Backpacking – Essential Gear

The image and list below illustrates essential gear that belongs in your pack. There is no easy substitute in the woods for the stuff on this list.

Designate a pocket of your pack to store this stuff, most of it can be permanently stored there.

Whenever you have a choice, go small and go light!

1Tooth Brush and PasteA scout is clean! Just because you are camping is no reason to let the teeth fall out of your head! Cut the toothbrush in half. Squeeze as much toothpaste as you need into a Ziploc bag. Pack these wet toiletries in their own Ziploc bag to keep everything else dry.
2Pocket Knife & Totin' Chip CardEating, building fires, whittling, etc. Keep the card with the knife in your pack. No knife until you earn the Totin' Chip card.
3Personal 1st aid kitmake up the kit on page 289 - you need it for rank advancement. You can squeeze some of the antibiotic ointment into a small Ziploc bag, no need to bring the whole tube. Put it all in separate Ziploc bag. The Troop will also have a full 1st aid kit on each trip.
4Wool or acrylic hatThe lightest most efficient way to stay warm. You can also pull it over your eyes to make it darker for sleeping
5Rain gearLight weight coat and pants or a full poncho are necessary if the weather may be cold and/or wet. Staying warm and dry is the your 1st priority when camping.
61 quart water bottlesHydration is critical! Insulated bottles with fancy straws are a waste of weight. If the bottle doesn't say "1 quart" it doesn't hold 1 quart. Every Scout needs at least one, adults need two of them, yes I know water is heavy! The polyethylene Nalgene bottles are cheap, durable, food safe, and don't leak.
7Head lampMakes doing anything at night possible. LEDs are the best b/c they last forever and make the best use of the lightest batteries. This can be tiny and relatively cheap and still be effective.
8One energy barPick a Cliff bar flavor you like. These last forever and are a reliable and tasty source of 400 calories.
9Lighter & Firem'n Chit CardA lighter is the lightest, cheapest, and most reliable way to carry water proof fire. For cooking, staying warm, fusing ropes, sterilizing metal. Keep the card with your lighter in your pack. No lighter till you earn the Firem'n Chit Card.
10SPF 50+ sunblockSunburn is an injury! Squeeze an amount you need for the trip into a small Ziploc bag.
11CompassFor finding your way. The Silva type compass with rotating bezel is accurate, light, durable, and cheap. You'll want a map of the terrain for each trip.
12Bug dopeOnly needed late spring thru early fall. Need only a tiny bottle or one repellant wipe per day.
13Hand sanitizer towelettesUse to clean your hands before all meals, after all trips to the bathroom, cleaning wounds, face, etc. The towelettes are better than the gel b/c you can really scrub with the towelette and get under your fingernails, etc. You can buy the travel packs, or put what you need in a Ziploc bag. You need at least 3 per day.
14Tissues or toilette paperFor blowing your nose, wiping your bum, stopping bloody noses, can be used to help start fires. These are very light and very convenient, so it's OK to bring more than the minimum. Prepackaged travel size or several stuffed in a Ziploc bag.
15Sun glassesAlways protect your eyes - you only have one pair!
16Trash bagOne full size, thick, black plastic trash bag has 1000 camp uses: hanging food away from critters, as a poncho, ground cloth, pack cover, lean-to, to collect rain water, instant bucket, line boots, oh yeah, and you can put trash in it too!
17Plastic "tee shirt" shopping bagsPack your clothes and food in separate bags - this will keep everything organized clean and dry. There are hundreds of these bags at your house, put three or four in your pack, they weight nothing and can be used for 1000s of things in the field.
18Scout HandbookIf your rank is less than 1st class, this is essential as a field reference & so you can have rank advancement tasks signed off. The leaders can not help you advance if you don't have your book! If you are 1st class or above this is optional - you can borrow a younger scouts book if you need it. Think of not having to carry this heavy item as a reward for advancing to 1st class!
19Para cord, 50 feetLashings, hanging food away from critters, emergency shelter, slings, securing stuff to your pack. This is light, strong, cheap, comes in cool colors. It's available at any hardware store.
20Spork, cup, plateThe Scout mess kit is compact and light, but if you are eating in a patrol, you don't need all of it. Aluminum or high temperature resistant plastic is fine as you are not cooking with them only eating.
21Duct tapeVery useful for quick, temporary repairs. Roll a 2 foot piece of tape on itself or around a tube of your external frame pack.
22Extra set of clothesIf you get soaked, you need a dry set of clothes.
23This listKeep this list in you pack. Compare what is in your pack against this list before EACH trip. Check the amount and condition of each item, and resupply or replace as necessary. Once you have most of this stuff stored in your pack, preparing for a trip will be very fast, simple and worry free!