Philmont Personal Gear List with Weights (14 lbs)

Provided by Robert Kelly <>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 12:36:10 -0500
To the Philmont-bound who would like to shed some pack weight:

You can thank Cleve Gilmore for his gentle prodding to get me to write this down for others' use. This is the COMPLETE list of personal gear I carried at Philmont on our north country trek in summer of 98. It grew out of trial and error over a number of prep hikes that our crew made, and inspiration from Ray Jardine's book (see below) and elsewhere.

For each item, ask yourself if you really need/want it, and whether there is a lighter solution or another item that can do double duty. The greatest weight savings for me were a lighter pack, lighter sleeping bag, lighter rain gear, and much lighter camp shoes. I saved at least 6 pounds of weight with the choices I made for these four items alone, compared to almost anyone else I saw on the trail; in some cases I was probably 12 or more pounds lighter for these items.

Once I got started, it became a game to see how many ounces I could shave. I'm particularly proud of my 1.8 oz camp shoes, 1 oz headlamp, and 2 oz game package (complete Monopoly, Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, Cribbage, and any other card game you can play with one deck). Got the idea for hanging bike water bottles by their narrow waist from shoulder straps of pack by watching the Eco-Internet team on the Discovery Channel (Eco Challenge Race). A postal scale that was accurate to 0.2 oz and could weigh items up to 10 lbs was very helpful in making comparisons. I am 5' 10", 220 lbs, so all clothes weights are men's L or XL. Most purchased gear was from Campmor, with exception of bike water bottles, sleeping bag, boots, and trekking poles.

What would I do differently? Probably not a lot. For my next trip, assuming the same mileage/conditions (86 miles including Baldy ascent, temperatures from 40 degrees with hail and wind on Baldy descent to 105 on valley floor at Indian Writings), I would definitely not bring a paperback book or trail mix. Keeping a journal and other activities kept me busy enough; I also found there was plenty of food at mealtimes and dried fruit that no one else wanted for the trail. Would still bring the games, since they added only 2 oz and I did use them. The book and trailmix, if left behind, would bring the total weight down by 22 oz to 12 1/4 lbs. I might (but might not) add one more layer for upper body in case of weather below 40 degrees (eg. either medium weight long underwear top or fleece vest, each of which would weigh 10-11 oz, or substituting 200 weight fleece pullover for 100 weight pullover). My commercially available daypack was still 32 oz compared to Jardine's 13 oz homemade pack; since returning from Philmont have constructed a homemade pack myself that's 4000-5000 cc and weighs 19 oz, based roughly on Jardine's design, using Cordura and ripstop nylon from Campmor - have not yet tested the pack in the field. The Thermarest chair was a nice comfort item (and used every day), but added 10 oz - you could easily get by without it. Drop the chair, the games, my beesting kit that you don't need, and the camera (use a crew camera instead) and you could easily get under 11 pounds; under 10 pounds if you make a 16 oz homemade pack.

Hope this is helpful to others who want to go low; feel free to pass on to other Scouters. For additional inspiration, read Ray Jardine's "Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook" (available through in which he describes a philosophy of backpacking long distances that includes 9.5 and 7.5 lb packweights that he and his wife used on thru hikes of Appalachian Trail and PCT. These weights include stove, fuel, and shelter (they use a tarp rather than a tent, use customized umbrellas instead of raingear, use a lot of home-sewn items including sleeping bag, shell pants & jacket and packs). If I learned anything from our great Philmont trip, it was that physical preparation (exercise and prep hikes) and the lightest possible pack weight were instrumental to my enjoyment of the experience. My final tip for the over-40-but-not-yet-over-the-hill-crowd is to use two trekking poles -- great on downhill sections to spare the knees, for balance crossing streams and boulders, and to take some weight onto upper body muscles going up hills (push off like cross-country skiing).

- Robert Kelly, Scoutmaster, Troop 620, University Heights Ohio

Rob's Philmont List, annotated:

