I have compiled a basic list of gear that your scout should have before heading off on their camping adventures. Now there may be times when the challenge will be camping with less gear, or your scout may find personal replacements for some of these items
Pack – Your pack is to carry everything in, of course, with a minimum of discomfort. A modern framed pack is ideal for the environment most Scouts hike in. It is essential that a pack fits properly on your back. It should have wide shoulder straps and a firm, padded hip belt. At least 50 liters big but no bigger than 65 should ever be needed except for extended trips.
If you don’t have access to a proper pack, Talk to your Scouters.
Sleeping Bag – A reasonable quality bag is essential for a good night’s sleep. Ideally as compact as possible to help with the weight and size loading in your pack, but remember our troop will be camping in all seasons. Multiple bags for every seasons would be best, but if you can only afford one bag pick a -10 bag at least. It is light enough to carry backpacking and with the addition of some blankets is warm enough for a winter camp.
Sleeping Pad – From a basic foam mat rolled and tied to the top of their pack to an ultralight Thermarest all these items do the same job… They provide a layer of insulation between the scout and the ground. The cost and complexity is a personal choice, they have an R rating the higher this number the better the insulation.
Tent – Some groups provide tents to the youth, but more and more scouts are being asked to supply their own tent. For basic backpacking you should not have anything bigger than a 3P (3 person) Tent as weight will be a factor. Aluminum poles are lighter than fiberglass, but do not take as much as a beating. You want to make sure that the tent is a 3 (mesh tent body) or 4 (full nylon tent body) season with full fly (Fly goes all the way to the ground). Make sure the seams are sealed and taped. A bathtub bottom is a tent with a waterproof tarp bottom, these are great in wet conditions and don’t require a groundsheet, but the disadvantage is they do not roll up as small and weigh a little more. A nylon bottom tent is lighter and rolls up smaller but if there is any moisture a groundsheet is required which negates the savings you got from the lighter tent. For scout age kids here in BC I would recommend a 3P, 4 season full fly tent with a bathtub bottom. (we camp in the rain… a lot) I like to have room to bring my gear inside the tent with me as we live in very rainy conditions and it it much nicer to have dry things.
Flashlight – A small flashlight or better a headlamp, and a spare set of batteries should always be carried. Now not all flashlights are created equal, dollar store lights say bright LED flashlight but only produce 20 lumens. Scouts should carry a flashlight between 100 and 250 lumens. Anything more is not necessary, anything less is just not bright enough to work by, and not enough to signal with if you need to. Rechargeable is nice for short trips, but battery operated may be more practical on longer trips where there is no place to plug in.
Toilet Gear – Should be carried by each person. Bar or liquid soap, small hand towel, toothbrush and toothpaste. Half a roll of TP in plastic bag. Hand sanitizer, and baby wipes are always useful.
Mess Kit – One plate or bowl, usually plastic, aluminium or enamel, and a mug. A knife, fork and spoon (or spork) are necessary, and together with your plate and mug, be kept in a mesh bag along with a tea towel. For lightweight camping scouts will be expected to prepare their own meals and will require a lightweight pot, Scouts might want to consider a cook system like the ones from Stanley with a cook pot and mug. Ask your Scouters for further advice.
Water Bottle – A 650 ml or larger water bottle, plastic or aluminium, must be carried by each person. A personal water filter or water purification tabs are always useful as well.
Whistle – A whistle is essential. Despite best endeavors, Patrols do sometimes get separated or lost – especially when it gets dark, and the noise of a whistle to attract attention is far superior to that made by a human voice.
First Aid Kit – The youth must carry a suitable First Aid Kit. A kit put together in sealed dry bag or freezer style ziplock is often more suitable and versatile than a commercially packed kit. See later in this Guide for recommended First Aid Kit contents for a hike up to 3 days long. Remember blister pads are a must on any hike.
Boots – These need not be expensive, but do need to be in good condition and comfortable. Remember that feet swell when walking and when a load is carried the foot lengthens and widens. A rubber sole with a heavy tread will provide good grip and most surfaces. In warmer dryer weather a good pair of runners is ok, as long as they lace up tight and have some grip, a skate shoe is not acceptable.
Socks – Thick non-cotton socks are needed to absorb moisture and to cushion the feet (wool, or wicking fibers).
Under Clothing – A good wicking layer is important, wool used to be the old standby but new fibers have hit the market that make your under clothing lightweight and effective. T-shirt and underwear for most trips but in cold weather add long underwear to the list. Don’t run out and spend a bundle on a full set of under armor especially on growing youth, watch Walmart, and Canadian tire, as well watch for end of season sales.
Trousers – Long trousers are essential in cold weather; however, shorts are comfortable in most conditions and should be worn whilst hiking. Tight fitting jeans should not be worn at all (cotton bad). Track suit pants are good for around the camp at night as long as it is not wet. Trousers that zip off into shorts are great.
Shirt – Your shirt should have long sleeves and a collar for both warmth in cold weather and protection from sunburn (a scouts uniform). A light “t-shirt” could also be carried.
Hoodie – A woolen or fleece long sleeved sweater or hoodie, or equivalent, is necessary. This is your warmth layer to be worn over your wicking layer and under your parka or rain gear.
Parka – A parka or waterproof jacket is your main protection against wind and rain. The best type is a hooded japara type, combined with rain pants for complete protection.. Padded ski and sailing jackets are not suitable except in winter conditions that are cold and dry they tend to be only water resistant. Instead of a parka you can use acceptable waterproof rain gear. Jacket and pants are the best combo. I have a lightweight emergency poncho in my kit but do not use it for my day to day. Poncho’s can interfere with your hands when trying to work.
Hat – A hat must be worn for sun protection, in cold weather a toque (also good to use as a cozzie for preparing meals). Your hat is your best friend.
Survival Kit – All scouts will be assisted in preparing a survival kit or updating the one they brought from pack or previous years of troop. These kits will have to be carried at every camp and wilderness outing. We will show the scouts how to make light effective kits.