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#127560 - 01/29/10 07:46 AM Just like Colin Fletcher
Bobc Offline
member

Registered: 11/07/09
Posts: 26
Loc: SC
I started out as a Boy Scout then did some military inspired backpacking, did some camping while bike touring in England and Wales. Then I read The complete Walker, the Thousand Mile Summer and was hooked for many years. Was life simpler then? How many of you started with a Kelty or Camp Trails external pack, Svea stove, nesting pots, and last but not least slept out under the stars? Maybe I will combine some of my hi-tech year with retro mindset and do like Colin did sleep out under the stars, have nesting pots, see what shape the old Kelty is in.

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#127567 - 01/29/10 10:51 AM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Bobc]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
"How many of you started with a Kelty or Camp Trails external pack, Svea stove, nesting pots, and last but not least slept out under the stars?"

Me. And like you, it all came from taking my first trip with a Scout troop, then reading Colin Fletcher and learning how to do it "right" (or at least more efficiently.)

I'm not quite ready to go back to sleeping under the stars - I also remember coming home from those trips covered with mosquito bites! But I still do the next best thing: ever since they became available, I've chosen tents with all-mesh inners or at least half the wall and the roof being mesh (current favorites: Hubba/Carbon Reflex; Copper Spur, Fly Creek, and Seedhouse.) It captures the feel of sleeping under the stars, minus the mosquitoes.

I just passed my Svea along to my son at Thanksgiving. (The Jetboil is my current favorite.)

And I still miss my Camp Trails Wilderness internal frame pack occasionally.

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#127573 - 01/29/10 12:18 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Bobc]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Me too,
Colin was my hero.
I spent 4 months bping around the Sierras and Big sur sleeping under the stars every night (unless a girl picked me up hitchhiking). Svea came later, I always had a wood fire. Nesting pots? I coked in coffee cans... and I couldn't afford the kelty till later, I made my own pack. I covered about 450 miles of hiking, the longest trip of my life with the most primitive gear, well actually I had a US mountain regular sleeping bag - oiled cotton and chicken feathers mixed with waterfowl feathers. My mosquito net was a old dusty "sheer window curtain".
Jim - yes times were simpler and the trip was more important than the gear. PS my base pack never weighed over 18 pounds.
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#127576 - 01/29/10 01:13 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Bobc]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1759
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I started in the Boy Scouts in 1946 with a WW-II surplus pack and a kapok sleeping bag. No stove and a tin can pot with a wire bail. For shelter and rain gear, I used a surplus GI poncho. I only used the poncho for shelter if it was raining; I slept out otherwise. I slept on the clothes that I wasn't wearing. Shortly after that, I acquired a German Army surplus rucksack and the inner bag from a GI Arctic bag. This served me until the early 60's. For a while, I had a Trapper Nelson pack board but I didn't like it so sold it. I bought my first stove in 1955; it was a Primus 71L. I used a Bergans Rucksack for a lot of hiking and climbing in the 60's and 70's and finally bought a Kelty external in about 1975.
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#127579 - 01/29/10 01:52 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Bobc]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2947
Loc: Portland, OR
Colin Fletcher taught me the importance of weighing my stuff ahead of time and trying to keep total pack weight down. This was circa 1970.

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#127663 - 01/30/10 04:48 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: aimless]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
Fun thread.

I too started about 1946-7. Can't remember much about the trip, or what I carried or how I carried it (except that the stew was half-cooked when the fire ran out, and that the pancakes stuck to the pan in the morning).

But I remember a number of later trips with surplus gear; Army muesette bag, Army poncho, Army blanket bag (then made my own bag with two of the cotton outer shells, sewed into tubes and filled with pillow feathers--used the vacume cleaner to fill, had feathers all over the house).

First stove was Borde (out of surplus Army field surgical sterilizing kit). Svea (and Kelty) came 20 years later--Colin Fletcher still later.

Provisions were Bisquick, side pork and beans (bannock and pork in the morning, half-cooked beans and pork for dinner, some of the bannock and pork in your shirt front for lunch). Much preferred to sleep under stars if weather was ok.

Incidentally, the pot I salvaged from a wrecked Boy Scout cook kit (somebody else's--I couldn't afford one of my own) on one of those early trips is still my solo pot, and the Borde was my stove for my first AT thru-hike in '95. Worked great all the way.

