087: Scoutmaster for a Day

Show Notes: Episode 087

Today on the First 40 Miles, you have one hour to teach half a dozen 12-13 year old boy scouts a handful of backpacking basics.  Where to begin…?  Then on the SUMMIT Gear Review, a day pack that has the potential to fit a few extras for an overnight out and back.  On today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, a little variety goes a long way—and we’ll show you the best place to stock up on a load of trail worthy snacks.  Then we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from Sheridan Anderson.


  • Helping the Boy Scouts with backpacking
  • Scoutmaster is the leader who mentors the scouts, watches for teaching opportunities, lives the scout oath and law and motto, helps the boys plan activities, then accompanies the boys on monthly backpacking trips
  • We taught 12 and 13 year old boys, about 8 of them.
  • Partially fulfilled the Merit Badge requirements for the Backpacking Merit Badge.
  • NOTE: Heather referred to the “Family Living Merit Badge”. She actually meant the “Family Life Merit Badge”.

Top 5 Things the Scoutmaster Asked us to Share With the Scouts

10 Essentials

  • What are the 10 essentials and why are they so important?
  • List 10 items that are essential and explain why each item is necessary
  • Describe 10 ways to limit weigh and bulk without jeopardizing your health and safety

LNT (Catholes)

  • Why was this something the scoutmaster thought was important to teach the scouts?
  • Describe proper methods of handling human waste
  • The Cathole Cheer (with enthusiasm): “2,4,6,8, Where’s the place we defecate? Catholes, catholes. Yay catholes.”
  • It means: 200 feet from water, trails or camp, 4” wide , 6-8” deep.

Water Treatment

  • Ways to treat water
  • Hands-on water treatment with scouts
  • Cost of water purification methods

Stoves and Cooking

Adjusting Pack

  • How to properly pack
  • How to adjust pack properly
  • Loaded packs with rice and flour to get a 20-30 pound load

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Thule Stir 35 Liter Day Pack (Women’s and Men’s)


  • Some of the features in this 35 Liter pack are a sampling of features that Thule has built into their larger packs—and you’ll see this as we review this Day Pack
  • Long, slender pack
  • 35 Liters is a great size for a day pack. It can hold your 10 essentials, rain gear, food, and it can hold two liters of water (plus it has a hydration sleeve)
  • Made of Elastin coated 210D Robic and 70D Nylon—which you can tell which is which just by looking at the pack. The Robic Nylon has more of a matte finish compared to the 70 D nylon and is highly abrasion resistant
  • Torso adjustability
  • Waterproof pack cover that covers the top 3/4ths of the pack.


  • The Thule Stir 35 has access at the top and it has a side zipper access that goes from the top to about half way down.
  • This pack comes with a hip belt, and it’s removable.
  • The sternum strap is also removable
  • The shoulder strap has a conveniently placed zippered, stretchy, mesh pocket that is perfect for storing your phone.
  • Even though this is just a day pack, it has all the adjustability features of a full sized pack—including load lifters that bring the pack closer to you and improve pack stability.
  • The interior of the pack has an 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 mesh bag at the top to hold your keys, wallet, etc. Besides the hydration pouch, it’s the only compartmentalized area in the interior of this pack.
  • The outside of the pack has a long narrow pouch that snaps shut with one snap.
  • The outside of the pack also has lots of tabs, loops, and straps that make the Thule Stir 35 a good candidate for a quick overnight pack. There are lots of places to strap on extra gear like a sleeping pad, or even half of a two man tent.
  • If you love going on day hikes but you just want to test the waters with backpacking, nothing says you can’t use your day pack. The Thule Stir 35 is a pack that you just might be able to make work for both.
  • Colors: Womens (teal or orange) and Mens (black or orange) (Thule calls them: Roarange, fjord, dark shadow)


  • 4 x 11 x 11.4 inches
  • Weighed in at 2 pounds 2 ounces


  • Hand wash or spot clean


  • $140 (for mens or womens)
  • $110 at several online retailers
  • Limited lifetime warranty


  • We liked that the top flap is secured with just a hook that can hook into one of four tabs. Easy to open and close.  Under the lid, the main compartment is secured with a drawstring closure.
  • The side zipper is only a 9 inch opening, which is just about the right size for grabbing out a light jacket, but not large enough to view the contents of your pack.
  • Because of this is meant to be a day pack and just doesn’t have the padding or load balancing of a larger pack, we wouldn’t suggest hiking very far with a heavy load in this pack, but it’s certainly going to be sturdy enough to get you outside with all your gear for an overnight, mile in mile out backpacking trip.
  • The Thule Stir 35 is rugged, completely adjustable, and has enough features to accommodate a low impact, lightweight, overnight backpacking trip or a full day of day hiking.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Bulk Foods for Budget Backpacking

  • Bulk foods are great because it means that you can buy just a little, not stuck with a big Costco bag of food.
  • SunRidge Farms has the bulk contract in a lot of stores. They sell a lot of natural foods.
  • Great way to spice up your trail mix or your meals
  • Thai Curry Cashews (loved these the most!)
  • Sea Salt and Apple Cider Vinegar Almonds or Cashews (served on top of chicken and rice)
  • Hatch Green Chili Cashews (tossed onto some tuna salad in a tortilla
  • Tamari Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (Nice umami spin)
  • Glazed Vanilla Orange Almonds (served over a brownie with some melted chocolate)

Trail Wisdom

“Backpacking is the art of knowing what not to take.”

-Sheridan Anderson, Baron Von Mabel’s Backpacking, 1980