Boy Scout Gear List: New Scouts, Three-Season

New Boy Scouts (and your parents!), take note: going light will leave your patrol leaders in the dust and there will be money left over from your paper route.

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by Doug Prosser | 2005-06-07 03:00:00-06

New Boy Scouts Gear List for Three-Season Mild Conditions - 1
Forester Pass as seen from the south: the highest point on the Pacific Crest Trail in Sequoia National Park.
Photo credit: Doug Prosser

Introduction

When a boy first joins the Boy Scouts, one of the first questions that comes up for his parents is what backpacking gear to outfit their son with. Naturally, the parents really want to get their kid the "right" gear. But there are differing opinions on what it right. The new Scouts in the troop that I am Assistant Scoutmaster of range in age from 11 to 13 years, in height from 4'0" to 5'10" and in weight from 65 to 180 pounds. These new Scouts all want to be recognized as being able to hike and carry their share of the gear. They can easily lose their self-esteem if they are given a huge, heavy pack to carry and then they can't make it up the first hill they encounter. From my observations, what the boys can carry changes once they have seen a few years of testosterone and perhaps played sports; then it doesn't seem to matter how much weight is in their packs and they usually leave the adults behind on the trail. But when they first become Scouts, it's a different matter. Leather hiking boots, big backpacks, Scout mess kits, heavy sleeping bags, and heavy tents might seem like the "right" gear, but can quickly become a discouraging liability for the new Scout. What I will show you in this article are inexpensive, lightweight options for new additions to the Troop.

Before I go into the gear in detail, I'd like to give you some suggestions of places to look for inexpensive clothing and gear. For clothing, try your town's thrift stores first, then department stores, then sports or outdoor stores. To find discount gear and clothing online, look at campmor.com, sierratradingpost.com, rei-outlet.com, rei.com, northernmountain.com, and backcountrygear.com, especially at their sale/clearance items.

Context

New Boy Scouts Gear List for Three-Season Mild Conditions - 2
The author and son, Mike, on top of Forester Pass, August 2001. Doug, Mike, and Troop 257 were on their way from Onion Valley south on the PCT, then out over Mt. Whitney. Mike was 14 years old, a Scout, and on his fourth Sierra hike. He went on to earn his Eagle Scout rank in 2003; he starts at the US Coast Guard Academy in June 2005. They grow up fast!

The gear on the list below was selected with careful attention paid to low weight and low cost as much as possible. The list was compiled for new Boy Scouts (although it will work equally well for anyone who wants to lighten their load but not their wallet) backpacking in three-season, mild conditions.

  • Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Length: Weekend
  • Boy Scout: New Scouts
  • Rationale for Selected Gear

    Clothing Systems

    Backpacking clothing has some unique requirements that must be met to keep the Scouts comfortable and safe. First, the clothing needs to protect them from the elements of sun, wind, and rain. Second, the clothing needs to function equally well in the cold and heat and everything in between. Third, the clothing needs to breathe as the level of activity changes throughout the day. Fourth, the clothing needs to dry in as little time as possible. Fifth, the clothing needs to be as lightweight as functionally possible. And a sixth for Scouts, the clothing needs to be inexpensive.

    Technology has changed the face of clothing options from what they were 20 to 40 years ago when everything you wore was wool. Today there are ultralight fabrics that can keep you warm and dry and weigh a fraction of yesteryear's wool options. These new fabrics at times are very expensive, so my recommendations will be aimed at keeping it simple, functional, and cheap. As the boys get older, they may pursue more expensive options, but for our new Scouts the following suggestions will keep them comfortable and safe while not breaking your wallet. Please look in thrift stores, Salvation Army stores, outlet stores, discount web sites, as well as local department and clothing stores for these clothes.

    One quick rule for clothing fabrics: NO COTTON! This includes sweat shirts, sweat pants, blue jeans, socks, boxers, briefs, t-shirts, etc. Cotton takes an extremely long time to dry, does not wick moisture away from the body but keeps it next to the skin, and when it is wet or damp from sweat it doesn't provide your Scout with any warmth, thus endangering them just when they need the warmth.

    I will focus on three layers of clothing:

    1. Base or Wicking Layer - in direct contact with the skin.
    2. Insulation Layer - provides warmth when needed.
    3. Outer Wear - provides protection from wind and/or rain.

    BASE OR WICKING LAYER:

    This layer is in direct contact with the skin and is designed to keep the skin dry by moving moisture from the skin out to the surface of the fabric. If perspiration is removed quickly from the skin's surface, outer layers keep you warm more easily. Conversely, if the layer of clothing next to your skin becomes saturated and dries slowly (read - cotton!), your other clothes, however good, have a hard time keeping you warm. Your Scout may find, as I have, that wicking clothing is much more comfortable than cotton not only for backpacking, but also for everyday use.

    Most of the base or wicking layer clothes that I mention below can be purchased at sporting goods stores, discount web sites, or department stores.

    Shirts

    Your Scout should have either short sleeve shirts for hiking temperatures over 50 °F or long sleeve shirts for hiking in temperatures under 50 °F. These shirts are usually styled like a t-shirt. They are made of different types of new fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin. Two of the most common wicking fabrics are Coolmax and Capilene, but there are many others. These shirts are very thin and lightweight. The Scout should usually pack two shirts, one for wearing during the day and one for sleeping in at night.

    Boxers/Briefs/Shorts

    When hiking, even in colder weather, many Scouts prefer shorts because of the heat that their legs generate. Cotton boxers/briefs trap perspiration and don't allow the skin to dry, which can lead to chaffing. A much better solution is to go to the running or the bathing suit department to purchase your hiking shorts. These shorts are made of materials that dry very quickly while having built-in liners of wicking fabrics that allow your skin to stay dry. By using these shorts, the boys do not need to bring boxers/briefs at all, which is a definite weight savings. Only one pair of shorts is usually required for hikes and remember the shorts double as a swimming/bathing suit. If your Scout decides to use boxers/briefs, the ones I would recommend are Patagonia's Capilene SW Boxers, $29.00, or Capilene LW Briefs, $17.00. I have yet to wear out a pair of these boxers after years of daily wear. Other companies and stores do have wicking underwear, but you will have to search a bit harder for them.

