Posts Tagged With: gear

Your Camp Stool

Here is a short video talking about just sitting around.  An often overlooked piece of gear that is in the category of a “Luxury item” is the camp stool.  Go without it and you sacrifice a bit of comfort on your next outing.
Yes, you may have to take a weight penalty if you are keeping track of your pack weight, but in the end, having a stool or chair to hang around camp on will make the difference.
Sorry about the focus on the video… but you don’t need to see my forehead anyway…  This video is all about your backside.
My go to seat right now is the Grand trunk Stool.
It is 22 oz made of aluminum with a nylon seat.  It is compact and light and very comfortable to sit on.  They added a little storage area, which I find real nice when cooking.  A nice place to set things other than your lap.  I highly recommend this stool.  It will hold up to 250 lbs, not that I will ever get that heavy, but it’s nice to know that it will not break under me.

Let me know what you sit on while camping?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Just fun, reviews, technology | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Gear Tip – Wet Fire ™

wetfire_packageOk… all of this talk about being lazy.. and it caught me.  Not really.  I wanted to get a Saturday Quick tip out this week but once again my Scouting life got in the way of the blog.
Saturday, I was at a Staff Development session for the upcoming Wood Badge course.  I am not on the staff this time, but I have been asked to be a Guest presenter during the course.  I will be presenting the Teaching EDGE and more than likely will be doing dishes also… it’s what we Wood Badgers do.
Sunday was dedicated to one of my Scouts.  We held a Court of Honor to present his Eagle Award.  Man, what a great day.  I love Courts of Honor especially when we honor a Scout that has worked so hard and has become an Eagle Scout.
Alright… enough of the excuses.
I was going to shoot a video about a piece of gear that I always keep in my pack.  In fact I keep a few of them in my pack at all times and love them.  They are the Wet Fire ™ Fire starting Tinder.
They are made by a company called the Revere Supply Company and is part of the UST line of products.  Designed for survival kits, these little Fire starters are the best.
Now, we don’t teach survival to our Scouts, rather we teach preparedness and being ready in the event that everything goes South.  Being Prepared is the way to stay out of survival situations.
Having said that, we all like a fire and the Wet Fire ™ Fire starting Tinder is the best way to get a fire going quick and easy.  I don’t know about you.. but I’m not into the whole rubbing sticks together and flint and steel went out of style in the 1800’s.  When I want fire, I want it now.  And I live in Oregon, read… wet.  The Wet Fire ™ fire starting tinder gets that fire going while drying out other tinder and smaller wood so you can have a nice fire in camp.
Each cube is 1” x .75” x .5” (24 x 19 x 13mm) and only weighs .16 oz (44g), they do not take up a bunch of space and for the efficiency you won’t worry about the added grams.
You can read more about it at their website.  The Wet Fire ™ fire starting tinder is available at most stores and are inexpensive.  About $6 for a package of 5.
Here is a little video from the folks that bring you the Wet Fire ™ fire starting tinder.
I carry these in my pack and I highly recommend them for everyone.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Methods, Motto, reviews, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

What’s in your Backpack?

