Posts Tagged With: tarps

The Big 3

koa55It is that time of the year when we share our knowledge of camping with those youngsters that are preparing to cross over into our troops.  For many of them, their camping experience has been family camping and not straying to far from the car.
For those scouts that will be entering backpacking style troops, or even those that are looking for gear that will last and work in different camping situations, we offer a bit of advice.
Lately, I have been asked by several Cub Scout Packs to come and pay them a visit to talk about camping gear.  I know that for some, this discussion can become overwhelming, especially once we start talking about the cost.
We focus on the Big Three.  This is the Shelter, the Sleep system, and the Backpack.
The big 3 is where most of the money is spent and where most of the money should be spent.  Going cheap with the big 3 will cost you more in the long run.  It is better to buy quality gear than cheap gear that needs to be replaced over and over.
The Shelter.
Notice I did not say tent.  The shelter could be a Bivy, a tarp, or a tent.  Complicated for a new Scout?  Not really.  They just need to see the differences and pluses and minus’ of the gear.
First, what kind of camping do you do?  Are you looking to keep your pack light?  Do you live in an area that you need to worry a lot about bugs.  Tents do not keep you warm, they keep you out of the elements, that in turn will retain the heat you produce along with your sleep system.  So a tarp or bivy may be a great option for you.
When it comes to tents, make sure that you look at three things.
1.  The rain fly.  It needs to extend beyond the sewn floor seam.  Look at the number of tie outs the rain fly has.  This will make a huge difference in the winter or extreme weather conditions.
2.  The Floor.  Look a the floor and make sure you see a seam that extends up the wall of the tent.  This is called a bath tub floor.  This is an important feature for  heavy rains and snow.
3.  Vents and Vestibule.  You will want a tent that is well ventilated.  This will reduce the amount of condensation you have inside you tent.  The vestibule is important to storage and space to remove wet or dirty clothing and boots.  It is also a place that you can keep your pack and even cook in a pinch.
The Sleep System.
Again, note I did not just say sleeping bag.  First rule, if your bag has Ducks or Sponge Bob in it.. it is not a good backpacking sleeping bag.
The sleep system is quiet possibly the most important gear in your pack.  Without a good nights sleep you will not have a good camping experience.  The sleep system is made up of the sleeping bag and the method of insulation.
There are essentially two types of sleeping bags.  Down and Synthetic.  Down is lighter and compacts tighter.  When down gets wet though, it does not retain its insulation properties.  Synthetic on the other, may be a bit heavier, but when wet will retain its insulation and keep you warm.  Synthetics dry quickly also.
We recommend synthetic bags for our new Scouts.  This way we know that in bad conditions they will remain safe and warm.
The sleeping pad, or insulation, is just as important as the bag itself.  There are may options when it comes to pads for insulation.
Closed Cell Form (CCF).  This is your most inexpensive option and had great benefits.  CCF is great in the winter.  While not the most comfortable, CCF pads work well and can be modified to meet the Scouts needs.  It can be cut down to reduce weight and size.  The extra can be cut to make a nice camp seat.
Air pads.  There are different types of air-filled pads.  Basically, insulated and no insulated.  If you camp in the Northwest like I do, you need to have an insulated pad.
The air pads come in many shapes sizes and “R” values.  It is best when shopping for a pad to lay it out and give it a test run in the store.  The thicker the pad, the more comfortable, but also the more weight you will carry.  Take those considerations into account when buying your pad.
The Backpack.
Like sleeping pads, the backpack comes in many shapes, sizes, and styles.  Essentially though when looking at a backpack you need to decide what style you are looking for, Internal Frame or External Frame.  The difference, basically how the pack rides when packed.  For the novice hiker, that has a lack of experience in packing his gear, the external frame pack will ride much better.  Internal framed packs need a little more skill in packing, but the learning curve is not that steep.  Modern packs are designed to give the hiker the best comfort while tailoring the load to meet the need of the outing.
We typically recommend that a 65 liter pack be the absolute maximum when looking at volume.  The average Scout can get away with 55 to 60 liters.  Personally, I do not carry anything bigger than 60 liters or 3950 cubic inches.
Keep in mind when buying a pack, what are you doing with it?  The bigger the pack, the more you will put in it.  Also think about how you load the pack.  Lots of outside pockets are not always a great idea, while at times and with experience they can be a great feature on the pack.  Simple is good.
Buying a pack should not be an off the shelf event.  You need to shop around and do your homework.  Try them on, load them up, walk with it.  Try before you buy.
So, why the big three?  This is the area that you are going to spend the most money on and it is also the three pieces of gear that will cost you the most weight.  Try to keep the weight of the big 3 down to 9 pounds total.  Think about total weight, you should be looking at 25% of the Scouts body weight.  Keeping the big three down to 9 lbs is a good start at getting to that percentage.
When shopping for the big three, don’t rush.  Do the research, ask lots of questions, see what others are using and make a sound choice.  The big three should be those three pieces of gear that you keep the longest and will help you have the best backpacking or camping experience.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, Just fun | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Scouting Lighter

