My Boring Basic Scout Gear List

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boring basic

Why is my basic Scout gear list boring? It’s hard to get too excited by  basic, durable, inexpensive gear that isn’t  glitzy or laden with gimmickry.

Basic, boring gear works and keeps on working. With a couple of exceptions I have listed things I have owned and used for many years, sometimes for decades. Everything has withstood the test of many days and nights of backpacking, camping, and canoeing.

This is a list of the best options (not always the cheapest) I have found and recommend to Scouts and Scouters.

Campmor and Amazon are my go-to suppliers. If you put together a big group order Campmor offers a 10% discount (see the explanation at the bottom of this post)


WHAT’S IMPORTANT - The best pack for anyone is one that fits! Too big or too small and you’ll be uncomfortable. All three packs I have selected are excellent value for money and have a wide range of adjustment.
dgnfly Dragonfly External Frame Pack
15-22 inch torso and a hip measurement  from 25 to 36 inches.
Available at Campmor $39.99
tetonexplorer Teton Explorer 4000
Internal Frame Pack

16 – 23 inch torso (for people up to 6’4″ in height) and 28-70 inch hips.
See my video review here
Available at Amazon $75.99
tscout34 Teton Scout 3400
Internal Frame Pack

15 -19.5 inch torsos (for people up to 5’9″ in height) and 26-60 inch hips
See my video review here
Available at Amazon $65.00
  Mountainsmith Day Recycled-Fabric Lumbar Pack 
Available at Amazon

Sleeping Bags and Pads

WHAT’S IMPORTANT - Temperature ratings vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Get a bag rated for the average low night-time temperature in the coldest part of the year where you go camping. If you don’t sleep well camping you won’t enjoy the experience. Laying out a few more dollars for more comfortable gear is worth it.
 coleman Coleman Taos 25 Degree Sleeping Bag
Reasonable cost, size and utility. There’s no ‘perfect’ sleeping bag for every situation, but this one will be fine for 9 out of 10 situations.
Available at Campmor $39.99
(Sleeping bag models come and go, look for a bag with similar specs at this price point if this one isn’t available)
Big Agnes Fish Hawk 30
My personal favorite, integral sleeping pad pocket. Also pretty expensive, if they fit your budget I recommend them highly. Note that you’ll need to purchase the sleeping pad too.
See my review here (different model, but same specs)
Available on Amazon
 pad Closed Cell Foam Pad
The best option for most Scouts.
Available at Campmor $10.99
 Available at Campmor
 62186_blu Self Inflating 72 Inch Sleeping Pad
Nice upgrade, very comfortable.
Available at Campmor $39.99
 27342_bro Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Rectangular Pad
2″ of insulated comfort, light weight, packs very small. A significant upgrade but worth the expense for a good night’s sleep.
Available from Campmor $89.99
 straps Sleeping Bag Straps
I consider these to be a ‘must have’ item if the sleeping bag is carried on a backpack. No bungee cords or bits of string please.
Available at Campmor $3.99

Miscellaneous Gear

WHAT’S IMPORTANT - Durable, inexpensive and easy to use. Scouts loose things (so do Scouters) you can always upgrade after you’ve had some experience camping, but you may not need or want to.
 storm Storm Alert Whistle
The loudest (really!) whistle being made.
See my review here
Available at Campmor $5.99
 silva Silva 1-2-3 Compass
Compasses come in many forms; some more useful than others. This is the one you want.
See my review here
Available at Campmor $9.99
 86702 Backpacker’s Trowel
For making cat holes and sump holes.
Available at Campmor $2.99
 71+WB4jG1hL._SL1500_ Black Diamond Equipment Storm Headlamp
Pricey but worth it! Bright, can be dimmed, and lightweight.
Available at Amazon  $40.00
 (Scouts loose things like headlamps all the time, go with something less expensive, nearly any one you find in a discount store is adequate)
 SE3DLNA Rayovac Sportsman LED lantern
The ruggedest lantern I have found.
See my video review here.
Available at Amazon  $27.00
 VI59110 Victorinox Hiker
What’s the best Scout pocket knife? I am not sure there’s only one absolute best pocket knife for every Scout in every situation, but this is an excellent choice
Read my review
Available at Amazon $25.00
 image from Leatherman Wave
I carry the Wave at work and when I am out in the woods and it has yet to let me down.
Available at Amazon $25.00
  Corona 10″ Folding Pruning Saw
I gave up on bow saws years ago. Folding pruning saws are excellent for cutting firewood.
Available at Amazon $19.98
 lansky blade medic Lansky Blade Medic
Great tool for keeping knives sharp.
See my video review here
Available at Amazon  $10.00
 28606_gre Marmot Limelight 3 Person Tent
Our choice for troop tents, a great piece of gear.
Read my review here
Available at Campmor $250.00
 29038_blu Anti Shock Trekking Poles 
Saves you knees and feet, I never go hiking without them. Spend a few extra dollars, you won’t regret it.
Available at Campmor $60.00
  Barska 10×25 Compact Waterproof Binocular
Basic, inexpensive but excellent quality. Great for stargazing.
Available at Amazon  $27.00


