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Camping, as with any activity, is easier and more enjoyable if you have the right equipment. With Boy Scouts, the trick is to balance equipment cost, features, and size with the size and interests of the Scout. Scouts will outgrow some gear, or their interest in camping may never expand to justify the extra costs of higher end, or "technical" gear.
Some say that in the long run, with camping gear you get what you pay for. While that's often true (as someone who spent a miserable night in a cheap tent will affirm), you can shop smart and improve the quality of your camping life. If you're willing to price compare, accept last year's model, factory seconds, and buy from catalogs, you can accumulate and upgrade your gear and not go broke.
The following is a suggested list of equipment Scouts (and High Adventure Scouters) should acquire if they want to be more comfortable on camp outs and expect to continue in scouting. If they want to expand their horizons into low impact scouting and related high adventure outings, he right equipment is a must, not a luxury.
WHEN AND WHERE TO BUY?
It's easiest on the budget to accumulate gear over time, as the Scout establishes a commitment to scouting and advancing through ranks. Consider buying equipment for holiday and birthday gifts. Let relatives know of items they could buy for your Scout. For example, give grandparents and aunts and uncles a list of specific items the scout needs. Give them a copy of an equipment catalog (like the Campmor catalog) with suggested items circled (beats getting another package of black socks or handkerchiefs).If you know what you want, shop for price by catalog or on the Internet. Suggestions: Campmor, REI Outlet, Killer Deals, EMS, Outdoor Outlet and Sierra Trading Post. See the "Camping Stores" section of our links page to get to these internet sites.Campmor sells a ton of great gear at rock bottom prices. They don't charge sales tax, and if we order through the Troop as a group they give a 10% discount.
REI Outlet is the Internet-only sales outlet for REI store overstocks, model year closeouts, and seconds or irregulars. If you don't mind having last year's style, or an unpopular color, you can buy very high quality gear at very reduced prices. You won't find these bargains at the local REI store or in the regular catalog. Outdoor Outlet and Sierra Trading Post are just like REI Outlet; closeouts, overstocks, irregulars. Worth checking every week or so for deals you can't pass up. Outdoor Outlet has some first quality items for sale as well.If you need help selecting an item, or want to see and feel, try REI, Galyan's, Whole Earth Provision Co., Mountain Hideout, Oshman's, Academy Sports, and even the local Walmart.
REI, located just east of Freed's furniture, on the north side of 635, east of Midway, is the premier camping gear store. Very knowledgeable help, top quality gear, and an unbeatable return and guaranty policy. If you become a member, you earn patronage dividends each year which are usually around 10%. The prices are higher generally than, say, Campmor, but the patronage dividend closes the gap somewhat, and for some purchases the extra service and no questions asked return policy are worth the extra cost.
Galyan's, located in the Stonebriar Mall in Frisco (NW corner of Preston RD and SH 121) is also a premier camping gear store. Like REI, but with greater selection of general sporting goods and clothing, and no membership. Help from the sales staff can be spotty at times, especially in the footwear department. Mountain Hideout, 14010 Coit, Dallas, is smaller than REI and Galyan's, but provides good customer service and quality back packing gear. Whole Earth Provision Co, 5400 Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, is located just a few blocks west of 75 Central Expressway in a strip center on the south side of Mockingbird Lane. It stocks high-end back backing gear, and provides excellent customer service. Shopping here could be overkill for the novice, but great for someone interested in cutting edge gear (and willing to pay for it). Better selection of down sleeping bags than REI or Galyan's.Oshman's, Academy, and similar sporting goods stores have a more limited inventory of camping gear than REI, and the help may not always know much about the gear. Prices may be better than REI, and yet you can try on and touch the gear (unlike buying from Campmor). Walmart is a great place to buy miscellaneous items cheap, like waterproof matches, Mag-Light flashlights, cheap rain ponchos, etc.
