Problems training for Philmont

As posted to TrailTalk, a Web discussion group of The Backpacker.

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Posted by Everett Bennett on April 27, 1997 at 22:48:01:

My son (14) goes to Philmont 7/97 for an 11 day, 71 mile trek. We did a local
tune-up hike this weekend - 12 mi. with about 40lbs. in his Gregory Evolution
pack. He ran into three problems:

I'd appreciate any suggestions/advice. 
Blisters; I assume moleskin would have helped. When should it be applied?
What to do if blisters have formed? How to prevent a repeat? Moleskin over
Back pain: Does this come from leaning forward? Exercises to help?
Raw spots: He coulg grow thicker skin, maybe?

Posted by Scott Thiessen on April 29, 1997 at 23:00:05:

In Reply to: Problems training for Philmont posted by Everett Bennett on April 27, 1997 at 22:48:01:

Yeah, I've been to Philmont twice so far(and hope to go a couple more times)
and I think I might have some good ideas for you. On the's probably
caused my the boots not being broken in. To do this just
bascially wear them around in everyday life. They might feel unconfortable at
first but soon they'll fit like a glove and feel much more confortable. How to
prevent it also comes from breaking the boots in. You can
also try wearing 2 pair of being wool if possible to cut down on the
friction. Yes, moleskin will help a ton and treating and helping prevent hot
spots on the sure to take that along inside the 
pack! The back pain could be a conbo. of things...yes walking up hill and
leaning forward put all the weight of the pack right on the lower back and hips.
To prevent this you need to adjust the straps on the shoulder
to compensate when walking up hill. Most packs nowadays have straps to do so
on the shoulders. When walking up hill it might be good to tighten the
shoulder straps to put some of the weight on the shoulders instead 
of all it on the hips and back. Also exercise will help in building muscles to
help support the extra weight the body isn't used to hauling around. The raw
spots could be again the pack not being broken in and it also 
might be a case of the hip belt not being tight enough and rubbing. But know
that raw spots happen to the best of us, or at least to us that don't go
backpacking every weekend, it's just something our bodies aren't used 
but will in time(expecially after 11 days of tough hiking ha ha) So I hope that
helps and I would like to hear how the trip went, maybe we can swap stories
sometime! I went my first time as a Boy Scout and the second as 
and Explorer, and those are some of the best memories of my life!!, I'm from
Canyon, Texas in case you wanted to know.

Scott Thiessen

Posted by Ben Pharr on April 29, 1997 at 23:34:12:

In Reply to: Problems training for Philmont posted by Everett Bennett on April 27, 1997 at 22:48:01:

I've been to Philmont once myself and it was great. I hope your son has 
a great time. The other guy that replied to your message had some good advice
and it should be followed. Philmont is a great experience. It can't even be
ruined by rain, hail, bear attacks ;-), or sickness. Blisters and rawness come
very close though. Try to help him to avoid that in every way. Let me know
the trek goes.

Yours in Scouting,
Ben Pharr

Posted by Dan Hare on May 01, 1997 at 20:20:22:

In Reply to: Problems training for Philmont posted by Everett Bennett on April 27, 1997 at 22:48:01:

Myself? I am a scoutmaster and am also planning on going to philmont-next
year. I also have 10 yrs of extensive backpacking experiencs. As for the blisters
I agree with the other person who believes the boots are not broken in as well
as the sock idea, I swear by it. Another idea along the lines of moleskin is duct
tape, you'd be supprised how well it works.
As for the back pain. the previous person points out one possiblity. The other
possiblity is there is to much weight on his shoulders, the shoulder straps
should only be used for stabilizing the pack. To much weight can actually cause
back problems. if it is from leaning forward, he could possibly have his
backpacked wrong. the weight should be kept as close to his back as possible.
I presently live Near Buffalo, NY. let me know how you make out?

Posted by Brian Tobin on May 03, 1997 at 00:30:44:

In Reply to: Problems training for Philmont posted by Everett Bennett on April 27, 1997 at 22:48:01:

Ive been to Philmont three times including the Rayado Trek. So many People
make a big deal on how the boots are so expensive. People will go out and
spend close to $150 dollars on boots. I used a pair of addidas indoor soccer
shoes and they did fine. People tend to think that the more money they spend
on equipment the better off they will be but that is not the case all the time.
For the blisters I personally like to use tape. There should be almost no weight
on his shoulders. The hip strap supports the weight. Also another possibility is
if the pack is internal the frame is not molded to his back right. There is
nothing you can do with all the pain. That is what hiking is about. You may
hate the pain but you love it because that what hiking is all about. 

Posted by Paul Lockyer on May 08, 1997 at 19:57:43:

In Reply to: Problems training for Philmont posted by Everett Bennett on April 27, 1997 at 22:48:01:

My son's will be going to Philmont in '98. I understand
that it's a wonderful experience. Here are a few observations
and suggestions... hope it helps.

- Heel blisters may be caused by boots that aren't broken in
but also by boots that don't fit properly. If the blisters are
on the back part of the heel (around the achilles tendon) the
heel may be lifting from the sole, causing rubbing in this area.
If this is happening, breaking in the boots won't solve the problem.
You might try thicker sock or an additional layer of socks to help
lock the heel in. If this doesn't work you may need to look at 
a new pair of boots (ouch!!).
- The lower back pain could be from an improperly adjusted pack. I
would suggest that you take the pack (and your son) to the store 
where the pack was bought, they should help you with adjusting it.
If that isn't possible, try to find an experienced backpacker to
help with the adjustment (I'll bet there are some members of your
son's scout troop who could help). You also might try having your
son try use a walking stick. For some people it help keep them
in a more upright position.
- The raw spots on the hips could also be a pack adjustment problem.
The hip belt may be riding too high or too low. But, I would be
willing to bet that your son is on the slim side (bony hips). If 
that is so, then the design of the Gregory hip belt may be the
problem. The hip belt on the Gregory pack that I have is fairly
thin (not much padding) as hip belts go. Can't think of a good 
solution to this one.

Good luck, Paul.

Posted by Dennis Schmitt on May 13, 1997 at 13:20:48:

In Reply to: Problems training for Philmont posted by Everett Bennett on April 27, 1997 at 22:48:01:

1. Good Idea for training. Keep it up 2-3 times a week until you get to
Philmont. Do stair climbing with the pack on with weight - can be water jugs
in the pack. Walk around the track at school or in the park. one warm-up hike
is not enough.

2. Yes the boots need to be broken in. Wear around the house with 2 pairs of
sock. sock liners and wool outer socks.

3. Have someone fit the pack with it filled with gear or 40 lb. weight.

4. Extra padding on the belt. I have seen moleskin used on the hips, extra pair
of socks tucked in the belt, vasaline on the hips. Getting used to the pack is
like breaking in the boots. The hip belt sometimes needs adjustment or it may
mold itself to the individual. I would adjust the belt.

5. Hiking staff helps me. You can buy one there. You CAN NOT CUT ONE in
the woods at Philmont. They send scouts home for that.

6. Philmont starts at >6,000 ft. so if you come from the flatlands. Train, Train,

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