||Essential. Lightweight or
medium-weight boots are best. When shopping for them, make sure that
you try them on with the liner and wool socks that you'll be wearing on
the trail. Boots with a waterproof Gore-tex (or equivalent) lining can
be more comfortable in wet conditions; alternatively, leather boots
without Gore-tex can be cooler on warm days, and can be reasonably
waterproofed with commercial wax or silicone products. Sneakers and
street shoes do not provide enough support and protection to the feet
and should not be used for backpacking trips except as optional in-camp
or post-hike footwear. Leather boots must be broken in before any trip.
||Essential. Socks keep your
feet warm, help keep them dry, and protect them from blisters. Bring
one pair for each day on the trail. Wool socks run the gamut from
relatively thin, stretchy, "Smart Wool," to super thick, tough heavy
European wool. Cotton socks are brought only for changing into for the
drive back home.
|Wicking liner socks
||Optional. These are worn under
your wool socks, and are used to keep your feet warmer, drier and
prevent blisters. They come in many varieties, including thin, silky
socks for warmer days, or thicker, more insulated socks for cold days.
Bring one pair for each day on the trail.
|Lightweight shoes or sandals
||Optional. For lounging around
in camp at the end of the day.
||Optional. This can be as
simple as a stick, or as fancy as a pair of specialized telescoping
metal poles. Helps support your knees, and helps keep your balance on
narrow trails and while crossing streams.
|Internal or External frame
||Essential. Must have a hip
belt, and must fit so as to rest all of the weight of the pack
on your hips, not your shoulders. A sternum
strap helps with comfort.
||Essential. A waterproof,
breathable jacket made with Gore-tex or similar material. It should
have a hood; if not, then a separate rain hat should be carried.
||Optional. Waterproof and
breathable is good; you can get away with plain nylon, or even rain
chaps (if you have a long-ish rain jacket).
|Rain cover for backpack
||This can be as simple as a
garbage bag, or as elaborate as a specially designed waterproof nylon
|Waterproof bags for pack
||Essential. Even with a rain
cover on your backpack, water can get in. It's important to pack your
clothes and sleeping bag in some kind of waterproof bag within the
backpack. Plastic garbage bags and big ziploc bags are fine for this.
Alternatively, special waterproof nylon sacks for this purpose are now
being sold at camping stores.
|Fleece jacket and/or wool
||Essential. Synthetic fleece is
warm and dries fast. Wool is the next best thing. Two of these (or one,
plus one insulated jacket) will be needed for most fall and spring
||Optional. Bulky, but great for
staying warm in camp on mornings or evenings.
synthetic pants. Dries fast. No cotton. Since jeans are made of cotton,
|Long underwear top
||Essential. Polypropylene or
other synthetic is best. No cotton!
||Optional. Some people skip
this and use their long underwear top as a shirt. Whatever you bring,
it should not be cotton.
|Long underwear bottom
||Essential. Helps in camp at
the end of a cold day, and also to keep warm on really cold days, and
sleep in on really cold nights. No cotton!
||A synthetic, wicking type
material, like polypropylene or COOLMAX, is best. Brands to look for
include Under Armour, Duofold, REI, ExOfficio, Patagonia and Wickers.
||Optional. Nice on a warm day.
Dries quickly, minimizing chilling.
|Wool or fleece hat
||Essential. A good hat is one
of the keys to warmth and comfort. You should be able to pull your hat
down over your ears. There are dozens of variations of this type of
hat. A hat with a windproof, waterproof nylon or Gore-tex shell is even
|Gloves or mittens
||Essential. Wool or synthetic.
A Gore-tex or nylon shell is important for snowy environments.
||Optional. Used on warm days to
keep the sun off your face, ears and neck. Can be a baseball cap, or a
hat with an all-around wide brim.
|Two 1-liter canteens
||Essential. You will need to
carry 2 liters of water on any strenuous hike, and 3 liters when hiking
in hot weather. Two separate canteens means that you are not entirely
without water should one canteen develop a leak.
||Essential. You will need to start
the hike with fresh water. We
do not stop en route to fill canteens — this is done once we get
to camp at the end of the hiking day. You must fill your canteens at home
before arriving for the drive up to the trail.