It's Friday night...Do you know where your gear is?I was bouncing around on some of the blogs and found a cool post on a blog that I follow.  The subject was something that I think we all do or have, but give little or no thought to… What do you keep in your pack, or items that never leave your pack.  I read her list and then some of the comments and it got me to thinking and actually running out to my pack to see what I never take out.
I assumed at the outset that this list was to be that stuff that NEVER comes out of my pack.. so for me that would be those items that I take no matter what kind of camping I am doing, no matter where I am going, or no matter how long or far I am venturing in the woods.
The other component to this discussion is who I am camping with.  Scouts or just friends and family.
So I want to know what those items are in your pack.  Here is my list of items that just never come out of the pack.
1.  First Aid kit.  I check it annually when we show the new Scouts some of the things that they should consider when making their own kits.  But it never comes out of my pack and is always loaded in the right hip belt.
2.  Poop kit.  This kit consists of bags, toilet paper, Wet One singles.  Pretty sure that’s self explanatory.
3.  Ditty bag of fire starting materials.  A couple cotton balls covered in Vaseline, a few Wet Fire cubes, a Light My Fire fire steel, and a few sticks of Fat wood and a lighter.
4.  Zip lock bag with one extra wool socks.
5.  Ditty bag with about 50 feet of line and a compass, Micro pure tablets.
6.  UCO Candle Lantern
7.  Headlamp and 2 extra batteries.
8.  Clothing bag with synthetic long sleeve top, Poly long bottoms, beenie hat, light gloves.
9.  Hammock (Warbonnet Blackbird) and Tarp (Warbonnet Super Fly)
10.  Water Filter

I remove my tarp and hang it dry for a day or so then it goes right back in.
I always keep my Top quilt and Under quilt hanging till I need them.
Clothing is decided in planning for the trip.
Food bag is clipped to backpack till I load it.  Water Bladders are in food bag till they are filled.
Cook kit is loaded on outside of pack and I decide how much fuel etc when I meal plan.
I wear my knife (Light My Fire Mora).

So that’s the basics.. What never leaves your Pack?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, canoe, comments, Cooking, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Leadership, Motto, podcast, Scouts, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

YouTube Channel bump

Again with the reset subject.
Yesterday, I did some major work on the YouTube channel.  I am phasing out the old channel, which became a real pain switching back and forth between accounts… so it’s all in one nice bundle now.
Like I said before, most of the videos will post here on the blog also, but not all.
So here is the trailer for the new and improved channel… same old me.. but new focus for 2014!

Stay tuned friends… I have a great give away coming up!  Just wrapped up the details yesterday… Look for details this weekend!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, Philmont, reviews, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, stories, technology, training, Values, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Light my Fire- Fire Knife

knife1In a constant quest for new gear and nifty gadgets I have found my new favorite knife.  I recently purchased a knife that is multifunctional, light weight and durable.
From the makers of the Light My Fire Swedish Fire Steel, Meal kit, and ever so famous Spork, comes the Light My Fire Swedish Fire Knife.
This great knife is all you need while out in the woods.It is a Mora Swedish style knife sporting a 3.75 inch blade made of  Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel.  The Actual size is 225x45x38mm and it weighs in at 94 grams.  In the TPE rubber handle or grip is a Swedish Fire steel.  The fire steel produces a 5,400 degree spark which is perfect for starting fire in even the wettest and coldest temps.
The knife is great for camp chores and starting fires, lighting stoves, and is not effected by the altitude.
The top or back edge of the knife is your striker.  It has a perfect edge that ensures a strike every time on the Swedish fire steel.  The fire steel is durable and is good for about 3000 strikes.  That’s a heck of a lot better than a book of matches or bic lighters.
The Light my Fire Swedish Fire Knife comes in 5 colors, I chose the black one, but it also comes in Orange, Green, Blue, and Red.  I looked at the orange version and it was just a bit to loud for me, but if you decide it’s for you  I bet you never lose it.
The Light My Fire Swedish Fire Knife retails for $39, but I picked mine up on Amazon for $29 new.
I will be doing a video on the knife as soon as I get my camera and computer working together again… long story, let me just say that you need to stay out of creeks when the rocks are slick.
I really like this knife and it is now a full time part of my kit.
Until I get my own video up, here is the promotional video by Light my Fire of Sweden.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

