What Each Scout Should Have:
Boy Scout Handbook
The Boy Scout Handbook is THE guide to the Scouting adventure, which you can buy at the Scout Shop or another store that sells Scout items. Read it carefully and often. It is packed with good ideas about camping skills, Scoutcraft skills, and valuable information about you and the world around you.
Boy's Life Magazine
The magazine about Scouting. If possible, you should join the million other boys who subscribe to this great publication. Subscriptions can be included in your registration when you join or renew your membership in the Troop.
What Each Scout Should Not Have:
- Personal Electronics. Scouting is about fellowship. So, when we go on campouts and other outings, leave your cell phone, video games, and other personal electronic gear at home.
- Long Knives. For safety reasons, you are not allowed to carry a fixed blade (sheath) knife of any size or any other knife with a blade longer than 3 inches. Knives that are 3 inches or less in length are sufficient for our needs on the trail.
- Note for new Scouts: You must earn the right to carry a knife. For safety reasons, you are not allowed to carry any knife, hatchet or other sharp tool until you have earned your Totin' Chip badge. It signifies that you have mastered the skills for safe handling of woodcutting tools.
- Mishandling your knife results in loss of your privilege to carry it until you satisfy the SM/SA that you understand and will comply with safe handling requirements.
- Prescription Drugs. On Troop outings, any prescription medications your doctor requires you to take must be turned in to the adult leader who will keep your medicine and give you the amount needed for each dose. This helps the adult leaders stay informed about each Scout's medical condition.
Essential Backpacking Gear
While the Troop provides each patrol with much of the gear for camping, such as tents, and cooking equipment, each Scout must have basic personal gear suitable for carrying (compact and lightweight) on overnight hikes. The following summarizes the basic gear you need to enjoy our Troop's backpack camping program.
Gear Sources. Some sources are: Hiker Direct http://www.hikerdirect.com, Sierra Trading Post (http://www.sierratrading.com), Campmor mail-order camping supply company (1-888-226-7667, or on the web at www.campmor.com). Local suppliers with comparable offerings are Appalachian Outfitters (Oakton), REI (Bailey's Crossroads), Casual Adventure (703-527-0600), Galyans (Off I-66), and Ranger Surplus at 9514 B Main Street, Fairfax, 703-426-1326. .
Cost versus Value. The smaller and lighter the load, the more enjoyable the hike. When shopping for these items, always consider weight and packed size when comparing prices. These are often tradeoffs for lower price.
External Frame Backpack. This style of pack is best for carrying heavy loads on established trails; ideal for our Troop's backpacking program. These range in price from about $60.00 and up. Several popular brands offer good external frame packs, including JanSport, CampTrails, and Kelty.
Lower-cost alternative: Local camping supply stores offer occasional sales. Also, camping outfitters and yard sales are good sources of used frame packs. Independent surplus stores carry low-cost ($50.00) frame packs, though these may not be as durable as the Kelty or other popular backpacking brands.
Note: There is no good substitute for the basic function a frame pack serves. Every Scout will need a pack if he plans to participate in hikes and backpacking outings, so investing in a frame pack is only a marginal increase in cost.
Sleeping Bag. A "mummy" style bag is best for backpacking because it rolls up to a small, easily packable size. These range in price from about $70.00 and up. The +20F degree-rated bags (comfortable at +20 degrees Fahrenheit) with synthetic insulation provide the best balance of weight, cost and insulating value for three-season camping. (Bags with lower temperature ratings will be too warm in summer months.) With a liner (blanket, etc.) and thermal underwear, a +20-degree bag can be effective for winter camping too. Synthetic insulators (Hollofil II, Quallofil, etc.) provide adequate insulation at lower cost than natural down-insulated bags (the tradeoff is a slight increase in weight). Synthetics also provide better insulating performance when the bag gets wet.
Note: Rectangular bags are NOT recommended for backpacking. While many low-priced models can be found, most do not provide adequate insulation even during typical Spring and Fall camping and none of them pack to a manageable size.
Lower-cost alternative: In warm weather, a bedroll made of a sheet and lightweight blanket fastened with safety pins is a very effective (compact and lightweight) and comfortable alternative to a mummy bag. In cold weather (late fall through early spring in the Mid-Atlantic region), a warm-rated (+20 degrees or lower) mummy bag is essential.
