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#150309 - 05/14/11 09:23 PM Counting Matches ?
Cubleader Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 12
Loc: PA
I'll always remember our Boyscout trip on the Laural Highlands Trail in Western PA. It was our first big backpacking excursion and we had a gear shakedown the night before we left. One kids dad was ahead of his time in the lightweight philosophy. He had everything paired down to the number of matches the boy was carrying to light his "stove" with. His stove turned out to be one of those little fold up military deals that burn the fuel tabs in. Anyone else here that serious? It didn't work out too well for him. grin I'll never forget watching him try to cook a pancake on that.

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#150316 - 05/14/11 10:56 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Cubleader]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2860
Loc: Portland, OR
I expect that boy scout didn't really have enough experience in the back country to separate the kind of ideas that work well from those that would not be a good idea. Cooking pancakes over a fuel tab stove is not a very good idea, as you saw.

However, I am sure that you'd place a fairish number of our members in a spritiual kinship with that young man. We try mightily to take exactly what we think we'll use and appreciate and to leave home everything we'd just carry to no purpose. I may not count matches, but I do count squares of toilet paper. blush

This attitude is often parodied as drilling hole in your toothbrush handle. Most of us accept this joshing in good nature, but I'm sure most of us have weighed the utility of such a move, even if we haven't decided it is worth the effort. grin

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#150339 - 05/15/11 12:30 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: aimless]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Boy scouts' moto "be prepared" and "UL backpacking" are not that compatible. I think for beginners, the "be prepared" slogan is more appropriate. Experienced backpackers can delete items and make judgement decisions on reducing preparedness for weight savings. UL proponents who refuse to recognize that UL weights are riskier have their eyes closed to reality. And the "be prepared"type who think that this means prepared for an Antarctic blizzard while hiking in southern California are just as blinded. It is all a matter of odds. On the average, ill prepared backpackers are lucky and Mother Nature forgives their mistakes. On the other hand those who want to be "covered" for 100% if possibilites never leave the car!

My goal is simply to try hard to lighten up each trip yet stay within my comfort level for risk. I've gone from a 45 lb base weight (granted- it included climbing gear) in the late 1960's to the 20-lb range today. Far from UL. The counting match idea made me laugh! I have a "match fettish" . I carry multiple packets and 100 times more than I need. They are so light and for some reason I am overly parinoid about not having matches that work.

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#150341 - 05/15/11 01:02 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: aimless]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Counting toilet paper squares?

I can beat that Aimless, I only carry one TP square and I bore holes in it to lighten it... goodjob

As for matches, you can carry an entire book of safety matches if you simply cut the little paper handles off them and carry half of the striker. smile

Anyway I haven't actually used a match camping in oh - 30 years! cool
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#150372 - 05/15/11 11:54 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Cubleader]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I'm serious enough to get down to some pretty low packweights. OTOH, read my .signature - I'm not silly enough to try to cook pancakes on an esbit stove..

While counting matches *is* silly (good god, take a couple mini-bic lighters) realisticly there is nothing wrong with taking something like a tablet stove if you understand it's limitations, and are prepared to live with them. With the right "boil water and cozy" freezer bag cooking type meals your aforementioned "victim" could have been just fine.

Just as silly would be to bring a full size christmas turkey in your backpack, with only an MSR white gas stove to cook it on.. *everything has limits* smile

As WD and others have mentioned, most beginners aren't aware of the limitations - or perhaps not as much as they should be.

I will take the opposite view though, while I don't think a beginner should head out with a 5x8 poncho, underwear only, and no stove just to be light - I think beginners can benefit very effectively from lightweight backpacking techniques - as long as they understand what they are getting into.

I do know *many* beginners who have suffered very much from a bit too much "be prepared" - which while there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, IMO tends to err on the side of the himilayan winter in california, rather than sensible preparedness..

I've taken beginners out with me, with 9 pounds of gear, plus food, and water, and they've been very comfortable and enjoyed themselves immensely.

Fundamentally I think there's two ways beginners leave the sport..

1) Cold, Wet, and Hungry (unprepared)
or
2) Beat up and Blistered with a heavy load (too much stuff)

I don't want to sound like a lightweight evangelist, I'm not.. but I'd be willing to bet more leave for more of #2 than #1.

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#150391 - 05/16/11 11:35 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: phat]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Phat- I doubt those beginners would have enjoyed themselves with 9 pounds of gear if they had not been with you. Do not underestimate the value YOU provided being there and teaching them the skills need to properly use that 9 pounds of gear. Give those beginners the same gear and send them on their own and the outcome is likely to be different. You were the most important item in that list of gear!

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#150401 - 05/16/11 01:45 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Cubleader]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Couple of points.

1. Trips are supposed to be planned and lead by the scouts. A scout master should model leadership behavior, but develop scout leadership. I do not approve of the "drill sergeant" scoutmaster theory.

