4 Expensive Essentials

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Philmont’s Guidebook to Adventure contains check lists of the personal gear needed for a Philmont trek as well as crew gear provided by the crew or by Philmont. These check lists, developed with 75 years of Philmont-specific backcountry experience, are definitive - you need nothing more, nor should you have anything less. Review the Personal Gear List with Tips in the Equipment section of the Trek Preparation page of the Watchu Experience Web site (www.watchu.org) for the complete personal gear list from the Guidebook.

While you may have much of the personal gear needed already, you might need to buy at least some new gear, including one or more of the “Four Expensive Essentials.” While good gear can be expensive, by shopping around you can outfit yourself with quality equipment at a reasonable cost.

Backpacking Boots - a good pair of lightweight backpacking boots that fit well while wearing heavy outer wool socks and light inner polypropylene socks. Although not absolutely necessary, waterproof boots are nice to have if you can afford them. Boots, three pairs of outer socks, and three pairs of inner socks come to about $150.

Sleeping Bag and Mat - a good synthetic sleeping bag rated for at least 25 degrees and weighing 3 pounds or less, with a mat. The bag should stuff into a small stuff sack. Don’t forget to line the stuff sack with a plastic trash bag for extra protection against getting wet. Sleeping bag with stuff sack comes to about $100. Excellent ground mats or pads can be purchased for about $25. This combination will provide for a comfortable sleep plus plenty of insulation from the ground.

Rain Suit with Jacket and Pants - a sturdy, lightweight rain suit, both jacket and pants, with plenty of ventilation. Good rain suits can be purchased for about $50. A poncho will not do at Philmont – at higher elevations a drop of 40 degrees in only a few minutes with hail or even snow is not uncommon. The rain suit not only keeps you dry, it provides an insulation barrier to help keep you warm and prevent hypothermia. A poncho does not provide that protection.

Backpack - a rugged backpack with plenty of capacity for carrying your personal gear as well as water and your share of crew gear and food. External frame backpacks should have a capacity of about 4000 cubic inches. 4800 cubic inches for an internal frame backpack should do it. When selecting a backpack, the weight of the backpack itself is very important and should not be overlooked. Good backpacks weighing 5 pounds or less are available for approximately $100. Philmont rents both external and internal frame packs for approximately $20. If members of Philmont crews don’t care to buy a pack, they can borrow a friend’s for training and rent one at Philmont. If you decide to purchase a pack, keep in mind that external frame packs are designed for the kind of hiking you will experience at Philmont. However, if you already own or simply prefer an internal frame pack, it will serve you equally well.

The Equipment section of the Training Videos page of the Watchu Experience Web site (www.watchu.org) has a number of videos that show features to look for when shopping for the “Four Expensive Essentials” as well as other equipment needed for a Philmont trek.