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Troop 849
Manhattan Beach, CA
Boy Scouts of America

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Last Updated:
  March 6, 1999

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General | First Hike | Weekend Checklist | Equipment Guide | First Aid Kit | Prohibited Items | Trail Etiquette

This entire guide is also available in PDF format (161k)

Equipment Guide

Introduction | Forward | Format | To Be Worn Leaving Trailhead | Back Pack Equipment | Eating Gear | Toilet Kit | Miscellaneous | Ten Essentials | Additional Clothing in Pack | Optional | Where to Shop

Ten Essentials

The ten essentials are kept with us at all times. If we leave camp to climb a peak then these will be put in a day pack and taken with us.

1 ___Compass (liquid filled type)

A compass can be used to locate where you are on the trail and, of course, for emergency situations.
Get a basic compass. It should be liquid filled, have a clear rectangular plastic baseplate so you can see through it, and have a rotating compass dial. Other features such as a mirror or case just add cost and weight while providing no practical benefits.
UPCThe Silva Polaris® Type 7, Suunto A1000, and BSA Polaris work well. About $10.

2 ___Map of area (will be supplied)

Adult leaders will have detailed maps of the hiking area in their possession at all times. Scouts are encouraged to consult these maps before and during the hike. Copies are available on request.

3 ___Flashlight (Mini Maglite AA™ or 2 cell AA or C size)
  ___Spare bulb & batteries

We have seen and tried many types of flashlights. D cell and C cell types are too heavy. Some bigger Scouts bring them on weekend hikes just for fun. AAA cell flashlights do not last long enough. We recommend AA cell flashlights as being the best compromise between weight and light output. (Even though the AA lights do get noticeably dimmer after a couple of nights.)
Use Alkaline batteries for better life. For weekend hikes you will need 1 set of batteries in the flashlight along with a spare set of fresh batteries. The spare set is for when the first set wears out or in case the flashlight is accidentally left on. Always bring a spare bulb.
UPCA Mini Maglite AA flashlight is strongly recommended. It is small, lightweight, reliable, rugged, and has a built in spare bulb. About $12.
DollarWatch for sales in the Sunday papers. A Mini Maglite AA goes for about $8 on sale.
TargetConsider getting the rubber mouth piece holder for the Mini Maglite. With it you can hold the flashlight in your mouth and have both hands free. As an alternate, the belt carrier can be used as a holder. Put a rubber band around the carrier to secure the flashlight to it.
TargetCheck the light bulb periodically. Replace it when the glass is no longer clear and gets a metal glaze inside. You will get more light and the bulb will not fail as often.

4 ___Sun glasses (required over 9000')

Sun glasses are absolutely, positively required over 9000'. The sun gets bright at altitude with less atmosphere to cut the light and UV. Rocks and snow compound the problem.
Sun glasses should be dark enough that other people cannot see your eyes. For travel on snow, it is desirable to also have side shields to keep light from coming in from around the edges. UV protection is very highly recommended.
TargetSide shields can be purchased separately at recreational equipment stores. About $3.
ThumbAvoid cheap "supermarket" sunglasses. They may claim UV protection but not provide any. Look for "UV Certified" sunglasses or have your optician check them. If the glasses do not have UV protection they can make the problem worse as your eyes will dilate open and let in all of the UV.

5 ___Matches in waterproof case and 3" long candle

The candle can be used to light a fire when dry tinder is not available. It provides enough heat to ignite damp tinder which can then get a fire going. The candle is not used to provide light and should never be used inside of a tent.
Get an old table candle and cut it down to about 3" in length. Get the strike anywhere kind of match with both red and white on the tip. Put the matches in a small watertight plastic case to protect them.

6 ___Personal first aid kit

Make up a personal first aid kit with the following items. Note that the troop may not dispense any medications so you must bring your own.
*__Personal prescription medications (3 day supply) An adult leader must know the following about each medication:
  1. What is it and what is it for?
  2. How and when is it to be taken?
  3. What are its reactions with other things (i.e. dairy products or elevation effects)?
  4. What are the possible side effects or danger signs to watch for and what actions to take if necessary?
*__10 pain relievers (whatever you prefer; i.e. aspirin, Tylenol®, etc.)
*__10 assorted adhesive bandages (Band-Aids®, etc.)
__Moleskin (6 square inches)
__3 sterile gauze compresses (3" X 3")
__Cotton adhesive tape (1" wide roll)
* Minimum required for your first hike
ScalesPut your first aid kit in a zip lock bag rather than a pouch or box. It makes it easier to see what you have and it keeps it dry.

7 ___Pocket knife

A simple pocket knife will do. Choose a high quality simple knife of reasonable cost. (They are also easily lost so there is no need to buy the best.) Keep the blade sharp and lubricate it to keep rust at bay.
The most useful blades, in order, are:
KnifeA knife is used to spread peanut butter, deviled chicken, etc. on sandwiches. (This is the major use for pocket knifes.)
ScissorsScissors can be used to cut moleskin. This blade is optional as the troop always has scissors in the troop first aid kit.
Can openerOnce in a while we will bring along a can of something. This blade is very optional.
ScalesSimple pocket knifes (about 2 oz.) weight a lot less than complex ones (up to 6 oz.).
DollarThere is a natural tendency to want the super deluxe Swiss army knife with 20+ blades (or even a Leatherman Tool). In reality, most of the blades do not get used. A "Tinker" Swiss army knife is about as complicated a knife as could ever be used. Anything bigger is a definite waste of money.
ThumbKnifes with blades over 3" are not allowed. Sheath knifes are also unacceptable and must be left at home.

8 ___Trail snacks

Nuts, dried fruits, raisins, dry cereal, jerky, etc. make good high energy trail snacks (gorp). A few hard candies are also good for a quick energy boost. Only bring what you can eat in a weekend. Start with a handful or two.
TargetPut your trail snacks in zip lock bags or a small plastic peanut butter jar.
ThumbAvoid chocolate as it melts. M&M's are the exception to this rule as they make a nice addition to your gorp.

9 ___Wide mouth plastic quart bottle with marks every 4 oz. (marked with name)

A wide mouth water bottle is used mainly for drinking water but it also serves as a mixing container and measuring cup. It should have a wide mouth to facilitate filling from streams and adding ingredients like Kool-Aid and iodine for purification. A wide mouth also makes it easier to clean. Occasionally we will need to measure cooking water so marks every 4 oz. are useful. Be sure to mark your water bottle and its lid with your name or initials as they all tend to look alike.
The one quart size (32 oz.) is just right. You would need too many smaller bottles and anything larger is hard to fit in a backpack pocket. Get a water bottle that does not leak, even when upside down. Clear bottles (if you can find them) are easier to inspect for dirt in the water.
UPCNalgene® wide mouth bottles work well. They are rugged and do not leak. They come in both hard plastic (smoke-gray Lexan) and soft plastic (white). The soft plastic is preferred as it is less likely to crack if dropped. A strap to hold the lid on is optional. About $4 for either bottle ($5 with a strap).
ScalesYou need one good water bottle to start with. A second one can be added later as it can be very handy. (e.g. drink from one bottle while purifying water in the other. That way you always have drinking water.) A second water bottle is required for unusually dry hikes.
ThumbCanteens are not acceptable because they can not be cleaned.
ThumbBottled "spring water" bottles will crack if dropped.

10 ___Jacket (see below)

See Additional Clothing in Pack.

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