WHAT’S IMPORTANT - I Insist that every Scout has a set of polypropylene long underwear, rain pants and a rain jacket on every camping trip. (No, they don’t always comply – thanks for asking.) If we get caught in the rain, snow or cold and they are wearing the polypropylene and rain gear I can  keep them safe from hypothermia. They may not be dry or toasty warm but they will be safe.
90050 Wigwam Dry Foot Polypropylene Liner Socks
Important to keep feet dry and prevent blisters.
Available at Campmor $4.99
Polypropylene crew neck shirt
 My review of polypro can be found here.
Available at Campmor $11.99

Polypropylene Lightweight Pants
Available at Campmor $11.99
 92883 Wool Gripper Finger Free Gloves
You can cook and do most camp related tasks easier with these than with regular gloves.
Available at Campmor $8.99
 91914_blk Wool Balaclava
Great for sleeping wicks away moisture while hiking.
Available at Campmor $21.99
77699_blk Campmor Cascade II Rain Parka
A durable rain suit is a must. Ponchos and inexpensive rain gear do not work. See my Tips for Camping in the Rain
Available at Campmor  $24.99

 77701_blk Campmor Cascade II Rain Pants
Available at Campmor $17.99
  Tilley Airflo Hat
Constructed of Nylantium, weighs in a a svelte 4 ounces, appears to be indestructible and sits lightly on my big (size 8) bald head. A generous brim offers ample shade for neck, ears and face and a stout cord keeps it on my head in the wind. Expensive? Yes, but worth every penny.
Available at Amazon  $75.00


See my Highly Evolved Mess Kit infographic. Most of the things I recommend are batting around in your kitchen cabinet, here’s some specific things I use.
 80921 Aladdin 12 oz. Insulated Mug
An insulated mug does double duty as a bowl and will keep food warm unlike the flimsy plastic cup in most mess kits
Available at Campmor  $3.99
 80880 Nalgene Wide Mouth 32 oz. Bottle
Basic, foolproof, I’ve never worn one out!
Available at Campmor $4.99
 17463_blu Lexan Cutlery Set
Light, serviceable and cheap.
Available at Campmor $2.95

 51J7Pld2TRL._SL500_AA300_ GSI Infinity Mug
Insulated, light, and simple but expensive
Available at Amazon  $9.99
 java GSI Java Press
Not a necessity, but it makes great coffee! No more metallic tang from the old aluminum percolator. Sturdily constructed and has a neoprene insulating sleeve that keeps coffee warm.
Available at Amazon $19.99
 ss6 Solo Stove
Extraordinarily well-made,  weighs less and has minimal impact on those wild places we treasure. Read my review here
Available at Amazon $69.99

Dutch Oven Cooking

Not essential, but what fun and good eating! A good dutch oven kit makes things easier.
  Lodge 8 quart pre-seasoned dutch oven
 Lodge dutch ovens are the industry standard. Some are cheaper but I think it’s hard to beat Lodge for fit and finish (and they are made in the USA). You do need a dutch oven with feet and a lid that is rimmed to hold coals; there are dutch ovens with domed lids for the kitchen but they don’t work well on a campfire.
Standard retail for these beauties is around a hundred bucks (!)
Available a Amazon $60.00
  Lodge Camp Dutch Oven Lid Lifter
Do you absolutely need a fancy lid lifter? I use one and would not be without it; it makes things a lot easier. You’ll find yourself lifting the lid to check the progress of your cooking fairly regularly and while pliers or improvised hooks will do the job a lid lifter is much more secure and pleasant to use.
Lid lifter at Amazon $8.99
  Lodge Fire Gloves
Plain kitchen oven mitts and the like tend to burn when I have used them around campfires. Leather work gloves are too thin. What you want are insulated leather gloves designed to take the heat. I have used welding gloves successfully and these are basically the same thing. These cover your forearms and make handling hot pots and other stuff around the fire much easier.
Don’t try to save a few bucks by buying cheaply made gloves – they are thinner and won’t last. A couple of extra dollars for purpose built gloves is worth it.
Available at Amazon $15.00
  Dutch Oven Lid Stand
It’s certainly handy to have a parking spot for a dutch oven lid while you are stirring or adding ingredients. You can park your lid on another pot or a couple of empty cans but having stand assures you wont soil the inside of the lid or loose the coals on the top.
Available at Amazon $10.00
  Lodge Dutch Oven Table 
You don’t need a dutch oven table but it will make life easier if you really get into dutch oven cooking. Lodge makes the Cadillac of dutch oven tables (and it costs a mint of money). A generous wind screen and sturdy legs raise the oven off the ground. This is on my wish list.
Available at Amazon $162.00
  Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter
I do most of my dutch oven cooking over a wood campfire. If I can’t build a fire I’ll use charcoal and a chimney-type starter is important. A couple of crumpled sheets of newspaper on the bottom, charcoal on top, light the paper through the draft holes and you’ll have hot charcoal in a few minutes. The Weber 7416 has a cult following because it’s the best; it has a bail handle to make emptying the charcoal a lot easier.
Available at Amazon $14.99
  Poor Man’s Dutch Oven Table 
A galvanized steel bushel basket or washtub is one way to contain the coals and holds the oven while cooking. It also carries all you gear and charcoal. We have one that was in the troop gear room when I showed up a couple of decades ago.
Available at Amazon $20.00 
  Lodge Pan Scrapers
Two polycarbonate Pan Scrapers for cleaning the stuck on food from dutch ovens without scratching. Each corner of the scraper is a different shape to easily clean every crevice or corner.
Available at Amazon  $6.00