Yesterday I stumbled upon a great You Tube Channel.  It;s called Scouting lighter.  From what I gather, this Scouter put this together as part of his Wood Badge Ticket.  So +2 for this fella!  A backpacker and Wood Badger!!  WhooHoo!
Anyway.. I found his You Tube channel full of really great information.  I picked out this one video in particular because it really explains what we are trying to do in our Troop and more to the point what I am doing with my gear.
Enjoy, and I highly encourage you… Nay Demand.. .that you subscribe to his channel!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Hammock, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Philmont, planning, Skills, Wood Badge | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Couple more thoughts on gear

ulaohmYeah.. so I like to talk about gear… it’s what I do…
Hi, my name is Jerry… and I am a gear junky..
Hiiiiii Jerrrrryyy
Hey folks, ever since I was a young Scout I was told to take care of your gear and it will take care of you.. I think that is very true and with that comes messin’ with your gear.  Always looking for the ‘next best thing’ or a simple way or cooler way to do this or that.
Sometimes I am a bit apprehensive about showing gear or a way I do something because give it a week.. it may change.
As you know I am a hammock camper and use a tarp over the hammock.  Real hard to get a hammock in a tent.. although I have seen it done.  But I have not always been a hammock camper and enjoyed camping none the less.  Hammock camping was introduced to me at the 2010 National Jamboree and I have been hooked since.  I find it an extremely comfortable way to sleep and it gives me new opportunities to tweak gear.  It seems that with hammock camping came a whole new way of camping.  I started getting my gear lighter.  I started to look at new ways to set up gear and find it challenging in the way modifications can be made and gear can be set up.
I am in no way shape or form trying to get anyone to convert to hammock camping.  I could really care less how you camp… as long as you camp.  You gotta get out there in the woods and enjoy nature.  It is a must.  I encourage… nay demand that you camp!
But yes I talk a bunch about hammock camping and show that style in my videos and gear tips and tricks.. why?  Because it is what I do.  What I know for sure is that I just like to talk gear and I like to share.  The other thing that I know for sure is that I am not the ultimate authority on camping and everything associated with it.. but I do know a bunch, I have ideas, thoughts, and certainly opinions and once again… I like to share.
If hammock camping is not your thing than I can deal with that.  Maybe you can find a tip here and there that you can work into tent camping or on the ground tarp camping.  Maybe there is a tip out there that you can share with your Scouts to make their outdoor experience better.  Maybe, just maybe, you will be intrigued enough to try something new or motivated just a bit to step outside of your comfort zone, what ever that looks like.
So here’s the deal.  I’ll keep talking gear and changing my stuff every time the wind blows and I’ll keep sharing with you, my trusty reader.  You know I love ya… right?
So here’s a couple of thoughts on gear.. lessons learned you might say.
***NOTE*** What I am about to write does not comply with the Guide to Safe Scouting!
Fuel.  On the last camp out I noticed that my Denatured Alcohol took some time to warm up and light.  It was nothing that would cause alarm and after a few minutes under my arm pit, the fuel was warm enough to light and get some water boiling.  The fix.  Today I went out and purchased a little 3 oz. squeeze bottle.  It is a bottle recommended to carry fluids on an airplane, essentially to get through TSA.  I wrote in RED Sharpie all over it FUEL!  The plan (and I am going to test it tonight) is to keep it in my sleeping bag with me at night.  Then in the morning, it will be warm and ready to use.
Now some of you are going to say.. well that is not setting a good example.  Ok.. but then again, I am not afraid of teaching Scouts how to do things right and even if Denatured Alcohol leaked in their sleeping bag, there would be no harm.  Fact is 3 ounces of alcohol would probably evaporate before they woke up.  As long as they are not sleeping with a lit torch in their pants I am sure they would be just fine.
I am not going to rehash the comments I made about teaching Scouts and allowing them to act their age and skill level.  Is that not setting a good example… well to some.  One day the BSA will again allow skills to be tested.  That day will come when we don’t teach to the lowest common denominator and lawyers leave us alone.
I have often said that I will never compromise Safety and Propriety.. A 3 ounce bottle of Denatured Alcohol does not compromise either… besides, what does it matter to some of the car campers out there?  Enough said on that.
(Please know that part of me is joking here.. the other part of me is really pissed)
Next.  Gear needs to be tested.  This goes for Scouts and Scouters.  You need to know your gear.  You need to know the limits of the gear, the capabilities of the gear, and how to use it.  There is no better place to do this that your backyard.
Tonight, I am testing some gear out in the backyard.
Hammock-Gear-store-icon1.  My new under quilt from Hammock gear.  Hammockgear.com  I got this for Christmas, but since they make to order, I just got it on Friday.  Tonight I will be in it and my Big Agnes Encampment 15* bag.  It’s supposed to get chilly tonight, so we will see how that goes.  The best part is that if I get to cold.. my bed is about 50 feet away inside the house.
2.  Dutch Clip on Tarp pull outs.  They pull the walls of the tarp out to give you more room as well as keep the tarp off of you in the snow and heavy rain.  I have them on the tarp tonight.  Mainly because I wanted to see how easy they are to put on and take off… really easy as a matter of fact.
3.  I am testing.. or more to the point playing with a stove that a fellow Youtuber sent me.   It is an alcohol stove… looks a lot like the white box stove.  I’m gonna fire it up and have some hot chocolate tonight and my coffee in the morning.
I also did some more tweaking on the tarp.  I found that if I tied a bowline at the end of the guy line, then synched up the line using the prusik it was super easy especially with gloves on.  There will be no need to until the bowline and will help in take down also.
So the tarp and hammock are up in the backyard and ready to be tested… now that’s the kind of testing I can get behind.
Today I took another look at my first aid kit and got it all in a small LOCSAK.  This will make packing just a tad bit easier and I still have everything I need.  Reworked my ‘toilet kit’ too.  Added Wet Ones single packs to it.  Feels nice on the tush when cleaning up in the woods.
Ok… so did you all get that I like to talk about gear?
That’s it for now.. should have a video out tomorrow.  The Sunday Morning coffee will be built into the tweaking of the gear.
As always, I am curious to know what you think.  Keep in my that the tag line of this blog is “Helping to Deliver the Promise of Scouting.”  Do not forget what that promise is.. a large part of that promise is fun and adventure.  I’m just sayin’.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Scouts | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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