after water bottles, whether they smell or not. Like Dr. Bob, we use a large plastic 2-quart "Drink Master" for all our drinks. It keeps crew members from mixing drinks in their canteens that now must be treated as a smellable. If the drink sloshes on the pack, now the pack becomes a smellable. Pretty soon you will have everything hanging from your bear cable! Also any residual sugar left in the canteen will react with the Polar Pure, deceasing the amount of free iodine that is available to kill the bad stuff in the "unputrified" water. Signe is right when she said that Philmont Rangers now have you hoist all your water bottles in the bear bag. That can be pretty heavy if you want them all full so you can get out of camp early. We also practised Dr. Bob's water planning process. We only carried three full canteens if we knew that we would need that much water. In some cases, because we knew that water would be available at a staffed camp only a short distance away, we would carry only one full canteen out of camp. We use the lightweight 2.5 gallon water bags instead of the heavier collapsable water containers. It saves some ounces and some room in the pack.

Another area where we differ is that we do not dry our eating utensils on a dry tarp. We use a mesh bag where the utensils can air dry up off the ground. A tarp on the ground is asking for dirt to be blown in. We also do not use HTH and would strongly encourage Dr. Bob's crew from using it. Philmont used to hand out HTH tablets to be put in the final hot rinse water to sterilize the dishes. If you have eaten everything out of your cup (hey who needs a bowl if you have a big cup!), added a drink to work the "Klingons" on the side of the cup, scraped it clean before washing, and finally used a rolling boil as a final rinse, you don't need HTH. Neither does the environment. Remember, there are over 2000 crews at Philmont each summer. The combined impact of that many crews putting additional chemicals into the ground concentrated around a sump is detrimental to the environment. Basically the HTH kills the good things that live in the soil that allow it to continue growing ground cover, thereby preventing erosion.

We also have one crew photographer with a good camera and use either REI or Seattle Filmworks film. You can get both prints and slides from the same roll. Last year, each crew member got over 400 prints for less than $40 and I got a great slide show that was shown to the parents!!!

More good stuff is available in the Philmont Advisor's Guide that is available for a $10 donation to Venturing Crew 1519. Written by two experienced Philmont advisors, with input from many more including Philmont rangers, it helps a first time advisor get his or her crew ready for Philmont. It can be e-mailed as a MS Word 6.0 document.

Cooper Wright
Advisor, Crew 1519
Alexandria, VA

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