Down is the best insulation for sleeping bags until you get wet. If your tent leaks or you sleep outside, then down will make you miserable when you get wet. Otherwise goose down's warmth, light weight, and lifetime durability makes it a great choice if you take care of your gear.
Synthetics can be good for beginners because of their low short-term expense, ability to retain more heat when wet, and quicker drying capabilities.
Comfort rating - When in doubt always err toward warmth. 20º is probably good for us.
Shapes: Mummy is lighter and warmer / Rectangular offers more room and can be zipped to another one.
Water resistance – A desirable option, but added expense
Weight – Fill weight indicates amount of insulation. Total weight ranges from 2-10 pounds.
Compressibility – Important for backpacking.
Separate liners offers additional warmth and keep the bag clean
A self inflating air pad or built in pillow is optional, but adds weight. For backpacking, extra clothing can be used as a pillow.
Store them unpacked – Long term compression reduces the insulating ability
Size: 3-4 person is best for 2 campers
Ease of set-up is very important for Boy Scouts
Taped seams and stitching show the ability of tents to avoid leaks
Waterproofing – Fabric Sealer / Seam Sealer. DO NOT TOUCH THE WALLS AT NIGHT!
Bathtub floor – Floors that come 6” high prevent ground water from getting in.
Rainflies – Needed to keep moisture out and adds warmth. Ventilation is good, but the bigger flies keep it dryer.
Poles – Aluminum is more expensive, but won’t deteriorate. Fiberglass is cheaper, but may splinter in time.
Tarp over top is an option worth considering if you have an older or inexpensive tent.
Footprint to protect bottom – Use a tarp slightly smaller than your tent. As an alternative, you can also use 6-mil or thicker vapor barrier plastic cut slightly smaller than your tent for an inexpensive, but effective option.)
Keep food out of tents at ALL TIMES!
Leave your shoes outside your tent (but out of the weather!) if possible.
Set your tent up at home after all campouts to clean and dry it. It will smell better and last a lot longer.
Do not store backpacks or day packs in tents! They probably have had food in them, and that will attract bears, skunks, raccoons, etc.! Take this seriously!
For more information about tents, hiking gear and other equipment, visit:
Cotton kills! Wet cotton is uncomfortable and is likely to cause rashes.
Pants with zipper-off legs give more versatility.
Stocking caps are good for warmth in sleeping bags
Water wicking materials – Keeps skin dry and comfortable, but tends to absorbs odors
Wool blends are great, but expensive.
Buy cost effective shoes – Scouts will outgrow them quickly. Waterproof, comfortable boots are needed to keep the feet (and our Scout) happy.
If you're serious, get waterproof breathable liners unless you only do day hiking and never encounter rain, mud, or snow.
Light-weight fabric/suede hiking boots are lighter, more flexible, and breathe better and they trade this for long-term durability, support, and protection. This type of hiking boot would be great for day trips without a pack.
Mid-weights: Mid-weight boots are stiffer and provide more support and protection for shorter 2-3 day trips or even day hikes with no to a moderate load. If you hike for a few hours or up to 3 days, want more support on or off-trail, and hike easy to moderate trails get a mid-weight leather backpacking boot.
Extended Backpacking: The best level of support, protection, and durability for heavy loads and longer 3+ day trips on or off-trail on difficult terrain.
A light or mid-weight boot is a good place to start for your first hiking boot.
Camp shoes: Lightweight sneakers or water shoes (NO open toes). Crocs should be avoided to since they have little traction and the holes allow sticks to come through, and should be avoided when cooking outdoors..
Sources to find products:
Walmart, Kmart, Target, army surplus stores, Sports Authority, Dicks, Bass Pro Shops, REI
http://www.campinggearguide.com – Big list of websites.
Amazon.com / Campmor.com / Cabelas.com / Sierratradingpost.com /Ebay
Garage sales / Goodwill / Friends
Keep an eye out for sales and plan ahead. Don’t be forced to buy full priced items at the last minute.