    Socks

    All new Scouts have lots of cotton socks at home. Guess what sock material causes the most blisters because it cannot transport water away from the skin? You're learning, cotton. Guess what sock material takes 12 to 24 hours to dry if it gets wet? Right again, cotton. So what is a parent supposed to do? Go to the running or outdoor store and purchase socks made out of wicking materials such as Coolmax or merino wool. With socks made out of these materials, you only have to wear a single layer instead of a liner and regular layer to prevent blisters. The socks may come in different thicknesses. Choose thin for hiking in the hot desert, and thicker for colder weather. I prefer to have two pairs of hiking socks that I can switch off and on throughout the day. Since I sleep cold and my feet get cold easily, I sleep with a thick pair of socks on to keep my toes toasty warm. I only carry three pairs of socks whether going on a weekend hike or a 14-day hike.

    Sleepwear

    The sleepwear you choose will depend on if your son sleeps hot or cold, how warm the sleeping bag is, and what the outside temperature is. I sleep cold so I tend to sleep in a long sleeve wicking t-shirt, light weight long fleece pants, and warm socks, while my son, who sleeps warm, is in boxers only. One additional sleeping item is a thin wool or fleece watch cap or hat. Since a lot of your body heat is lost through your head, a cap will keep your whole body much warmer.

    INSULATION LAYER:

    This layer is basically designed to keep you warm, but it also has the task of dealing with the moisture brought up from the base or wicking layer. Far and away the most common fabric that is used is fleece. Technology has also developed some various fabrics that are a cross between an insulation layer and an outer layer that handle moisture exceedingly well while providing wind and mild rain protection.

    Two different situations are usually presented to backpackers that concern their insulation layer. The first is that when you are hiking hard, the requirements for the insulation layer is vastly different than the second situation when you are standing around camp just trying to stay warm, especially after sunset or in the early morning prior to sunrise.

    When hiking hard, your body is generating a lot of sweat. This moisture must be removed from your skin by a base or wicking layer and transported outward where it can evaporate without taking lots of body heat with it. If you were wearing a plastic bag that did not breath or allow moisture to pass through all your clothing, inner layers would soon be so full of moisture they would be completely soaked. Our goal is to allow this moisture to pass through and evaporate while maintaining your core warmth. While hiking, you really do not need to wear much in the way of insulation layers because your muscles are generating so much heat your body core doesn't need to conserve heat; it needs to get rid of it. That is why you may see people hiking in the snow with t-shirts and shorts. However, when you stop hiking, within 5 minutes your core temperature will start dropping. This is when you will require some additional insulation and even more will be needed when stopped for prolonged periods.

    As can be seen, the requirements for the insulation layer change as your activities do. The easiest way to deal with this is to provide multiple layers. These layers can be different thicknesses and/or different materials. A thin fleece top will provide enough warmth while hiking in cold weather or when stopped for a short period in warmer weather. A heavier fleece vest/shirt may be needed when stopped for a prolonged period. A jacket (down or synthetic insulation) will be needed for camp wear after dark or in the early morning. Instead of packing multiple jackets of different thicknesses, we tend to wear multiple thinner layers. This means that at night or in the early morning your Scout is wearing all the hiking clothes he brought with him. This is a great way to save weight, don't pack any more clothing than can be worn at one time.

    For insulation while hiking, I bring a light fleece (100 weight) or a nylon thinly insulated windbreaker to put over my shirt or to wear when I have a short stop. When I am done hiking for the day, I immediately get out of my hiking clothes since they are damp and get into my dry sleep wear (warm socks, light weight fleece pants, wicking long sleeve t-shirt). I add my lightweight fleece top or windbreaker to this. As it gets colder, I add a down vest, wool hat, fleece gloves, then eventually I add my rain jacket and rain pants if I am still not warm enough. If I am still cold, I get in my sleeping bag with some or all of these clothes on.

    Your insulation clothing choices need to be lightweight while providing maximal warmth. Please remember the more pockets, hoods, or zippers, the heavier the garment will be. Weigh your choices on a scale prior to packing, it will change your opinion on what to bring. You will find that one pair of fleece pants will weigh twice what another does without providing additional warmth (thickness or loft equals warmth).

    1. Thin shirts/jackets/pants:
      1. 100 weight fleece (Polartec, Microfleece, Expedition weight underwear): these can be purchased for under $20 - or a whole lot more. These are always on sale at some web location. Do not pay full retail.
      2. Insulated windbreakers (water resistant/slight insulation): can be purchased for $60-$100 or for a few dollars at the thrift store. An example is the Marmot DriClime windshirt, which is lined with a very thin layer of tricot. Make sure the insulation does not contain cotton.
    2. Thicker insulated jackets/vests/pants:
      1. 200-300 weight fleece (heavier than down or synthetic insulation but usually the cheapest choice).
      2. Down insulation (lightest, warmest, most expensive - usually): try google.com/froogle, type "down vests" and you will get a wide range of prices.
      3. Synthetic fiber insulation (weight and cost are in-between fleece and down).

    OUTER WEAR AND RAINWEAR:

    This layer is designed to protect you from wind, rain, and snow. This layer is sometimes called your shell garment. There are two main types of outerwear: ones that are windproof but not waterproof, and ones that are both windproof and waterproof.

    Windproof but NOT Waterproof

    Every Scout needs an outer layer to block the wind. If the wind can blow through your insulation layers unobstructed, you can lose a lot of body heat. Another way to think about this is if you have a good windproof layer, you need less insulation - less weight to carry - to stay warm. This layer in its simplest and lightest form is a very light nylon jacket and pants without many pockets or other bells and whistles. They are sometimes referred to as windbreakers or wind shirts. Ross discount department stores, for example, carry many different windbreakers that are either lined or unlined that are very inexpensive. The unlined are lighter in weight, the lined are warmer, your choice. Just make sure there is no cotton in the lining.

    Wind blocking clothing will really be appreciated when hiking in a buggy area since it also helps block mosquitoes. Some manufacturers are modifying the wind blocking fabrics to make them water resistant. For a mild rain shower, a water resistant jacket is the only jacket that you will need to wear while hiking.

