Month: September 2013

52 to 16 Update

It has been a long while since I have talked about my backpack, and now that we are getting into the colder weather camping mode, I thought that I would update my progress to a 16 lb base weight in 52 weeks.

Well, here is the bottom line.  I think I am were I want to be.
After all of this process I have found that this journey is not about weight and what other people have in their packs.  It is about me and what I have.
I have shared the Hike Your Own Hike principle before and this journey has really made that come alive.  But not just in reducing weight, but refining my attitude.
I am at 18 lbs base weight.. actually floating between 17 and 18 pounds.. so I am calling it 18.  Can I shave those last 2 lbs?  Yes I can, but I don’t think I am going to.  Here is why.  When I started this process, I shared the reasons for doing this.  I have achieved those goals.  My pack is very comfortable.  It rides very well and it holds everything I need to be comfortable in the woods.  At 17 to 18 pounds I can be comfortable and safe.  I can enjoy the hike and arrive in camp fresh.  I do not have to do without luxury items and I don’t have to worry about “weight penalties”.  I can eat well, sleep well, and hike well.  I can enjoy my time in camp as well as time on the trail.
Does this mean I am done playing with gear, tweeking, and testing?  Nope, I am going to keep toying with the load, but what I have right now is a great set up and I am very happy with it.  IF, I were to stop today and just say that what I have is what I have and that is what I will have to backpack with.. I would be very happy.  BUT, I don’t have to say that and so I will keep playing with this great hobby.
Now so far as 52 to 16.  I am done.  I am were I want to be and have found my carrying load.  Like I said, could I shave 2 more pounds.  Yeah… but right now, I am not willing to give up that couple pieces of gear that are costing me the weight.  That is not to say that if an equal piece of gear comes along that weighs less I won’t replace it.  I more than likely will.
Hiking your own hike has become very important to me.  Keeping up with what a magazine says or things that are shared on a forum or the look you get on the trail mean less to me than MY journey.  A journey that I want to share, but in a way that encourages others to get on the trail on their own journey.

“I only went out for a walk,and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  John Muir

I will be posting my gear list soon, along with the weights for you to see where I have landed.  In the mean time, get your pack and go out and find your journey.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

The Spirit of Adventure


This weekend our Troop set out again looking for adventure.  It really didn’t dawn on me till we were an hour into the cave, but the cave represented that spirit of adventure that seems to define our Troop.  Stepping outside of our comfort zone, pushing the limits of what we think we can’t do, testing skills, learning new ones, pushing the boundaries of our leadership know how and of course having fun.
We camped out in the middle of now where just outside of Carson, Washington.  A place that we as a Troop rarely venture.  Friday night we camped at a horse camp.  A horse camp in that there is places that you can tie up your horse, other than that.. it was a camp site, like any other.  Saturday morning we got up, packed, and started backpacking our way down to Lava Caves.  It was only a 2.3 mile hike, but it was through some of the most beautiful forest I have hiked though. 
We arrived at the camp site and things set up.  There was a threat of rain, so that motivated the boys to get camp set, that and the fact that they really wanted to get into the cave.
Helmets went on, head lamps checked and we entered the edge of the cave entrance.  I took a look around at the Scouts as they entered the cave.  Some of th boys had a look of uncertainty while others were ready to jump right in.  Once we got to the point were the world turned black I could see the more timid of the Scouts staying real close to the older guys.
We got to one area in the cave where the guys decided to get everyone close and turn out all the lights.  The spirit of adventure had called.  All of the lights went out and we sat in pitch darkness, no wind, no birds, no rain, nothing.  Dark and quiet.  Then a nervious request to turn the lights back on.
We turned them on and continued into the depths of the Lava cave.   A cave that was carved out by the flow of hot lava thousands of years ago.  Untouched by anything other than an occasional cave explorer.  By the time we hit our next break in a big room of the cave, the youngster that asked for the lights to be turned on now led the crowd to get the lights off again.  We stood again in the dark and quiet, this time a few of the guys chimed in with how cool it was to be in a cave on a camp out.  While they all agreed that they would not want to camp in the cave, it was cool to be in there.
This morning during our Scouts own time before we headed home, we talked about the power of nature.  From the 2.3 mile hike through gorgeous forest to time spent in a cave carved out by the hot mass of lava.  It is that same power in the Spirit of Adventure that drives us to do cool stuff, seek out adventure and push our limits.  It is that Spirit that separates our Scouts from their classmates.  It is that spirit that has defined our Troop and keeps them coming back for more and sharing their adventures with friends that come out and join us.  It is the spirit that makes us a Troop that will be around for a long time always looking for adventure.
When our Troop first started they made up their troop song or cheer, they have since changed it to a real cool cheer, but the first cheer of our Troop had in it a line that set us on a course of adventure.  “We’re the Scouts of 664 and this is our Troop yell… we’re looking for adventure, we’re on the Eagle trail…”
The Spirit of Adventure.. alive and well.