Pack never weighed a whole lot because I never owned anything to put in it. Made the transition to lightweight easy. jcp

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#127670 - 01/30/10 08:16 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Pika]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
What we have done without Army surplus? My first big pack was a molded plywood packboard - heavy, but actually fairly comfortable, and you could lash anything on it. Down-feathers mountain sleeping bag (warm but heavy). Army angle pitons (complete with the ring of death). Army mountain tent (heavy). I scored big with a pair of military bearpaw snowshoes - cost $7.50. I wish I had them still.

I still have my mountain cookset - two two liter pans and a stainless steel lid/frying pan with a manufacturer's date of 1951. Still a very capable bit of gear.

When I got out of the Army, I blew two paychecks on a Kelty pack and a Gerry down bag, beginning my use of decent civilian lightweight gear. I swallowed hard at the price for the Kelty - $35, a king's ransom at the time.

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#127674 - 01/30/10 08:35 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: oldranger]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1770
Loc: Napa, CA
My dad was actually a state park ranger in the summers, so I grew up in the business, as it were. Even so, my first backpacking trip was with my sister and her girlfriend--they were about 15, I was eleven. And my pack was a pair of my dad's jeans, tied together so the legs created the shoulder straps and the torso held my sleeping bag. We took a tube tent, slept on the ground, and cooked over an open fire (no stoves then.) I think I must have carried an old canvas and flannel sleeping bag. And we drank water straight from the stream.

I don't miss the bag, the tent, or the pack. I do miss the days when we drank out of every stream without thinking about it.
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#127676 - 01/30/10 08:50 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: JPete]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
HA!

Boy Scouts in the '50s. Then serious backpacking in the early '70s W/ a SVEA 123 stove, SIGG Tourist cook SET, plasic tube tent, Camp Trails exterior frame pack, and cheap but warm polyester mummy bag. Oh yeah, and "Waffle Stomper" boots, later Danner all leather boots

"Nostalgia ain't what it used to be."
_________________________
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

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#127685 - 01/30/10 09:30 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: 300winmag]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I remember when I could finally afford a plastic tube tent and some nylon cord. I still think tube tents are pretty awesome, the simplicity was too cool and for all of the $150 tarps, the $7 tube tent was nearly as good. I sat out the worst electrical rain storm I ever saw with 2 other people and a dog huddled in a tube tent.

For you old guys. Didn't Dick Kelty invent the big padded waist belt in 71 or 72? I remember buying one in 72 and attaching it to my pack frame, WOW.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#127688 - 01/30/10 09:58 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Jimshaw]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
Jim,

you must be very close. Bought my Kelty in, I think, 1967 or 68, and it had the simple web belt. I bought some aftermarket rubber pads for my hips, but did not get the padded belt until the first one wore out at Waynesboro on my first thru hike in 1995.

It had been around for awhile, quite awhile, before I got converted. Typical. I've been a photographer all my working life, started with Speed Graphic, and actually used a Graphlex a few times and shot once with powder. I actually bought my wife (note, wife)a digital camera for Christmas and started to play around....maybe in, say, ten years or so? jcp

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#127691 - 01/30/10 11:19 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Jimshaw]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
72 sounds about right. The Kelty in 1960 had a simple 2" Wweb belt. I, too, eventually retrofitted.

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#127695 - 01/31/10 01:02 AM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: oldranger]
phat Offline
Moderator

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

allright, I've started replying to this thread twice now, and decided I shouldn't be so negative and tossed it twice...

Now I'm not gonna.

Some of you know my "boy scout" aversion. apologies to all those current scouters in advance. I think what you are doing is noble, and needs to happen.

I think you guys were all (fortunately) before my time a bit. lucky for you.

I went through scouts in the late 70's. - like 79. by this point they had as a matter of policy esposed "lnt" (sic) to the point where you had to run a line under your tent during the day so as not to leave the ground trampled. however the gear of the day, combined with worrying about kids whining or parents complaining, or god knows what, meant we ended up carrying the kitchen sink.

Some of us, even at that age (especially the run the line under the tent crap) thought... "what a crock".

