Backpacking

Snow Peak Giga Power Stove Review

Like I state in the video this is a Super Stove for all Scouts, especially the first year Scouts looking to get a stove that will last a long time.
The Snow Peak Giga Power Auto Stove is light weight, compact, and is tough as nails.
It weighs in at 3.75 ounces and fits in pretty much any pot.
I can’t say it enough.. I highly recommend this little backpacking gem.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Hey.. if you like the videos, feel free to hit the like button and subscribe to the channel.. also share the blog with your friends.  I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  Knowing that we are sharing Scouting’s story and helping people within their Scouting programs is what Delivering the Promise is all about here at the Scoutmaster Minute!
Thanks again for subscribing to the blog!

Food Storage Options

Hey all…
First of all I want to thank you for your patience.  In my next post I will do some explaining on the direction of the Blog and where we go from here.. but today I want to share with you some options when it comes to storing and carrying your food while out on the trail.
There are certainly more options than the few I explore in this video, but these seem to be the tried and true methods and most commonly used (that I have seen) on the trail.

Here are some links for the Ursack and BV500
www.ursack.com
www.bearvault.com
Bear test video with the Ursack.
I highly recommend the Loksak OPsak to use with your food storage no matter which method you use.
Thanks for watching, hanging with the blog, and being apart of the community.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Gloves for Winter Camping

Gloves are an important part of your winter gear.  If you are like me, your hands and your feet are the most important part of staying warm.  Once my hands and feet get cold.. that’s it.. I want to go home.
So I keep my hands and feet warm.  The way I do that is by using a layering system.
Three things that gloves do, 1.  Keep your hands dry.  2.  Keep your hands out of the wind.  3.  Keep your hands warm.
Here is a video I shot some time back showing my glove system.  Even though it is a little old.. these are the gloves that I still use today.  Once you get a good system and spend the money on good gear, you will have it for a long time.
Remember.. It is easier to stay warm than to get warm!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Reflection

campfireIf you play a game that has a desired outcome or purpose it is important that you first know what that purpose is and then have some way of knowing if you achieved the results you were looking for.
By and large that is the reason we have an Eagle Scout Board of Review.  We can assess and determine though the interview with the Scout whether or not the program is delivering the promise of Scouting and achieving its goals of helping make young people of character, good citizens, that are physically fit.  Along with all of that, do they make ethical choices and does it look like they will do the same in the future.
Reflection is an important part of every thing that we do in Scouting.  It allows us to take a look back and see if we achieved the outcomes we want in playing our game.
Reflection comes in many forms, we can do it as a group or take time in silent reflection.  But no activity is complete until the reflection is done.
This last weekend our Troop went camping.  First winter camp out of the year and we went caving on Saturday exploring the largest Lava tube cave in the US.  It is adventurous and challenging and our Scouts love to test themselves.  As with most outings or activities a theme develops throughout the weekend.  This weekend the theme quickly became “Rising to the Challenge”.  Overcoming hardship, attitudes, and things that make you uncomfortable were some of the behaviors that we noticed in our Scouts as they went through the weekend.
For some of the Scouts it was the first time they would camp in sub freezing temperatures.  For some it was their first time in a cave.  For others it was a leadership challenge as they learned that as a leader there were Scouts that depended on them to just get through the weekend.  Cold weather, challenging experiences, and doing something new and difficult.
These young men learned and practiced great leadership.  I was pleased to watch as members of the Patrol Leaders Council made their way through camp checking on the younger Scouts.  Instructing them on how to get through the night.  Reassuring younger Scouts that they will be ok and that if they do what they are taught, they will be warmer in the morning and will be able to have a better experience in winter camping.
I walked through camp Saturday night around 10:30 and found gear properly stored, tents pitched with all the tie outs in place and the sounds of tired happy Scouts sitting in their tents, the gentle glow of a headlamp lighting the green nylon of a tent fly.
Sunday morning leadership was once again challenged as cold fingers attempted to pack even colder nylon tents and sleeping bags.  Our departure time was supposed to be 9:00 AM.  We missed it by 20 minutes, but the reason was acceptable to me.  The Troop was in Patrol lines taking a few minutes to share a few things they learned over the weekend.  Patrol leaders talking with their patrols about the challenges they faced over the weekend and how they all rose to the challenge.  Before we loaded up I shared with them my pride in them and how they are great young men.  I shared with them the fact that they needed to reflect on the weekend and see just how much they learned about skills, their attitude, and how they grew because of the experience.  The final question that I asked them to reflect on was this, Is there any place you would rather be?
When we got back to the hall and parents started arriving to pick up their Scouts, many of the Scouts came to me and shared the answer to that last question.  Each and every one of them say “NO WHERE ELSE”.
So reflecting back on this weekend I would say Promise Delivered and Program solid.
It is important to reflect.  You may not always get the answer you want, that is your opportunity to learn and grow doing better next time.  If things are going well… keep it that way!  Don’t let it slip.
Make sure that reflection time is a part of your program.  Have the Scouts take time to reflect and have serious reflection on how they are doing in the Scouting program.  It is a game with a purpose, without reflection, you will not know if that purpose is being met.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Gear Tweekin’

