Hey gang.. Been awhile.. certainly got away from my blogging goals over the last couple weeks.
No real excuse other than to say other things have taken priority.
The Troop obviously, Staffing Wood Badge once again, and of course family life. Other Scouting opportunities have been popping up in the world of training also. I have recently taught Train the Trainer for our Council and Trainers EDGE over the last month or so.. so lots going on and I have not really had time to sit down and bang away at the computer.
In the mean time I got some new gear and I am super excited about my new Backpack. I ordered it direct from Osprey back in January, but due to the striking long shore men the pack just got here yesterday. Ah well.. it is what it is..
So I will be doing a thorough review and video on it in the near future, but today (after painting the living room and hall) my wife said I could play with my new toy.
I thought I would share my initial thoughts on the Pack with you and like I said, I will get into the weeds with it soon.
First of all I now have the Osprey Aether 60. I went with the Aether 60 pack as that volume seems to be the sweet spot for my backpacking gear, style, and they way I pack.
I have tried to go smaller, but find that I struggle with loading the pack and having my gear accessible while on the trail. Any bigger on the other hand, and I find that I want to fill it. Unneeded gear and extras that I can do without.
So I went with the 63 liter pack. The Osprey Aether series packs come in various sizes ranging from 55 liters to 85 liters. The 55 is just a hair to small for me. I have been using my Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 this past year and have really been unhappy with the way I have to fight it. The 85 liter packs are designed for expeditions and does not fit my needs. Again, when choosing your next pack, know your sweet spot.
The Osprey Aether 60 also comes in 3 different sizes Small which is 3478 cubic inches of space or 57 liters, Medium which is 3661 cubic inches or 60 liters, and Large which comes in at 3844 cubic inches or 63 liters or space. Again, I went with the Large or 63 as it meets my needs and fit my frame.
Which brings me to sizing. It is important to size your pack. I went to my local REI and met with a sales rep. He is trained in sizing for the custom fit of the Osprey packs. Using the Osprey measuring tool at the store we determined that I needed a medium pack to fit my torso.
The nice thing about the Osprey packs are that they are custom. You can mix and match pack components. The Shoulder straps, hip bet, and Frame are all interchangeable.
The hip belt can be custom molded to your hips. This is highly recommended, but if you do not have an authorized retailer with the hip belt oven near you, just wearing the hip belt as you hike will heat it enough to mold it to your hips.
So why did I pick this pack over others? After all I have carried a good Kelty External Frame pack, the Mountain Hardwear pack, a Granite Gear light pack, and the ULA Ohm over the last couple of years. Well, it came down to fitting my needs and my style of backpacking.
Since we have been back from Philmont (2012) I have been toying the idea of getting a new pack. I carried the Granite Gear pack at Philmont and it was not big enough to handle the gear we carried as a crew.. namely all the water. The ULA pack, while I loved how comfortable it is did not fit my needs for winter camping and I found myself worried about its durability.
An Assistant Scoutmaster in our Troop had been carrying the Osprey pack and after our big backpacking trip in the Olympics last summer I started looking at his pack and how it may fit my needs. After doing my homework.. I came to conclusion that the Osprey Aether 60 was for me.
Here are the specifics:
The pack weighs in at 4 lbs 11 ounces. A bit heavier that I would like in a pack, but I had to make a compromise somewhere. With my overall gear getting lighter I am ok with the base pack weight being a little heavier.
The Aether is made of 210D and 75D Stretch woven ripstop nylon and 500D plain weave nylon oxford. I got the Arroyo Red pack. It also comes in a Blue and Green.
Features of the pack that I drew me to it; A nice removable top pouch that can become a Lumbar pack for day trips. I like the separate sleeping bag compartment at the bottom and I love the Airscape Suspension (back panel). It breaths well and is super comfortable.
With this pack it is the little details that I really love. All of the zipper pulls are fantastic. They are a molded plastic covered pull, comfortable to pull and usable with gloves.
There are plenty of ways to compress the pack for a custom fit.
Finally the outside back panel is a huge stretch pocket. Great for storing all of those need to get to fast items.
The pack is a top loader, but it also has front panel access.
Ok.. so am starting to get a little to far into the weeds with this. I will be doing a good video review soon. In the mean time, here is a short video put out by Osprey. It will give you an introduction to my new pack.
My first impression is that I like it a lot. I love the ease of access, the design, and the over all detail in the features.
Stay tuned for a full review.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Posts Tagged With: gear
Hey gang.. Been awhile.. certainly got away from my blogging goals over the last couple weeks.
