Dear New FCT Scouts and Parents,
Troop 55’s first campout of the year will be at the Webb Family Ranch in Chappell Hill, TX next weekend Jan 22-23. And there is no better time to start getting ready for it than now!
New SCOUTS: Be ready to bring your backpack or duffle packed with all your camping gear and clothes to this Tuesday’s meeting for the “Shakedown”.
FCT Session for new scouts: 6:15pm – 7pm (Shakedown)
General Troop Meeting: 7pm – 8pm
Attached is the Troop 55 Camping Checklist so you can start planning/shopping. It contains very basic items so you will want to add a few items depending on the activities planned, weather and your personal comfort level. Also keep in mind that scouts will be growing A LOT in the next few years. You may want to borrow some items until you get a feel for what suits you.
Below are my shopping tips based on my personal experience. These are only suggestions. There is
no shortage of great gear out there at decent prices if you look around. Please use the information
the way that it works best for YOU.
Important tip: After you get home from a campout (no matter how tired you are),
immediately open up ALL your camping gear to dry it out. This means EVERYTHING. The
fastest way to dry out a tent at home is to set it up. If not, any small amount of moisture will
grow mold on your (expensive) gear and you will never get the moldy smell out.
Places to shop
Academy has budget prices and budget quality BUT they do have an excellent return policy.
Basically, you can return practically anything (even if it used) with a receipt. There doesn’t seem to
be a time limit for returns.
REI has high quality items with high price tags. Great product advice in the store and online. Read
in-depth product reviews and analysis through their website. Always look out for their sales!
Become an REI member for additional discounts. Membership program tracks your receipts. You
can return practically anything (even if it used) with a receipt. 1 year time limit for returns. If you
can’t wait for a sale, consider buying the REI generic brand which is usually very good quality at a
more reasonable price than famous name brands. The best value for money is REI brand items on
Whole Earth Provision is like a mini REI. If you see a sale item but it doesn’t come in your size, ask
them to search their other stores or their in-house online inventory. Good product advice. But
return policy is limited.
Amazon.com may be an option if you have done your research and know what you are looking for.
Amazon Prime has 30-day free returns for unused items.
Costco has been offering increasingly more camping gear in store and online. Decent quality, good
prices, no questions asked return policy.
Look for a 3-season tent since we do not (intentionally) camp in the snow.
Typically, we encourage 2 scouts to buddy up in a tent especially in the FCT patrols. But because of
Covid, there is NO tent sharing for sleeping or hanging out.
For a single sleeper, you will need a two-person tent so you will have room to lay out your sleeping
bag and gear. A one-person tent is too small.
A 3-person tent is adequate for 2 sleepers and their gear.
A 4-person tent or larger is too big. It becomes too heavy to carry and cumbersome to pack up
quickly on our often chaotic Sunday mornings. And scouts try to squeeze in 2-3 sleepers which
guarantees that no one gets any sleep.
Tents can come with their own ground cloth (placed between the ground and the tent) sometimes
called a ‘footprint’. If not, you should purchase the one that is specifically made for your tent. If not,
you can use a tarp. When setting up, make sure the ground cloth/footprint/tarp is under the tent
and not exposed. After the tent is set up, you should not be able to see the ground cloth. Otherwise,
it will collect rainwater and turn into a bathtub for your tent.
There are 3 classes of tents: Car camping, backpacking and lightweight backpacking.
For our monthly campouts, choose a backpacking style tent. Car camping style doesn’t pack down
small enough and lightweight backpacking is too expensive and delicate.
PRACTICE SETTING UP AND TAKING DOWN/PACKING UP YOUR TENT SEVERAL TIMES
BEFORE YOUR FIRST CAMPOUT. On campouts, you will need to be able to set up your tent
efficiently in the dark and even in the rain. When we pack up on Sunday mornings at campouts, you
will need to efficiently pack up EVERYTHING, cook/eat/cleanup breakfast and be dressed in your
Class A uniform typically before 8am.