|Eating utensils, bowl, mug
||Essential. These can be
commercial products designed for camping, or (strong) plastic intended
for household use. The nested mess kits that are sold in camping stores
are overkill. The metal plates and cups in most of these drain a lot of
heat from the food in cold weather; plastic is better. Wide, shallow,
plastic Chinese food containers with lids make decent bowls/plates, as
long as they're not used as a cutting surface. Add a sturdy plastic mug
and spoon, and you're all set. Less is definitely more in this case
— less to wash, and less to carry. Minimalist backpackers bring
just a bowl and a spoon.
|Biodegradable soap and pot
||For cleaning your utensils
after meals. The pot scrubber is optional; usually a finger or tongue
can be used. This soap can be the same soap that you carry for hand
washing (see Bathroom, below).
||Essential. For the first day
on the trail.
||Essential. High energy snacks
to eat on the trail. You can also bring food to supplement the meals
that your patrol cooks.
|Bear bag and 50 feet of
||Essential. This is a stuff
sack or plastic bag into which all of your food and garbage is put at
the end of the day and hung from a tree, to keep it out of reach of
bears and other critters. Food
and garbage must never be stored in your tent.
|Garbage bag or container
||Essential. "Leave no trace" is
the motto of any backcountry camper. We take this seriously in Troop
11. No trash is left in the camp site. Bring a sturdy plastic garbage
bag to bring it home in.
|Mummy sleeping bag and
waterproof stuff sack
||Essential. A bag rated at
20-25 degrees or lower will keep you comfortable in the spring or fall.
Warmer bags (0 to 15 degrees) are necessary when camping in Winter.
Synthetic bags keep more of their warmth when damp; goose down is
lighter, but has no insulating qualities when wet. No cotton bags, and
no rectangular bags.
||Essential. Sleeping pads are
placed between the sleeping bag and the tent floor to insulate the bag
from the ground. Popular pads are made either of simple closed-cell
foam (RidgeRest or Z-Lite) or of open-cell foam in a self-inflating
bladder (Thermarest or similar).
||Optional. A small,
compressible synthetic pillow can make sleeping more comfortable.
||Essential. The outhouses that
we encounter on our trips often do not supply toilet paper. Bring a
partial, flattened roll in a ziploc bag.
||Essential. For washing hands
and face, and dishes. Liquid soap is neater than bar soap. Dr. Bronner's is a good brand. Carry it
in a small, strong squeeze bottle, and put the bottle in a small ziploc
bag to prevent spills.
||A small "pack-towel" made of
quick-drying viscose cloth works well for the light-duty drying that is
usually done in camp.
|Toothbrush and toothpaste
||Allergy medicines, inhalators,
blister bandages, antiseptic wipes
||For minor cuts, scrapes and
blisters. The troop carries a full first aid kit for more serious cases.
||With no running water, it is
important to keep your hands clean, especially after going to the
|Sunscreen and chap stick
||Most of the time when we hike,
there are no leaves on the trees. This results in more sun exposure
than you would expect. Wind and cold also take a toll on lips.
||Necessary from late spring
until early fall. Carry in a small ziploc bag to prevent spills.
after the Hike
|Extra shoes and socks
||Optional. Keep these in the
car and change into them at the end of the hike. Can make the trip home
much more comfortable.
|Complete change of clothes
||Optional. Again, keep in the
car. If you're cold and wet, you'll appreciate this.
||Along with a map, essential.
||Essential, but can't be
carried without having first earned a Boy Scout "Totin' Chip"
card. Even handier than a plain knife is one of those little
multi-tools (e.g. a Leatherman).
|Firestarter or waterproof
|Flashlight with extra
||Essential. LED head lights
leave hands free and are very bright.
|Something to sit on
||This can be a square of
closed-cell foam, a small Thermarest seat cushion, a collapsible stool,
etc. As long as it keeps your tush warm and dry and reasonably
||As appropriate to the season.
||Optional. Can help organize
gear, and double as a bear bag.
|Assorted ziploc and garbage
||For packing clothes, keeping
things dry, holding food, etc.
|25-50 feet of light rope
||This is in addition to the
rope for hanging the bear bag. Good for stringing tarps, hanging
clothes to dry, or reinforcing tents.
|Books, games, deck of cards
||It gets dark early, and we
retire to the tents at around 8pm. It's good to have something to do
until you get sleepy.
||Useful in attracting attention
if you find yourself lost or separated from the group.