    Windproof and Waterproof

    The cheapest and lightest windproof and waterproof rainwear is a large plastic trash bag. That is one reason we want the Scouts to bring two or three emergency trash bags on each hike. A trash bag will keep rain out but also will hold moisture in so the Scout may become drenched from sweat. Many modern fabrics are waterproof and breathable and keep rain out, and also allow some moisture vapor from perspiration out. The most renowned of these fabrics is Gore-Tex. There are literally hundreds of these types of fabrics now. These fabrics tend to be very expensive and somewhat heavy. The place where Gore-Tex really shines is winter backpacking in the snow and ice. These jackets and pants really do a good job of keeping you dry but cost multiple hundreds of dollars. Because of the high costs, I do not recommend these jackets for new Scouts. Once they have been backpacking for a few years and have stopped growing, this may be an option. The Gore-Tex type jackets can usually be found on sale at numerous web sites.

    A less expensive option is a Frogg Toggs rain suit for $60. This rain suit weighs about 15-16 ounces and is waterproof and breathable but can tear easily if not treated carefully.

    The cheapest rainwear option for new Scouts is the Campmor extra large vinyl poncho for $5 and 14 ounces, which is hard to beat for cost and durability. A lighter option is the Campmor silnylon Ultralite Poncho/Shelter that costs $40 and weighs 7 ounces. Either one will work well while also continuing to fit the boy as he grows. The added advantage is that ponchos cover and protect the pack from the rain. Poncho fabric is wind blocking, but ponchos, by design, don't completely block the wind. If you wear a windbreaker jacket and pants under the poncho, this will block the wind while the poncho blocks most of the rain. The poncho can also serve as a ground cloth and, with practice, an overhead shelter.

    Footwear

    All new Scouts can use the sneakers that they wear for everyday use for backpacking. Since these boys are constantly growing out of shoes, I would not purchase specific shoes for hiking, especially not leather hiking boots. 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.

    Sleeping Systems

    Getting a good night's sleep is important and you don't need to carry a lot of weight to achieve it. Besides your shelter, you'll need a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and a ground cloth. The total weight for this sleep system should be at, or under, 6 pounds. The sleep system will be your most expensive area when it comes to buying gear. However, you should be able to find some very good equipment for under $250 and have plenty of options well below that.

    SLEEPING BAGS:

    For most of the camping that my troop does in California (mild conditions), a 30 to 40 °F rated sleeping bag is sufficient. I would not purchase a bag rated lower than 20 °F. If your son sleeps hot, buy a 30-40 °F bag, but if he sleeps cold, then buy the 20 °F bag. (What I do for winter camping is put my 40 °F bag inside my 20 °F bag giving me a very good system to sleep in temperatures below 0 °F.) The lower the temperature rating for the bag, the heavier it will be to carry. The sleeping bag you purchase should ideally weigh less than 3 pounds. The next decision is whether to use a down or a synthetic fill bag. A down sleeping bag packs much smaller, is lighter, and tends to last longer, but usually costs a lot more and loses more warmth if it is allowed to get wet. I recommend going with a down bag for our boys in southern California since we seldom have to worry about rain getting the bags wet. The smaller packed size of a down bag is a real advantage for the very small boys who are carrying small packs.

    Some of the best places to look for these sleeping bags are campmor.com, sierratradingpost.com, and rei-outlet.com. Some examples of sleeping bags that fit the above criteria are:

    EXAMPLE SLEEPING BAGSSizePriceWeight
    Campmor Goose Down 20 °F Mummy Sleeping BagRegular$1102 lb 6 oz
    Kelty Light Year+25 Sleeping BagRegular$1292 lb

    SLEEPING PADS:

    Sleeping pads are used to provide insulation from the cold ground while also giving you a softer place to sleep. There are two main types of pads: closed cell foam, and self-inflating. The two most popular closed cell foam pads are the Z-rest and the Ridge Rest from Therm-a-Rest with prices under $35 and weights under 1 pound. The least expensive closed cell foam pads are the baby blue pads 3/8 inches thick that cost less than $10 and weigh 8 ounces for a full-length pad. The Campmor pad is called Pack-Lite Closed Cell Foam Pad. Therm-a-Rest also makes the most popular self-inflating pads with prices from $50 to well over a $100 and weights ranging from just under a pound to over 5 pounds. I recommend the closed cell foam pads because they are lighter and less expensive while not being liable to punctures, as are the self-inflating pads. Remember, you are talking about an 11 to 13 year old taking care of this equipment and there are likely to be punctures if using the self-inflating pads. Another factor to consider is the weight of the Scout. A 65-pound Scout will not need as much padding as a 200-pound Scout. Unless you are camping in cold weather, a three-quarter length pad (48-51 inches) weighing 9-11 ounces and costing $16-30 will be adequate. To save even more weight, most boys do not need a 20-inch width closed cell foam pad so they can cut them down to a narrower width and/or even shorter length to save further weight.

    The closed cell foam pad I recommend is the Therm-a-Rest, 48-inch length Ridge Rest closed cell foam pad that weighs 9 ounces and costs about $16. Another option that is thinner is the Campmor Pack-Lite 72-inch closed cell foam pad at $8 that can be cut down to fit your Scout.

    Shelter Systems

    TARPS:

    Tarps are a lightweight and inexpensive way to protect you from rain. Tarps come in various materials that range widely in weight. When I was a Boy Scout, we used 10' x 10' tarps made out of canvas that weighed about 10 pounds. Today's Boy Scouts can use tarps made out of silnylon that weigh about a pound and under and cost under $85 (Campmor 8' x 10' Ultralight Backpacking Tarp, 13 ounces, $65), or out of spinnaker cloth that require more care than silnylon and cost more, but weigh less than half a pound (Bozeman Mountain Works Stealth 1 (7' x 9') Catenary Ridgeline Ultralight Backpacking Tarp), or made out of taffeta nylon that weigh about 2 pounds and cost less than $50. An 8' x 10' tarp will sleep two boys while a 10' x 12' tarp will sleep three boys. Along with the tarp, the boys will need eight to ten tent stakes and 25-50 feet of nylon line/rope to set up the tarp. Aluminum or titanium tent stakes are the best and the nylon line/rope usually does not need to be heavier than 1/8-inch diameter. Also, because the tarp does not have a bottom, a ground cloth is needed to sleep on. This prevents rain or ground condensation from getting your sleeping bag wet. The ground cloth can be any waterproof material from plastic painters drop cloths to silnylon. It needs to be roughly 7' x 3-4'. You want to keep this light, do not use a very heavy plastic, and realize that you will have to replace the plastic every few years as it will get holes in it. Buy the plastic ground cloth at Home Depot if you do not have any around the house.

