Gear Info - Gift Ideas

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. If you find “Smokin’ Hot Deals” out there or have other ideas to add to the list, please let us know so we can send it to others.

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!

    • 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 Walmart 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 Lightweight Gear - Most of our multi-day wilderness trips involve backpacking, with a Scout carrying her/his gear AND multiple meals for her/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.

    • Avoid camouflage colors whenever possible. Instead, go with bright colors. Our goal on all of our outings is to be able to easily find each other!

Weakest Links in Gear: Most gear issues on our trips involve the following items:

  • Inadequate rain gear

  • Inadequate backpacks or backpacks that are too small

Major Gear

  • Packs: Quality packs with padded shoulder straps and waist belts. Backpacks should be large enough to carry a week's worth of gear AND crew food and other crew items. New packs should be bought at a place where the Scout 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:

      • 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!

  • 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.

  • Sleeping bags should be “backpackable.” They should be rated to temperatures between 10°F to 0°F 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.

  • Quality rain gear with Gore-Tex or the breathable fabric equivalent. Do not get “water-resistant.” Avoid heavy rubberized rain jackets and ponchos. Quality rain gear can be the difference to avoid hypothermia on a serious trip. Check out options at:

  • REI

  • Frogg toggs:

o Tents Get a two-person backpacking tent with a rain fly. Ideally the tent should be rated for three-seasons; a three-season tent has zippered flaps that leave no exposed mesh when closed. The tent must be good in rain and snow.

Other Camping Gear Ideas

  • Fjallraven Barents pants

  • Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket

  • jackets -- good mid-weight jackets

  • Compass

  • Wigwam socks -- Merino Comfort Hiker

  • Synthetic liner socks (if you like the two sock liner/wool sock system)

  • Wide-mouth plastic water bottle (two needed for desert trips). Ideally with ounces marked on the side for cooking quantity purposes.

  • Camping cord

  • Ski hat

  • Polypro long underwear (tops and bottoms) - Needed for winter trips, spring break trips and most high adventure trips!

  • Booties – great for winter camping: REI Booties or the ultimate warm ($80): 40 Below Company.

  • Anything from the troop camping gear checklists.

Other items and stocking stuffers:

  • Outdoor Vitals pillow

  • Kinco insulated gloves

  • Multi-tool or pocket knife

  • 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 Scout needs two or three sets for a winter campout

  • Zip-off pants [synthetic fabric only]

  • Dry bags (needed for our Paria Canyon Adventure or canoeing adventures).

  • Lip balm.

  • Lock back knife -- Buck, Gerber, SOG, Spyderco.

  • 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!

Other Links:

Gear Advice: The REI “Expert Advice” page is linked to videos to teach many aspects of gear, packing and outdoor adventure.

Suppliers and Information Sources: