Personal Equipment FAQ
1. Is there a list of the equipment needed for Philmont, including clothes, supplies, and type of backpack?
Complete lists of all required clothing, gear and equipment are in the Guidebook to Adventure.  The entire prior year Guidebook is also on this Web site in the Philmont Document Archives and included on the Companion CD given to each crew at the January Advisor Briefing.  Lastly, posted on this Web site under 'Trek Preparation' is a "Personal Gear Tips with Checklist" which includes discussions of points to be considered regarding each item of personal gear. 
2. What are Chief Watchu's personal equipment "Four Expensive Essentials"?
The Crew Member Guide mailed with your September Family letter discusses the “Four Expensive Essentials” of boots, pack, sleeping bag, and raingear.  Click HERE to open a copy to save or print.
3. About how much should a pack be expected to weigh at Philmont?
A pack with only personal items in it should weigh about 25 to 30 pounds.  After loading crew gear, food and water, it is not uncommon to have packs weigh 40 to 50 pounds.  Weight will vary from day to day as food and water are consumed.
4. Does the list of Personal Equipment in the Guidebook to Adventure include what is being worn when the crew member hits the trail?
Yes, the list includes both what is worn and what is carried.  An extra set of clothing over the quantities listed is not needed.
5. As the list of clothing items seems inadequate, is it a problem if more are taken?
The equipment lists have been refined to reflect 65 years of real world experience at Philmont, and no additional items should be carried.  Feedback from prior year advisors stresses this point – believe the lists and take no more, and no less.
6. What is the recommended temperature rating for sleeping bags for Philmont?
The general recommendation for the temperature rating of a sleeping bag to be used at Philmont is 25 to 30 degrees.  Even during the summer, at elevation nighttime temperatures can drop below 40 degrees.
7. Is there a recommendation on using down, rather than synthetic, sleeping bags?
The issue with down sleeping bags is that they lose their insulation properties when they get wet.  Hence, they can't be recommended for use by the youth members of the crew.  This is not a problem for an adult who knows how to keep the bag dry.  A plastic bag for a liner in the regular stuff sack, closed with a gooseneck and rubber band, should be used for both types of bags.
8. Can a poncho be substituted for the "sturdy rain suit" on the list?
Unlike New Jersey, the weather in New Mexico can change severely 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, one of the top four reasons that force crew members off the trail.  A poncho does not provide that protection and cannot be substituted for a sturdy rain suit.
9. Can open toed shoes (sandals, etc.) be used in place of sneakers?
Philmont has a policy of "No open toed shoes in the backcountry".  It is a good policy, but one Philmont is unable to enforce and open toed shoes are seen in the backcountry, even on Rangers.  Nonetheless, the stated Philmont policy is strongly endorsed and recommended highly.
10. Can a plastic bag be used instead of a waterproof nylon pack cover?
No, a nylon pack cover or equivalent is required.  Plastic bags simply don’t work well as pack covers on the trail, and keeping everything dry is essential.  On the other hand, a lightweight plastic bag used to cover the pack at night provides full front and back protection.  Therefore, bringing both is recommended, but if you chose only one, it must be the nylon pack cover.
11. Can the sleeping pad be eliminated to save on weight?
Each crew member MUST have a good sleeping pad.  Hypothermia is one of the top four problems which force crew members off the trail.  No matter the rating of the sleeping bag, it will NOT provide sufficient insulation from the ground to guarantee a SAFE sleep.  It is not unusual for the summer temperature to drop below 40 degrees at night at higher elevations.  Further, it is very important for all crew members to get a good night sleep, and a good sleeping pad goes a long way toward making that happen.
12. Why does the list of Personal Equipment in the "Guidebook to Adventure" caution against nylon short sleeve shirts?
It is believed that the caution has to do with flame resistance and melting temperature.  It is necessary to be very careful around open flame or hot cooking utensils while wearing nylon clothing.  Short sleeve shirts should be either a 50% cotton / 50% polyester blend or a synthetic material such as Cool-max.
13. Is it acceptable to substitute cotton gloves for the glove liners or mittens made of wool or polypro?
Yes, cotton gloves are great on those cold mornings and also serve well for picking up hot utensils.
14. What is the recommendation for the "optional" daypack for side hikes?
Daypacks are great for side hikes, as well as for use when going to programs at staffed camps.  Look for something that is very light and packs small.  Many internal pack frames include a detachable portion that can be used as a daypack.  The daypack needs to be only large enough for a rain suit, two quarts of water, and a meal package.  Another solution is to empty a couple of backpacks and place those items for the crew in them, and then take turns carrying the packs during the side hike.
15. What is a “gear shakedown”?
A gear shakedown is an item-by-item review of the contents of a backpack against the equipment lists in the Guidebook to Adventure. The recommended procedure is to completely empty the pack and, as each item on the list is called out, to put the called out item back into the pack.  Any item that is called out but not present is noted and must be obtained.  Any items remaining after the list has been completed are not on the list and are not needed at Philmont.
16. When should a crew do "gear shakedowns"?
Gear shakedowns should be performed during crew training hikes to give everyone a chance to see what others are using and stimulate questions about what works and what does not.  In addition, each crew will have a gear shakedown conducted by a staff member at May’s Watchu Mountain Adventure.  A shakedown is recommended at a crew meeting, with family in attendance, a week or two before departing for Philmont to insure any gaps in equipment or packing have been squared away.  A next-to-last shakedown should be conducted the night before departure to make sure than the gear on the Philmont equipment list will be on the plane.  At Philmont, the crew’s Ranger will conduct a final shakedown before the crew leaves Base Camp.