Trailman Gear Recommendations
Troop PA-1207 schedules an outing about once a month. These activities can include hiking, camping, trail clean up, etc. We try to teach the Trailmen about readiness and being prepared. These are recommendations for gear that will be used in the field. You can find these items online or in local stores. Feel free to reach out to troop members to get their recommendations.
Smartwool Type Socks – 3 pair ( Navigators and Adventurers )
Smartwool is a name brand of socks that combines the warmth of wool with the wicking and fast drying of a synthetic sock. Other companies make Smartwool type socks, so you do not need to buy that brand, but here is what you need to know: purchase socks made for hiking; and decide the sock height (no show, low ankle, ankle, mid crew, crew, tall crew, or over the calf), and thickness of the sock (zero cushion, targeted cushion, light cushion, full cushion, extra cushion, or maximum cushion).
If you are unsure, you can use the sock finder function on the Smartwool website: https://www.smartwool.com/best-socks-finder.html
Clothing is a personal choice, yet cotton apparel on the trail could lead to a wetter than necessary experience. Cotton absorbs and retains moisture faster and retains it longer than any synthetic fiber, so whatever apparel you do buy for your Trailman, we recommend you avoid cotton products.
Layering is the key to warmth and comfort, therefore we recommend that your Trailman have a variety of apparel for the different weather conditions he will find on the trail. Apparel ranging from short sleeve shirts and shorts, to polypropylene, capilene, or other synthetic long underwear top (and bottom if desired), fleece jacket, and wind-shell/rain jacket, and rain pants.
Hooded, Waterproof Top and Bottom
Your Trailman will need a relatively lightweight, compactable fully hooded rain jacket/poncho and pair of rain pants. Woodlands Trailmen will not do much backpack camping, so they will not need as much gear, but Navigators and Adventurers will. If your Trailman has not finished growing, to save on continually purchasing new rain jackets, we recommend you get him a rain poncho that also covers a backpack. When he finishes growing, or at least nears the end, you can purchase a rain jacket that will fit him, if you desire. Yet, with regards to ventilation, ponchos are the best type of rain protection. Rain jackets can be very stifling unless the weather is also very cold. If you decide to go the poncho route, we recommend you also get a bungee cord, or makeshift belt, to wrap around your Trailman’s waist to keep the poncho from flapping in the wind.
Some may think that rain pants are unnecessary, but they are especially necessary if your Trailman does not have synthetic fiber hiking pants. Natural fibers absorbs moisture and take a long time to dry, so if your Trailman is hiking in denim, he will need rain pants to help protect him from the elements, especially in colder weather. Summer hiking is not as critical, because he can wear shorts and his rain jacket or poncho should protect him well enough, but early spring or late fall hiking could be problematic if he does not have the proper rain protection.
People can become hypothermic in a variety of weather conditions. Although it is less likely to happen in the summer, if a Trailmen gets extremely wet and there is a very cool evening, it is possible for him to become hypothermic, or at the least, extremely uncomfortable. For this reason, knit hats are a must in all hiking conditions, including summer. You can use what you already own, but if you want to purchase one, we recommend that you purchase the lightest and warmest hat you can find, such as Turtle Fur beanies. https://www.turtlefur.com/collections/mens-beanies-caps
Well fitting footwear is essential for the health of your Trailman’s feet. Footwear that does not fit well will, over time, cause blisters. Keeping your Trailman’s feet dry is also a primary concern because wet feet will blister easier and in the most grotesque manner, and wet feet can lead to other issues.
The ideal hiking shoe is a Gortex lined high topped boot, but the problem with boots of this type is that they are expensive and you do not need to spend a lot of money for something your Trailman will quickly grow out of.