ULA Ohm 2.0 Review

ohm1This year I got a new pack.  I traded in my Granite Gear Nimbus Trace for a lighter pack in an effort to reduce pack weight.  I read somewhere that it is a good idea when reducing base weight to start at the base.. the pack.
So I did my homework and decided based on research and other reviews to buy the ULA Ohm 2.0 Pack.
The ULA Ohm 2.o is made by Ultralight Adventure Equipment in Logan, Utah.  They specialize in Ultralight packs but don’t be afraid, you don’t have to be an Ultralight backpacker to use one of their packs.  I am not UL hiker, but I do like the idea of watching what I pack and reducing the weight of the gear I carry.
The ULA Ohm 2.0 is a great pack.  It is super comfortable and big enough for everything I carry, even winter gear.  You do need to watch your weight though with this and all UL Packs.  They are made of lighter materials and while they are durable, they do need to be handled with a bit more care.  The Ohm is recommended for weights that do not exceed 30 lbs.  My winter gear this year was right at 23 lbs and when I added additional water, it pushed the limit of the pack.  I was careful packing it and certainly watched the seems as I went out on the last couple trips.  The pack held and even at the weight max was real comfortable.
Here are the specs on the pack:  Volume Breakdown= 2,100 cu in. in the main body, the front mess pocket holds 500 cu in, the 2 side pockets hold 400 cu in each.  The hip belt pockets each hold 100 cu in each and the draw string extension collar (top of the pack) will hold an additional 500 cubic inches.  That gives you a grand total of 3,960 cubic inches of space.  That is a ton of room.  The packs weight, unpacked is 29 ounces.
The ULA web site describes the pack as “A full featured, full suspension (active) ultralight pack that offers exceptional load control, on-trail functionality, and full body compression.
Combining a 1.2 oz carbon fiber/delrin active suspension hoop and exceptional compression, the Ohm 2.0 maximizes load control, load transfer, pack compression, and overall pack rigidity in an ultralight package.
1.9 oz ripstop nylon, ULA 210 Robic, and ULA’s proven construction methods insure the Ohm 2.0 is built to last despite its minimal weight. The Ohm 2.0 Backpack is now available in four colors, standard green and purple blaze in the ULA 210 Robic, and Woodland and Multicam in 500 Cordura.”
The standard features of the pack are:  The suspension hoop, a must when lifting a lower a pack made with UL materials.  Internal Pad holster that comes with a CCF pad.  This is your back panel.  A contoured padded hip belt. hipbelt I love the way they have made the adjusting straps on the hip belt.  The double strap allows for more adjustments to be made adding to the overall comfort and ride of the pack.  Hip belt pockets.  Contoured Shoulder straps that are comfortable and don’t dig in.  The bif front mess pocket, easy access to the things that you need right away.  I keep my rain gear, first aid kit, and that kind of stuff in there.  Top compression strap keeps the pack tight and allows for flexible loading options.  Ice Axe/ Pole retention loops hold your trekking poles or your ice axe snug.  All of those features make the pack a great pack for weekend trips as well as extended days on the trail.
ulaohmInside of the pack is a hydration pouch that will hold a bladder up to 2 liters.  There is also a removable mesh pouch inside, perfect for your keys, wallet, or even your iPhone.
I have been using this pack for a few months now and can honestly say that I really am happy with it.  I love the weight, the construction, the features, the ease of use, and the comfort of the pack.  It is solid and well made right here in America.
I highly recommend the ULA Ohm 2.o.
You can see more ULA packs at their website.  http://www.ula-equipment.com
If you have questions, comments or ideas on your gear.. let me know.
Have a Great Scouting Day!



Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Getting Heavy…

DSCN0457I have been getting a lot of feedback about the quest to reduce pack weight.  Some of it is good, while others, mainly from other Scouters is not.  To be honest, up until our Philmont trek, I was in that camp.  I doubted the fact that a backpacker could be as safe and as comfortable going light.
A few years back the PCT Trail days gathering was held in Portland.  A group of us went to the event to catch some speakers and of course check out gear.  While we were there, we met the folks from Gossamer gear.  I sat in the room and listened as Glen Van Peski talked about how he backpacked and his philosophy.  He showed us his gear and I thought to myself.. no freakin’ way.  I am not going to sacrifice comfort and safety to have a light pack.  After all.. this backpacking thing is for fun right.  I don’t want to be in pain and struggle to get miles in.  I want to sleep and eat well and have a good time out on the trail.  Then we went to Philmont.  I fell in love with the Sange De Christo mountains and had the time of my life on the trail.  What I hated was my pack.  I left base camp with a 55 lb pack.  Never again I promised myself.  When we got home I started taking a real long hard look at why my pack weighed so much.  I started to research gear and how to pack better.  Now, I have been a backpacker for years.  And looking back over the those many years, I realized that I have morphed and changed gear many times, but never really getting away from heavy loads and lots of gear.  About 20 years ago I did a week-long trip up in the Wallowa’s in Eastern Oregon.  We started climbing from the trail head one morning and our packs looked like something a mule should be carrying.   I think my pack was about 70 lbs on that trip.  No resupply, no drops, and everything to include the kitchen sink in my pack.
Well, as you can imagine something had to change in my backpacking style.  The trip to Philmont taught me that I am getting older and still love to backpack.. so do something about it.
My research kept leading me to Lightweight backpacking sites and Ultra light backpacking web pages.  I quickly closed them thinking that I really don’t want to go down the “UL” road.  That’s not for me.. and it really isn’t.  Light weight on the other hand is right up my ally.
And so I started on this journey to lighten up.  The more I read and played with my gear, the more I listened to backpackers talk and write about Light weight Philosophy.  Philosophy?  What the heck.. this is just walking in the woods right?  And that is where I started to get it.  It is a Philosophy and when practiced… it will keep you safe and comfortable. Let me share with you some of the common themes in the Lightweight backpacking philosophy.  Note that I am NOT talking about Ultralight and I suppose that right off the bat, I should point out the biggest difference in the two.. and that is the weight we are talking about.
When we define Ultralight backpacking we are talking about Base Pack Weights of 10 lbs or less.  Typically Lightweight backpacking can be defined as Base Pack Weights of 11 to 20 lbs.  So with food and water you are talking about 25 lbs in the lightweight set up.  There are Super Ultralight backpackers out there that try to achieve 5 lbs or less.  That is not even on the radar for me.  Can’t see the need nor the desire to go that light.
So the Lightweight backpacking philosophy essentially is this;
The backpacker needs to really take a hard look at packing habits in order to fine-tune minimum packing needs and aggressively seek out the right gear available to satisfy those needs.  That gear needs to be lighter, have multiple uses, and of good quality.  To accomplish this hard look and refining of or fine tuning of gear look at the gear, clothing, and food that you take, shoot for lighter options and doing with less.  A key is that simple is better.  Gadgets, while fun, add weight and typically are not needed or even used.
Less volume, lighter-weight, high-quality/high-performance gear and clothing is a goal to strive for and will instantly reduce weight in your pack.
Pack clothing and gear that can serve multiple purposes.
Educate yourself on backcountry travel and safety, being well prepared for changing weather, wildlife encounters and whatever else may happen.  Get trained in Wilderness First aid and Leave No Trace.   In short, learn and Be Prepared.  Know how to use the gear in your pack and know what to do when out in the woods.
Use lightweight techniques to keep travel through the backcountry low-impact on both yourself and your environment.
Use products that provide the level of comfort you desire, even if they aren’t the absolute lightest available.
(this philosophy is common among lightweight backpackers, I found most of this from the website Lightweight backpacking 101)