Today we took advantage of a nice sunny day to get some gear tweekin’ in.  Part of our addiction to camping gear is first recognizing that I have this addiction and second that I need to get out and play with it.  So Greg, Scott, Wade (all Assistant Scoutmasters in my Troop) and I got together today to set up our hammocks and tarps and do some modifications, improvements, and just plain getting out and having fun.
I have been wanting to change out my suspension system on the Blackbird.  Why?  Well, to be honest why not… Actually I have been wanting to have a system that I can pack up all the gear while under the tarp when its inclement weather.  I initially bought the Speed hook system from Dutchwaregear.com.  I love the Dutchware and have a lot of it on my set up.  The Speed Hook system was a light quick option for set up and take down and look real cool too.
Dutch recalled them after a few months and more testing.  I don’t really understand the reasoning other than he stated that there was a failure found after many hangs.  This means you will end up on the ground.  That was enough for me to swap them out.  While it may never happen, I did not want to out on the trail with no options if they did break.  So I ordered a new Whoopie Sling set up from Dutch.  This includes new straps, Dutch Clips, Whoopie Slings, Dutch Biners, and Dutch Buckles.  It is a super quick set up and strong.  All the while being light in weight.
For the tarp all I really wanted to get done was change out all the line.  I swapped out the Zing it line on the tie outs with MSR Reflective line and  CamRing™ Cord Tensioners.  I was not sold on the tensioners when I looked at them in the store, but once I got them on the tarp and played with them… yep.. they are a good fit.
I love playing with the gear, it is a great way for us to get out and mess around, have fun together, and get ready for camping.
Here is a little walk around video of the work we did today.
If you have any questions about it.. let me know.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Anchoring your tent

Here is a technique for anchoring your tent.  In this video, I demonstrate using a snow stake.  A stick works just as well.  Snow stakes are versatile and light and are worth carrying into camp.
It is important to anchor your tent well.  Winter conditions typically include heavy winds so no matter what or how much gear you have in your tent, to keep your tent and the rest of your gear in good repair, anchor your tent well.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Cold Weather Camping pt. 2 Skills

Backpacking Tip of the WeekJust as a recap… Cold weather camping is a High Risk activity that is challenging, fun, and rewarding for those that venture into the cold weather environment.  This type of camping takes discipline, skills, and a great attitude.
Once leaders understand their role in accountability to those they lead, monitor behavior, and maintain the same “can do” attitude, they will provide fun programs in the cold weather camping environment.
In this post we are going to continue some of the discussion on training for camping in the cold, focusing on some of the skills that need to be developed to ensure a safe, fun outing.
Obviously what you wear and how you wear it is a skill in and of itself.  Knowing when to layer up or down takes skills and awareness of the conditions.
How all of this clothing gets packed require a skill set also.  Those skills need to be practiced and repeated.  One of the ways in which we develop that skill is simply to have the Scouts pack and repack.  They unpack, set up, and then repack in fair conditions.  The second evolution is practiced with gloves on.  The same skills worked over and over.
It is once the Scout can do these skills that we practice outside, in the cold.  You will see the mastery of this skill proven at that point.
Understanding that the simple skill of packing a backpack in the cold can have a huge impact on the fun of the outing.  A Scout that struggles with this skill will place himself in painful situation and prolong his time spent being cold.  Remember that it is easier to stay warm than to rewarm.  Packing is a skill that will help the Scout find success in the cold.  Nylon gets cold and as the Scout packs he is in contact with cold material that may also be icy or wet.  It is important to do this correctly the first time so he can quickly return to activity that keeps him warm.
The Scout needs to understand that there is an order to his packing so he can access those items that he will need throughout the day to stay warm, cook meals, and move in and out of layers.  He also needs to understand how his gear works so he can have quick set up and take down periods.
His tent should be set up and modified to meet the Scouts needs in the cold.  Guy lines added and tied to the tie out points.  Knots pre tied and line measured to specific lengths so there is not a lot of adjustments to be made.
A plan for anchoring his tent needs to be made and practiced.  I do not worry about snow stakes.  A stick will do or a regular tent stake placed in the snow sideways will hold the tent in place.  Additional guy lines may be needed in the event of heavy winds or snow.  Have those lines in place before you go.  A simple bowline tied at the end of the line will make for quick set up and take down.

