Recommended Gear

Without a doubt, having the right gear can be the difference between your son's camping experience being epic and being an epic fail.  To help you find the right gear, we have put together some thoughts on what to look for.

Some stores you might consider shopping are

For more basic items (water bottles, mess gear) you can shop at local stores without any concern.  But items that need to be rain and/or water proof are usually better when purchased from one of the above sites.

Mess Gear

Water Bottle
We are in a constant battle to keep boys hydrated.  On every trip, there is at least one boy that doesn't bring a water bottle.  Almost as bad as forgetting the water bottle is bringing an empty water bottle (also an every-trip experience).  Your son should have two 1-quart water bottles (two of these are easier to pack than one larger bottle), and they should be full before he leaves the house.

Although it is not required, water bottles made by Nalgene and other outdoor companies are great options because they marry nicely to the pump attachments we use in wilderness environments.  They need only 
approximate the shape of the bottles to the right.  However, we consider it far more important that your son have any sturdy water bottle than having the "right model."

Perhaps no piece of camping equipment is as overlooked as the sock.  Every boy should have good camping socks.  These need to be made of a material that retain warmth in the event that the sock gets wet, either by external moisture (rain, mud, streams) or internal moisture (sweat).  Recommended materials are wool, smart wool, and fleece.  Even for long trips, a boy needs only two to three pairs of socks (they can be set out to dry and reused later in the trip--it may seem gross, but it's life in the wilderness).

Cotton socks are of the devil.  Cotton retains water without staying warm.  When wet, it can stick to the skin and encourage the development of blisters.  

Liner Socks
For additional comfort, you may also consider liner socks made of wool or polypropylene.  These socks are generally more expensive and you may want to wait until your son's feet stop growing before investing in these.

Sleeping Pads
The primary purpose of a sleeping pad is to insulate the body from the earth (the 'mattress effect' of the pad is secondary).  Foam pads are a good lightweight solution that is suitable for all of our trips, and we strongly recommend every boy bring a pad on every trip.  Boys who use sleeping pads will be far warmer at night than those who do not.

Some people may recommend the inflatable Thermarest pads, but we do not recommend these for scouts, and especially not for young scouts.  Tenting with young scouts comes with an inherent amount of chaos in the tents, and a punctured Thermarest is a $60 piece of garbage.  Foam pads can take more abuse than inflatable pads without losing their primary function.

Sleeping Bag
We camp in all seasons of the year, and staying warm at night is crucial to having a positive experience.  We recommend that each boy have a sleeping bag rated to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  During the summer, these can be vented by unzipping the bag, and during the winter, wearing warm clothing in the bag can help them stay warm on the coldest of nights.  

Rain Coat and Pants
If your boy has an unpleasant experience camping, nine times out of ten the first thing he will complain about is being cold.  We try hard to keep the boys warm, but that becomes far more difficult when they are wet.  A good water proof coat and pants will go a long way to keep them from getting wet, and will do a lot to keep them warm.  

Long Underwear
Most of our camping is done between September and May.  In our climate, that means it's fairly chilly at night.  We also commonly wake up at 6:30 in the morning.  It is usually chilly at that time.  A pair of long underwear is a great way to take the edge off the cold.  

Your son needs a way to see at night.  Although the trend right now is headlamps (which are nice because you can see and use both your hands at the same time), any battery operated light will do.  Candles and other flames are not permissible because they cannot be used in a tent.

Pack Cover
A reusable, waterproof pack cover is a great way to keep your equipment dry.  These can be used with backpacks,
 day packs, or duffle bags.  For younger boys, buy a pack cover larger than you need (they come with draw strings) that can be used as your son grows.  For older boys, it is good to buy a pack cover properly sized to their pack.

Subpages (1): Mess Gear Tips