For Scouts and Scouters, this philosophy is not out of the ordinary and should be easy to adapt.  It basically reinforces the ideas of Being Prepared.. through education and practice and Leave no trace.  It does not discount safety at all.  When the backpacker knows and understands the risks, the skills, and his ability, they can have a wonderful back country experience with a simple load on their back.
Cost of gear and changing out old gear is a consideration.  I am not suggesting that you rush out and swap all of your gear.  Take a look at what you have.  Start with the big 3.  Your shelter, your sleeping bag, and your backpack.  That is where the bulk of the weight comes from.  Trim it down a little at a time.  Consider alternative gear and see about making your own gear.  The rest will fall into place.
My first bit of advice if you want to jump on this journey of comfortable backpacking is to weigh everything.  This was very hard for me to get on board with.  Being a gram weenie was for those UL guys that wear one pair of socks for a 14 day trip and count the bristles on their tooth-brush.  But, once I started getting that critical eye on the gear, most of which came when I started weighing it all, it was an eye opener.. and the journey launched.
Now, I’ve been sharing with you all my steps on the journey.  I have replaced little things, and I did get a new pack.  I thought that was an important part of this process for me.  That may not be the case for you.
I suppose the point of all of this is simply.. Think.
Develop or use a philosophy that best meets your backpacking needs and style.  Hike your own hike and have fun with the adventure.  I share this with you because this is my way of helping me get lighter.  Putting it all into words is helping me refine my load and reach my goals.
I never thought, I would have to get so mentally heavy to get my pack light!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

The picture for this post is of me standing on top of the Tooth of Time at Phimont Scout Ranch.  

Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Risk Management, Skills, technology, training | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Gear Glorious Gear Part 2

I left you in the last post talking about the “Big 3″  The Pack, the Sleep system, and the Shelter.  Now we discuss the “Next 3″.  The “Next 3″ components of your gear consist of the Cook kit, the First Aid kit, and Rain gear.  Now in most articles that you will read and in most backpacking forums and circles the Sleeping pad is listed in the “Next 3″.  But since I like to put the sleep pad in with the sleep system, and since my target audience is typically Scouts and Scouters, I think that logic would dictate that the sleep pad go with the “Big 3″.  Regardless I think it is important that the First Aid kit is placed in with the “Next 3″.
So let’s get into these “Next 3″ components.
First, the Cook kit.  When I say ‘Cook kit’ I am referring to that gear that will be used to prepare the meal, eat the meal, and clean up after the meal.  This would include your cook pot, your stove, your towel, soap, fuel, lighter, utensils, eating ware (bowl, plate, cup or mug).  For a backpacker, these kitchen items really need to be small and fully functional.  Most meals require a single pot so a full cook set really is unnecessary.  A small stove such as the Snow Peak Giga Power is enough to get water going and can even be used for frying up eggs.  Keep in mind that you don’t need to bring the kitchen sink.  The essentials of a Cook kits are:
Stove, bowl, pot, towel, scrubber, camp suds soap, wind screen, lighter, spoon or spork, cup or mug.
Next let us dive into the First Aid kit.  Everyone needs to carry some sort of First Aid kit.  It need not be big, but it needs to be able to provide the essentials to do First Aid.  Gloves, band aids, ace wrap, gauze pads, prep pads, mole skin, tweezers, and aspirin are a good start.  All of that will fit in a zip lock bag.  I would also consider throwing in some butter fly closure strips and tape.  The Scout handbook and the internet have lots of resources to give you tips on what to put in your kit.  Just have one that will first serve you.. and then a buddy.
Rain gear wraps up the “Next 3″.  This is important (not just here in Oregon) to keep handy.  Rain gear serves more than just to keep one dry.  It can be an outer layer of clothing.  It is a great wind stopper, can be used as a ground cloth.  Rain gear is essential in preventing hypothermia.  Yes, even in the summer a hiker exposed to the elements can fall into those conditions.  Staying dry and clean are some of the reasons to carry rain gear.  Poncho’s are nice as they can serve multiple purposes.  However I don’t recommend them to Scouts as they quickly become capes and provide less protection than Rain pants and jacket.   There are some inexpensive, light weight options out there.  Frogg Toggs makes a rain suit that retails for $20.  It needs to be taken care of, but the weight and protection pay for itself in one rain storm.
So that’s the ‘Next 3′ components of the packing list.
Those 6 items make up the bulk of your gear.  What’s left.. pretty much your little stuff and clothing.
“The Little Stuff”
Most new Scouts come out of Webelos ready for their day hikes with their 10 essentials.  Moving to the “Big Pack” the 10 essentials get spread out within the contents of pockets and gear in the pack.  You still need all 10, but they will be displaced throughout your gear.  A great idea is to build a ditty bag to catch-all your “Little Stuff”
Matches or other fire starting materials, your compass, head lamp, small lantern, duct tape, extra cord, hand warmers, lip balm and sun block and a bandana just to list a few items.  I keep all my “little stuff” in a ditty bag where I can find it and have access to it when needed.
Then you need to break down your clothing.  This pretty much is the most variable of your gear items.  Weather conditions, temperature, and length of trip will dictate your clothing choices.  The most common error is taking too much.  Give a serious look at the clothing you take.  See what you really need versus what you want and try to get all your clothing in a single stuff sack.
So there it is.  The Big 3, the Next 3, the little stuff and clothing.  That’s your gear in a nut shell.  Gear Glorious Gear.  Develop your gear lists and kits that you are comfortable with, you can use, and you want to carry.
Any questions, comments, or suggestions.. give me a holler!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Leave no trace, Skills | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Gear Glorious Gear part 1