As you know by reading the blog, I am a fan of gear. I like to play around with gear, test it, try it, and change it often. There are pieces of gear that I love and pieces of gear that I am always looking for the newer, better, more efficient, or just cool. Lately I have been in a few discussions about some gear like knives and stoves. What is significant about these discussions is the idea that for a lot of Scouters there is little knowledge about what is allowed, what is not, and what is out there to show to your Scouts as gear choices.
Take a look at all the old Field books and Hand books, Peek into the Boy Scout catalogs, it’s all the same stuff. All the old-time tested and true gear. It all works well and is super reliable. I don’t have a problem with any of it, but just because it has always been there and done that way does not make it the only or best way to do it.
At a few recent Boy Scout break outs at round table we have talked about gear and gear alternatives. Much of the discussion focusing on stoves and knives. As discussed in my recent post “The Great Knife Debate“, it amazes me that many Scouters just do not know the rules. They perpetuate a rule that does not exist for what ever reason, but the net result is not the safety of the Scout, but a lack of exposure to new and different ways of doing the same old thing. The same can be said for alcohol stoves. The BSA has prohibited the use of “Homemade” stoves. And I can see that the BSA does not want some Scout to get hurt because his leaders failed to train him on how to do it right. But the use of alcohol stoves in general is not prohibited. Manufactured of purchased stoves are not prohibited and I am glad for that. I exclusively use an alcohol stove and scouts in my troop are using them also. I teach them how and make sure they do it right. There is nothing unsafe about them, well, they are about as unsafe as using an MSR Whisperlite. It comes down to training them to use it correctly. Stores like REI and many online outdoor outfitter are selling alcohol stoves. And the fact is you can use them to cook anything.
I can bake, fry, simmer, and of course boil water with them. Here is the point. They are an alternative way to do the same old thing. Camping, Cooking, sleeping in a shelter, whether that is a tent, a tarp, or a bivy sack is all the same. Camping is camping. There are many methods and ways to go about it, but in the end it’s all the same.
You also know that I am a big fan of wood stoves (like the Solo Stove). They are a great way to cook. It takes a little skill and you can absolutely cook anything with them. I have had Scouters tell me that one can not use them because you can’t turn them off. Huh? What? First Class Requirement 4 e states; On one camp out, serve as your patrol’s cook. Supervise your assistant(s) in using a stove or building a cooking fire. Prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned in requirement 4a. In the most previous edition of the Boy Scout handbook Second Class requirement 2g required the Scout to; On one camp out, plan and cook over an open fire one hot breakfast or lunch for yourself, selecting foods from the food pyramid. Explain the importance of good nutrition. Tell how to transport, store, and prepare the foods you selected.
So in one edition of the hand book, we have decided to dumb down the Scouting experience not make it a requirement to cook over an open fire, but it’s a choice. But it’s still there and it always has been. But in checking the Guide to Safe Scouting I can’t find anywhere that suggests wood stoves are prohibited or cooking over an open flame is prohibited because you can’t put it out. You see, to me that is just a way for Scouters to impose a rule that is not there when it comes to gear.
There are lots of great gear alternatives out there. Allow your Scouts to explore them.
Many of the Scouts in my troop are moving to camping under tarps. Some are using you standard 10X10 Wal Mart tarp, while most are going to good camping tarps. SilNylon tarps that are light and easy to put up. Some even have built-in doors and can be pitched between trees or using their trekking poles. I love the idea that the Scouts are exploring different gear and ways to camp. It keeps it fun and exciting for them.
I suppose the bottom line is that there are many options out there, as a Scouter you should gain an understanding and knowledge of that gear and not push it aside just because you don’t like it.
We had this same debate during the 2010 National Jamboree. Many ‘older Scouters’ did not like the idea of allowing the Scouts to bring and use “Electronics”. There was a misconceptions that electronics are not allowed in Scouting. No where is this found in writing. I allowed the Scouts of my Jamboree Troop to bring their “electronics”. Cell phones, Ipods, and of course cameras. I wanted them to be able to communicate with me and other Scouts, I wanted to be able to shoot a text to the troop when I needed to make quick contact with them. I wanted the Senior Patrol Leader to be able to get everyone on the bus on time and sent group texts to better communicate with his Troop. We established “No ear bid zones” Touring at Arlington National Cemetery for example was a No Ear Bud zone. Sitting on the bus for two hours however was not. As long as the Scouts obeyed the rules, I allowed them to use the electronics.
The same goes for their gear. As long as they use it as intended, be it a stove, knife, or any other piece of gear, I allow and encourage them to try new things.
This is a big part of the adventure of Scouting.
Get to know some new gear. Pick something to try with your Scouts. Try something new.
Allow the adventure of Scouting to happen.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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!
Ok… 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!
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!
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!
In 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!
This 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. 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.
Inside 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!
I 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.
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!