Philmont Scout Ranch Packing Tips

My youngest, 14, just returned from a 10-day hiking trip at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Philmont is one of the pinnacles of Scouting, with rugged backcountry hiking of usually 7-10 days in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range.

This was his first time to go to Philmont, and my first child going to Philmont, so it was exciting and honestly a little nerve wracking, more for me than him. While I always let him pack for himself on scout trips, and what he forgets once he probably won’t again, this was a little different. Temperatures in Philmont in late July range from frigid to sweltering, and they went during the wet season, so we took this on together as a project. His Scout Leader and the staff at Philmont also check to make sure they have the essentials, and since you’re hauling everything on your back, all you really need are the essentials.

Getting ready for Philmont, we watched hours of Philmont Packing tips on YouTube, which had great advice and many of the videos are taken at Philmont, which give you a real idea of what it’s like.

We also followed the facebook group, Philmont Trek Talk, which is one of the best resources, while also feeding the fears a little from anxious parents.

But my kid returned fine. Exhausted, glad he went, vowing never to go back. Even at his Court of Honor in late August, while talking about the trip to the other scouts and their parents, he said “Never Again”, but when sign ups came for the 2024 Trek, he did sign up!

Here’s my packing list and tips. I hope it helps you with some of your worries, because your child is going to have a blast! I’ve tried to follow the Philmont Packing List, because that really is your best source of information.

Packs and Bags
You can purchase or they do offer rentals at Philmont.
Backpack – rental available 1 internal frame 75L +/- 4600 cu inches external frame 65L +/- 3966 cu inches

We went to REI twice to have my scrawny, 14-year-old, 5′ tall, 120lb. boy fitted. They did not have the Gregory Baltoro in ferocious orange in stock, which he wanted, but it did fit him well, and something he can grow into. The next week we were in Bentonville, AR and we visited the Moosejaw Store on the square. While they did have it, they recommended I go online as they had a couple in clearance, which I did and purchased it for $160ish, which is maybe my best purchase ever! Also, he loves his bag, said it was perfect for his trek.

Not on the list, but I also purchase a pack liner, which was just a waste of money. Next time he says he’ll just use an unscented kitchen trash bag, and take a second just in case.

Summit/Daypack 1 side hikes – His Baltoro also came with a daypack, that fit inside. If it didn’t, he would have used his Amazon Venture Pal (associate link), which is only .7 lbs and folds up to the size of a sandwich.

Lashing Straps 1 pr holds sleeping bag on pack – Another Amazon purchase, he packed 2 lashing straps (affiliate link). We already had these, as we use them all the time while hiking or kayaking.

Gal. Ziploc Bags 6-12 pack clothes – We packed all his clothes in ziploc bags, and about 4 empty extras for wet clothes, etc.

Pack Cover 1 waterproof – His Baltoro also came with a pack cover, however it did not fit over his tent. It was fine but next time he’ll probably take an aftermarket pack cover.

Small Stuff Sacks 2-3 pack/organize personal items – These and the ditty bags probably worried me the most. I purchased these packing cubes on Amazon, but he only took the small laundry bag, so I’m sure you can find something less expensive.

I did blow our budget on the Hyperlite Mountain Gear, which I loved. He was rather 14-boyish about the whole thing, saying that a plastic bag would have been fine and not loving how organized they kept everything! I’m sure he dumped everything out 10 minutes after leaving home, anyway.

Ditty Bags 2-3 pack/organize personal items- Most of his personal things just went in ziploc bags.
Head- Neck-Hands Equipment

Wool or fleece hat 1 warm hat for cold temps – Something he already had, came from Walmart, I’m guessing.

Glove liners or mittens 1 pr synthetic wool – Something else he already had and also probably from Walmart.

Baseball cap or wide brim hat 1 sun protection of ears, face – He opted to take my Magellan fishing hat from Academy.

Upper Body Layers

Base Layer (mid-wgt) synthetic 1 long underwear top – Hot Chilis. You can purchase on Amazon. A few years ago my oldest, 18 at the time, 6’2″ about 160 lbs. was going skiing and went to Snow and Ski Sports in Fort Worth to pick up some things and came back with the Hot Chili Base Layer for women in small, which cost about $70 each, so $140, and labeled on the ticket as no returns. Of course, I had paid for all this, and they did not fit him. Or me. So they sat in his closet unopened until we were packing for Philmont and I remembered them. I’m assuming that my son then ran them over the dog because of all the dog hair in this picture. They fit my son perfect, but there are so many less expensive options.

Middle Layer (fleece pullover) 1 opt wool sweater – my son packed his very loved Columbia fleece jacket for this option. He had it on in almost every picture, too, so I guess it was a good choice.

Top Layer (synthetic jacket) 1 wool or polar fleece – I wanted something light, and he and I went to REI 3 times before agreeing on this pricey Patagonia jacket, but it was just the lightest with the best warmth.

Rain Jacket 1 sturdy, waterproof jacket w/hood, cated nylon and breathable fabrics acceptable. – Another hard choice, but he preferred the frogg toggs, and he was happy with his choice.

Shirt – Short Sleeve 2 moisture wicking no cotton or nylon – For these he just wore his troop class Bs, which are thankfully the moisture wicking type.

Shirt – Long Sleeve 1 moisture wicking no cotton or nylon – Back to Academy for a long sleeve shirt. If you haven’t noticed yet, my son loves the color orange!

