Packing Tips

Camping equipment can be very expensive; and if you don't know what you're doing, you can spend a lot of money on low-quality stuff. Talk to an experienced troop leader about the best brands, places to shop, and types of equipment to buy.


Never make assumptions about the weather. It may turn out to be much warmer, colder, or wetter when you're hiking on a mountain upstate than it is when you leave your house. So don't hesitate to bring a pair of shorts even if it's a little cool or bring hat and gloves when it seems warm at home. And of course, ALWAYS remember your rain gear!

Don't forget, cotton clothing is a poor choice in cold weather. It doesn't dry quickly once it gets wet, will not keep you warm, and can make for an uncomfortably miserable outing.

Always wear polypropylene liner socks under your wool socks. They will prevent irritation and make your hike a lot more comfortable.

Backpacks & How to Pack

A Scout should pack their own pack, so they are aware of where everything is located, and don't end up carrying extra items.

Keep things that you will want to get at quickly in the side pockets of your pack. These include things like your rain gear, map and compass, water bottle, and trail mix.

For pack fitting help, see the Jansport website here (scroll down to Pack Fitting & Packing FAQ's).

Pack your heaviest items low and closest to the center of your pack, and against your back. This will help to keep the weight on your hips rather than your shoulders.

Adjustable nylon straps are best for attaching things to your pack. They are durable, inexpensive, and you can make them whatever length you want. Pick some up at any camping store or the Troop Trading Post.

Consider using a compression sack for your sleeping bag. It will save you a lot of space in your pack.

Eliminate extra packaging when packing your patrol's food. Store oatmeal or hot chocolate packets in zip-lock bags and get rid of the box. It saves room in your pack and makes for less trash to carry out.

Chances are you have a lot more growing to do - so an external frame pack is best for now. Internal packs are more expensive, and may only fit for a year or two. A good external pack is less expensive and will work just as well for your purposes, and you won't grow out of it as fast.

Items to Bring

Always carry extra batteries and an extra bulb for your flashlight. Having your flashlight die in the middle of the night when you really need it is no fun.

A whistle may seem silly to bring, but it could be a life-saver if you ever get lost. Three short blows of the whistle is a universal call for help.

Nylon stuff sacks are great for storing clothes and other items. They repel water and come in various sizes. All the camping stores have them.

Always check your tent and/or tarp for tears before bringing them on a trip.

Plastic mess kits are better than metal. They don't burn your hands when you put hot food in them; and in the winter, your food stays hotter longer.

Don't pack a whole roll of toilet paper or paper towels for a weekend outing, it's more then you will need and take up extra space. Instead, take a 1/2 used roll at home and put it in a small zip-lock bag.

Keep a few extra crevasse pins in your pack in case one comes off on the trail. (Crevasse pins are used to attach your pack to the frame.) They are available at any camping store, and are not expensive.

Trail mix is always a good idea for any kind of hiking trip. It will give you extra energy on the trail and is a tasty snack. You can buy pre-made trail mix, or be creative and mix your own at home.

Always keep a couple of large trash bags and gallon-sized zip-lock bags in your pack. They don't weigh much and come in handy for lots of things.