Make sure you have enough stakes for the tent and rainfly. The rainfly covers the tent but it should
not rest on/touch the tent otherwise water will seep into your tent because of the cohesive
property of water. The rainfly should be securely staked down so it is taut and there is a small gap
between the tent and rainfly.
Here are some good sturdy tents for scouts:
I have the REI Quarterdome 2-person tent. I bought it on sale 2 years ago for $209. It is similar to
this one but it is not ‘SL” (superlight).
Synthetic filled vs. Down filled
Backpacking vs. Car Camping style
Get the backpacking style sleeping bag because it compacts down more than the car camping
style. Mummy shaped (as opposed to purely rectangular shaped) is more efficient for heat
retention and compression packing. Modified/Semi-rectangular shaped provides a little more
room than mummy shaped to roll around.
Synthetic is more affordable but does not compress as much as Down. If you get a down filled
sleeping bag, it must be water-resistant treated so that if it gets wet, it will still keep you dry.
Night time temps for the Sept, Oct, Mar, Apr, May campouts are 40’s – 70’s. For the Dec, Jan, Feb
campouts, it could get down to 30’s! Sleeping bag temperature ratings are based on a person
wearing layers of clothes, stocking cap and fresh dry socks to sleep. Heat will be trapped between
the multiple layers of clothes. More layers, more heat trapped.
Tip: lay out your sleeping bag a few hours before you go to sleep so the fibers in your sleeping bag
have time to fluff back up from being compressed during travel. This allows the fibers to more
efficiently/quickly trap your body heat when you get into your sleeping bag to sleep.
You will need at least a 30-degree rated sleeping bag, maybe even a 15 or 20-degree one if you get
cold easily. I use a 15-degree down sleeping bag. The Women’s version of sleeping bags have more
insulation around the core of the body and they are generally shorter and thus less expensive than
the Men’s version. This is not a bad idea if you are still growing a lot.
Generally, get a sleeping bag rated for 15-30 degrees depending on how cold you get and/or how
much clothes you like to sleep in. This means a 3-season bag since we do not camp in the snow.
There are many sleeping bag options depending on personal preference. Here are some broad
20-degree sleeping bag
15-degree sleeping bag
10-degree sleeping bag
5-degree sleeping bag
Use a compression sack (which may come with your sleeping bag) to compress the sleeping bag
down to the size of 1-2 footballs. There are also compression sacks you can buy that are waterproof
so your sleeping bag can stay dry in extreme weather.
Sea to Summit has an awesome one but it is fairly expensive. Medium or Large size for sleeping
Sleeping pads (3 types)
Need a sleeping pad for insulation (R-value) and comfort. R-value will indicate the level of
Self-inflating Sleeping Pad
Do not use self-inflating sleeping pads unless you have very strong fingers/grip to compress it back
down. Very difficult for adults much less kids to do this. Not recommended.
Inflatable Sleeping Pad
Comfortable, lightweight, insulated, packs down small BUT very expensive and delicate. Not for
I have lower back problems so I use an inflatable sleeping pad PLUS a closed-cell foam pad for
The ‘studded’ design is more comfortable than long rows of baffles.
Closed-cell foam Sleeping Pad
Bulky, affordable, lightweight, durable, insulates, wise choice for young scouts. Probably not
enough cushion for adults. Face the metallic looking part up to radiate your body heat. Packs down
in an accordion style that you can strap to the outside of your backpack. Use a Velcro strap to keep
My son has this type of sleeping pad:
A headlamp is better than flashlight so you can be handsfree. Often you will arrive to a campout in
the dark (it gets dark by 5pm in the Fall) and need to set up your tent – with both hands. Pack
headlamp in your day pack for quick and easy access.
If possible, buy a headlamp that has a ‘red light’ feature. Red light does not attract flying insects.
You can walk around the campsite using the white light and then switch to the red light when you
are just about to enter your tent – so no bugs follow you in!
Always bring a set of extra batteries. Bring a small inexpensive $1 flashlight from the Dollar Store
as a backup.
