Packing Tips for Campouts
Camping equipment can be very expensive; and if you don't know what you're doing, you can waste 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.
Keep things that you will want to get at quickly in the side pockets of your pack. These include things like your raingear, map and compass, water bottle, and trail mix.
Pack your heaviest items closest to the center of your pack. This will help to keep the weight on your hips rather than your shoulders.
Use a compression sack for your sleeping bag. It will save you a lot of space in your pack.
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.
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 hot longer.
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.
In the winter, fill your water bottles with lukewarm water rather than cold water before you leave home. It won't freeze as quickly.
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.
Always wear polypropylene liner socks under your wool socks. They will prevent irritation and make your hike a lot more comfortable.
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.
Don't pack a whole roll of toilet paper or paper towels for a weekend outing - that's way more than you'll need and it's a waste of space. Instead, take a little off a 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 those small metal things that attach your pack to the frame.) They are available at any camping store, and are not expensive.
A space blanket isn't a bad idea for winter outings. It weighs practically nothing and will keep you warmer at night.
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.
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 in cold weather is a Troop 75 sin. It doesn't dry once it gets wet, and can make for an uncomfortably miserable outing if the weather isn't warm.
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