After our last camp out we noticed that many of our younger Scouts seem to have been over looked when it comes to their gear and gear selections to include packing that gear.  Now, let me explain here because if you have spent about a day browsing this blog and you know our Troop, gear is one of those subjects we talk about like it was a merit badge… ahhh.. maybe that’s not a great example… talking and teaching about gear is like teaching first aid.. yeah.. that one works better.
We believe that gear is essential in a great camping experience.  Not a lot of gear.. but the right gear.  And it seems that as of late we have been a bit lazy in really getting into the nitty-gritty about gear with some of the Scouts of the troop.
Now in all fairness, the Scouts that immediately take interest in the gear they have and show excitement obviously get into those discussions with us.  And parents that see that enthusiasm in their son make it a point to talk about gear choices with us.
Having said all of that…
After the last camp out the Assistant Scoutmasters and I evaluated some of the processes we have in place to teach and talk about gear.  Seeking a solution to the issue we concluded that we needed to go back to square one with some of the Scouts.  We identified that the group of Scouts that have not yet completed all of the requirements for First Class was our target.. and more to the point.. their parents.
We have decided that in “starting over” with these Scouts and their parents we would demonstrate what it is that we consider the gear needed to support their Scout.  To do this we are going to do a full lay out of 3 sets of gear.  Mine, representing average gear that is on the lighter side.  Bryce, one of the Assistant Scoutmasters, will lay his gear out which will show the middle of the road gear, very affordable and easy to use.  Finally Ken, another of the Assistant Scoutmaster’s, will lay out his “heavier set up” with higher end items.
The thing that all three of our set ups have in common are the break down of gear types and the fact that we are pretty much carrying the same thing just in different forms, brands, and weight classes.
Our gear is broken into 3 groups.
First.  The Big 3.  This group includes the Backpack, the Sleep system, and Shelter.
The Backpack is essential in the discussion of gear.  It’s were all of this is going to end up.  There are essentially two types of packs that we discuss with the Scout (and Parent) Internal Frame packs and External Frame packs.  We used to not recommend Internal Packs for our Scouts, but with the modernization of the internal packs and the technology that has gone into the development of the internal frame pack, it is a far better pack than older versions.  The biggest concern with internal frame packs when it comes to Scouts is the packing of the pack.  Internal frame packs require a tad bit more thought in packing so the gear will give the wearer a comfortable ride.  This is the advantage of the External frame pack.  The weight and ride of the pack is distributed on the frame.  If a Scout does not pack well, he will, by and large, still have a  load that is manageable.
I switched to internal frame packs about 3 years ago and love them now that I have played with them and refined my packing.
We recommend, that no matter which style of pack a Scout gets it has at least 3900 cubic inches of space.  Now, all that space does not have to get filled up, but 3900 cube will allow for the Scout to make an easier time of packing.
Next we talk about the Sleep System.  Note that I did not say sleeping bag.  The sleep system is the bag or quilt and the pad or insulation.  When it comes to sleeping bags the sky is the limit on materials, fill, rating, size and shape.  The down versus synthetic argument is one that we resolve by saying this.  Down is lighter and warm but when it’s wet it is not worth having.  Synthetic materials are warm, heavier, and will maintain it’s warmth even when wet.  We recommend to parents that if their Scout can take care of it, down is the way to go.  Having said that.. I have a synthetic bag.