    The example sleep system below consists of a down sleeping bag, a closed cell foam pad, tarp, tent stakes, rope, and ground pad, weighs approximately 5 pounds, and costs $205. This is some very good gear that will last your Scout well past their 18th birthday.

    EXAMPLE SLEEP SYSTEMSizePriceWeight
    Campmor Goose Down 20 °F Mummy Sleeping BagRegular$1102 lb 6 oz
    Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest Closed-cell Foam Pad3/4 length$169 oz
    Ultralight Backpacking Tarp8' x 10'$6513 oz
    The North Face V Stake7 in, 10 pack$86 oz
    Nylon Backpacker Rope Black$46 oz
    Home Depot Nylon Drop Cloth$23 oz

    Packing Systems

    BACKPACKS:

    Note: rei.com offers a lot of advice on different pieces of gear. Simply go to their site and click on Expert Advice. (To specifically understand torso length and fitting backpacks see torso length.)

    This topic may be the easiest for me to write about since I have gone from a 9 pound, $400 backpack to a 15 ounce, $75 sack with shoulder and waist straps. Please pay attention to what the backpack weighs empty - weigh it in the store. I can get all the gear mentioned above for our sleep system into my 15 ounce pack and when packed, it will weigh less than my old 9 pound pack empty. The pack is an item that you may have to replace as your Scout grows. For young, small Scouts a youth sized backpack makes the most sense. (Example: Kelty Long Trail Junior, torso length 12-17 inches, 3 pounds, 7 ounces at $50.) It will be small enough for their body frame size and it can't be loaded too full as to be heavier than they can carry. Once they hit their growth spurt, a full sized backpack will be needed. There are multiple backpacks that can be adjusted over a growth range once they are out of the youth sized packs. There are some packs that come in small, medium, and large sizes. The size you choose depends on their torso length.

    There are two main types of backpacks, external fame and internal frame. For Scouts, it does not matter which one is used. What I would suggest is borrowing or renting different types of backpacks to see which your Scout prefers. Many troops have multiple packs available for use or you can see your local outdoor store to see if they rent gear. Keep in mind when shopping that most Scouts will want the type of pack that everyone else in the troop is using. The size of the internal frame packs should be no more than 4,000 to 5,000 cubic inches for the type of trips most Scouts go on. Try to keep the weight below 4 to 5 pounds. The costs can range greatly from $50 to multiple hundred of dollars. I would not spend over $200, but you should be able to spend under $150 and get an excellent pack.

    Buying the right backpack requires a store that has a good selection and knowledgeable sales people to fit them. When in the store, load the backpack with 20-40 pounds of weight and have your Scout wear it in the store to see how it feels on his body. If you already have purchased other gear, take it in a box to the store and pack the backpack with the gear and have your son try it on. Remember, he will be wearing that pack and gear for up to 6-8 hours some days so make 100 percent sure it is comfortable. Also, check out the discount web sites such as campmor.com because you can find some tremendous savings on packs, especially last year's models.

    EXAMPLE PACKSSize (torso length, in)Volume (ci)PriceWeight
    Granite Gear Virga Ultralight backpack14-18 3,200$1001 lb 5 oz
    Kelty Yukon 3500 external frame backpack15-21 3,500$654 lb 12 oz
    Kelty 4500 Coyote internal frame backpack13-19 4,500 $904 lb 3 oz
    Kelty Long Trail Junior backpack12-17 2,300$503 lb 7 oz
    Gossamer Gear G4 backpack20-24 4,600$8516 oz
    ULA P-1 backpackS: 15-17 in, M: 18-20 in, L: 21-23 in, XL: 23+ in4,250 $12524 oz

    Cooking and Water Systems

    COOKWARE:

    This is one area that you should make as simple as possible. The Scout needs one pot to cook in. This pot should be lightweight and hold at least 1 quart/liter. Aluminum foil can be used as a lid if the pot does not have one. The Scout then needs something to eat and drink out of. A plastic margarine container works really well as a dish and an 8-12 fluid ounce plastic cup will hold cold as well as hot liquids. You have these items around the house. A single Lexan spoon will be the only utensil he needs to eat with, keep the fork and knife at home. If he needs a knife, use a pocketknife. One other item we routinely use while cooking is a bandana. This works really well grabbing hot pots or wiping off our hands.

    BACKPACKING STOVES:

    Do not bother to buy any backpacking stoves because the troop probably has multiple stoves for the to boys use. Please see the quartermaster to check them out. If you have to get a stove for young Scouts, stay away from white gas and alcohol stoves and instead look at Esbit solid fuel tabs or butane/propane fuel canister stoves.

    WATER PURIFICATION:

    Philmont Scout Ranch traditionally uses the Polar Pure Iodine Crystal Kit, $10, for water purification. One bottle of this should last your Scout the entire time he is in Scouting. Polar Pure has one really big advantage with new Scouts in that you can tell if it was added to the water (iodine color), as opposed to clear Aqua Mira. So often they can't remember if they treated the water or not and the color of the water is the surest clue. The Troop will teach him how to use this as well as other methods of water purification. Polar Pure can be found at most backpacking stores or at your local Scout store. This can be a multi-use item in that the iodine will sterilize cuts and scrapes if you need an antimicrobial solution.

    WATER BOTTLES:

    This is an item that you may have around the house. A wide mouth 1-quart Gatorade bottle or a 2-liter soda bottle will work well. Just clean them out well before and after each hike, or just get new ones after each hike. There are many different types of backpacking water bottles you can purchase, but the recycled bottles work well and cost nothing. For most of your Scout's hiking, he will not need to carry more than 2-3 quarts of water at a time, but he will need containers that are large enough to hold 3 quarts of water or more for the hot summers. As the boys become more experienced, they may start wanting hydration systems like a Camelbak. These systems cost much more than empty recyclable bottles but will give the Scout easier access to water encouraging him to drink more often. These systems do not need to be purchased for new Scouts, but can be purchased for experienced Scouts. These hydration systems tend to get holes in them when in the hands of careless boys, so wait till they are a bit older and more responsible to buy them for your Scout.

    Miscellaneous

    FLASHLIGHT:

    With flashlights, the smaller and lighter, the better. Initially, use something you have around the house. Later on, your son will want to check out items like headlamps or Photon lights. The new technology uses LED lights, which allows the bulbs and batteries to last an extremely long time, so when looking for new flashlights look first at those with LED lights. A good way to carry their LED light and knife is on a lanyard around the Scout's neck. This will not prevent the lights from being lost, but it does help.

    KNIFE:

    For knives, like flashlights, smaller and lighter is better. The only types of knives my Troop allows are folding and/or multi-tool knifes. We do not allow straight knives that require sheaths. About the only time the boys use a knife is for cutting rope or when cooking. The Wenger Esquire Swiss Knife is a 1-2 ounce knife that meets these requirements.

    COMPASS:

    Everyone should be carrying a compass; it is one of the 10 essentials. A beginner's compass costing $10 to $15 is adequate to start with. If the boys get very advanced, they will tell you what they need. The compasses last nearly forever, I still have my beginners compass from the 1960's and my boys used it too. These can be found at all backpacking stores or at your Scout store.

    TOILETRIES AND MISCELLANEOUS:

    The common items - not listed in order of importance - are tooth paste and tooth brush, dental floss, small soap and bandana to dry off with, toilet paper in waterproof zip-lock bag, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, mosquito head net, very basic first aid kit (Band-Aids, Neosporin ointment in a small tube, moleskin), a very basic repair kit (duct tape - 2 feet rolled around something - and a sewing kit from a hotel), extra batteries for flashlight, a lighter and/or waterproof matches.

    Conclusion

    Technology has come a long way in providing today's Scouts with many lightweight options for gear and clothing. The information above and the gear checklist that follows will help the Boy Scout that is new to the Troop (and his parents) select gear that will keep him safe and comfortable and that he will be capable of carrying without wearing out.

    Some examples of brands and models/styles are listed below for reference only. They neither represent an endorsement of that particular product nor a suggestion that the product listed is the best choice in the context of any particular situation.

    CLOTHING WORN WHILE HIKING
    FUNCTIONSTYLE/RationaleEXAMPLEPriceOuncesGrams
    hat with brimwide-brimmed hatleast expensive one you can find$84.0113
    hiking shirtlightweight nylon short or long sleeved SPF 30+ if possibleleast expensive one you can find$188.0227
    underwearnone or synthetic briefsleast expensive one you can findn/an/an/a
    hiking shortsnylon, quick drying, built-in briefsthrift store/department store$49.0255
    hiking sockslightweight merino wool or Coolmax trail running socksThorlo Lite Running Mini-crew Socks$102.057
    hiking shoesbreathable, lightweight trail running shoeswhatever is on sale and fits$5032.0907
    OTHER ITEMS WORN OR CARRIED
    FUNCTIONSTYLE/RationaleEXAMPLEPriceOuncesGrams
    bandanacottonSurvival Bandana$40.823
    lightmicro light (LED)Princeton Tec Eclipse LED Clip Light$101.028
    whistlepealess whistleACR Emergency Whistle $30.26
    knifelightweight small blade knifeWenger Esquire Swiss knife$81.028
    compasssimple, inexpensiveSilva Polaris Type 7 Compass$101.028
    watchsimple, waterproof is nice featureuse what scout has$01.028
    neck cordnylon line - holds light, whistle, knife, compassKelty Triptease line reflects light at night, easier to find$00.00
    lightersmall propane lighter, without child lockscheapest on the market$10.514
    OTHER CLOTHING
    FUNCTIONSTYLE/RationaleEXAMPLEPriceOuncesGrams
    wind shirtthin, nylon, lightly insulated windbreakerthrift store/department store$310.0284
    wind pantsthin, nylon, lightly insulated wind pantsthrift store/department store$310.0284
    rain ponchowaterproof, covers backpack, doubles as ground clothCampmor extra large vinyl poncho$514.0397
    insulation layerdown/fleece vest or jacketthrift store/department store$1016.0454
    warm hatwool or fleece beanie/watch capCampmor Wigwam Thermostat Cap$92.571
    sleep shirtnylon short or long sleeve t-shirtCampmor Duofold High Performance Series Long Sleeve shirt$87.0199
    extra hiking sockslightweight merino wool or Coolmax trail running socksThorlo Lite Running Mini-crew Socks$102.057
    SLEEP SYSTEMS
    FUNCTIONSTYLE/RationaleEXAMPLEPriceOuncesGrams
    overhead sheltersilnylon tarp, two boy tarp (split between two boys)Campmor 8' x 10' Ultralight Backpacking Tarp (13oz/2)$656.5184
    tent stakesaluminum (split between two boys)Campmor The North Face 7 inch V-Stake - 10 Pack (6oz/2)$83.085
    guylines50 feet nylon rope, 1/8 inch (split between two boys)Nylon Backpacker Rope 1/8 inch, 50 ft (4oz/2)$42.057
    sleeping bagleast expensive down bag 20-40 degree ratedCampmor Goose down 20 degree Mummy sleeping bag regular$11036.01021
    sleeping padclosed cell foam cut down to size of scoutTherm-a-Rest Ridge Rest 3/4 length closed cell pad cut down $169.0255
    PACKING
    FUNCTIONSTYLE/RationaleEXAMPLEPriceOuncesGrams
    backpacktorso length 12-15 inches for small young scoutsKelty Long Trail Junior Pack, torso length 12-17, 2300 ci$5055.01559
    waterproof linertrash bag to protect clothing from water, and emergency usetrash compactor bag plus two extra trash bags$11.028
    COOKING AND WATER
    FUNCTIONSTYLE/RationaleEXAMPLEPriceOuncesGrams
    stove+windscreenyoung scouts do not carry to keep weight lown/an/an/a
    cookpotyoung scouts do not carry to keep weight lown/an/an/a
    water treatmentyoung scouts do not carry to keep weight lowonce young Scouts are trained, they carry their own bottle of Polar Puren/an/an/a
    utensilspoonLexan soup spoon$10.39
    dishplastic margarine container, smallfind in housen/a0.39
    cupplastic 8-12 oz cup able to take boiling waterfind in housen/a0.39
    water bottles 3-4L1 L easily accessible1 L Aqua Fina water bottle with Gatorade sport capn/a1.748
    two, 1.5 L hard sidedtwo, 1.5 L Aqua Fina water bottlesn/a4.2119
    OTHER ESSENTIALS
    FUNCTIONSTYLE/RationaleEXAMPLEPriceOuncesGrams
    mapsprinted from computerTOPO Program troop has or troop map collectionn/a1.028
    first aidminor wound care assorted wound and blister care items, antimicrobial ointment$52.057
    hand sanitizer2oz bottle: pre-cooking/eating & post-bathroomleast expensive available$13.085
    toilet papernon-scented toilet papersmall amount in plastic zip-lock bagn/a2.057
    personal hygieneteeth and body cleaning kit small toothbrush, small toothpaste, small soap in zipper lock bagsn/a2.057
    sunscreenSPF 30 or highersmall tube or stick$51.028
    bug barrierhead netCampmor Backpacker no-see-um Head net$50.514
    CONSUMABLES
    FUNCTIONSTYLE/RationaleEXAMPLEPriceOuncesGrams
    fuelyoung scouts do not carry to keep pack weight downn/an/an/a
    foodlunch Saturday and Sunday, young scouts only carry their own lunchtuna fish and crackers, dried fruit, cookies$516.0454
    wateraverage carried - 1.5 liters1 L full + 1.5 L bottle partially full; 1.5 L bottle emptyn/a50.01418
    WEIGHT SUMMARYlbskg
    (1) Total Weight Worn or Carried3.81.7
    (2) Total Base Weight in Pack12.05.5
    (3) Total Weight of Consumables4.11.9
    (4) Total Initial Pack Weight (2) + (3)16.17.3
    (5) Full Skin Out Weight (1) + (2) + (3)19.99.0
    COST SUMMARY
    (1) Total Cost of Gear$307
    (2) Total Cost of Clothing$138
    (3) Total Cost (1)+(2)$443