Headlamp with red light feature:
Here is an excellent rechargeable option. It has 1000 lumens which is very nice/bright!
It is also convenient to have a small lightweight lantern for inside you tent. Here is a solar version
which would be great to have for a mid-adventure backpacking trip on one of the Troop’s summer
Small plastic bowl (for spaghetti, chili, etc.) should be wide enough to function as a plate too for a
sandwich, breakfast taco, hamburger, etc.
Collapsible bowl is a good space saver for backpacks
Mug or cup
Mainly for hot chocolate. Insulated is nice. We use Nalgene bottles for water.
Here is a collapsible cup that doesn’t take up much space. Easier to fit in a backpack than a mug
with fixed handle but it is not as sturdy.
There is no need for a scout to carry/bring a knife to a monthly campout. If you do carry / use a
knife, you will need to show your Totin’ Chip which is similar to a license that you carry with you.
Adult Leaders have the right to take away any knife not used safely, properly or without good
1-liter (32 oz) Nalgene bottle.
Beverage of choice on campouts is water. Arrive to the campout with 2 full Nalgene bottles. Wide
mouth makes it easy to fill and wash. You will be able to refill your bottle with water at the
campout. Nalgene bottles do not provide insulation but they are affordable, lightweight, and
virtually indestructible. Water is so critical that we want you to bring 2 Nalgene bottles. Camping
out in the elements means we need to drink at least 3-4 liters per day to avoid dehydration in all
kinds of weather. Surprisingly, the body needs a lot of water to keep warm in cold weather.
REI usually has the wide-mouth 32 oz. Nalgenes on sale for 50% off throughout the year.
Backpack vs. Duffel
Because backpacks have a hip belt to transfer the weight from the shoulders to the hip/back, they
are good for hiking distances before setting up camp. Adjusting the straps is important for a good
fit. There are different sizes for the high-end backpacks (S, M, L) depending on the person’s frame
so you should wait to purchase a backpack for when you get older, have a taller frame and need it
for mid-adventure/high-adventure summer camps. If using a backpack, consider using a rain cover
“duck cover” to protect contents from getting wet. You can also pack everything inside your
backpack in its own separate zip lock bag to keep things dry. 65 – 90 liters capacity recommended
depending on your weight.
The troop’s annual February campout at Enchanted Rock is the only campout that Middle School
and Older Scout Patrol scouts will need a backpack because scouts hike 2 miles into the
backcountry before setting up camp. Consider borrowing a backpack if you plan to attend this
campout. FCT scouts do not hike into the backcountry. They stay at basecamp so they do not need
All the other monthly campouts only require walking about the distance of one city block or less to
get to the camp site. Therefore, duffels w/backpack straps are preferred. Duffels provide easy
access to items and are quicker for packing up because you can access the entire compartment with
the large flap. Water-resistant for rain (not waterproof for submersion) duffel bag with
backpack straps is ideal. Some outside pockets are handy to access items without opening up the
whole pack. 90 -100 liters capacity recommended.
Completely ‘waterproof’ bags are very expensive (+$300) and are only needed if you are
canoeing/rowing and need to put your bag onto the boat. For example, you might need such a bag
if you were a high school age scout going on a high-adventure summer trip to the Northern Tier in
I have this 95 liter water resistant duffel with backpack straps. I bought it on sale when REI
was discontinuing a print/color a few years ago for $39.
Some scouts have this 95L more reasonably priced backpack duffel from Amazon which works well.
This is like a small backpack that you use for school. You use it on hikes. You keep it with you
when/if you sit on the bus to travel to campouts.
It needs to be big enough to hold:
Scout Handbook (always use the tan canvas cover and put in a zip lock bag to protect it), pen, rain
jacket, rain pants, headlamp w/extra batteries, compass, water bottle, personal first aid kit,
sunscreen, hat, snacks, insect repellent, etc.
