Hiking the Grand Canyon (1 Viewer)

Tony in Brandon

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Next March, my Scout Troop is spending spring break in the Grand Canyon. Im fairly experienced hiking and camping, but not very experienced hiking with a pack for a week. My weekend goto pack is an Osprey pack, 33L. However, for a weeklong trek, what capacity do I need? Is there a more affordable pack out there that is lightweight yet not incredibly expensive? Im looking for suggestions and advice. Thanks in advance!
 

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If you're going for a week, you're going to want something at least 50L. Assuming that you're not fully into ultralight hiking and have your gear narrowed down to the bare essentials I'd opt for something at 70L, so between the 33L and 70L you're covered for whatever kind of trip you could possiblely take. Sierra Designs makes a pack with a nice compression system called the Flex Capacitor and weighs less than 4 lbs. It's going to set you back $200 so I'm not sure if you're that serious. If you browse through Amazon you can sort them for 50L-80L and by pack weight. I found several in that size range for less than 4 lbs and below $100.

r/ultralight is a pretty good resource if you're serious.
 

Brennan77

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For that length of time I'd go with no smaller than a 65L. If you're carrying for yourself, you might be able to get by with this capacity depending on your personal preferences and requirements. If you're carrying some of the weight for the kids, you might need bigger. Osprey is still top notch and it's what I use. The year before last I spent 5 days out in Wyoming, with a bear canister, and had no trouble in my 65L, though my wife also had hrers and we split the gear load.

One thing to check out is that one or two of the camps in the canyon have facilities with meals that you can order ahead of time. This may be useful.
 

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I found this one. I like a lot of compression straps. I can't speak to the quality, but it holds 60L and weighs less than 3 lbs. If you're looking for suggestions on location, remember North Rim > South Rim.
 
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Tony in Brandon

Tony in Brandon

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Thanks for the info! We're staying at Mathers Campground. We'll be putting in for our permits by November 1. I've had my Osprey for about 5 years, and it still looks like new. Other than weeklong summer camp and winter camp, it has been used one weekend a month during that time. Weekend hiking trips are something my son and I enjoy doing together, so I hope thatit is something we continue to do as he gets older
 

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Thanks for the info! We're staying at Mathers Campground. We'll be putting in for our permits by November 1. I've had my Osprey for about 5 years, and it still looks like new. Other than weeklong summer camp and winter camp, it has been used one weekend a month during that time. Weekend hiking trips are something my son and I enjoy doing together, so I hope thatit is something we continue to do as he gets older
I'm a little confused. Are you backpacking and camping out with Mathers as the jumping point? It looks like you can drive right up to the area. If youre not carrying a week of food you shouldn't need a huge bag. Regardless I'm sure you'll have a great time. We tried for permits but didn't get in one year. We ended up in Washington instead.
 
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Tony in Brandon

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Mathers wil be our base camp. Im not the one handling the planning and details, so I'm going to basically do whatever im told to do. We are planning to do a 4 day trek in the canyon, at minimum, is what I'm told. Like I said, I'm not involved in the planning; I'm just along for the hiking.
 
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dgrant

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Carry more water than you think you need. Three camelback bladders per person would be a minimum if there is no water on the hike. Hiking poles, hat, sunglasses, small bottle of lotion, and chapstick are musts. I spent two weeks hiking out west this spring, and I couldn't believe how valuable these items were. The dry environment just sucks the moisture out of you.

Freeze dried mountain house meals are your best friend. It is simply too exhausting and heavy to mess with real cooking on a backpacking trip with scouts. Bring spices and seasonings to doctor up the flavors as they can be bland. They are expensive and worth every penny. They are also delicious. Bring extra for yourself and kids that need them; you'll burn more calories than you can imagine. Don't stop to cook hot lunches. It takes forever to unpack the stove and re-pack when kids are involved. Find a powdered electrolyte drink to mix with your water; bring enough to drink a couple each day. You'll thank me later.

Temperatures at night will be cold, so bring a bag rated for less than what the actual nighttime temps will be, IE 20 deg bag for 30 deg weather. Nothing beats down bags. A long sleeve breathable poly shirt is needed for the sun during the day.

Don't get a bigger backpack unless you absolutely must. Stuff doesn't equal comfort. A smaller bag will prevent you from packing too much stuff. With all the water you'll be packing, your packs will be heavy before you put your first camping item in. Each bag has a matching suspension system. A small overloaded bag will bite more into your shoulder and hips. The only way to know if it all feels and fits right is to practice loading it up with your gear and water and go walking for a couple of miles.

Wear trail runners instead of leather hiking boots, unless you have bad ankles.

Good luck, stay safe, and have a blast! There is nothing like seeing kids enjoy their first backpacking trip. No one will ever forget it.
 
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Tony in Brandon

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We are putting in for permits to do the rim to rim, but with the luck of the draw, who knows if we will get them. A fellow Scout troop from here went the same week last year. There was snow everywhere. According to what we can find on the web, the average high that week is 45 with lows around 20 (this is what I was told at least). This will be cold weather for a bunch of folks from Mississippi. I truly appreciate all of the info and insight!
 

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I don't think you will have any issues getting a rim-to-rim permit in March, but I could be wrong. There is always the Hermit Loop Trail, too. Rim-to-rim can take as long or as short as you want as there are plenty of diversions along the way like Ribbon Falls and Plateau Point. Water shouldn't be an issue, so don't overload yourself. There will be places along the way to refill at the campgrounds, one of which I think has actual flushing toilets. If you have never hiked desert climates before, be warned that the water does evaporate out of you faster than you think.

When I'm on the North Rim, I carry a fleece sleeping bag liner to use if it gets colder than expected. They're about $10 on Amazon and work well as a pillow if you don't line your bag. (In the summer, that's what I'll use in a hammock instead of a bag.) You might bring a small black light to hunt for scorpions. I doubt kids from MS get to see them very often and it's pretty cool to see them glow. Lots to see and you're eyes/brain will have trouble taking it all in at once.
 
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Tony in Brandon

Tony in Brandon

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One of our concerns is water. In March, we've been told that water is hit and miss in the campground areas, that pipes freeze up and stuff.

Good to know about the black light. I'll have to add one to my pack
 

MLU

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One of our concerns is water. In March, we've been told that water is hit and miss in the campground areas, that pipes freeze up and stuff.

Good to know about the black light. I'll have to add one to my pack
Worst-case everyone brings filtration and you fill at the source.
 

dgrant

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MLU, I didn't realize you lived in AZ. Great stuff about the scorpions. I would like to see that myself. I guess there is a ferry to take someone across the Colorado river on a rim to rim? The shuttle set-up must take several hours.

Tony, that is a trip that is on my bucket list. I hope you keep the thread going to keep us updated on the progress. Its cool to live vicariously through someone else. I help lead out with a co-ed church scouting group called Pathfinders on some backpacking trips. The kids are a hassle, the logistics are complicated, and it is twice as much work as just taking your own family. You must have a really good troop leader if they are willing to take on such a monumental task.
 

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