Many Scouts, especially the younger ones have trouble getting everything into their backpacks. Now this problem is caused by a couple of factors. First, they try to carry too much. Remember that your target weight is 25% of your body weight. Sometimes that number is impossible to hit, so lighter gear and watching every pound is critical. When Scouts try to pack too much, it is tough getting it all in. Couple that with the fact that most new Scouts are small and therefore have smaller backpacks. This becomes an issue when trying to fill it also. We always recommend to the parents to buy bigger. There are some great packs out there that grow with the Scout. Adjustable frames and straps that can move up and down with the Scout as he grows into the pack. Nothing smaller that 3000 cubic inches is what I tell the parents of new Scouts entering our troop.
Second, and this is the easiest to fix. The Scout needs to pack his own pack. Well meaning parents that are trying to help often pack a Scouts pack nice and tight in the living room at home. The conditions are perfect and they know where everything needs to go. Then the Scout gets out in the woods and mom and dad are not there to pack it up for him. To fix this problem, shake them down. Before we leave on each camp out, we have a shake down. Everything is taken out of the pack, checked, and repacked. The Scout packs his own gear. Sometimes this is hard, but that’s what Troop guides are for.
Finally, pack organization. Just throwing gear into the pack will always result in a tough to pack backpack. Ditty bags, ziplock bags, and stuff sacks keep gear organized and easy to pack. But lets talk about that space issue again. Younger Scouts have a hard time getting it all in mostly because they run out of room in their smaller packs. The solution. Compression bags.
Compression bags reduce the size of the gear by 1/3. Sleeping bags, clothing, even the tent can be packed in a compression bag and reduced in size. The more you have in compression sacks, the smaller the load. This simple tip will help ease the packing for younger Scouts.
I have recently purchased a new backpack for my self. It is smaller than I have carried in the past. Always trying to reduce the load and the weight (without being a gram weenie). I had to take a critical look at what I was carrying and how much room I had. It is a good rule, and one that we constantly preach to our new and old Scouts alike… Everything goes IN THE PACK. This keeps the load tight and easier to carry. The answer for me was compression bags. Just as stated before, they cut the load by 1/3 in volume and made my pack much easier to pack and unpack.
Compression bags are waterproof and easy to use. They reduce volume in the pack and make your pack organized and easy to load. It is fair to say that the compression bags are a bit more spendy than your average stuff sack, but the pay off is in the ease of use and the better organized your pack will be.
That’s your gear tip of the week!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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