Backcountry Sneak Peak

Backcountry Sneak Peak is a progressive, challenging backpacking expedition that provides the opportunity to experience the Philmont backcountry in preparation and training for a full Philmont Trek experience 

Participation in the Backcountry Sneak Peak program is designed for Scouting Units with individuals 13-18 and their advisorsParticipants must be registered in a Boy Scouts of America program to participate. Crews are placed under the supervision of two highly qualified Philmont Rangers who plan the Sneak Peak to meet the abilities and experience of the crew.

Your adventure will begin as you are introduced to Philmont’s best practices through tours and hikes into Philmont’s backcountry.  As your week progresses, so will your hikes from easier terrain and length to moderate and more difficult.  The end of the week will mark the end of your skills progression with an overnight experience in Philmont’s backcountry with Philmont Rangers. 

Participants will enjoy a hands-on introduction to Philmont’s backcountry and achieve a thorough understanding of the following: 

  • Efficient setting up and breaking down camp 
  • Bear bags and smellable procedures 
  • Dining fly and tent set up 
  • Gas stove care and operation 
  • Philmont’s backcountry cooking method 
  • Choosing gear that is right for you 
  • A Philmont Gear Shakedown 
  • Philmont Base Camp Operations   

The curriculum will also be provided for adult Crew Advisors attending Sneak Peak to learn more about topics like: 

  • How to go on a prep-hike 
  • Your role as a crew advisor 
  • Physical Conditioning 
  • Crew Leadership Positions & Dynamics

Participants will also enjoy other Philmont adventures like touring the National Scouting Museum, visiting Philmont’s high ropes course, participating in backcountry program, and more!

Participants must be 13 years or older (or have completed the 7th grade) and must be accompanied by an adult.  Units are welcome with two deep leadership, and families or parent(s) are welcome with age-eligible children. All participants must meet the height and weight requirements listed in the BSA Medical Form and must have a completed BSA physical (Parts A, B, & C). Hikes will vary in length, but will total in 15 – 20 miles completed over four days.  Participants will return to the PTC on Friday afternoon to check in equipment, clean up, and prepare for the trip home. 

Packing List


____ Day Pack for hikes early in the week* 
Pack with padded hip belt. Capacity: 60-70 liters (rental with pack cover also available)* 
____ Pack cover (waterproof nylon)*
____ Stuff Sacks or Large Ziploc bags to keep gear organized and dry in your pack* 


____ Sleeping bag in waterproof stuff sack. (Line the inside of stuff sack with a garbage bag to make it waterproof.) Sleeping bag should be rated to 20 degrees F.*
____ Comfortable Sleeping pad
____ Sleep clothes (T-shirt and gym shorts) to be worn only in sleeping bag*
____ Lashing Straps to hold sleeping bag and pad onto pack* 

Avoid bringing cotton items on the trail. 

____ Hiking boots*  
Boots should be well broken in. High-top boots that provide ankle support are highly recommended   
____ Lightweight tennis shoes to wear around camp* 
____ Two pair heavy hiking socks, wool or synthetic, NO COTTON.* 
____ Two pair liner socks, polypropylene* 
____ Two pair underwear* 
____ Two hiking shirts*  
____ One pair hiking shorts (zip-off pants can double as both shorts and pants)*
____ One pair long pants, Not jeans*
____ One pair insulated underwear (optional, bring if you get cold easy)* 
____ One sweater or jacket, fleece or wool*
____ Hat or cap with brim for protection from the sun* 
____ Stocking cap* 
____ Rain jacket* 
____ Rain pants* 

Personal & Miscellaneous 

____ Small flashlight or headlamp* with new batteries* 
____ Compass*  
____ Bandana*  
____ Lip balm* 
____ Small sunscreen* 
____ Toothbrush and small toothpaste* 
____ Tampons/sanitary napkins* 
____ Sunglasses* 
____ Ditty bag (small stuff sack or Ziplocfor personal smellables in bear bag* 
____ Comb/Brush* 


____ Bowl (plastic)*
____ Spoon (only utensil needed)*
____ Three – quart/liter carrying capacity bottles*


____ Money – in small bills for use at trading post
____ Camera*

All crew gear, tents, and food will be provided. You do not need to bring any extra food unless you have a specific dietary restriction you are concerned about. If you have a good quality backpacking tent you may bring it for consideration.

Do Not Plan to Bring on Trail: radios, iPods, video game devices, hammocks, makeup, or deodorant

*Available at the Tooth of Time Traders 

Sample Schedule**

Arrive to Philmont Training Center

  • Check In
  • Meet your Rangers
  • Opening Program

Spend Night in Philmont Base Camp

  • Introduction to Base Camp Operations
  • Medical Recheck & Infirmary Tour
  • Hiking Essentials Discussion
  • A Gear Breakdown with Expert  Tooth of Time Traders
  • Crew Leadership Positions breakdown

Spend night in Philmont Base Camp

Full Day Hike in Philmont’s Backcountry covering:

  • Navigation
  • Latrine Use
  • Trail Etiquette
  • Lightning Procedures
  • Water Purification

Following your return, gear pickup and how to pack your pack! Spend night in Philmont Base Camp. 

Morning Program at High Ropes Course & the
first of two nights trek in Philmont’s Backcountry

  • Campsite Set Up
  • Cooking Procedures
  • Stove Safety
  • Bear Bags
  • Leadership Debriefings

Spend night in Backcountry Camp.



Full day trek and the second night in the Backcountry

  • Camp Breakdown
  • Development Discussion
  • Backcountry Staff Camp Procedures
  • Backcountry Program
  • LNT Principles

Spend night in Backcountry Camp.

Return from the Backcountry trek Friday afternoon

  • Return Gear
  • Taking the Training Back Home
  • Budgeting and Getting to Philmont
  • Closing Experience

Spend night in Philmont Base Camp. 

Course Evaluation and head home!

**Subject to change based on crew needs, crew loads, weather, availability, etc.