Gear Every Scout Should Own

Marcus Wuebker's picture
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A common question for new scouts is “What do I need?” There are basic pieces of gear every scout should own for any outing and then there are items that are highly recommended and some others that are “nice to have”.

  1. Required – Every Scout Should Own
    1. 10 Essentials for Outdoor Activities. The following items should be carried to each and every activity, indoor or out and can easily fit into a small backpack. These 10 items can be found on page 264 of the 12th edition of the Scout Handbook. Every scout should have this list memorized as it will be taught and reinforced at many meetings throughout the year.
      1. Water Bottle. Hydration is THE most important aspect of any activity. 750ml to 1 liter is sufficient for most activities.
      2. First Aid Kit. A small personal hiking kit is best for this application. See page 127 in the Scout Handbook.
      3. Flash Light. A small, 2 AA battery or similar sized flash light.
      4. Pocket Knife. Something with a blade, a can/bottle opener, and a file is sufficient. I do not recommend a 75-tool Swiss Army knife that weighs 3 pounds. A Leatherman, or Gerber multi-tool is perfect.
      5. Rain Gear. Ponchos are the best as they pack tightly, deploy quickly and can cover backpack while hiking in the rain.
      6.  Sun Protection. Can be as simple as a hat in colder months or sunscreen in the summer.
      7. Trail Food. Something compact and high in protein. Trail mix, Cliff Bar, etc.
      8. Fire Starter. Waterproof matches, flint and steel, 9-volt battery and steel wool are all great ignition sources. A small amount of Jute or other tinder is also handy.
      9. Map & Compass. Do not discount the importance of knowing how to get to where you are going and how to get back to safety. In the city on a day activity, a smart phone with a GPS app will work fine, but most of the places we go do not have adequate cell phone coverage. A stand-alone GPS receiver is good as well, but you should still have a map of the area in which you are traveling. A compass however does not need batteries. Even for summer camp, I would recommend a map of the camp and a compass. 500 acres is a lot of area in which to get lost.
      10. Whistle. Scouts rarely get lost but a whistle is a great way to let people know both where you are and you need help. 
    2. Overnight Camping Essentials
      1. Mess kit. At most of our outings, paper plates and plastic wear will not be available. This is not inline with the outdoor code or conservation ideals of scouting. A good kit should include a plate, a bowl (or a wider bowl that doubles as a plate) a utensil, and a cup. Hard plastic kits are ok, but a metal kit that you can cook on is better. A good metal kit includes a plate/bowl, a frying pan, a small pot/bowl with a lid, and a cup.  Usually the eating utensil is sold separately.
      2. Backpack. If you are at all interested in true backpacking trips, I recommend getting a good backpack. Even if you are not overly excited about backpacking, packs specifically made for this activity are still good for scouts because of the many specialized compartments for things like sleeping bags, wet items, water storage, etc. Check out this article about How to Buy a Backpack. [http://troop84.com/article/how-buy-backpack]
      3. Sleeping Bag. Choosing the right sleeping bag can be difficult. There are so many different kinds with different features. As a general rule, anything with cartoon characters meant for sleepovers is NOT adequate for outdoor camping. But that’s where the simplicity ends. There are cotton bags, nylon bags, mummy style or straight. The most import factor though is temperature rating. Have a look at this article for more specifics. [http://troop84.com/article/how-choose-sleeping-bag]
    3. Scout Handbook. This is the go to resource for all things scouting. Troop leaders will often refer scouts to the book for answers to questions, and to teach skills. It also contains all advancement requirements and is the scout's personal record of achievements.
    4. Other items every scout should bring to every campout
      1. Toiletries
        1. Toothbrush/paste
        2. Comb
        3. Hand soap
        4. Hand sanitizer
        5. Deodorant
      2. Extra batteries for flashlight and other items
      3. Weather appropriate clothing
      4. Good hiking boots/shoes
      5. Extra pair of shoes
  2. Highly recommended items
    1. Tent. Our troop does not provide tents for outings but that does not mean you have to run out and buy a tent. Many of our scouts have tents that hold 2 to 4 or even 10 people. We do encourage tent mates to cut down on the amount of gear needed and if you don't already have a tent, partner up with someone who does. If you are inclined to get your own tent, well that's okay too.
    2. Extra Clothing. Consider the activity. For a day trip, this might just be an extra T-Shirt, socks, or other under garment. For multi day trips, at least one full change of clothes, possibly more but consider how much will have to be carried on a daily basis. Socks are probably the most important item to carry.
  3. Necessary items specific to certain activities
    1. Back packing stove
    2. Personal floatation devices
    3.  Swim towel
    4. Goggles
    5. Water shoes
  4. Other items that make camping life more comfortable.
    1. Sleeping pad
    2. Camping Pillow
    3. Camp towel
    4. Water filter
    5. UV water sterilizer
    6. Iodine pills for purifying water
    7. Small shovel
    8. Small amount of biodegradable toilet paper
    9. Hammock
    10. Small camp chair/tripod stool
    11. Camelback style water containers
    12. 50' of Para-cord
    13. Deck of Cards
    14. Water tight storage bags
    15. Carabineers/clips
    16. Ditty bags
    17. Headlamps
    18. Bug Spray
    19. Lip Balm
    20. Sewing Kit
    21. Pens/Pencils
    22. Watch