Fox Outfitters Hammock Review

fox outfitters neolite trek featimg hero

Review of the Fox Outfitters Neolite Hammock  The humble hammock has undergone something of a renaissance in the world of modern camping. Camping hammocks are a lightweight, low foot-print equipment that bridges the gap between sleeping under the stars and the discomfort of hard woodland floors. Fox Outfitters’ latest entry into the camping marketplace is … Read more

Are Down Bags Really So Dangerous?

View from tent of mountains France_featimage

Down sleeping bags have a lot of advantages over synthetic bags. Down is lighter and provides more insulation. Unfortunately, down loses its insulating value when it gets wet. So most units discourage Scouts from using down products. However, a recent breakthrough in how duck down is processed will make down sleeping bags a lot more acceptable to Scout leaders. And families are going to want to buy them for high adventure outings.

Getting Ready for Philmont!

As Spring approaches, hundreds of Scouts and Scouters across the United States are preparing for their trip to Philmont this summer. After winning a lottery to secure a spot, and after collecting payments over the past year, it now becomes very real for the 20,000 hikers who will converge on the small town of Cimarron, New Mexico – gateway to the Ranch. Are you one of them?

It’s Spring and Spring is Backpacking Season for Real Scouts!

Its Spring – a time when every sturdy young Scout starts thinking about the backpacking season ahead. Across the country, young men are pulling packs out of the closet, cleaning out the leftover food from last year, and getting ready for practice hikes. Adults are enthusiastically stepping up to do the same. Many with the goal of completing their first 50 miler backpacking trip before the end of the summer.

Lighten Up On Pack Lists

backpackers viewing mountain

Every credible organization provides a pack list to participants before taking them on any sort of high adventure backpacking outing. Inexperienced participants and their parents dutifully take these pack lists into stores to buy everything, exactly as it is written on the list. This is all very nice, except some pack lists are not very good at all.

Wilderness Emergencies (S.A.M.P.L.E.)

hikers treating sprained ankle

On the fourth day of a 50 miler, the group was interrupted by a boy loudly complaining about intense pain in his stomach. The adult leader, assuming appendicitis, frantically hiked to the nearest ranger station and arranged for a helicopter evacuation. When the boy finally arrived at the hospital emergency room, a quick examination by doctors revealed the problem and the Scoutmaster was dead wrong in his diagnosis.

Mosquitoes Suck


At dusk the mosquitoes were swarming and we were all cowering in our tents. Only the cook and his assistant were forced into the open, and they struggled to prepare dinner in long shirts, gloves, and mosquito hats. When it was time to eat, everyone grabbed their food and disappeared back into their tents as fast as possible. Next morning, we ventured out and were immediately attacked by thousands of frantic mosquitoes. Everyone just grabbed their stuff and ran down the trail with tents, cooking equipment, and even sleeping bags in their arms until the mosquitoes left us alone. (Please forward to your backpacking friends.)

Wilderness Fine Dining

backpackers preparing food

On the way to the outing, Scouts stopped at the grocery store and loaded up on enough canned chili and beef stew for the entire trip. At dinnertime, partially opened cans were set directly onto the coals of a camp fire. After a few minutes, we wrapped a dirty shirt around our hand and grabbed the bubbling food out of the fire, then took metal spoons and ate right out of the can. Later the cans were smashed, and buried away from the campsite. Today we have moved beyond cans to freeze-dried meals. Learn how to prepare them correctly. (Forward this to your backpacking friends.)

Poison Oak

poison oak

At the end of the summer, Colin was climbing around in Rock City, a popular area at Mt. Diablo State Park. Since the temperature was in the high 80’s, he was wearing only shorts and tennis shoes as he scampered from rock to rock in the bright sunshine. Unfortunately, he suddenly lost his balance. A large bush broke his fall, but he ended up scratched and bleeding where the branches penetrated his skin. The next day in the hospital emergency room, Colin learned the bush was poison oak, and he had several painful days of recuperation ahead of him. (Click to learn more about poison oak and how to deal with the rash it causes. Please forward to other Scout leaders.)

“Backpacking For Scouts” Manual

Request your own free copy at the bottom. “Backpacking for Scouts” contains Checklists, “Trail Tips”, pictures and useful references for a fun (and safe) wilderness backpacking adventure. Topics include trail leadership, physical conditioning, planning the hike, what to pack, how to buy equipment, taking care of your feet, navigation, wilderness first aid, setting up a campsite, and ideas for fine dining at any altitude.

Backpacking For Scouts

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Choosing the Best Backpacking Tent (or Shelter) [2024 Update]

Several Tents in forest at night_featimage

Choosing the Best Backpacking Tent (or not) Backpackers sometimes need shelter but don’t necessarily always need to carry a tent. Many hikers sleep out under the stars, especially in the summer. (Some call this “cowboy camping.”) It saves time and energy and can be very pleasant under the right conditions. There is something special about … Read more

Bear Country

Brown Bear

Bears are an increasingly common companion for hikers in the backcountry. According to a Ranger in Yosemite, there are now more than 30,000 black bears in California, which is a sharp increase over the past decade. Hiking safety in the daytime generally means backpackers have the responsibility to yield to Black Bears. Basically, that means … Read more

Best Camp Stoves for Backpacking [2024 update]

women backpacker cooking on backpacking stove

The Best Backpacking Stoves for While cooking your trail food over fires might seem like a good idea to a Tenderfoot, they generally wreak havoc on the environment and are often prohibited in popular camping areas. The solution is a backpacker’s stove. For most backpacking units, the main decision will be between two stove categories: … Read more

Cat Holes


Believe it or not, many boys (and men) refuse to go on a long backpacking trip only because they are psychologically unprepared to squat and take care of business behind a bush. Get all the information you ever want or need in this great white paper called Toilet Paper Free Expeditions from Backpacking Light (Published with permission … Read more

Water Purification

water pollution

Water. It’s the source of all life. It makes up around 60% of the average adult human body, and without it, our life expectancy dwindles to a meager three or four days. In short, staying hydrated is crucial to human survival. This is never truer than when we’re out adventuring in the backcountry, where the … Read more

Backcountry Navigation

Map and compass

Finding your way through the wilderness is an essential backpacking skill requiring reliable tools and knowledge of how to use them. And while getting off the beaten path is part of the reason many people hit the trail, finding the trail again is something that you eventually want to do. Plus, it’s embarrassing if the … Read more

Backpacking Food & Nutrition

backpackers cooking breakfast on canister stove

Backpacking Food Backpacking food has changed a lot since the days when Scouts bought chili and beef stew for their 50 milers and cooked dinner by setting the cans in the fire. Just in the past decade, a large number of suppliers have introduced a variety of tasty, nutritious dehydrated meals that eliminate a lot … Read more

Snow Camping

Backpacker in snow cave

Boy Scout Snow Camping For most Scouts and adults, snow camping is the ultimate wilderness experience. There is nothing in the world like hiking on snowshoes through a wintery forest with a pack on your back, establishing a campsite, and sleeping in your own shelter. Sometimes, you even get to wake up and dig your … Read more