Hammock Basics

I’m sorry if this week is real video heavy on the blog… but sometimes video is a great way to get the information out there.
This video is all about the basics of hammock camping. I have been getting lots of questions as to what type of gear to have and the way I set up my hammock. Well… here it is. I set it up this way every time. It is simple, easy, and super comfortable. This set up has reduced the weight in my pack, made set up and take down a snap, and is perfect for me.
I am not suggesting that you run out and get what I have, although I have provided the information and places on the were  you can find what I have in the event that you really like my set up.
I would strongly encourage you to “test drive” as much as you can. Hammocks do not all lay the same and have the same comfort. I have two hammocks and prefer one over the other in the comfort department.
Another example of fitting the hammock to your needs is your body type. Weight and height play a big part in the type of hammock you get. I have a 1.1 double layer hammock. If you exceed 230 lbs, you may need 1.7 nylon for the added strength. You may need a longer hammock. The longer (11 ft.) hammocks are very comfortable. Find people in your area that hammock camp and lay down in theirs to get a feel. Go to and read up on what the folks that use them all the time say. Ask questions.
Hammock camping is not for everyone. But it is for me and I love to talk about it. I do not know anyone that hammock camps that hates it. I get the best nights sleep in the hammock and I love the challenge of toying with my gear, tweeking things here and there, and getting out in the woods.
I hope this video is helpful.
If you have questions or comments, leave them in the comments section or drop me an email, I will be glad to help you out.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Philmonts Tabasco Donkeys Wagon Wheel

Ran into this today while bouncing around YouTube… after spending the last 3 and half days on the PCT, I really got the Philmont itch, the Tooth of Time is Chewing on me.
Our last night at Philmont at the closing camp fire they played this song and it has become one of the lasting marks Philmont left on me.
Enjoy the music and the video.  Man I really Wanna go back to Philmont!

Water Purification System

In this video I demonstrate the way that I carry and purify my water.
Water is an essential part of backpacking, and in the discussion of hammock camping systems this becomes a large part of how we camp and the gear we use within the system.
My philosophy is to keep everything simple. This water filtering method is just that.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

A couple much needed days

Just got home from a couple much needed days on the Pacific Crest Trail.  My buddy Mark and I hit the trail on Sunday for a few days of lolly gagging south bound from Timberline Lodge down to Frog Lake.
Here is the video I shot.
I also shot some video on hammock stuff that I will be posting in the very near future.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Hammocks in Scouting