Lower Body Layers Equipment
Base Layer (mid-wgt) synthetic 1 long underwear bottom – Not shown, but it’s those dang Hot Chilis.
Rain Pants 1 lightweight & sturdy – Also not shown, but the Frogg Toggs.
Long Pants 1 no heavy jeans – We went with 2 pair of the Magellan zip offs.
Underwear 3 – just ordinary underwear
Hiking Shorts 2 – just in case, he has another pair of shorts.

Sleeping Gear Equipment

Sleeping Bag 1 rated 20 degrees and less than 5 lbs/packing in compression sack lined w/plastic bag – At this point, I had a ton of REI rewards, enough to buy the Men’s Trailbreak 20 Sleeping Bag. He loved it and has continued to use it during winter camping. For his stuff sack, I used this one from Amazon (affiliate link). For the plastic bag, we were back to those pricey Hyperlite Mountain Gear bags.

Waterproof Stuff Sack 1 or 2 heavy duty 4-6 mil plastic bags –

Sleeping Pad 1 closed-cell foam or fully inflatable pad – He went with the inflatable and it leaked. Next time he’s set on the closed-cell foam.

Sleep Clothes 1 set worn only in sleeping bag- Ever the jammy boy, he packed pants and a buc-ees shirt.


Boots 1 pr well broken-in- Those many trips to REI, he was undecided on hiking boots, but finally went with the Merrell Moab. No blisters so we’ll call it a win!
Socks 3 pr synthetic or wool – 2 pair Darn Tough Hiking Socks (affiliate link), and 1 pair Farm to Feet, you can find them on Amazon but I don’t remember where we bought his.
Liner Socks 3 pr synthetic – Also from Amazon (affiliate link), I didn’t expect him to wear these honestly, but he did daily.
Camp Shoes 1 pr lightweight sneakers – We also went around on this. He opted to take his old Under Armour sneakers, which were fine, but next time he’ll take his crocs, which everyone else had, and were better was water crossings, camp time, etc.

Miscellaneous Items Equipment
Bowl 1 deep bowl of lightweight material – After the above picture, we went to Amazon for the Sea to Summit collapsible bowl. It was much smaller his mess kit bowl.

Mug/Cup 1 measuring style recommended 12-20 oz – He used a mug he had purchased at Scout Camp the year before. While not a fan of things hanging of the pack, I also purchased a few carabiners (affiliate link) from Amazon for his mug, etc.

Spoon/Spork 1 Lexan or lightweight-sporks are popular – He just used those he already had in his mess kit.

Water Bottle/1 qt 4 or more qty reduced if also using hydration bladder in pack – He opted not to take his hydration bladder, and took 2 nalgene water bottles.

Pocket Knife 1 small knife – Right before his trek, and after the above picture was taken, we spend a couple weeks camping in Yellowstone, and at the park store we found a small pocketknife with his name on it. He lost it during his trek.

Matches/Lighter 1 pack in waterproof container/lighting camp stove – We bought a small pack of matches, put about 20 in a small zip lock bag.

Flashlight/Headlamp 1 durable/lightweight-bring extra batteries – I packed a cheap flashlight from Walmart, extra batteries and a Petzl headlamp (affiliate link) from Amazon. He brought home the flashlight and lost the Petzl. I think a traditional headlamp would have worked better for him, but for myself I love the Petzl.

Trekking Poles w/rubber tips – He didn’t want the trekking poles until we returned from all the hiking in Yellowstone, so it was a last minute dash to get these from Kelty. I recently used them and like them even more than mine. I purchased additional tips (affiliate link) from Amazon.

Compass 1 – Another Amazon (affiliate link) purchase.

Bandana/tubular headgear 2 – He had 2 light-weight gaiters that he took with him.

Money $50 ATM in Base – I sent $100 in $20’s and $10’s, since they stopped several times on the way there and back. He went over but our Scout Leaders just kept track for them. He also took his debit card, which he lost.

Lip Balm 1 moisturizing balm 2/SPF 25 or greater – nope, he didn’t want to take and wouldn’t have used anyway.

Soap 1 biodegradable – In the above picture are the Coleman Camp Soap sheets, which I loved, but I think Coleman has discontinued. There are still plenty of other brands available, be sure to check for biodegradable. I also packed a small pack of wipes (affiliate link) from Amazon. These look “manly” so I hoped he use them instead of “baby wipes” that I would have packed for myself. He probably didn’t.

Toothbrush 1 T – No special toothbrush, just his everyday one. I just hoped he would use it.

Toothpaste 1 T – We just packed a small tube but since then we’ve been using Colgate toothpaste tablets (affiliate link), and they’re so easy when hiking/camping. I’d just put some in a small ziploc bag. I also packed several small flossers. Again, just hoping he used them.

Camp Towel 1 small, quick dry – Venture 4th (affiliate link) on Amazon we decided on the medium, just to keep it as light as possible.

Not on the list, however, he opted not to take his backpacking chair. His sister loaned him a little backpacking pad to sit on, which was light enough. I think it came from Amazon but not sure.

He also didn’t take a camera, but he did take his phone for pictures, etc. I regret that because on the first night of his trek, he had service, and called to tell me that he was leaving the trail and would be down at base camp and I needed to be there to pick him up. And that was the last I heard from him until they came off the trail 9 days later. Of course, I didn’t go, but I did live in dread of someone calling to tell me he left camp in the middle of the night and was lost. Or eaten by a bear. Or fell off something. Or one of a hundred other things that went through my head. I hope, at least, this helps a little with your packing fears!

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