    New Boy Scouts Gear List for Three-Season Mild Conditions - 3

    Doug Prosser is an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 257 in the Ventura County Council, California with 10 years experience. He lives in Camarillo, which is located on the coast in southern California between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. He has participated in numerous hikes in the local mountains and has planned many treks into the High Sierras for his Troop. He attended Philmont Scout Ranch as a scout and as a leader. He started out with 50+ pound packs and continues to lighten his load, always looking for a better way of backpacking. His friends have dubbed his garage "Doug's Camping World." Doug has a strong interest in teaching both kids and adults how to enjoy backpacking. He continues to train and gear up for an extended trek on the Pacific Crest Trail within the next few years. Doug can be contacted at DougProsser@verizon.net


    Citation

    "Boy Scout Gear List: New Scouts, Three-Season," by Doug Prosser. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
    http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/boy_scout_gear_list.html, 2005-06-07 03:00:00-06.

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    Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Boy Scouts and Lightweight Backpacking


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    (Anonymous)
    weight vs. ruggedness on 06/13/2005 04:27:54 MDT Print View

    Left this off of my previous anonymous reply.

    Weak attempt at humor. The real target should have been the test that was performed by the magazine.

    What kind of ridiculous test is dragging gear behind a truck?

    You could do this with a solid block of aluminum and it would suffer damage!

    I'll stop posting now.


    (Anonymous)
    Re:Re: Weight Vs Ruggedness on 06/13/2005 07:56:01 MDT Print View

    There is always one "Honor Graduate" (Smart Arse) in every crowd.

    Bill Fornshell
    (bfornshell) - MLife

    Locale: Southern Texas
    Testing gear by dragging. on 06/13/2005 08:07:48 MDT Print View

    From my 28 years as an US Army Infantryman, the magazine dragging test was a wimpy way of trying to duplicate a US Army Airborne trooper floating to earth with his gear hanging below him. The gear hits the ground a second or so before him and if he is gets dragged along the ground for a distance so does his gear. The idea being that if the gear is strong enough to take this abuse it should take anything. So you might say that the standard for all Infantry Gear is a sort of drag test. To bad the magazine didn't just go jump out of an airplane and really test the gear.

    Edited by bfornshell on 06/13/2005 17:45:56 MDT.

    Kim Skaarup
    (skaarup) - F

    Locale: Cold, wet and windy Scandinavia
    General MIL Spec. > scouting gear on 06/13/2005 16:22:55 MDT Print View

    Scouting in a lot of peoples mind is a kind of paramilitary activity and all MIL equipment has undergone some tough test before use in the field. (We often dragged the radios out of the APC only by the headset.) As most hiking gear in the past started as MIL gear, I think there was a lot of overkill. We still see that even today.
    Well, the SUL gear might be too fragile but most commercial gears will survive even if the user jump of the mountain and kill him self in a 1000 feet free fall. The mainstream companies are slowly moving towards lighter gear, but there is a long way to go still.

    Glenn Roberts
    (garkjr) - F

    Locale: Southwestern Ohio
    Jumping off the mountain on 06/13/2005 17:57:27 MDT Print View

    Your comment about gear surviving a leap off a mountain reminds me of a T-shirt we saw on a hiker once: "If you die, we split your gear."


    (Anonymous)
    my apology to wt. vs. ruggedness on 06/15/2005 03:18:40 MDT Print View

    You are absolutely right.

    My sincere apologies and thanks to the poster who correctly took me to task and to the readers of this thread.

    "smart-a_ _ _ " - true.
    immature - even truer.

    Again, please accept my apologies.