SLEEPING BAG - You need a small and lightweight bag that will fit easily into a stuff sack and in your internal backpack or strap to an external frame. A 20-degree bag should be adequate to keep you warm. A cheaper synthetic-fill bag is probably better for scouts than a down-filled bag: synthetic is cheaper, and warmer if it gets wet than down. A compression stuff sack is very useful for back packing, and a must if you plan on using an internal frame pack. Expect to pay $75 - $150 for a synthetic bag, and $140-$350 for a down bag. Mummy bags are warmest, but most constricting. Semi-rectangular allow more movement when sleeping, but are heavier and not as warm because your head and neck stick out. Just say "No" to rectangular bags unless it's for a slumber party. Brands to look for: Campmor, REI, The North Face, Sierra Designs, Moonstone, Marmot, Kelty; for high end down bags check out Feathered Friends, Western Mountaineering, and Marmot.
MATTRESS PAD - A good mattress pad such as a Therm-a-Rest, Z-Rest, or Ridge-Rest, are necessary to insulate your sleeping bag from the ground and soften the rocks you will sleeping on. Hint: try 'em out in the store or borrow one on a camp out. Therm-a-Rests are very popular and now come in a variety of thicknesses, both full and ¾ length. A Z-Rest is light, easy and quick to lay out and pack up, and relatively inexpensive. For lots of comfort without the bulk or too much weight, consider the Big Agnes Air Core inflatable pad - it's an air mattress designed for the rigors of backpacking, and packs up to the size of a 1 quart Nalgene bottle. Expect to pay $20 - $100, Ridgerest and Z-Rest being the cheapest, and Therm-a-Rests on the high end.
BACKPACK - Internal frame or external frame? Each has its advantages. External frame packs are cheaper, cooler (more air flow between pack and back) and more versatile if you need to carry oddly shaped or bulky gear. Internal frame packs are modern-looking, and typically have better suspension for carrying weight comfortably with better balance than externals. Smaller sized and adjustable packs are available that won't overwhelm a young scout but not be outgrown too quickly. Here's an item that can often be picked up used from an older scout or neighbor. Brand new modern packs may be lighter, but any pack made within the last 10 years should be fine for beginning scouts, and the money saved can be allocated to better clothing or other gear. High Adventure scouts (and Scouters) should look for packs made within the last 5 years or newer since recent design improvements make a difference when you're carrying 30 to 50 pounds for miles at a time.
Average High Adventure users need an external frame pack that holds 3000 cubic inches or more, or an internal frame pack that holds 4800 cubic inches or more. Weekend-only campers and experienced lightweight backpackers can get by with smaller packs. Expect to pay $70 - $300 new. Brands to look for: Camp Trails, JanSport, REI, Kelty, Dana Designs, Gregory, Mountainsmith, The North Face, Osprey, Arc'Teryx, Granite Gear, Coleman Exponent, and Lowe Alpine.
HIKING BOOTS - Younger scouts and older scouts who camp "high impact" can get by with inexpensive light hikers. Buy 'em on sale and spray 'em with waterproofing. They will provide more support and water-resistance than tennis shoes. Expect to pay $30 - $75.
Scouts who want to participate in high adventure scouting will need to have a good pair of hiking boots. On six-day backpacking hikes each crew member will carrying between 40+ pounds of equipment and food on their back. The added weight will put a fair amount of strain on the body; therefore, good quality hiking boots with a stiff sole are a must. The trails we will be hiking during high adventure treks are rough and uneven. You can protect yourself from most injuries that may result from a twisted or turned ankle with a good hiking boot. Some are available with Gore-Tex liners which make the boots waterproof, but also make your feet warmer. Whether you get boots with Gore-Tex or not, apply external waterproofing (like Nikwax) to help preserve the leather and fabric exterior of the boot. When buying, try them on with the same socks you'll be hiking in to assure a good fit. Expect to pay between $80 to $150. Brands to look for on the higher end are Asolo, Vasque, Montrail, REI, Merrill, Saloman, Raichle, Sportiva.
THERMAL LAYER - A good pair of wicking long underwear (long sleeve top and bottom) are invaluable to keep the chill off you at night or on cold, windy days. Make sure they are moisture wicking silk or synthetic, not cotton. Expect to pay $10 - $50 for a set. Name brands include: Capilene, SmartWool, Duofold, Therma-Silk.
LONG PANTS - Hiking pants that let you zip off the leg portion to shorts are ideal. Don't bring blue jeans or other cotton blended pants. Jeans do not wick away water very well, so when you get wet in them you stay wet and get cold. This why your clothing should be synthetic materials which dry quickly. Expect to pay $40 - $60.
