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Charley

Backpacks

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My son is going camping this summer and needs to get a backpack and a sleeping bag. He going with the scouts to Philmont scout camp. I'm looking for some guidance on buying those items and where, how much $ . Thank you.

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What you buy will depend on when he's going and what kind of activities he'll be doing.

If he only plans an occasional trip and no serious backpacking trips you probably don't need to spend a ton of money. If this is his first of many trips and he plans on doing alot of hiking where he'll need to carry all his gear on his person then you'll probably want to get a higer end pack from the start.

First i would look at the sleeping bag. Lots of options out there starting at $40 and going well into the hundreds. Pick one that is rated for the temps he'll be dealing with. A good 40 degree bag is good for most summer applications, you can get them rated on down to -40 or so but then you'll be spending more $$$.

If he is going to be hiking his gear into the camp site you'll want to find a bag that packs up small. Most come with a stuff sack which make it easier to get them smaller then if you were to just roll it up.

If you don't need anything too fancy Coleman makes a decent bag that will probably do the trick. They aren't a ton of money.

For the back pack you'll want to look at size and support. You'll want to make sure it fits your son. They are all adjustable but some packs just fit better then others. Make sure it sits up high and tight on his back. If it sits too low or if its too loose all the weight will be pulling back on his shoulders and his shoulders, neck and back will fatigue quickly.

If you know what gear he'll be packing into the bag you can try to find one that you think will fit the gear in the best.

I would really just consider what he'll use it for and how much future hiking/backpacking he'll do with it. I always laugh when I go camping with a few friends on mine. All they do is State park camping where you drive your car right to the site. But they still insisted on going to buy $200 backpacks for their gear. The longest distance they have gone with these expensive backs is from the trunk of the car to the tent which is 20 feet away. I'm not sure if they've ever put them on their backs actually.

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If he's doing a hiking trip at Philmont, don't send him out there with a Coleman bag from K-Mart and a cheap pack. Those boys do some pretty serious hiking (depending of course on the route chosen), and sending him in undergunned isn't a good idea.

There are lots of reasonable options in both categories, and I would suggest you look at the Slumberjack bags with synthethic fill. You are going to be looking at either a 30 or 40 degree bag, and keeping a close eye on the overall weight of the bag. When Jr. went a couple of years ago, we picked up a Slumberjack 40 degree bag that comes in at a bit over 2 lbs. It stuffs small, but kept him warm even when they camped at elevation. He did report using his fleece jacket one night when things got a little nippy. The bag came right around $60 or so, from Sportsman's Guide online. We knew which one he wanted after doing some internet research and actually looking at the bags at Gander, Cabelas and REI. After that, I surfed to find the best price, and ended up with a closeout of the previous years' model.

Kelty makes some decent and reasonably priced backpacks. Jr. ended up with one that held 4800 c.i. His is an internal frame pack (Coyote model), and the fellow at Gander (who was an ex-Scout fellow himself) made sure it fit correctly. I think we walked out of Gander with the backpack for around $80, using the Boy Scout discount.

Get the youngster a sleeping pad. A full-length Thermarest Prolite 3 or 4 takes up little room, weighs next to nothing, and will make the lad much more comfortable. Jr. and his partner both had pads - and Jr. reports that some of the boys who had listened to the "you don't need it" adults were coveting their pads by the second night.

You didn't ask this, but I'll say it anyhow.... Get his hiking boots now, if you haven't already. Get him a pair that are comfortable, and make sure he's wearing them several times a week to break them in. Jr.'s crew got by just fine, but another group really had some misery with torn and blistered feet.

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Thanks Jackpine-- We got the boots a few months ago and he's braking them in. I think they recomond about a 4800 + for an internal frame backpack. I was thinking Cabelas. Sportmans WH had nice ones last year but they are no longer.

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the time is coming up for camping.. so check out Campmor, Cabela's, REI.. they are all probably having some pretty decent sales on camping gear atm

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PS: i would also look for a sleeping bag that is rated at least at 15F... better safe than sorry..we all know how unpredictable minnesota weather can be at times..

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if you're concerned with price... sierratradingpost is a good HSOforum with discounted prices... be careful when buying any backpacks online tho. You want to make sure they fit well. I use a 20 degree in the summer, packs small and has always been warm enough. on cooler nights, wear some longies or something for a little extra warmth.

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I see Campmor has a Kelty Coyote 4750 for $90 on closeout. That is the exact pack (just a different color) as the one Jr. dragged out to Philmont. I asked him last night, and he gave a thumbs-up recommendation as far as comfort and having enough room to stuff his gear in.

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Charlie,

Give me an e-mail at steve.sorgenfreiATdot.state.mn.us. I can give you some information on decent pack and sleeping bag combos.

My son and his troop went to Philmont last year.

Steve

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