    Brian Macari
    (BGMACARI) - MLife

    Locale: Mid-Atlantic
    jump test on 06/20/2005 17:30:15 MDT Print View

    I like Bill Fornshell's idea! Lets get someone to jump out a plane with the packs hanging below them. Coup, are you ready? I think the Go-lite Gust (built from Dyneema only - no moving parts!) is up to that test!! Ryan, just in case he's not paying attention, email this thread to Coup (at Go-lite)! I bet he antes up a test!
    [No, I don't work at Go-lite, I just like my Gust!]

    Edited by BGMACARI on 06/20/2005 17:31:57 MDT.

    Norman Otto
    (gnotto) - F
    New Scout Gear List on 06/20/2005 18:39:55 MDT Print View

    Doug's article results in an excellent balance of lightweight backpacking for young scouts and safety, frugality and common sense.
    For the Northeast, I have 2 words of advice on a modified list: Wet & Buggy! Therefore, I'd modify the list for New England Scouts and suggest a Synthetic Insulation Sleeping Bag that maintains warmth when wet (young Scouts can never stay dry given a wet environment) and a Mosquito Net. I'v tried 4 different nets and my favorite is the Repel Sleep Screen (altho heavy -11oz--with poles -don;t loose them & pricey-$39. @ REI). Combine these with a Poncho-tarp (Campmore extra long modified with sewn-in ridge ties is half the price of my ID poncho-tarp)& you are protected. Scouting's Adult Volunteers need to be educated about the dangers (physical & emotional)of heavy packs on young scouts, which BSA has all but ignored.
    Yours in Scouting, Downhill Norm, (ASM)

    Paul Siegler
    (pjsinhoutex) - F
    Re: New Scout Gear List on 07/01/2005 17:07:45 MDT Print View

    We will charter a brand new troop this fall and plan to shed the traditional cast-iron-in-the-chuckbox camping model. All one has to do is shop the internet or local outdoor suppliers to realize BSA's National Council are seriously stuck in the last century. Combine the pragmatic emphasis on "Leave No Trace" and low-impact camping with "Be Prepared" and one quickly realizes BSA National Supply has some catching up to do.

    It is just common sense for an organization like BSA to lead charge in bringing the high-impact outdoorsman of the past into a model based on conservation and care of the environment. The heavy equipment used by most troops in our area requires large facilities to store it, big trailers to haul it, and an army of scouts to load and unload it. Furthermore, the traditional scout camp can leave a huge "foot print" on the land, especially when it rains. Thankfully, these heavy-duty scouting units are largely confined to state parks and council camping areas that already get heavy use. Think of the experiences their boys are missing!

    Let's face it, our goal as scouters is to keep our scouts interested in scouting long enough to have a positive impact on their lives. So next fall we will ask parents to buy two uniforms: 1) an official BSA Field Uniform for indoors and 2) a separate Troop Activity Uniform for outdoors. Our troop activity uniform will consist of layered clothing elements:
    - custom troop CoolMax base-layer shirt (olive),
    - custom troop fleece jackets (red) with a troop emblem,
    - custom troop boonie cap (khaki) of fast-drying poly/nylon,
    - any polypro base-layer long and short bottoms for both warm and cold weather (scout's choice),
    - the new wicking BSA "Action Shirt" will become our functional "field shirt",
    - nylon convertible hiking pants/shorts (khaki): also serve as swim trunks,
    - poly sock liners and boot socks,
    - a nylon web belt,
    - breathable, ventible wind/rain parka and pants (scout's choice),
    - medium weight hiking boots,
    - knit cap, gloves/mittens for cold weather
    - no neckerchief

    Standardizing colors should prevent us from looking like a traveling circus. The customized clothes are less expensive than you might think, but require a parent to serve in a procurement position on the committee.

    We have developed a minimal gear list that follows the "rule of multiple uses." With few exceptions, if an item has only one useful purpose, leave it at home. This turns into a thinking game for the boys. We have a recommended list of preferred sleeping bags, backpacks and boots that will be regularly updated. The troop will provide backpacking tents (basic Eurekas), cooking gear, etc.

    This strategy will be an experiment for us, but we've seen a few other troops adopt the model with good results. Any thoughts?


    (Anonymous)
    Re: Re: New Scout Gear List on 07/08/2005 18:22:19 MDT Print View

    Scouting will eventually move to the light philosophy. Scouting is a conservative organization that adopts change slowly. For example, when I went to Philmont in the early 80's I had an internal frame backpack. The ranger tried to get me use a frame pack, because the ranger did not "believe" the internal pack would work. How many people have internal frame packs at Philmont today?

    As more and more Scouts (and Scout leaders) get educated to the virtues of going light, it will be accepted in time.

    A lot of Scout family's have cost restraints, and light gear is ussually more expensive. What ideas do others have for going light and going inexpensive?

    Making your gear is one solution and Scouts use to love making stuff. Do Scouts still like to make stuff?

    Ken

    Roger Caffin
    (rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
    re wet feet on 10/15/2006 20:26:24 MDT Print View

    > And for weekend trips a waterproof pair of shoes/boots is a good idea.

    Why?
    We walk IN the creeks and rivers at times, for the whole day. Wet feet have never done any harm at all. But good thick socks and comfortable footwear - ah, that's essential.

    Cheers

    Rob Bungarden
    (rbungarden) - F
    Where to get gear on 10/22/2006 12:46:16 MDT Print View

    Cost is a big issue and we talk to scout parents a lot about shopping for deals on quality equipment. If you haven't checked it out, look at the Coleman non-profit website. Some of the prices can't be beat and it includes some good backpacking gear.

    Michael Sagehorn
    (msagehorn) - F
    Scout gear list on 06/25/2007 16:14:26 MDT Print View

    I like the list Doug put together. It's a mirror image of what I've done for my troop.

    The bigger challenge with being a Scouter today, particularly a Scouter whose own Scouting experience was in the backpacking-mad 1970's, is the rigor in getting boys off their butts to do physically difficult adventures. We've always had a good core group of 10-15 backpacker Scouts at all age levels of our unit with 40-50 boys, but even with multiple trip dates a good share of them are plain panty-waists.

    I couldn't quite intellectually explain what I was thinking over the past 15 years of service as a Scouter but Richard Louv's book put it all together. His book-"Lost Child in the Woods," is now my mantra for parents.