SHORTS - If you bring the hiking pants with legs that zip off into shorts you won't need separate shorts. If you do bring shorts, make sure they're synthetic for the reasons stated above.
LONG SLEEVE SHIRT - You may want one to wear in the morning or evening when it's cooler. Again, synthetic or wool. But consider whether a jacket or windshirt may be enough, as described below.
T - SHIRTS - You probably want two. Ideally these should be a synthetic polypro blend so they will wick moisture away from your body. Expect to pay $15 - $30. Brand names to look for: Duofold; REI MTS; Perl Izumi; CoolMax; Mountain Hardwear.
UNDERWEAR - It bears repeating: cotton gets wet and stays wet and cold. A pair of wicking underwear enhances comfort on hot hikes, in the rain or on canoe trips. Brand names to look for: Duofold; REI MTS; Pearl Izumi; CoolMax; Mountain Hardwear, SmartWool.
SOCKS - Get a good outer heavy-duty woolen or hiking sock and wear it over a synthetic or polypro wicking sock liner. This will eliminate most problems with blisters. You can alternate with two pairs for hiking and keep the third pair for sleeping or wearing in camp. Expect to pay $12- 16 a pair for hiking socks and around $7 for liners. Brands to look for: Thorlo, SmartWool, Bridgedale, FoxRiver, UltraMax.
JACKET OR WINDSHIRT- A Polartec-type fleece jacket would be best for cold mornings or evenings. Here's a place you can save money with overstocks, etc. Expect to pay anywhere from $25 - $200. As an alternative to a jacket and/or long sleeve shirt, consider a technical windshirt. These garments are a cross between a sweatshirt and light windbreaker jacket, and most even repel mist and drizzle. You'll pay a bit more for one, but it can replace your long sleeve shirt and jacket and still weigh less than a fleece jacket. Look for last year's color or model and save money. Expect to pay between $100-$275. Brands to look for are: Marmot Driclime, Arc'Teryx, REI, Perl Izumi, Mountain Hardwear.
RAIN JACKET & RAIN PANTS - GGet a lightweight hooded waterproof outer jacket that can be thrown on to keep dry in rain. Rain pants are also good, especially when it's cold or at high altitudes. No ponchos please. You need something that you can hike in which will keep you dry all day if it rains. Breathable fabric and/or pit zippers help control heat and moisture that builds up inside your rain gear, but adds to the cost. Expect to pay $20 for plastic (not recommended) up to $250 for higher-end breathable stuff. Brands to look for include: Marmot Precip, Red Ledge, REI, Patagonia, Campmor, Frogg Toggs.
BRIMMED HAT - UV rays will fry your skin unless you have a brimmed hat that protects your neck, face and nose. Baseball caps are better than nothing, but hats with a wrap-around brim or an ear and neck scarf are better.
STOCKING HAT OR BALACLAVA - To wear at high altitudes, on cool evenings around the camp fire, or at bedtime. A warm hat and dry socks can make your sleeping bag seem 10 or 15 degrees warmer. Choose synthetic, fleece or wool.
CAMP SHOES - Lightweight shoes to wear in camp are comfortable, but it's your choice. Cheap tennis shoes or old topsiders. Some wear Keens or similar CLOSED TOE sandals, which can also serve as foot protection during wet stream or river crossings. No Flip Flips or opened toed shoes, as they can end an adventure quickly.
LIGHTWEIGHT GLOVES - Wool or synthetic gloves, including fingertip-less gloves, can protect hands and warm them during prolonged hikes in cool rain. Also helps when handling hot pots and lids when cooking.
STUFF SACK - You need at least one to keep all your "smellables" in to place in the Troop bear bag each evening.
COMPRESSION BAG - If you have an internal frame backpack, you'll need one to minimize the size of your sleeping bag before you put it in the bottom of your pack. A water resistant or waterproof sack is extra insurance to assure a dry night's sleep. Expect to pay $15-$40.
BACKPACK RAIN COVER - Yeah, a garbage bag will do if it fits well and you're careful not to rip or tear it. If you're going to participate in high adventure backpacking, buy a regular rain cover.
