Equipment Advice

What should I bring on this campout?

The troop packing list is always available on the web site, Click on "Scouting Resources", and then "Packing List" is at the top of the left column.

How to pack

Personally, for every trip I print out a copy of the packing list and then either check off items as I pack them or cross them out if I decide not to bring them. (Note: I don't check things off until I pack them. Equipment left in my closet isn't helpful.) The Scouts should pack their own bags, so that they know what they have and where it is.

What to pack

For most trips you need to look at the "Camping" column. Backpacking trips require special attention; we'll discuss them when we go on them.

This is a pretty comprehensive list. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BUY ALL OF THE STUFF ON THE LIST. We'd eventually like the Scouts to accumulate and bring this stuff, but they don't need to right away.

They should come in their class A uniforms; when we get to camp we'll switch into T-shirts (troop class B preferred, but any OK). Real shoes, preferably hiking boots but sport-style shoes are OK. Sandals are OK for putting on for a late-night bathroom trip, but not as primary footwear.

There are really only four absolutely-must-bring items:

The sack dinner must not require cooking or warming. I joke that Subway is the official sack dinner supplier of Troop 92.

A $10 sleeping bag from Walmart is usually fine, though as the list says a stuff sack is much preferred over rolling-and-tying - the Scouts are just no good at rolling and tying sleeping bags. A stuff sack also helps to keep the bag clean and dry.

You should be able to put together a mess kit for less than $10, and might well be able to find what you need at home: sturdy plasticware is fine. Plate, bowl, cup, knife, fork, spoon (or spork is OK). (Pocket knife knife/fork/spoon combinations are undesirable because they are hard to clean.)

As for something to put stuff in, a duffel bag is probably the most likely choice... just so we don't have more than about two or three separate objects to pack per Scout. Typical is a duffel bag, sleeping bag, and pad.

If we're hiking, a water container is a requirement. It can be a Camelbak-style pack or a water bottle in some kind of carrier - shoulder strap, fanny pack, et cetera. A bottle that must be carried in your hands is not acceptable. Start at one liter for modest hikes; two liters is better.

The next tier is probably a pad, either foam or inflatable. My children like the Therm-a-Rest Z-lite, about $40 from REI. (Probably less elsewhere.)

Spare clothes are good. We don't usually expect to get wet/dirty, so they're somewhat optional. If we are expecting to get wet, more is good. Remember, though: this is camping. It's OK to come back stinky. (If this was backpacking, coming back not-stinky means you packed way too much.)

Sunscreen. I hate sunscreen more than I hate sunburn, but I hate skin cancer more than I hate sunscreen. 'nuf said.

Hats. See sunscreen. Some people like baseball caps; I don't - I want my neck covered. Crushable is in my mind a requirement.

Soap. We wash hands before every meal. If it's a bar, put it into a container. A baggie will work.

A flashlight and spare batteries.

Things NOT to pack

Electronics. Expensive stuff. Snacks are OK, but need to be moved into our food boxes so animals don't try to get into the tents.

Where to buy

REI is great. I love REI. They have good stuff and great service. They are also really expensive. Don't run out and buy expensive stuff from them unless you know that you want it. The cheapest sleeping bag from REI is $50... the cheapest from Walmart is $10. I love my $110 REI 45-degree bag that packs into the size of a small pillow and my $160 Kelty zero-degree bag... but you don't need to start with that kind of thing. Think Walmart. Think Big Five.

About electronics

Obviously I won't know if a Scout brings a cell phone "for emergencies"... and as long as it stays packed away, I don't really care, either. What I don't want is Scouts paying attention to music or games or texting when they should be paying attention to camping or hiking. What I don't want is unhappy Scouts or parents when expensive toys get lost or broken.