    If lightening the load makes a positive effort in getting more kids out I think Doug has done a great job. I would add a caveat....do not take boys of any age near water without a full set of dry clothes(lightweight if needed) wrapped up in a sealed plastic bag. Boys will find inumerable ways to get wet at the worst of times.

    Joe Clement
    (skinewmexico) - MLife

    Locale: Southwest
    So on 06/25/2007 16:49:11 MDT Print View

    So can we re-print this, and hand it out to parents?

    And I also think cost is the major hurdle to most parents. Maybe I live in the wrong part of the world, but most of our parents balk at spending $200 on a pack and sleeping bag, for an 11 year old who may just play baseball instead. But I am going to steer all the guys toward UL, as much as I can, within cost restraints.

    Edited by skinewmexico on 07/02/2007 16:57:28 MDT.

    JASON CUZZETTO
    (cuzzettj) - MLife

    Locale: NorCal - South Bay
    Show them... on 06/25/2007 18:57:12 MDT Print View

    I went on my first 'mini' backpacking trip as an ASM this weekend. We went to Angel Island out in the San Francisco bay and hiked to our campsight and then went on to do a service project. The boys hiked no more than 5 total miles with packs (we were only there overnight).

    Several of the boys were under 12. I helped my son with his pack and got him down to 11.7 pounds. Which is what I wanted because he dislikes hiking. He had a better time than on any day hike with this trip. I think because his pack weight was so low. He was skipping down the hill on the way out the next morning.

    Now, I really (really, really) love light backpacking. So, what I saw on this trip scared me and I hope we are going to work to correct some of what I saw for our trip next month.

    Weight distribution... Some kids had packs that were sticking out two feet behind them because they were carrying old Coleman style rectangle bags. Tents were also hanging off the back with no way to lash them closer to the body.

    The Problem (1 of many)... Some parents bought packs based on the size of their child that were less than 2000 cu.in. Ideal, maybe, but not that practical.

    We did a gear weigh in before the trip that helped us out. But when the boys actually loaded the packs... WOW. What a mess. But, at least they were all smiling.

    I did alot of selling of Golite's Pinnacle Pack which lists as 1 pound 9 ounces (I've used the Jam also at 1 pound 6 ounces). I wrote a review of it if you want to take a look in reader reviews under framless back packs. You get the 72 liters volume or about 4500 cubic inches and the pack shrinks to a load capacity of about 1500 cubic inches. It will also take a hydration bladder.

    The reason I bring this up is the cost of the pack retails at $130 and I picked mine up for $110 on sale with free shipping and no sales tax since I bought it from a reatiler in Florida on-line. Golite has the links to who carries their packs on their web site.

    One of the best threads I saw today was suggesting the use of Tarp Tents. Most of the two men are under 2 pounds with a bug screen. Or you can go with just the tarp and be as lite as 8 ounces.

    I think we need to concider these. Especially during the summer months.

    I agree cost is a major fator. But if we teach the kids to be more adaptable and open minded to different ways of living in the wilderness during our weekend outings I think they will be better off for it.

    What do you guys think?

    Edited by cuzzettj on 06/25/2007 19:03:59 MDT.

    Brett .
    (Brett1234) - F

    Locale: CA
    re:Boy Scouts and Lightweight Backpacking on 06/25/2007 21:28:28 MDT Print View

    This is a great article for anyone transitioning to lightweight backpacking; I sure wish it was available a couple years ago when I started that changeover. It summarizes the rationale for gear choices then details a list you can literally print out and follow. I am going to point new hikers to this article first and foremost as a brief and clear intro to the gear choices. Great job!

    I have never been a Scout, so for the non-scouting version of this article, I might suggest the following things.
    - No trash bags as clothing; suffocation/condensation problems. carry at least a poncho.
    - No Frogg Toggs, weight and cost are tempting, but they tear like tissue paper. Again, poncho.
    - Using sneakers? OK, but replace the breakable cotton laces with 2mm accessory cord.

    Edited by Brett1234 on 06/25/2007 21:31:05 MDT.

    Larry Tullis
    (Larrytullis) - F - M

    Locale: Wasatch Mountains
    Lower cost BSA List on 08/25/2007 08:20:23 MDT Print View

    Great article but many scouts have parents unable to spend $300 on ultralight gear for a scout that may or may not use the gear more than once or twice. I did my first scouting 50 miler hike with a $12 budget (for all gear and food) and admittedly made mistakes that I learned from, but any scout should be able to outfit themselves for under $100 these days.

    Peruse thrift stores for synthetic clothing and gear like backpacks, hiking sticks/tarp poles (old ski poles) etc.. Make a synthetic quilt that tacks to a sleeping pad or keep an eye on the sales at discount outdoor stores. Teach them to cook at home with an esbit stove and a single aluminum pot before they go camping. An 8x10 blue tarp makes a fine tarp shelter for 1-6 scouts...but also have the boy practice in the back yard pitching it and sleeping in it before a trip. I started with a plastic tube tent for $1. I closed off one end and quickly learned about condensation. Scouts is about learning, not about parading lots of fancy, expensive gear.

    Charles Bilz
    (denalijoe) - F

    Locale: California
    Re: Lower Cost BSA List on 08/25/2007 10:03:44 MDT Print View

    Larry, as a ASM, I agree completly with your comments about serarching out clothing and gear at thrift shops. But I would add never buy "official" BSA Gear. It is to expensive and heavy. BSA has yet to embrace lite weight camping. The best experience a boy can have is an outdoor weekend with his troop. Scouts learn by doing.

    Patrick Tobin
    (patobin) - F

    Locale: Mid-South
    Lightweight Backbacking on the Cheap! on 10/15/2007 13:47:05 MDT Print View

    Hi guys, (and Gals)
    I am trying to put together a curriculum for a "University of Scouting" event next spring and I am looking for suggestions. I think much of it will be MYOG type of equipment. But I would really like to cut it to the bare bones as far as cost. I certainly hope this will help get more kids out into nature, without overloading them with an heavy pack.

    Douglas Prosser
    (daprosser) - MLife

    Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
    What is the University of Scouting??? on 10/15/2007 22:09:11 MDT Print View

    What is the University of Scouting???

    Doug Prosser
    dougprosser@verizon.net