SMALL TOWEL - Use it to wash up with. The synthetic shammies in the auto parts department at WalMart are cheap, light, and the same stuff as in the much more expensive Pack-Towel brand of synthetic towel.
HANDKERCHIEF/BANDANNA - Not a required item, but it comes in handy for many things including first aid emergencies.
SOAP - Campsuds, which you can buy at REI or Walmart. Campsuds is a biodegradable soap that can used to wash up anything.
PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT - Small, compact, and customized to your needs. The troop provides a big kit, so focus on personal consumables like blister care products, a few band aids, etc.
EMERGENCY WHISTLE - Much more effective than yelling and gets attention immediately. Scares away black bears.
POTTY KIT - Lightweight plastic hand shovel, partial roll of toilet paper, small bottle of hand sanitizer. Keeping your TP dry in a Zip-loc bag might be a good idea. Often one or two shovels are shared in a patrol so everyone doesn't have to carry one.
CUP - A cup for drinking. It can be plastic or metal. Cheap plastic thermal coffee cups work great, and are "holdable" when full of hot chocolate.
BOWL - This will be all you will need to eat out of on the trail. It can be plastic or metal.
SPOON - This is the only silverware you will need on the trail. If you have money to burn, try a MSR titanium "Spork", a cross between a spoon and a fork. If you're cheap, use the durable plastic spoon you get with your McDonald's Flurry drink (it's tough enough to mix your Flurry, so it's durable enough to take camping).
WATER BOTTLES OR HYDRATION BLADDERS - You must have water when hiking! Hydration packs with on-the-go drinking tubes are becoming popular (Platypus, Camelback), but two plastic one quart bottles (Nalgene, Lexan) work fine. Whichever way you go, have capacity to start a hike with 2 quarts/liters of water.
SUNSCREEN - Must have a good sunscreen with high Sun Protection Factor ("SPF").
COMPASS - Spend a little more and get a GOOD compass, mounted on a small plastic base for orienteering.
POCKETKNIFE - No sheath knives! Multi-purpose (Swiss Army-type) knives are the most practical. Refer to the Troop 35 Knife Policy for details.
FIRE STARTER KIT - Used in emergencies only when your life or the life of another depends on it.
MATCHES - To be used with emergency fire starter kit. Waterproof, please.
FLASHLIGHT - A small Mag-lite with extra batteries and spare bulb, or a lightweight LED headlamp. A headband flashlight holder is handy to have with a Mag-lite to free your hands at night.
WATER PURIFICATION TREATMENT - Unless pumped through a purification filter, Polar Pure or other water tablet is necessary before you drink any water from a stream. It's also good to have the tablets as back up in case the water pump fails. Look for: Polar Pur, Potable Aqua Plus, Aquamira.E
XTRA FOOD - Pack extra food which is only to be used in emergencies. Some suggest you take something along you would normally not eat. Don't worry in an emergency if you get hungry enough you will eventually eat it. Look for: Power Bar, Cliff Bar, Goo, Zone Bar, Granola Bar.S
SUNGLASSES - The UV rays are extreme, especially when hiking at high altitudes. You will need a good pair of sunglasses.
CHAPSTICK - The best contain sunscreen for maximum protection. Get a couple sticks so you're never without.
Troop 35 backpack meal guidelines
Backpack breakfast items:Hard boiled egg (still in shell)
Instant grits, oatmeal, or Cream of Wheat
Hormel pre-cooked bacon (keep sealed in package until ready to eat.)
Bring favorite cereal in ziplock bag. Mix powdered milk with water for cereal.
Slim Jim sausages
Lunch:Tuna or chicken. Buy tuna or chicken in foil packets or small cans. Put on crackers or pita bread.
Peanut butter and crackers.
String cheese or single cheese squares sealed in plastic.
Summer sausage on crackers.
Dinner:You want to make dinners that are dehydrated or cooked with boiling water.
Red or Black beans and rice (Vigo or Zatarain's)
add meat by using
Chicken, salmon or tuna in foil packets
Snacks:Don't load up on too many sweets.
Jello single serve puddings
cookies in single packs
dehydrated fruit such as apples, raisans, pineapple, bananas
apples or oranges
Last revised: 02/21/2006
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