Sleeping Pad. These pads provide both comfort and insulation from the cold ground. Two types are common: closed cell foam mats and self-inflating air mattresses with open-cell foam inside. The best balance of weight, pack size and cost is a 3/4-length pad. These effectively cushion and insulate the torso area. Self-inflating air mattresses with open-cell foam provide more insulating value and pack to a smaller size. However, closed cell foam mats are tougher and more durable.
- Self-inflating open-cell foam air mattress: Therm-A-Rest brand's LiteFoam model 3/4 mattress 47" length; packs to 3"x26"; 1lb 6oz.
- Closed cell foam mat: Therm-A-Rest brand's Ridgerest Z-Rest model 3/4 pad 51" length; packs to 5"x20"; 12oz.
- Lower-cost alternative: Closed cell foam mats that are bulkier than the Z-Rest are available for about half the price.
Note: Beach-style inflatable air mattresses are NOT recommended. They are very unreliable, frequently developing leaks, provide no insulating value and are a poor value despite the low cost.
Hiking Boots. Every Scout needs comfortable shoes or boots that provide ankle support as well as hiking socks, usually a combination of a heavy pair of synthetic fiber over thin-wicking socks will keep your feet dry.
Recommend: Lightweight shoes or boots are best for Troop trail hiking. The most important factors are ankle support and proper fit walking with blisters is extremely painful and will quickly take all of the fun out of a hike. Lightweight hiking shoes or boots should be fitted wearing hiking socks (usually thicker) that you will wear on the trail. The boots should fit comfortably but snug across the middle of the foot and leave enough space to fit a finger behind the heel when the foot is pushed forward against the toe of the boot. Boots with Gore-tex lining will keep your feet dry in rainy weather.
Note: Heavy, rigid-sole hiking boots are NOT recommended. They are too expensive and too heavy for relatively short-distance hiking on established trails. Their heavy treads also cause unnecessary damage to the trail.
Rain Gear. Every Scout should be prepared for an occasional rainstorm.
Recommend: A top and bottom raincoat with vents to provide proper air circulation. An emergency poncho in their fanny packs or backpacks offer a quick solution to staying dry but only for a short period of time like setting up camp but not for on the trail use. Vinyl rain suits are effective but bulky, heavy, and with poor ventilation.
First Aid Kit. Every Scout should be prepared for an occasional minor injury.
Recommend: A small assortment of Band-Aids for minor cuts (std 3/4 inch width); Dr. Scholl's moleskin adhesive padding for protection and treating blisters; small sewing needle for draining blisters; splinter tweezers; triple antibiotic cream; burn cream or ointment; Sting Eze insect bite relief lotion; gloves; chapstick with UV protection; sun block cream with OFF bug repellent SPF 15 or better. All packed in a heavy-duty zip-lock freezer bag.
Flashlight. Every Scout needs a small flashlight (with extra bulb and extra batteries).
- The mini-MagLite (2 AA batteries) size offers a good balance between cost and performance. It fits easily in a pocket, in a pocketknife and flashlight combo belt carrying case, or hangs by a hook in the tent. While flashlights with C or D size batteries provide more light for a longer time, they do so at far greater weight.
- Lightweight headlamps are also effective and provide the added convenience of hands-free operation. There is a head strap that fit the mini-MagLite, making it more versatile than regular flashlights.
- Technology has made it possible for LED flashlights to compete with the mini-MagLite. Besides these being lighter, they offer the advantage of long-lasting bulbs and battery life of up to 200 hours of operation versus the mini-MagLite 5 to 6 hour battery life. Remember that there are no other sources of light besides the stars and the moon where we use the flashlight. A little light goes a long way.
Dining Utensils. Every Scout needs a personal set of cooking/eating utensils.
Recommend: An insulated 12-ounce mug with lid, stainless steel or durable plastic (Lexan) soupspoon or sporï¿½ which is a combined spoon+fork, a Lexan bowl (CoolWhip tubs also work well) for both liquid and solid foods and a small sponge/scrub pad for cleaning. This combination works for all meals, thus minimizing cleanup time, pack weight and expense.
Personal Care Kit. Every Scout needs a few personal care items on the trail.
Recommend: Toothbrush w/case; small (travel size) tube of toothpaste; biodegradable soap; lightweight (plastic or stainless steel) mirror; comb; and wash cloth packed in a zip-lock freezer bag. Pack a hand towel too.