2. The gear needs to be matched to the trip. I use a fuel tablet stove and cook pancakes occasionally, but not on the same trip. Your cook system needs to be matched to the food. Your sleep system needs to be matched to the trip.
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#150402 - 05/16/11 01:46 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: wandering_daisy]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Yes, skill is a major factor. I have a scout who on his first campout told me in the morning he was cold all night. I asked about his bag. He has a Kelty lightyear 20F and it was maybe in the 40s that night. Did he zip it up? No, he didn't. The next night I asked him, and he was warm all night, due to using his sleeping bag correctly. Surprisingly, I have had to do a lot of the same stuff with adults. But, they usually really like it, once they learn all the little "tricks" we take for granted.
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#150410 - 05/16/11 04:30 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: ringtail]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I agree with the leadership-by-scout. We used to run a "crossover weekend," and taught the boys a lot of camping fundamentals the first 48 hours they were Scouts (incidentally earning them 2 or 3 skill awards, a totin' chit, a fire chit, and signing off a couple of steps toward the hiking and camping merit badges.)

After that, we progressed them pretty rapidly toward leadership by Scout, and the Scoutmasters quickly became more mentor and less leader. When they were planning a trip, they'd either reach a spot where they were stuck or had made a bad choice; at that point, we'd ask them questions to get them back on track. In the field, if something went wrong, it usually wasn't bad enough to be a serious problem, so we'd help them figure out how to solve it or cope with it.

Leadership by Scout works.

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#150411 - 05/16/11 04:35 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Cubleader]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
One fundamental problem: dad figured out what the son should take; the son should have figured it out for himself (dad could help and suggest, but son should make the decisions since he's the one who had to carry and use it.)

Dad may very well have known his stuff - but son clearly didn't.

Too bad someone didn't enlist dad as an assistant Scoutmaster (or backpacking merit badge counselor), so he could have gone along and shown everyone how to make the lightweight principles work.

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#150415 - 05/16/11 05:53 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Glenn]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By Glenn
One fundamental problem: dad figured out what the son should take; the son should have figured it out for himself (dad could help and suggest, but son should make the decisions since he's the one who had to carry and use it.)

Dad may very well have known his stuff - but son clearly didn't.

Too bad someone didn't enlist dad as an assistant Scoutmaster (or backpacking merit badge counselor), so he could have gone along and shown everyone how to make the lightweight principles work.


That is what I read into the OP. Every time a parent does all the packing, the results are always interesting.
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I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#150419 - 05/16/11 08:03 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: wandering_daisy]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
Phat- I doubt those beginners would have enjoyed themselves with 9 pounds of gear if they had not been with you. Do not underestimate the value YOU provided being there and teaching them the skills need to properly use that 9 pounds of gear. Give those beginners the same gear and send them on their own and the outcome is likely to be different. You were the most important item in that list of gear!


Of course the educational compenent is a big thing, however I prefer to not think of the "me" and think of the "us". i.e. us here.

But I'd contend if I take the same beginner, without me they
might have just as bad a time with my 9 pounds of gear (with my chosen menu) as they would with 50 pounds of gear and food that got sold to them in a gear store when they walked in and said "I wanna go backpacking". Quite possibly for different reasons in each case, but the net result would probably be the same.

In this case I'd actualy say most of my "experience" of the biggest value was passed on in the getting ready to go, as opposed to while there, and not a lot of it was really
gear specific.

This is why I dislike the "you're a beginner you should take lots of stuff to be prepared". Stuff (or lots of stuff, or not a lot of stuff, or heavy stuff, or light stuff) is not a substitute for experience.. Consulting someone experienced is
part of being prepared!

and that experience includes things almost to the level of counting matches.. I don't see why we can't teach beginners to keep their packweight low, and do the things many of us do (like measuring fuel, food planning, weighing canisters, removing extra crap from gear (tags, buckles, straps, etc. etc.))








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#150422 - 05/16/11 09:07 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Glenn]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
Great posts here, all the way around.

One thing I think it worth mentioning--whether you count your matches or not (and we carry a couple of BICs) I think it is a great exercise for the scouts to learn how to start a fire with one match. And that may have somehow entered into the scoutmaster's thinking...and led him astray.

But my two kids still write me from time to time just to brag about how they were camping...and started the fire with just one match.

_________________________
balzaccom

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#150431 - 05/16/11 10:33 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: balzaccom]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6400
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Yes, I've bragged, too--until I tried to do a one-match fire for my grandkids. laugh

Obviously, after 30 years of stoves, I have lost the knack!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#150433 - 05/16/11 10:39 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Cubleader]
Cubleader Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 12
Loc: PA
Someone mentioned that the results are interesting when a parent does the packing. Come to think of it, that parent didn't go along with us. crazy It all worked out in the end. Being scouts, we pitched in and helped each other out. It was a good trip. I just wish we had more pictures.