Pack - 32 oz

(includes weight of nylon pouch for camera, compass, sunglasses, trailmix, etc worn on hipbelt)
[Jansport Tahoma 2800 cc daypack, cut off unecessary straps, keep hip-belt; bike waterbottles hang from shoulder straps in front of body, attached with nylon cord and cordlocks; Platypus (when filled) goes in mesh pocket of pack; rain gear, pack cover, balaclava, glove liners in top lid of pack; butt pad rolled under pack compression straps; tent (when/if carried) strapped to bottom of pack]
Ground pad - 18 oz (includes foam extension used as butt pad and game board)
[Thermarest Ultralite 1" 3/4 length pad; plus closed-cell foam extension to bring to full size 72" by 20" pad, attach extension to Thermarest with velcro strips at night when used a part of ground pad, use as game board and butt pad during the day, attach to outside of pack so it's quickly accessible]
Camp chair - 10 oz (can use with any 20" wide ground pad)
[Thermarester Lite]
Camp shoes - 1.8 oz (homemade)
[mocasins sewn of 4 oz/yd coated nylon with closed-cell foam insole, used old leather mocassins as pattern]
Water containers - 4.6 oz (two 28oz bike bottles; one 2L Platypus Hozon - all Philmont hikers should start the day with 3 to 4 liters of water unless going short distance or SURE of water availability on trail) Sleeping bag and stuff sack - 25.6 oz [Ferrino HL-Micro summer bag, rated to 55 degrees, usable to 35-40 degrees wearing most of packed clothing except raingear; this is a mummy style with generous shoulder room and a hood with drawstring which helps a lot when its cold; can open zipper and use as light comforter when its warm - this is a very compact bag, about 8" by 7" by 7" when stuffed] Pack cover - 3.5 oz (home-sewn of 1.9 oz coated ripstop nylon, tent pole shock cord, cordlocks) Eating kit - 3.6 oz (plastic 16 oz Tupperware bowl, 8oz plastic measuring cup, Lexan spoon, mesh bag) 20' clothes line - 0.4 oz [Kelty LightLine] Rain jacket and pants - 24.4 oz [Campmor's least expensive GoreTex with mesh liners removed] Hygiene / First Aid / Repair kit in ziplock bag - 8.2 oz (Swiss army penknife with small scissors and tweezers, small safety pins to use as clothespins too, matches, earplugs, toothbrush, floss, comb, piece of small plastic mirror (1.5" by 2.5"), liquid soap, 12" by 18" pack towel, lip balm, aspirin, antihistamine, moleskin, bandaids, antiseptic wipes, etc.) Toilet paper - 3.6 oz (one roll) Beesting kit - 1 oz (Epinephrine injector; I'm very allergic) Camera, battery, film - 6.1 oz loaded with 36 exposure film [Olympus Stylus Epic; model with no zoom lens; extra film carried by other crew member who shared the use of camera] Compass - 1.2 oz Paperback book, small journal to keep diary of trek, pen - 7.0 oz ("Into Thin Air", the story of ill-fated Everest ascent; used razorblade to remove cover and most of book margins, saving 2 oz; jounal was 10 or so half pages of typing paper stapled into a 4.25" by 5.25" booklet) Trail snacks - 16 oz (peanut M&Ms) Games, cards - 2 oz [pieces to play checkers, chess, backgammon, Monopoly and cribbage made from half pistachio shells, 2 dice, standard deck of cards cut in half (still large enough to shuffle and deal), xeroxed Chance and Community Chest cards on typing paper, handwritten list of Monopoly properties/prices/rents; gameboards drawn on one side of foam butt pad] Flashlight / headlamp with spare batteries - 1.6 oz (AAA-size, spare bulb, 2 spare batteries, headstrap) [MagLite Solitaire; loop of tent pole shock cord taped on to make into headlamp] Maximum clothes to pack Supplex long pants - 8 oz [RailRiders with belt replaced by nylon cord]
Spare T-shirt - 6.8 oz [Coolmax]
Spare liner socks - 2.2 oz (2 pair thin nylon)
Spare hiking socks - 3.8 oz (1 pair) [Thorlo Summer Hiking]
Polartec 100 pullover - 10.4 oz (also used for pillow) [Campmor]
Light-weight silk long underwear - 8.2 oz (to sleep in) [Silkskins]
Spare underwear - 3.2 oz [Coolmax]
Polyester balaclava, glove liners - 2.8 oz
Zip lock bags - 2.2 oz (for packed clothes, 2 2-gal ziplocks to wash clothes)
PERSONAL GEAR WEIGHT 13 lbs, 10 oz (excludes minimum clothes worn, food, water, tent or other crew gear; decreased by 2 oz/day as M&Ms were eaten) Minimum clothes to wear/carry Sun hat with brim - 1.2 oz
Sunglasses and bandana - 3.4 oz
Supplex long-sleved shirt - 6.8 oz [EcoMesh shirt from RailRider]
Liner socks (thin nylon) - 0.8 oz
Hiking socks - 3.8 oz [Thorlo Summer Hiking]
Runing shorts with liner - 3.6 oz [Asics]
Hiking boots - 2.7 lbs [LLBean Knife Edge Goretex]
Treking poles, pair - 22 oz [REI 3 section aluminum with anti-shock feature]

See also:

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