For Woodlands Trailmen, a standard athletic shoe is adequate. Navigator and Adventurer Trailmen will need a hiking boot/shoe made for longer weekend hiking trips, but if his feet have not stopped growing, we recommend purchasing an inexpensive hiking boot, which fits his feet well, coupled with a New England Over Shoe (NEOS) for hiking in wet weather. The Adventurer NEOS is light and compactable, and will keep your Trailman’s feet dry when he needs extra protection from wet weather. Since the NEOS is an overshoe, it could last your Trailman through several shoe size changes. You can view the Adventurer NEOS in the link here, https://www.gearcor.com/ann1/NEOS-Adventurer-Overshoe.htm
First Aid Kit
Every Trailman needs to pack his own first aid kit. The contents of his personal first aid will vary depending on what activity or activities he is involved with, so we recommend purchasing a pouch that is versatile enough to hold a variety of first aid items. Below is a link to a pencil case, which is not too large and not too small, that can accommodate the variety of items they will need. The Troop is looking into procuring these cases at a reduced price.
Backpack ( Navigators and Adventurers )
Backpacks are essential gear for backpack camping, otherwise your Trailman will not be able to carry all that he needs on the trail. Backpacks are like shoes: each fits differently on different people. When you get a backpack get one that fits him well and has a capacity of 40 to 65 liters (1.4 ft2 to 2.3 ft2). Keep in mind, that more carrying space is always good to have, so ones closer to or at the 65 liter range are preferable.
Water Carrying System
Water is essential to the health and survival of all humans and sometimes it is not readily available on the trail. Water weighs 8.35 lbs/gallon, or 2.2 lbs/liter, so the lighter the container the less weight your Trailman will have to pack. Water container solutions come in three basic varieties: bottles, bladders, or soft bottles. You can decide which type is best for your Trailman by reviewing the information in this link: https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/expert-advice/the-best-water-storage-solution-for-backpacking
Plastic bottles are lighter, but they can add BPAs to the water and they do not keep the water as cool. Metal water bottles weigh more than plastic bottles, but they are more durable, keep water more pure (no BPAs), and keep water cooler over a longer period of time. Whichever water bottle you choose, ensure that t is no wider than a Nalgene bottle in order that it can fit into a backpack side pocket. Ones with a flip top mouth piece make it more convenient for your Trailman to drink out of it while walking, and ones with wide openings are easier to clean and refill from another container or from a water filter system.
Cup (450 ml)
To be a good steward of creation and to save on purchasing, carrying, and throwing away disposable cups, we ask that each Trailman supply his own reusable, durable cup to drink both hot and cold beverages when camping. Below is a link to a featured cup, but other kinds will be sufficient as long as they are made for both hot and cold beverages, and have around 450 ml (16oz) capacity. Non-collapsible cups work, yet collapsible cups take up less space in a backpack, are easier to pack, and are malleable so that they are less likely to be damaged by being stuffed or crushed in a backpack . If desired, Troop 1207 can order these cups in bulk and distribute them to the Trailmen who ordered them. These cups come in blue, green, and black.
Bowl (1000 ml)
To be a good steward of creation and to save on purchasing, carrying, and throwing away disposable plates, we ask that each Trailman supply his own durable, reusable bowl. We request bowls, vice plates, so that your Trailman will have something to eat soup out of when we serve soup on the trail. Non-collapsible bowls work, yet collapsible bowls with a lid take up less space in a backpack and can serve several different functions: bowl, plate, and food storage container. Additionally, flexible or pliable bowls are less likely to break. You can decide what type of bowl you want for your Trailman to use, but we recommend having a bowl that can hold around 1000 ml (4 cups). The link below is of a collapsible bowl. If desired, Troop 1207 can order these collapsible bowls in bulk and distribute them to the Trailmen who ordered them.
To be a good steward of creation and to save on purchasing, carrying, and throwing away disposable utensils, we ask that each Trailman supply his own set of durable, reusable utensils. Below is a link to a camping spork, which comes in a pack of five for $10.00 ($2.00/spork). If desired, Troop 1207 can order these sporks in bulk and distribute them as individual sporks to the Trailmen who ordered them, keep in mind most individually sold sporks and camping utensils cost around $4.00 at an outdoor store, or online which usually also has a shipping fee.
Norwex Dish Cloth
Your Trailman will need a cloth to clean his plate, bowl, cup, and utensils. Any cloth is sufficient to do this job, yet Norwex Microfiber, with only water, will remove up to 99% of bacteria. Since clean water on the trail is heavy to carry and not always readily available, the less water your Trailman has to use to rinse out dish soap from his cloth, the less water he will have to carry. The Norwex Microfiber cloth will allow him to clean his cooking and eating equipment without using any dish soap. If desired, Troop 1207 can order the Norwex cloths in bulk when they are on sale and distribute them to the Trailmen who ordered them.
