Every time we go out into the woods for an outing with our scouts we should expect that some planning and preparation has occurred. In a Backpacking style troop this is an absolute must.
You are walking away from your cars and comfort items, you are sustaining on what you bring on your back, you are relying on map and compass or at least familiarity with the trail system you are trekking on, you need to have the skills to collect and treat water, build small fires, and pack your pack. You need to understand the usage of the items you take with you and try to make each item doe multiple tasks.
So planning and preparing yourself (and your Scouts) for a backpacking adventure is extremely important. As our troop prepares for a trip to Philmont next year, we are refining our skills now. It helps that each camp out we use the Backpacking style of camping and test those skills often.
So start with the basics, gear, physical conditioning, skills, and attitudes.
Gear is an important part of planning and preparing. What kind of gear to meet the conditions, terrain, weather, and skill level of the group. How big is group and what will be they be doing when they get to their destination.
Individual gear pretty much starts with the backpack. Proper fitting is important and the right style of pack based on skill level, body type, and load carried needs to be considered.
Stoves, cook kits, mess kits, and personal items need to be shaken down and evaluated based on the needs of the group and individual. We will go into those item in detail in a later post.
Shelter is another consideration that needs to be carefully thought out. Notice I did not say tent. I said shelter. Technology and design have met with the outdoors to provide lightweight alternatives to tenting. Hammock camping is quickly becoming popular in the backpacking community as well as tarp and bivy camping. Light weight tarps and bivy sacks provide excellent options for shelter. They are lighter, easier to set up, and allow the camper more options for set up configurations and places to camp. No longer are you restricted to 10×10 platform or level ground when using most tarps and hammocks. Philmont has still not got on board with the LNT aspects of Hammocks, but I am sure that in the future they will come around.
I will get into shelter more down the road also.
Physical conditioning is a major part of the backpacking experience. Each individual of the crew must be able to shoulder his load and when needed take a part of the groups gear. Good conditioning reduces the chance of minor injury and fatigue. Being in good shape also allows you to enjoy the trip a lot more. instead of walking with your head down and slugging your way to the camp site, you will be able to walk head up and see the trail. You will have a more enjoyable time in camp also. Being less tired when you arrive, you can spend more time hanging out and having fun instead of a quick trip to the sleeping bag.
Skills and attitudes are a topic for another post as they need some attention. Lets leave it here for now. Every backpacker must possess the skills needed to sustain in the wilderness. You can not rely on your fellow hikers for everything and at some point you will be counted on by the rest of the crew.
Ok.. look for more on this in future posts..
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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