Category: Backpacking

brown tick on leaf
Health, Safety & Survival

Tick Bite Danger

One hot afternoon, a new Scout on his first outing ran through the campsite screaming loudly and holding his crotch. Despite the commotion, the other boys barely noticed because they were occupied trying to start a fire with a magnifying glass. After a few seconds, however, I realized what was wrong and said to the closest adult leader, “Better go and get the first aid kit, we need to remove a tick.” It took us more time to chase the boy down and get him to cooperate than it took to pull the tick out. (Please forward this email to your Scouting friends.)

Read More »
backpacking folding saw cutting trunk
Health, Safety & Survival

Best Backpacking saw

Looking for the best backpacking saw? We give the rundown on what to consider when purchasing a backpacking saw & let you in on six of our favorites.

Read More »
Lightning along trail
Health, Safety & Survival

Lightning Safety: Debunking The Myths

There are lots of myths and misconceptions about lightning strikes on outings. However, one thing to remember is that there is no safe place for Scouts during an electrical storm. Scouts and leaders have been hit by lightening (and killed) in shelters as well as open spaces. In fact, during one especially terrible storm at the Griswold Scout Reservation in New Hampshire, 23 Scouts who had taken shelter under a canopy were hospitalized from a lightning strike that hit close to them. The problem is serious enough that BSA has studied it ……….

Read More »
View from tent of mountains France_featimage
Campsite

Are Down Bags Really So Dangerous?

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.

Read More »
Waterdrops on fabric
Clothing

What is Gore-Tex?

Some backpacking clothing and even boots might be coated with a waterproofing treatment called Gore-Tex, which makes the item more expensive. Is it worth spending the extra money? While a backpacker should always consider the merits of waterproof boots or jackets versus non-waterproof items when purchasing equipment, remember there are lots of ways to stay dry and Gore-Tex is only one of them. However, Gore-Tex the market leader.

Read More »
backpackers viewing mountain
Planning & Packing

Lighten Up On Pack Lists

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.

Read More »
backpacker on gravel trail
Planning & Packing

Losing Some Weight

Many Scout backpackers try to lighten their loads by counting ounces on smaller cheaper things in their pack or they try leaving extra clothing, food, and equipment at home. This is a nice idea but you can’t make a big weight difference with small sacrifices. The only way to significant lower your pack weight is to replace your backpack, tent/shelter, or sleeping system – often called the “Big Three of Backpacking.”

Read More »
backpacker looking over horizon
Health, Safety & Survival

Fear, Panic, and Paranoia on the Trail

Fear can paralyze anyone and keep them from experiencing life-changing experiences. There is no way to eliminate fear from a backpacking trip and we shouldn’t try. However, success on a high adventure outing is all about facing fears and dealing with them successfully (and safely).

Read More »
hikers treating sprained ankle
Health, Safety & Survival

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

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.

Read More »
mosquito
Health, Safety & Survival

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.)

Read More »
backpackers preparing food
Food & Water

Wilderness Fine Dining

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.)

Read More »
poison oak
Health, Safety & Survival

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.)

Read More »
backpacking gear
Planning & Packing

Scout Backpacking Pack List

The following is a description of required clothing and equipment for a one-week backpacking outing, which isn’t much different than the list for a three

Read More »
backpacking gear
Planning & Packing

Buying Backpacking Equipment?

Parents of new backpackers often scrimp on their initial purchases and buy things that don’t work well or are too heavy. These inadequacies become very obvious after just a few hours of walking along a trail. It’s not unusual, then, for the new hiker to quickly decide they don’t like backpacking at all. When this conclusion is reached, the new equipment gets stashed in the garage and the ersatz hiker reaches for the remote control. (Please forward this email to your backpacker friends.)

Read More »
Group of Backpackers Snow Hiking
Campsite

Snow Camping Barometer

Every winter, thousands of boys venture into snow covered fields and conduct a variety of maneuvers, all designed to prove that they can survive and thrive in cold conditions that cause their parents to mutter about hot tubs and hotel rooms. However, while cold weather outings can be challenging, not all winter outings can be called snow camping.

What kind of camping do you do in the winter? (Please forward this message to people who say they go “snow camping.”)

Read More »
Brown Bear
Health, Safety & Survival

Bear Country

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

Read More »
Outhouse
Health, Safety & Survival

Cat Holes

Since you’re seeing this on a computer screen, you’re obviously a member of a privileged part of the world population, the part that has bathrooms.

Read More »
water pollution
Food & Water

Water Purification

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

Read More »
Map and compass
Hiking

Backcountry Navigation

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

Read More »
first aid kit
Health, Safety & Survival

Wilderness First Aid

One of the unique characteristics of backpacking is that it puts you in control of your own destiny in a very real, but sometimes dangerous,

Read More »
backpackers cooking breakfast on canister stove
Food & Water

Backpacking Food & Nutrition

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

Read More »
camping folding saw cutting trunk
Health, Safety & Survival

Wilderness Survival

Puma Point seemed like the perfect spot for our Wilderness Survival campout. It’s in a beautiful area – near Lake Chabot – with lots of trees and vegetation. BBQs and stone pits are on hand for fire building. Hardly any other campers are close enough for us to disturb with our cheers, singing and late night activities. Most important, there is lots of space for Scouts to spread out and build shelters.

Read More »
Backpacker in snow cave
Campsite

Snow Camping

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

Read More »