The Cold Sump or pit, draws cold air away from you at night.

The Cold Sump or pit, draws cold air away from you at night.

Digging a cold sump outside of the tent will pull cold air away from you as you sleep.  Cold air settles in low ground, creating that low space will keep you warmer at night.  You will also have a place to sit and put your boots on and fire up the stove to boil water for a nice cup of hot chocolate.
Cooking in the cold is another challenge that requires a few more skills than boiling water.
First the Scout needs to understand that eating is critical for staying warm in the cold weather environment.  Eating keeps you hydrated, it keeps you warm and comfortable, and it provides the nutrients to keep you going.  When you cook or boil water, it is a good way to treat that water and get fluids into your system.  Dehydration is the number one cold weather injury.  Scouts do not feel thirsty because it is cold.  It is when you feel thirsty that you are in the early stages of dehydration.  Cooking a meal and having a cold or warm drink with help prevent dehydration.
The gear used for cooking needs attention and skill to accomplish the cooking of your meal.  Liquid fuels such as white gas are very reliable in the cold.  Canister fuels work well also, but you need to keep the canister warm.  Throw it in your sleeping bag at night.  Keep it in a wool sock.  Use a small square of Closed Cell Foam pad to set the canister on as you cook.  This insulates and keeps the fuel warmer.
Why do I consider cooking a skill for the cold weather, well there is great emphasis in cooking in the cold.  You can not get away with quick trail meals.  You need to eat warmer meals to stay warm.  The average person burns about 2700 calories a day in the summer.  In the winter you need to be prepared to burn about 4000 a day.  Considering this, it takes skill in planning and preparing those meals, not to mention getting them into camp. Again, packing becomes a tremendous skill that pays off.
We teach the acronym C.O.L.D.  Clean, Overheating, Layers, and Dry.  This simple acronym is all about skills.
Staying clean, both your body and your clothing.  Dirty, oily clothing allows for water to seep as well as wind.  This will not protect you against the elements any longer.  You must stay as clean as you can.  A quick wipe down before you go to bed and when you get up in the morning will keep you warmer.  Keeping from Overheating will reduce sweat and therefore will keep you warmer.  Reducing the amount of moisture on the body will keep you from freezing.  We do this by wearing loose layers.  An effective layering system of clothing that will assist you in regulating your temperature keeping your comfortable and warm.  And finally staying dry.  Staying out of the snow when it is critical to stay dry.  This means changing after playing in the snow or digging a snow cave. Water is your enemy in the cold (unless you are drinking it).  Remember C.O.L.D. to stay Warm!
Camp.
Before setting up your tent, pack the snow.  You are your buddy, walk with your snow shoes stamping down a platform for your tent.  It need not be too much bigger than the footprint of the tent.  Pack it so you no longer punch through when you walk.  This will provide a comfortable platform to sleep on and make it easier to set up your tent.
This also keeps you from possible tearing a hole in the floor of your tent should you step through a patch of unpacked snow.
It is counter intuitive to think about opening your tent, but make sure your tent is vented well.  This will reduce condensation keeping your tent and the rest of your gear dryer, thus keeping you warmer.
In part three, we will discuss sleeping in the cold.
What do you think?  Are you ready to get out there and camp in the cold…
Let me know what you think.  What winter camping skill do you think is the most important?

Have a Great Scouting Day!