Why Use a Go Box?

In an effort to help Scouts and adult backpackers better prepare, I explain the importance of a Go Box.

A Case for the Go Box

Even with the aid of a checklist, I found myself still having to rummage through the house, attic, basement and garage for my equipment. That takes time and a lot of mental effort. So to remedy the problem, our family each has a personal, Continue reading

Ultralight Buys for a Buck


99¢ Only Store — “Ultralight Depot”

One of the exciting aspects of ultralight backpacking is the on-going quest for light, small and cheap equipment.

Typically, “small and light” comes at a higher price, but what if I could show you how to buy ultralight items at an ultracool price of a dollar each? Continue reading

Leave the TP at Home

You can’t be serious

Before outhouses and modern toilets, we had holes in the ground. In fact, toilets are relatively new to modern society. Most of the campers I lead on backpacks cringe at the thought of having to poop in the woods. Some think it’s sick, abnormal or my favorite, “ungodly.” Continue reading

Backpack Quick List

How could anyone forget their shoes on a backpack! I did — but only once.

Have you ever been a few miles from the trailhead and forgot something, or had a feeling that you may have left an essential piece of gear at home? If so, chances are you were not using a checklist.

Big List vs. Small List

QuickListMost ultralight backpackers maintain a gear list. Some “gear wienies” like me, keep a list of each item on a spreadsheet and/or online, including their category and weight–down to the gram. Gear lists help keep track of what you have and help determine base weight, yet most of us don’t carry a gear list with us to the trailhead, and virtually no one carries it with them on the trip. Heck, a sheet of paper weighs 5 grams…, right?

I found a quick and easy way to Continue reading

To Boot or Not To Boot?


Boots have been the standard for backpacking since… boots were invented. In fact, the quintessential picture of backpacking in the 70s and 80s is a tall external pack and hiking boots. Although boots have come a long way with materials and weight, they still play a large role in traditional backpacking today.

However, the backpacking arena is changing; Continue reading

Is Less Better?

Proper planning helps avoid heavy loads

When I first started as an Assistance Scout Master (ASM) with our Troop, there wasn’t a strong emphasis on backpacking. Backpacking was one of many events the boys participated in; some Scouts embraced backpacking while others dreaded it.

Not that there wasn’t an interest in backpacking, there simply was not an emphasis on decentralized, self-sufficient camping.

Recently, however, a few enthusiastic leaders among the Troop surfaced which has seemed to kick-start the backpacking program into a higher gear.

In the last few months, over 25 Boy Scouts have gone on at least one of the backpack trips I’ve led and show interest of going again. Out of the 25 boys, at least half of the group want to explore ways to reduce their pack base weight Continue reading

Avoid The Crowd — Go Stealth


One of my “stealth camps”

Fortunately, I live 5 minutes from mountain trails that lead hikers from desert-like chaparral to cool, riparian canyons, streams, rich wildlife and… lots of people. Hey, it’s LA after all

The farther I hike into the hills, the thinner the crowds. Most of the local backpacking camps are about 3 miles in from the trailhead. By Friday night, most camps are full; on Saturdays, finding an actual campsite (picnic table, fire ring and tidy, tent-size dirt lot), is nearly impossible, especially during warmer months.

One way I beat the crowds, tent cities

Continue reading