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Backpacking - What to Bring

I have had several parents ask “what should a first-time hiker take in his backpack” so I thought I would answer to all in case it would be helpful.  We are going to have presentations on clothes this week and more information will be forthcoming, but below is a basic checklist.  The key here is that we will be in the woods for 36 hours- this is not Man vs. Wild- so “when in doubt leave it out” is a good mantra.  Keep the pack light and your scout will enjoy the trip more.


There are a number of good lists, including the one in your scout handbook- but here is my basic pack list:


Basic Gear 


Backpack rain cover (a large leaf trashbag can work here- just cut it to about 6 inches from the bottom)

Tent (your scout should be splitting the tent between him and another scout with each carrying half).  Don’t forget things like poles, stakes and groundcloth

Sleeping Bag- PLEASE- put this in a waterproof bag.  If you don’t have one, put it in a leaf trashbag and then into its normal bag

Sleeping Pad- this is normally lashed outside your pack.  Non-inflatables like the Z-Rest are generally lighter and don’t have the risk of “leaks”


Personal Gear

Headlamp (fresh batteries mean you don’t have to take spares)

Backpacking Stove (scouts will be sharing and the Troop will provide a stove if you don’t have one)

Fuel bottle for stove (one scout usually carries the stove- the other the fuel

Water Filter- adults will have these so normally the scouts don’t have to worry about it.

Matches or lighter.  Matches should be in a zip-loc or waterproof case.

Cook pot (usually one small pot is all you will need) You will either eat out of the pot, or use the freezer bag method so no plates, etc. required!

Spork or other eating utensils

Bear bag with Rope (again- scouts  should share).  This is about 40-50’ of lightweight rope and a waterproof gear bag big enough to hold food.  A small carabineer helps the rig, and we will show them how to hang the bag.

Two one liter bottles OR a 2 liter Camelbak or other form of hydration bag that allows the scout to drink on the move.

Toilet paper (small roll), trowel and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.   The non-alcohol based biodegradable baby wipes in individual packages are also a nice comfort should the need arise.  Put all these in a zip-loc and have it in an outside pocket of the pack.

Whistle- never leave home without it

Pack towel (SHAMWOW!) or bandana- this is the duct tape of the backpacking world- 1,000 uses


Lip Balm

Small Pocket Knife

Small First Aid kit (just the basics)

Survival kit- this is essentially the “I am lost” kit.   A good idea here but absolutely critical on “Day Hikes” when the scout may have to stay in the woods overnight unrepentantly

Hiking Poles- each one is an “extra leg” for stability

Food in a one Gallon zip-loc, with an extra one gallon zip-loc for trash


Clothes (Basic list- more coming)

Raingear (more info coming but realize I will be on the trip so it WILL RAIN). This is typically a rain suit or poncho.

Non-cotton socks and spares (wear one carry two)

Light stocking cap and gloves (I always carry these- even in summer)

Wicking Long underwear top and bottom (I always carry these- even in summer)

Insulating layer jacket (depending on weather)

Shorts/Zip offs (probably only need the pair you are wearing when you leave home). Zip-off Scout pants are a great choice here- but PLEASE leave the jeans at home!

One extra pair of underwear

Rain Hat, Boonie or Troop Hat- Rain and Sun protection


Please let Mr. Fields or I know if you have questions.



Ken Holder

Troop 2860