Monday, January 30, 2012

Lightweight Backpacking

I’m thinking of taking the 11YOS on backpacking overnighter. I was looking at a couple of gorgeous alpine lakes, both named White Pine Lake, one up Logan Canyon and the other up Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah, but have decided against them, because of (a) travel time (b) distance (6-9 miles one way, and one is steep, a bit much for first-timers?), and (c) it needs to be close by, so as to have dads’ support (as is traditionally required, but not “by the book”), and close enough to manage emergencies with inexperienced boys. To make it challenging, though, maybe they will be making their own wood gasification stoves. Add in a couple freezer bag meals, and you’re set.

I am intrigued by the lightweight, low impact ideas that I’ve seen online; for my part, I’m planning on pitching a tarp instead of a tent, with a light-weight, well-insulated bag and a somewhat large day pack instead of the frame pack I still have from when I was 12. The goal is to carry less than 30 pounds for an overnighter, or even for a week-long adventure. Planned right, it’s surely doable.

I’m actually really excited about this idea, I’ll pitch it (get it?) to the boys a little later on. We’ll do a lot of planning in the next few months and I’ll make some videos as I go along. This should inspire some fun learning as they learn the skills and complete requirements along the way. Maybe it will be the Coyotes’ August tradition.

1 comment:

Brian Reyman said...

Backpacking is a GREAT idea - it's fun, different (for those used to car camping) and tough (we need scouts to do hard things).

It sounds like you're on the right track - I'll just add a few thoughts based on my experience.

- First, some types of stoves are not allowed, per the most recent update to the Guide to Safe Scouting - specifically alcohol stoves. The wood burning one you linked to looks to be okay (there aren't any restrictions against wood burning in the BSA - although you'll want to check local regulations for fire burning). Just a heads-up in the event someone suggests doing a DIY alcohol stove - they aren't allowed.

- While backpacking is a TON of fun, start easy. I recommend doing something 1-3 miles each way - and to a destination. You mentioned an alpine lake - that, or things like it, are great ideas. Go to a place where you can fish, explore more once there, etc. Going too much further on the first couple trips can push the physical limits. It might be worth doing a short trip for 2 nights, leading up to a longer trip on the 3rd night (or doing some day hikes to condition the scouts).

- Gear checks are more important than in car camping. Forgetting something critical is a bigger deal when you're further from cars/other help.


Have fun - I'll be excited to watch on as the Coyotes give it a go!

-Brian
Scoutmaster, Denver CO