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What Gear Do I Need?

Troop Equipment your son can borrow:

Propane Stoves
Dutch ovens
Variety of Pots and Utensils
Dining Flies
Ground Cloths

Here are the essential starters if you need to buy gear : 


An internal frame pack is the most practical. The fit is very important, and you
should take the time to bring your son to the store and try some on with experienced help.
Remember, the most expensive gear is usually NOT the best suited for a beginner. Your Scout
will likely outgrow his pack in a few years as he gets taller and stronger. Consider donating his
old pack to the troop if he has no siblings. 

Sleeping Bag

It is important to remember that some of our trips will not require carrying gear
in the pack for any distance, but many will. A modern mummy shaped bag with synthetic fill that
is easily compressed into a stuff sack will fill the bill. The thermal rating should be in the area of
+10 to +25 degrees. The higher cost fills are softer and more compressible (e.g. Polargard 3D).
You want to be sure that the stuffed bag will easily fit INSIDE the backpack, leaving room for
other clothes and gear. Not a bad idea to buy them together. Your bag should also be fit to your
son’s size and he may outgrow it sooner than you wish — but an oversized bag is cold and
unwieldy. Remember that a +25 degree bag can be used in colder conditions with the addition of
a fleece blanket or bag liner, or lots of warm, dry clothes worn inside. 

Sleeping Pad/Mattress

Again, think about a light and compact roll. A cheap and practical roll
for beginners is a full-length closed-cell foam pad of 3/8 or 1/2 inch thickness. The new
generation of semi-inflatable pads (e.g. Therma-Rest) are expensive and somewhat heavier —
avoid these for now. Also, don’t buy an air mattress. They make great beach toys, but don’t use
them backpacking.

Hiking Boots

Go for good fit, even though he will outgrow them too soon. Spend the least
amount to get a sturdy, ankle-high boot with lug soles. Suede or leather is OK and can be
waterproof treated, but synthetics are more durable, drier and cheaper. Try them on with two
pairs of socks -  a thin liner sock, and a thick hiker sock — both should be synthetic or wool
blend (no cotton if possible). Please wear them at home to break them in BEFORE you need
them on a hike.


The cheaper headlamps available are a better choice than a flashlight because they
leave the hands free to do chores like setting up tents in the dark.


A new Scout will do very well with a standard vinyl or urethane coated nylon
poncho. If he already has a good Goretex or similar rain jacket, that is OK too, but he likely will
get it very dirty. Go for value and remember he is growing. Also, he would not be the first Scout
or the last one to resort to a large garbage bag when all else fails. 


Your Scout needs a sturdy reusable water bottle — a plastic one-quart bottle
(e.g. Nalgene) is a good choice. They are cheap and durable. Remember to write his name on it. For eating, he
needs utensils and a bowl/cup — consider unbreakable plastic for these instead of metal. Again,
write his name with a permanent marking pen. A standard “mess kit” is OK to start, but these are
very limited for cooking especially in a small group (patrol) format. One medium plastic bowl, a
plastic cup or thermal mug, plastic spoon and fork — these are the essentials. A spork can also
work. The troop owns cooking gear. 

Personal Items

Get him a packable toothbrush and small toothpaste. Too many kids either
bring their home brush or get away without one. Small investment with big return. A Scout is
Clean. A small fleece washcloth or pack towel goes a long way at camp.


New Scouts with little or no backwoods experience usually have few choices at
home in outdoor clothing. Again, a growing boy will not get many years of use, so avoid
expensive choices. However, always be aware that synthetic clothing beats cotton. There are
plenty of affordable nylon or polyester cargo pants and polyester fleece shirts/sweaters. Look for
poly or blended tee shirts or long-sleeve “base-layer” garments. Cotton absorbs water from rain
or sweat and dries very slowly — making it impractical outdoors except in very hot weather.

Tents, Stoves, etc.

The troop has plenty of tents and cooking stoves, so there is no need to
invest in these items until your Scout has acquired some experience and expresses some
preferences for them. 

Knife, Compass

Scout camps forbid one-piece knives, so look for a small folding sheath
knife, preferably with a lockback for safety. Smaller is better. A multi-tool knife is OK (e.g.
Swiss Army) but look for a cheap generic one. A compass is invaluable and inexpensive. Look
for one with a lanyard hole or a carry case. The Scout Shop has good choices, but they are also
available in many outdoor stores.

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