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#150447 - 05/17/11 05:03 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: balzaccom]
jwild Offline
member

Registered: 05/07/11
Posts: 85
Originally Posted By balzaccom
Great posts here, all the way around.
my two kids still write me from time to time just to brag about how they were camping...and started the fire with just one match.

This reminds me of when me and my friend were 12ish and we were in the middle of the woods in northern Wisconsin about 12 miles out on an atv trail and my ligher got wet due to a bit of rain. we still talk about how my friend had one match and a receipt in his pocket and we started a fire in the wet woods haha
_________________________
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

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#150452 - 05/17/11 07:03 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Cubleader]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3571
Loc: Texas
Ha! To this very day I take great pride in starting fires with one match, as a holdover from scouts. (of course a fire starter might be involved in the process). wink
And if that first match goes out, it was clearly defective.
Everyone gets one "match mulligan" per fire. (golfers know) grin
_________________________
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#150454 - 05/17/11 09:54 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Dryer]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Here's my one match war story:

My first public contact job with the National Park Service was at Mesa Verde NP, where, besides giving tours through the ruins, we all gave an evening campfire program. This was very traditional - no slides, just a real, live campfire, and an informative talk about some archaeological topic.

No matter how soon you started the campfire, there was an audience on hand. We could not use road flares or gasoline, not even paper, to ignite the wood. it was no big deal, because juniper bark is fabulous tinder.

So one evening I go down, gather my tinder, the match flares, and - "We have ignition." I turn my attention to the gathering crowd, answering questions, etc. All of a sudden, I notice people are giggling, grinning, and pointing toward the fireplace. I turn, and my fire is just a wisp of smoke!

OK, it's crunch time. I know that if I pull out another match, the evening is lost. What kind of ranger uses two matches to light a fire? I hunker down and coax the smoky coals, blowing gently, delicately adding a twig, a shred of bark at a time to the smouldering mess. Dead silence from the assembled multitude - Does this ranger have what it takes, or are we wasting our time?

Finally, after about three or so minutes of earnest labor, flame erupts again, and my audience actually breaks out in cheers and applause! The evening is saved...

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#150455 - 05/17/11 09:55 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Dryer]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
If you carry white gas (for your stove, ostensibly), one-match fires are no problem, and you don't need mulligans. (In the words of Pat McManus: "Poof! No eyebrows!") smile

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#150457 - 05/17/11 10:02 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: balzaccom]
Paulo Offline
member

Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 158
Loc: Normally Pacific Northwest
I think teaching people how to light a match is important as well. I was teaching a friend's kid how to light a fire striking the match correctly. He didn't listen and went through an entire box!

Check this ray mears video out. Ignore the shelter (you'll probably find yourself out this weekend trying to make it!).
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Without a doubt, the hardest thing of all in a survival situation is to cook without the benefit of seasonings and flavourings. - Ray Mears

http://theoutdooradventure.net

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#150466 - 05/17/11 11:24 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Glenn]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By Glenn
If you carry white gas (for your stove, ostensibly), one-match fires are no problem, and you don't need mulligans. (In the words of Pat McManus: "Poof! No eyebrows!") smile


Last September I told the scouts to start the fire (actually I do this every campout). They were having trouble, and one of the other leaders gave them some white gas. It worked great until the white gas burned up. The wood was wet from the beginning. Then I showed them how to start a fire with dry wood and no white gas. It was a good lesson.
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I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#150467 - 05/17/11 11:24 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: Paulo]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By Paulo
I think teaching people how to light a match is important as well. I was teaching a friend's kid how to light a fire striking the match correctly. He didn't listen and went through an entire box!

Check this ray mears video out. Ignore the shelter (you'll probably find yourself out this weekend trying to make it!).


I love that video.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#150469 - 05/17/11 12:21 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: finallyME]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I, too, have used "Boy Scout fire starter," but it requires some care and discretion. Use too much and - no eyebrows. It works great in proper quantities, but you have to follow all the other procedures for fire starting. You need tinder and small fuels before you proceed to logs. All should be as dry as possible. gas really saves time when used properly.

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#150476 - 05/17/11 01:17 PM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: wandering_daisy]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 848
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
Phat- I doubt those beginners would have enjoyed themselves with 9 pounds of gear if they had not been with you. Do not underestimate the value YOU provided being there and teaching them the skills need to properly use that 9 pounds of gear. Give those beginners the same gear and send them on their own and the outcome is likely to be different. You were the most important item in that list of gear!


If I have to add Phat to my equipment list it is going to be hard to get down to the ultra light category....

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#150563 - 05/19/11 09:42 AM Re: Counting Matches ? [Re: BZH]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By BZH

If I have to add Phat to my equipment list it is going to be hard to get down to the ultra light category....


Ultra Light, or Super Ultra Light? We'll have to ask the base weight fascists what pigeonhole a 250 pound base weight puts you in wink
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