Backpacking

Scout backpacking is important because it fosters camaraderie and leadership within the Troop and the Patrol – not just from the hike, but also because of all the time the boys spend together getting ready for the actual expedition.  Scout backpacking provides an opportunity for life-changing learning experiences – and it better be fun and challenging also.  Every Scout should complete at least one 50 miler or go to Philmont before they become a serious Eagle candidate.

Every successful trek starts with a good list of what to bring – and what to leave at home.  Scout Backpacking Pack List

You need lots of useful information about the basic skills of backpacking (water filtration, cooking, packing, clothing, etc.) Scout Backpacking Manual

Philmont – For many Scouts and Scouters, Philmont sits at the apex of the Scout backpacking experience.  Everyone should go there at least once.  Official Philmont Website

Ultralight Backpacking may be the biggest change to hit Scout backpacking since the development of the hip strap.  While still slightly controversial, it is increasingly accepted as a viable alternative to carrying the entire backpack and equipment list described in the Basic Backpacking Awareness course. 

Backpacking light promotes the idea that a hiker can lower their pack weight by purchasing newer and lighter equipment, eliminating potentially unnecessary items, sharing equipment among the group, and using items for multiple purposes. Its not unusual for an advocate to get their weight from the standard 40-50 lbs to as low as 20 pounds by carefully weighing each item and continually seeking improvement.

Scouting has not yet fully embraced the concept because it means that the margin for error is reduced and the risk of encountering problems might be higher with Ultralight treks. There is also an argument over footwear. Ultralight footwear is built for speed but not ankle support.

There are lots of groups and web sites that cover the subject. Possibly the most comprehensive is Backpacking Light. The publish a newsletter, review products, and act as a clearing house for information. Backpacking Light

Here are some other Ultralight Backpacking websites:
Backpacking Lightweight
Ultralight Backpacking Gear & Techniques (thebackpacker.com)
A forum for hikers interested in getting more information about Backpacking Light

Leave No Trace
The wilderness is getting crowded. So the next time you get annoyed by the strict rules at Philmont or get angry at the ranger writing your group a ticket for having a fire without a permit, just remember that they are doing the small things they can to help preserve the wilderness experience for your grandson. The Outdoor Code is not just an annoying exercise on the path to Tenderfoot – it is as important to Scouting’s future as the Oath and Law have been to Scouting’s past.

Principles of Leave No Trace

Plan Ahead and Prepare
Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces
Pack It In and Pack It Out
Properly Dispose of What You Can’t Pack Out
Leave What You Find
Minimize Use and Impact of Fires

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