Probably combined with bad gear, fear of litigation, and god knows what else (heck I was 10/11..) I remember we couldn't chop anything, burn anything, or do anything remotely "traditional" that I always did when I just went out with my dad. (thank god for that). The leaders did inordinate gear checks to ensure I was carrying enough stuff for "safety" (translation, kid from city not whining.. aka 4 changes of clothing on a three day trip, enormous stove and pan, food just like at home, god forbid you make a fire, etc. etc. ) that I recall carrying a bonecrushing weight of a pack and was completely miserable most of the time.

In retrospect, St. Colin should have been required reading for
them at the time. I'm certain it wasn't.

I hike today *in spite* of my boy scout experience, not because of it. My father, friends, and hard knocks taught me less is more a little later in life.

And yes, I am reminded, put up or shut up phat. I should find a local scout group to volunteer with. I have not yet. I need to do that....



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#127698 - 01/31/10 01:40 AM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: phat]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1770
Loc: Napa, CA
Actually, we just donated some of our older gear to a local girls scout troop who were absolutely delighted to get it: four sleeping bags, six sleeping pads, and an old NF two man tent. They'll use it on a couple of trips this summer, one to Yosemite.

And when they picked up the stuff, they left a sweet little basket of their home-made firestarters: a craft t from their last meeting.

My wife and I still smile about it everytime we think about it!
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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#127708 - 01/31/10 10:28 AM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: phat]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Phat:

I said I started with Scouts - but as a leader, when my son joined up. I tend to agree with you - moreso since, around here, it's degenerated to being all about numbers: number of kids enrolled, number of dollars raised, number of child-abuse-awareness and drug-awareness presentations held, etc. Those things are important, but as a result the kids don't get out a whole lot.

I took over the backpacking program for the troop (back in the late 70s) when I only had a year's experience. I did the trips the same as my predecessor. My pivotal moment was when, after a fairly strenuous day, I overheard a kid say, very softly to his buddy, "I'm never going backpacking again." I knew a different approach was needed, in trip selection, gear, and training. So, I did some reading (enter St. Colin) and talking to others, and radically overhauled the way we ran it - and got severely criticized as a result! (Despite the fact that my new program produced the first 4 guys to earn the backpacking merit badge in over 20 years. I still hike regularly with one of those guys.) Shortly thereafter, we parted ways.

So, like I said, I started with Scouts - I just didn't stay with them. I still run the occasional backpacking trip for local troops - if they're willing to give up the insistence on 30 pound packs and following the merit badge handbook. But, mostly as a result of this forum, I've not lost hope. There are a lot of troops, particularly in the west, that do it right (because of, or despite, current official policy, I can't say.) Many of their leaders are the Scouter on this website.

Not sure what the point of this post was - maybe I can clarify it later - but it felt good to find someone who might understand.


Edited by Glenn (01/31/10 10:30 AM)

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#127713 - 01/31/10 01:31 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Glenn]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I have dealt with a lot of Scout troops over the years and consequently, I have seen a lot of variety. Some were outdoor oriented and quite proficient, and others were, uh, less so. I did not feel impelled to encourage my sons to get into scouting past the Cub level. I think it comes down to the quality of the local leadership, which in some cases is quite high. YMWDV


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#127722 - 01/31/10 02:09 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: phat]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
phat
Colin Powell would not approve of the modern Boy Scouts. It changed around 1964. Suddenly you needed a permit to carry a pocket knife or to use an axe and all of the "wood lore and craft" was dropped as having too much impact and suddenly you needed the helping mum in the kitchen and being a good church member merit badges to become an Eagle. We laughed at Eagle scouts. laugh When I was a scout there were only a few merit badges that any self respecting scout wanted, besides being first class, they were hiking, marksmanship, and fishing. My troop backpacked every month except January, and the only reason most of us showed up at meetings was because it was required to go on the trips.
Now days you only have to discuss how to set up a fire, not actually light it because after all matches are dangerous and heaven forbid that a scout would chop something. I learned to be an expert axeman in the scouts and as senior patrol leader, I chopped all of the wood for camp.
Geez we heard they even started letting girls join the boy scouts, we all wondered if coed tenting would be allowed. Nobody wanted to camp with girls though. And I remember the list of crap for summer camp - clean underwear for a week etc. My mom packed a huge suitcase for me and I put it under my cot and did not open it. I took it home with everything in it still folded neatly.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#127727 - 01/31/10 02:25 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Glenn]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1759
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
When I first joined the Scouts, I was lucky: the scoutmaster had served with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy during WW-II. He was interested in teaching us how to climb, ski tour and hike. The hiking and climbing parts were easy in Southern California, the ski touring was less so; Mt. Baldy a few times. There wasn't really too much emphasis on merit badges then; mostly it was outdoor activity. This lasted for a couple of years and then he left to take a job in Montana. His replacement was a real couch potato and I dropped out shortly after he started as scoutmaster.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#127731 - 01/31/10 03:26 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Pika]
Bobc Offline
member