Sleeping bag liners add about 10 degrees to any bag and are small and light.  They are a great addition here in the Northwest to a sleep system and can carry a 20 degree bag well into the teens.
Ground insulation goes beyond a ground cloth.  A sleeping pad whether it is a Closed Cell Foam pad (CCF) or an inflatable pad is a must.  CCF pads are light and durable and work really well in the winter.  Most inflatable pads lack insulation but are comfortable and still get you off the ground.  There are insulated inflatable pads out there and they are well worth the extra money and weight.  A current trend is to put the inflatable pad inside of the sleeping bag.  This maintains the comfort and heat qualities of the pad.
The final component of the “Big 3″ is the Shelter.  Again, note that I did not say tent.  A lot of Scouts now are finding their way into tarps and bivies.  There are advantages in weight savings, ease, and multiple configurations to the tarp and bivy style of camping.  Regardless of what you decide to sleep under, this part of the big 3 typically makes up a major portion of the money spent on gear.
Tarps tend to be lighter, and I should clarify that I am not talking about your standard BiMart blue tarp.  We are talking nylon or silicone impregnated nylon (Silnylon).  They provide good cover and are nice and light.  A good tent will last a Scout for ever if he takes care of it.  Most Scouts of our troop trend towards a single person tent for a few reasons.  First, the ownership.  The Scout takes care of gear that belongs to him better than he will if it does not.  Second, the weight of a single person tent is a big savings in the pack as well as the volume.  And finally, the idea that he can adapt the tent to his style, needs, and he does not have to worry about someone elses gear in there.  When he is ready to go to sleep, he can.
Some have suggested that this practice takes away from the social aspect of the camp out.  This has not seemed to bare out in our troop.  Nylon tents are not sound proof and the Scouts set up their tents pretty close and lay there and chat.  They set up tents with the doors facing and play cards in the middle.  They tend to figure it out.  A two person tent is a great investment also and allows for more room.  You will carry a bit more weight, but for some, the added room and the flexibility to add a person.
The key when picking out a good tent is to look for free-standing, easy set up, and good coverage.  Whether you pick a tarp, hammock, bivy or tent coverage, ease of use and how much you want to pay is a good way to start your shopping.
Tomorrow on the blog we will talk about the “Next 3″.  The next group of gear that includes the components; Cook Kit, First Aid kit, and Rain Gear.
If you have comments or questions please leave them here on the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Coffee 1-20

This weekend our Troop had a camp out.  During the camp out we conducted Troop Junior Leader Training and did some Shot Gun Shooting.  We even had some time to squeeze in some map and compass work with some of the newer Scouts.  It was an action packed weekend and I can’t tell you how proud I am of the Junior Leaders that ran the training.  They did a real great job.  I will more to say about that in a later post.
Sunday morning brought chilly temps (23 degrees) and a fun time with the Assistant Scoutmasters as we got up and got going.  This is the Sunday Mornin’ Coffee video for this week.  Featuring the Assistant Scoutmasters of Troop 664.  A great group of guys.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, Hammock, Just fun, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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