Sleeping System ( sleeping bag )
You know your Trailman better than we ever will, so you need to obtain a sleeping system that is right for him, that he can use for the duration of his time in Trail Life. We will camp from early Spring to late Fall, so get a sleeping system that will keep him comfortable in temperatures ranging from 35 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend a fully zippered mummy bag, so that in the summer your Trailman can completely unzip it and use it as a blanket, but in colder weather he can zip it all the way up to keep him warm.
Warmth -Since everyone sleeps at varying degrees of hot or cold, you will have to decide what level of insulation your Trailman needs to stay warm in 35 degree temperatures.
Fill – Keep in mind that the ideal sleeping bag is one that compacts down very small and is light in weight. Down is the best to achieve these two objectives, but it is more expensive and if it gets wet it does not maintain its thermal properties, so if you get a down bag, we recommend buying a waterproof stuff sack for it. Otherwise, look for viable synthetic fill size and weight alternatives.
Shell Fabric – You want to avoid natural fiber fabrics in sleeping bags, because they absorb moisture and take a long time to dry.
Size – get a bag you know your Trailman can grow into. Ideally, your Trailman’s feet should not be pressing against the bottom of the bag when his head is in the top of a mummy bag.
For more information about choosing a sleeping bag please review the information in this link: https://www.cleverhiker.com/best-sleeping-bags/
Sleeping pads are essential equipment for keeping your Trailman warm in colder weather. Cold will penetrate from the floor of a tent through a sleeping bag, but sleeping mats provide a barrier to the cold.
Sleeping mats come in three varieties: self-inflating pads, air mats, and foam mats, and each of these varieties have different products to choose from. The best pads to carry are the lightest and most compactable. The self-inflating pad best meets that criteria, but a basic foam mat works as well, albeit they are not as comfortable. The main drawback with the self-inflating pads is that if your Trailman punctures it, he must repair it or it will not be very functional. Whichever pad you choose, buy one that best fits the length and width that your Trailman requires.
Camping pillows are not must haves, but they are certainly nice to haves so that your Trailman does not wake up with a stiff neck. Trailmen can use other items as pillows such as a balled up jacket or rain gear, but camping pillows can make life on the trail more comfortable. There are a variety of pillows available on the market and it all comes down to preferences and price. You can look at some of the better recommended pillows on the market in the following link: https://www.cleverhiker.com/pillows
Although your Trailman could grope around in the dark without a flashlight, it is much safer for him to have one. Head-lanterns are ideal because they allow your Trailman to use his hands while directing the light to where he is looking. Any head-lantern is sufficient, yet if you need to purchase one, we recommend purchasing one with rechargeable batteries (preferably 18650 batteries) that have an eight hour, or longer, life.
For handheld flashlights, we recommend, but do not require, the Powetac M5 – 1300 lumen EDC flashlight. It is light, compact, rechargeable, waterproof to 8’ submerged, and relatively inexpensive. The MSRP for the M5 is $69.95, but if you purchase the Taurus branded Powertac M5, it is only $49.99.
Tents are nice to have, but by no means a must have. Hammocks, or bivy sacks (MLD Superlight Solo, Katabaticgear Bristlecone) with a poncho/tarp (MLD Pro) as a rain fly are viable alternatives to using a tent on the trail. However, you will find that a bivy sack with a good poncho/tarp can cost more than some tents. The Troop will provide tents for Trailmen, and on any given outing if a tent is available after all Trailmen have been assigned to a tent, a father, who wants to camp with his Trailmen, can use one of the Troop tents, otherwise parents will need to provide their own tent, because adults are only allowed to sleep in a tent with their Trailman, and no others.
For backpacking trips, you will need a backpacking tent; i.e., one that is light and fairly compactable. We recommend getting one that fits your specific dimensional needs. Ones with two doors and at least one vestibule to leave your shoes, and other gear, without its getting wet are ideal.