Registered: 11/07/09
Posts: 26
Loc: SC
Like the musing about the BSA. My scout troop never went on a hike/camping trip unless it was the coldest or wettest or both weekend of the year. Each year on a camping trip we made slingshots and had a shooting competition I still have my trophy. Learned to use a hatchet, Shoot had one of those combos hatchet and matching knife. We all carried matches, pocket or belt knives, had my own .22 at 12 and 12 ga at 14, never felt the urge to shoot anyone, use to take the 12 to school, in the trunk, either coming from hunting or going after school.

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#127739 - 01/31/10 07:05 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Jimshaw]
Paul Offline
member

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
Originally Posted By Jimshaw
For you old guys. Didn't Dick Kelty invent the big padded waist belt in 71 or 72? I remember buying one in 72 and attaching it to my pack frame, WOW.
Jim


I believe Camp Trails was the first with the padded belt - or possibly Trailwise. Kelty was definitely not the first, I recall the old 2-inch webbing belts on the Keltys of the early 70's, which attached at the bottom of the frame rather than being a full wraparound belt. Then Kelty started padding those straps, and finally went to a full belt (albeit attached to the lower backband of the frame) somewhere in the mid-70's.
I first had a Camp Trails pack (1971) then a trailwise frame which I made my own bag for in 1973 or 74.
Reading Fletcher back then, I loved his writing and some of his tricks, but though his pack was awful heavy. Still like the writing. I actually wrote to him once, to say how much I enjoyed his book "River" about descending the entire colorado River, and recieved a very gracious reply.

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#127741 - 01/31/10 08:22 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: oldranger]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I thoroughly agree - and it's not just the troop leadership. We're located in a farming town on the fringe of the Council, which is headquarted in a large city. As a result, the professional leadership is very much urban-oriented. A few years ago, they had to sell some land to keep from going under. They kept the small camp with 2 miles of "trail" in the middle of the city (in the approach pattern for the airport, about a mile from the interstate) and sold the big camp out in the country, with its 15 miles of trail, horse ranch, lake (with canoes) and wildlife. That said everything there was to say about their priorities.

I tried to get an annual backpacking weekend beginner's training, and an annual winter camping training started - the professional Scouters were invited, but never showed up because (get this) it cut into their weekend! The other country troops showed up, but that's not enough to keep the program going.

So, I've found some other youth groups to work with, and left my name with the local troops if they're interested. Very few takers.

I envy the Councils which encourage strong outdoor programs; it's a shame there aren't more.

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#128143 - 02/05/10 06:14 AM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Glenn]
Bobc Offline
member

Registered: 11/07/09
Posts: 26
Loc: SC
After starting this thread I have been re-reading "The Complete Walker" books. Interesting how things and Colin changed over the years, but I think I am going to dig out my old external frame pack and see if I can remember why I changed to an internal.

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#128144 - 02/05/10 07:30 AM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Bobc]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I remember why I switched: tree limbs don't get caught in the top crossbar of the pack. (The first time that happened, I ended up sitting on the trail. Naturally, there was an audience, all of whom found it much more humorous than I did. I learned to be more careful.)

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#128148 - 02/05/10 08:23 AM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: Glenn]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
And I remember when I switched. After my first trip down a rocky, cliffy trail at Canyon de Chelly. I found that just grazing the rock with the frame would pitch you off balance. It was much better to kiss the rock with an internal frame model, which also bushwacked tons better.

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#128167 - 02/05/10 01:31 PM Re: Just like Colin Fletcher [Re: oldranger]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
When I go on my annual no holds barred gourmet camping trip I still carry a Kelty Super Tioga loaded with 40 pounds of stuff including wine bottles etc. If you're carrying that much stuff, or say an outboard motor or chainsaw, the pack frame is much better.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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