If scouts is about anything it’s about being outdoors and for that you will need the right kit.
This page is advice for scouts and their parents about the kind of thing they will need for going on camps, expeditions and other trips away. If you have any questions then please do get in touch with the leaders
Tents, Stoves and Cooking Gear
We provide all of these so don’t go spending your money on it! (Unless you want to of course)
A water proof coat and trousers is amongst the most essential kit you will need both for staying dry and reducing wind chill in windy conditions. Please note that the training tops provided by sports clubs and “pack-a-mac” style waterproofs are completely unsuitable.
If you look in any outdoors shop you will see that it’s possible to spend whatever you want on a water proof coat. Thankfully it’s not necessary to spend a fortune. Things to look for are a hood that will cover your head while wearing a hat, wind proof cuffs (i.e. adjustable or elasticated) and seems that have been taped on the inside.
For water proof trousers zips up the legs that allow them to be put on without taking your boots off is always really helpful!
While wellie boots will keep your feet dry by the time you get to scouts they are no longer very useful as if you are on a hike or on your feet all day they get very sweaty, your feet get sore and they give very little ankle support. Instead go for a pair of walking boots which will keep your feet warm and dry, protect them if you tread on anything sharp (nails on woodpiles) give ankle support on hikes and are safer when controlling a fire or swinging an axe.
Like waterproofs you can spend what you want on a pair of boots but again there is no need.
The most important thing to watch for is that they are made of a waterproof material (leather or goretex is most common), be careful as some fabric boots are not properly waterproof and that they fit properly. When trying them on make sure you are wearing thick walking socks. You should be able to just about get two fingers down the back of them (we’re talking taking the skin off them!) if they fit right. Have a good walk around in them in the shop and make sure nothing is rubbing or uncomfortable.
Before using them for real make sure you wear them in by wearing them around the house or on short walks. Modern boots don’t take as much wearing in as they once did but it’s still a sensible thing to do.
Finally remember to wear them with proper woollen hiking socks. Cotton socks will just make your feet sweaty and sore.
Sleeping Bags and Bed Rolls
Where would we be without sleep? Pretty tired and grumpy probably!
Sleeping bags come in two main types, synthetic and down (ie feather filled) Down are warmer, pack down smaller and are generally better. They are, however, VERY expensive. Synthetic sleeping bags are far more likely to suit most people’s budget. They also have the advantage of if they get wet then they dry out a lot more quickly.
You will sleeping bags rated in two different ways for warmth. Either seasons or on comfort range. As a general rule 3-4 season sleeping bags are most suitable. 1 and 2 season bags are not normally warm enough. It is possible to get 5 and even 6 season bags for very cold weather but these will generally be far too hot and sweaty for what scouts will get up to. For temperature rated bags a common rating is +12C to -5c and this is generally perfect for scouts.
Do make sure that you get one with a hood at the top for keeping your head warm!
Most bags come in a stuff sack with compression straps. For storing your sleeping bag it is best to keep it out of the stuff sack and hung up. Alas most people don’t have the space for that, what is really important though is if they are in the stuff sack to stuff them in and not roll them and do NOT tighten the compression straps, these should only be used to get it into your rucksack. Compressing or rolling the bag damages the fibres or feathers and means it will lose warmth.
Another important bit of kit is something to lie on to insulate you from the ground. Carrymats are cheap and perfect for the job. Thermorest style bed rolls are that bit more comfortable and warm but are very expensive and far from necessary.
One of the most common mistakes scouts make is to wear jeans on camp. Don’t do it! Jeans are hot and sweaty in summer, retain no warmth when wet and take ages to dry out. Skinny jeans are even worse.
Track suit bottoms are ok but still far from ideal.
The uniform activity trousers or other combats are perfect.
A warm hat, gloves and socks are essential, particularly in winter. For the rest of your body remember that multiple thin layers are better than one thick one, zips are not very warm so fleeces or jumpers to pull over your head are better than zip ups.
A final point is to try to avoid cotton next to your skin particularly on hikes.
Rucksacks come in two main forms. Day sacks for day hikes, outings etc and larger rucksacks for bringing all your kit to camp and most essential for over night hikes and expeditions.
For a daysack a 25L sized one should be ideal. For a larger rucksack 65L is ideal. Although bigger rucksacks are available if you are filling them then you are probably carrying more weight than is good for a teenagers back!
Remember to chose one with a draw string and lid rather than a zip (zips are easily damaged and difficult to repair) and for larger rucksacks get it properly adjusted so that weight is distributed between your hips and shoulders.
Where to get it
While much of the kit can be obtained from online stores there is still no substitute for actually going to a shop and trying it on to ensure fit and comfort. Local stores that are good are;
The Cambridge Scout Shop (Perne Road, open Monday and Wednesday 6.45-8.30pm)
Cotswolds (Bridge Street) – take something to prove you are a scout to get a discount!
Open Air (Green Street) – policy on scout discount seems to vary depending on who is serving. Always worth asking 🙂
Nationally Blacks is always worth looking in although the local branch has long since closed.