Pocket Knife: Wait. Even though they may have a knife from Webelos, Scouts need to get their Totin’ Chit before they can use a pocket knife on outings. Once trained, a basic, inexpensive folding pocket knife is best.
Matches and Fire starter: Wait. Scouts need to earn their Firem'n Chit before they can use fire on outings. No lighters.
Compass: Buy. A standard base plate compass, like the Silva Starter 1-2-3, or similar.
First Aid Kit: Do not buy one. We will make personal first aid kits during a meeting.
Sun Protection: SPF 30 or higher.
Rain Gear: Buy. Gore Tex and other breathable waterproof fabrics are ideal, but expensive, especially when they will be growing out of a number of jackets between the ages of 11 to 17. A simpler solution is a poncho.
Water Bottle: Buy. Simple and cheap. Even if you get a backpack with a Camelbak water system in it, have a water bottle as well. At least 1 quart or larger, plastic or metal.
Flashlight: Buy a headlamp. You can get a decent, high quality LED headlamp for about $15. Headlamps fall into the category of things that are likely to be lost or broken. Don’t spend too much here.
Mess Kit: No glass or ceramics - metal or plastic recommended. Small. The entire kit should fit in a gallon sized zip-top bag, with the bag still able to be closed, and that's still a little big. For most outings, a spoon, a fork, a bowl and a cup are all you’ll need. In fact, a simple plastic bowl that Kool Whip or some other food came in and a plastic spoon and fork will work in a pinch.
Buy. If you’re going to spend some money, invest in a decent, lightweight sleeping bag. Avoid a down-stuffed bag for Scouts because we live in a wet climate and down stops working when it gets wet. Avoid a cotton bag for the same reason. There are low-weight, low cost bags available. We suggest a 3 season bag (20-40 degree*). You may want to consider a -10-0 degree* bag for our winter camping. You want to balance weight (under 3lbs), size (does it compress well?) and cost. The bag should compress to under 9” x 16”. Mummy-style bags are generally warmer than rectangular bags but may not be comfortable for some people. A great resource for choosing a sleeping back is at rei.com: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/sleeping-bag.html
* degree ratings do not mean "this bag will keep you warm if you sleep in it when dressed for bed at home." A rating means "this bag will keep you warm at this temperature range if you are dressed for the weather."
Sleeping Bag Liner: Make or Buy. A liner is nothing more than a flannel blanket with zippers to make it match the size and shape of your sleeping bag. You can simply bring a blanket along in your sleeping bag for extra warmth, especially in the early spring or late fall to suppliment your bag. In the summer, you may choose to use only the liner on top of your bag.
Sleeping Pad: Buy. You need something between your bag and the ground. Scouts generally can sleep on anything. A simple closed-cell sleeping pad will do. The majority of your weight is placed on your torso, so the pad does not necessarily need to be longer then knee length. You can use your pack to insulate your feet from the ground.
Backpack with rain cover:
Wait a bit before buying this. There are two classes of packs: internal and external frames. Scouts tend to like to have what the other guys have and the other guys generally gravitate toward internal frames. It’s largely personal preference. Your best bet is to go to EMS or another sporting goods store and try one on. Load some stuff in it and have your Scout walk around a bit. It’s very important that the pack fit. This is why you should wait. A pack sized for a 10-year-old won’t do for a 15-year-old. We have several packs we can lend in the mean time. If you get a pack at EMS they can fit it to the Scout. Three season hikes should not take more than a 50L pack. The rain cover can be as simple as a large trash bag. Don't underestimate the value of this cover on a damp or rainy trip!EMS
has a great web site. Here is information on choosing a pack, fitting a pack, and loading a pack
. Well worth the read and watching the videos.
Footwear: All new Scouts can use the sneakers that they wear for everyday use for camping. Since these boys are constantly growing out of shoes, don’t purchase expensive shoes for hiking. Their current sneakers will do fine as long as they are not completely filled with holes and have some tread left on the bottoms, and are able to be tied tightly. When you look at new sneakers, consider purchasing running, or even better, trail-running shoes instead of items like "skate" shoes.
Boots: Boots are important for winter wear, for warmth, for genuine hiking, for deeper-woods trails and for climbs. Don’t get expensive boots, the most affordable "real boots" that you can get in Walmart or Target will do.
Clothing appropriate for the season and weather:
Base or Wicking layer: From shirts to boxers/briefs, you want the layer of clothes closest to your skin to move the moisture (from sweat, rain, etc) away from your body (to wick) so that your body can properly stay warm. Cotton does the opposite. There are a number of synthetic materials like Coolmax, Capilene, and others that work well for this base level. You can find clothes made from this at EMS and other sporting goods stores. The same rule applies for socks. In addition to these synthetic materials, wool provides the right combination of cushion, wicking and warmth.
Insulation layer: This is the next layer out. We dress in layers, often piling on 4 or 5 smaller layers instead of 3 big ones. Generally this layer is your fleece layer. Look for fleece jackets of various thicknesses and sizes at thrift stores.
Outerwear: Depending on the season, a light nylon windbreaker may be all you need (especially if you have enough insulation layers). Generally this layer serves to protect you from wind and/or rain. Check thrift stores here as well.