Camp chair or stool
The Camping List states ‘optional’ but I would highly recommend a camping chair or stool because
it is more comfortable to sit on instead of a picnic table which we will only have if we camp at a
state park. Often scouts like to use camping chairs to sit with each other, relax, talk and play cards.
You can also use your camping chair at the Saturday night campfire (usually you have to sit on the
Doesn’t pack down as compact but a good value for a lightweight chair especially for adults who can
store in car. This is a 2-pack. In the store, Costco sells a single chair.
Pillow – add to the list
Camping pillows can make sleeping easier. Inflatable, foam and foam/inflatable hybrid varieties
that can pack down to fit in your duffel/backpack.
I have this foam one because I need a lot of support under my neck when I sleep on my side.
My son has this hybrid one (inflatable w/foam cushion):
Super lightweight version for backpacking (inflatable only):
Paracord – add to list
Purchase at Michael’s Craft Store, Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree, etc. Used for practicing to tie knots,
tying down the rainfly/tent, and making a clothesline for drying clothes by stringing it up between
No Cotton and No Cotton blend: “Cotton Kills”
It’s a good rule to never bring cotton on a campout. In wet weather conditions or high energy
activities, water/sweat on cotton does not dry out so it will keep you damp and thus, COLD. On the
Enchanted Rock and New Scout Campouts, we always have to watch out for hypothermia caused by
rain, sweat, dew on clothes, gloves, hats, and socks. Cold is bad. Wet is bad. Cold + Wet is
Bring enough wool/polyester socks so you can change into fresh, clean, DRY socks right before you
go to sleep. 70% of the body heat escapes from the feet/head.
Doesn’t take up much room in your duffel and can add an extra layer of insulation.
Hoodies/Pullover fleece + Waterproof Jacket
If you wear a lightweight waterproof jacket over your fleece, the fleece will keep your body heat in
and the jacket will protect you from the wind and rain. Do NOT bring a poncho because it is a fire
hazard near open fire (cooking/campfire.)
You can get by with a thin rain jacket shell. But make sure you have a fleece to wear under it. You
can increase the water repellency of rain gear (rainfly, rain jackets, rain pants) by treating it with
Nixwax or GearAid waterproofing products.
For Winter campouts with extreme cold and wet conditions bring a ski jacket and waterproof
Decent raingear is expensive. Look out for sales.
Boots/Sneakers must be waterproof. We walk around a lot in tall grasses so it is easy for shoes to
get wet even though there is no rain. Wet shoes = wet socks = cold feet = cold body = miserable
Boots do not need to be ankle high unless you are carrying a backpack over a few miles or wanting
to be extra careful not to sprain an ankle (for sports activities).
I buy waterproof shoes (boots and sneakers) at the Columbia store at Premium Outlets in Spring,
Face masks – add to list
Bring enough for the campout, plus a few extras!
Sunscreen – add to list
Stick is easier to apply than lotion and not as messy. Hard to wash hands on campouts.
Pump vs. Spray
Do not bring any aerosol products (insect repellent, sunscreen, anti-fungal sprays) to campouts
because they can be a fire hazard – especially for curious scouts near a campfire! Aerosols will be
collected by Adult Leaders.
Bug Repellent – add to list
DEET based vs. Picaridin vs. Permethrin
Do not use DEET based products.
DEET will break down plastics and polyester so it is very bad if it gets onto the scouts’ rain gear,
tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc.
Sawyer brand makes a DEET-free insect repellent with 20% Picaridin as the active ingredient. I
believe OFF brand has a Picaridin based product but the Picaridin % is lower. Picaridin is safe for
gear and clothes and most likely safer on humans than DEET.
Sawyer also makes a Permethrin based insect repellent that is used primarily for gear and clothes.
Spray on socks and shoes to avoid ticks, chiggers, etc. Good for 4-5 washings. Military uses
Permethrin. Note: it is not effective on people because it dissipates after 20 minutes due to the oils
on the skin.
Compass – Orienteering style
Purchase via Amazon. Needed for a few of the FCT requirements.
Something like this with lanyard and cover is good.