Holiday and Birthday Gift Ideas for Scouts
Each year, we get asked for ideas and suggestions for gifts that Scouts can use for camping. Please note that the discussion of backpacking gear can be as personal as religion and politics. Here are just some general thoughts and ramblings, not meant to be the only answer when it comes to gear. We also have a wide range of economic situations within the troop. There are items on this list that run the range from stocking stuffers to the top end. Hopefully this list is helpful.
Please feel free to bring questions to one of the Scoutmaster Staff, who have had many good (and not so good) experiences with gear.
Troop Adventure Checklists – The Mini and High Adventure Packing Checklists are posted on the left side of the front page of the troop Website. ABOVE ALL: SYNTHETIC and LAYERS – it doesn't matter if it is summer or winter. We are pushing for clothing and gear that is synthetic, not cotton!
NOTE – if you find “Smokin’ Hot Deals” out there or have other ideas to add to the list, please let me know so I can send it to others.
Get Good Gear - This troop camps out year round in challenging conditions. When gear fails, Scouts can be at risk miles from vehicles. Generally speaking, gear from Wal-Mart or Target stores work OK for weekend summer trips, but does not meet the standards of the wilderness Mini or High Adventure trips we take. Avoid military surplus gear, including camo as well.
Get Light Gear - Most of our multi-day wilderness trips involve backpacking, with a Scout carrying his gear AND multiple meals for his crew AND crew gear such as a stove or first aid kit. Don't go to extremes--the lightest gear is the most expensive--but don't have your Scout show up for a weeklong backpacking trip with a massive sleeping bag more suited for slumber parties.
Major Camping gear – backpack, sleeping bag, foam pad, waterproof jacket, winter boots (e.g., Sorels), hiking boots.
Avoid camouflage colors whenever possible. Our goal on all of our outings is to be able to easily find each other!
o Packs: quality packs with padded shoulder straps and waist belts. Large enough to carry a week's worth of gear AND crew food and other items. New packs should be bought at a place where the hiker can try them out with weight added. Younger Scouts tend to do better with external frame packs.
Two great examples are the Kelty Trekker 65 and the Kelty Yukon 48 <https://www.kelty.com/external-frame/>
Both packs are adjustable and will last well into the Mini Adventure ages. It is adjustable and will last well into the Mini Adventure ages. The internal versus external debate rages on. External packs are more difficult to find. Older Scouts will find internal frame packs to be awesome!
o Foam pad should be closed-cell pad. Inflatable Therma-Rest pads are popular and some swear by them. Others, swear at them. However, they do require extra care that is sometimes a challenge for Scouts. Also, they are difficult/impossible to repair on a camping/backpacking trip.
o Sleeping bags should “backpackable”. Should be 10 to 0 degree-rated mummy bags. They can have either down or synthetic stuffing. See the discussions on the Backpacker and REI links below about synthetic versus down. In Colorado and the West, we rarely have a problem with wet down bags. We do tend to have a problem with cold-rated synthetic bags being too large and/or heavy for Scouts to stuff or carry. There are lots of combinations of clothes, liners, and multiple sleeping bags can work for a range of temperatures.
o Quality rain gear with Gore-Tex or the breathable fabric equivalent. Do not get “water-resistant.” Avoid heavy rubberized rain jackets and ponchos. Quality raingear can be the difference to avoid hypothermia on a serious trip.
o Multi-tool or pocket knife.
o Tents--get a two-person backpacking tent, with a rain fly. Ideally the tent should be rated for three-seasons. Must be good in rain and snow.
v Other Camping Gear Ideas
o wool socks
o synthetic liner socks (if you like the two sock liner/wool sock system)
o wide-mouth plastic water bottle (two needed for desert trips). Ideally with ounces marked on side for cooking.
o camping cord
o ski hat
o polypro long underwear (tops and bottoms) - Needed for winter trips, spring break trips and most high adventure trips!
o Anything from the troop camping checklists.
o Other items and Stocking Stuffers:
chemical hand warmers (there are two-packs, large single-packs, toe warmers and full foot warmers).
headlamps – small L.E.D. type.
thin, liner poly-pro gloves. Great to wear when cooking or setting up tents, etc. Inexpensive and almost disposable.
gloves and mittens – each Scouts needs two or three sets for a winter campout.
zip-off pants [synthetic fabric only].
dry bags (Paria Canyon Adventure or canoeing)
wide-brimmed hat for desert trips.
extra tent stakes -- great stocking stuffer for serious backpackers!
whistle on a neck cord – plastic, no metal so it doesn’t stick to your lips!
Weakest Links in Gear: Most gear issues on our trips involve the following items:
Gear Advice: The REI “Expert Advice” page is linked to videos to teach many aspect of gear, packing and outdoor adventure.
Suppliers and Information Sources:
§ Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) – 28th street in Boulder and on-line. Great source of how-to-buy information:
§ Costco. They’ve got nice merino wool long sleeved shirts for $15 (M & W), wool & wool blend socks in big packs, and women’s fleece pants & long sleeved athletic/polypro shirts.
§ Sierra TradingPost. Great prices and good customer service <-- ONE OF THE BEST PLACES FOR GOOD PRICES!
§ Campmor. Another great mail order company with great prices
§ Used Gear Boulder is a wonderful used gear town. Look on Craigslist:
§ Boulder Sports Recycler 4949 N. Broadway #113
§ Play It Again Sports 653 South Broadway
rain gear: jackets and pants.
heavy and or bulky sleeping bags
For the Scout Who Has All the Gear:
A growing and fun activity in Scouting has been GPS.
Other thoughts: check out the desert/spring break camping lists on the troop Website.