ImageIt seems as though there has been a lot of talk about hammock camping in the Scouting community lately.  And boy does that make me happy.
I have been a hammock camper now since 2010 when I got turned on to the most comfortable way to camp at the National Jamboree at Ft. A.P. Hill.  Hennessy Hammocks had a cool display set up and even gave hammocks to a troop to camp in at the Jambo.  I thought it was a cool idea and decided to take one for a test ride.  2 days after I got home from Jamboree, I ordered my first hammock and besides our trek at Philmont I have not slept a night on the ground.
Hammock camping is much more than just sleeping in a hammock, it becomes a method or style of camping.  As different as car camping and backpacking, hammock camping requires a skill set that is different than setting up a tent.  Hammock camping requires the camper to have the skills to select a camp site, develop gear, and in most cases evaluate what is in the pack and how the items in the pack are deployed.
Now, hammock campers are not always backpackers, and they are not always looking for ways to lighten up the load, but what I have found is that some of it goes hand in hand.  Recently on the Hammock Forums there was a poll conducted to survey the average age of hammock campers.  The survey was obviously not scientific and did not ask what style of camping the participants use.. I found it interesting that on the forum anyway, that the average age was between 40 and 49 years old.  Now in my opinion that age group is due to a few things.  First, folks in that age group need lighter gear in their packs.  This is the case with me.  Knees getting older, the want to stay out in the woods, and in our Scouting world, keep up with the youngster.  The hammock set up is lighter.  Second, the hammock gear is such that it can be a little more expensive or requires some degree of Do it yourself.  This age group seems to have both the funds and time and patients for the DIY projects.
So what does this have to do with Hammock camping in Scouting?  Well, here is how I see it.  In our troop since we focus on the backpacking style of camping, introducing hammocks to Scouts is a sure fire way to get them to like their time on the trail.  The hammock set up as I stated is lighter.  So, if the pack is lighter they have a better time hiking.  Skills.  Again, like I said there are certain skills that most hammock campers develop.  Now, before I go on, yes you can get a Hennessy hammock complete with tarp that is out of the bag ready to use.  But most hammock campers tweek, modify, and set up their gear to meet their specific needs, wants, and style of camping.  This is a great opportunity to really get your Scouts into planning, adjusting, and thinking about the gear they take, carry, and use.  It is a way to get the Scouts to really take a close look at their set up and make it their own.  With that they take pride in their gear, take care of it… and oh yeah.. use it more.
Last weekend I went to the PCT trail days event.  I got to talking to a vendor there that represented the American Long Distance Hiking Association.  Our conversation led us to Philmont.  When I brought up the magical backpacker heaven his eye lit up and he shared that his trip to Philmont as Scout propelled him to a life long interest and love of backpacking.  2 years after trekking through the Sange De Cristo mountains he hiked the AT.    We got to talking about gear and that he spends a great of his time speaking to Scout troops about light gear and getting out on the trail.
So again, what does this all have to do with getting Scouts into hammock camping.?  It’s different.  There are so many Scouters that believe that the only way to camp is with Patrol boxes, cleaning stations, and big tents.  The transition to backpacking and looking at lighter alternatives is a new trend that will take Scouting some time to catch up.
A step in the right direction is the Leave No Trace program.  A program that supports hammock camping as a great alternative to reduce our impact.  I’ll talk more about that in another post.  But since the BSA embraces LNT, hammock camping is a nice way to promote it.  How and why… well, once again it comes down to the gear and how we use it.  Teaching our Scouts to use their gear to reduce impact, lighten their loads to have a better time on the trail and develop a love of camping and mastering their ability built the set up that works for them.  That pride in ownership will keep them interested in the outdoors and Scouting.  We have already seen this excitement in the Scouts of our Troop that have found interest in getting away from the conventional methods of camping and moving to tarps and hammocks or bivy’s .  Once a small group start in, it becomes a point of interest and then more want to try it.
There is a lot of talk about hammock camping in Scouting right now.  Maybe this talk will lead to Scouting fully embracing the hammock camping style and making it part of the norm.
Over the next couple posts I am going to discuss hammock camping in depth.  But here is a great start.  There is a guy on the hammock forums that put this all together and I love it.  It is a great way to get started in hammock camping and teaching it to Scouts. MERIT BADGE

Check it out and let me know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting day!