3-Season Weekend Backpacking

This is the basic equipment list for a 3-season midwestern weekend backpacking trip, from mid-April to mid-October.  In general, lean toward the larger number of insulating layers listed, unless it's high summer (July/August) at low altitude.



1 Sun/rain hat (baseball cap OK)

1 Insulating hat or balaclava (wool, fleece, or polypro)

1-2 Bandanas (good for all kinds of things)

1-2 Lightweight shirt or T-shirt

1 pair nylon zip off pants or 1 pair hiking pants and 1 pair shorts (shorts optional depending on forecast weather)

1-2 pair underwear (optional with long underwear)

1 1/2 - 2 1/2 upper insulating layers

An upper insulating layer covers the torso and both arms. 1 layer is the equivalent of a heavy sweater or jacket. A half layer could be polypropylene or wool long underwear (midweight to heavy). Avoid cotton if possible, as cotton offers no insulation when wet. Examples: Heavy wool sweater (1), Long-sleeve wool shirt (1/2), pile jacket (1), ski jacket (1).

1 upper rain/wind shell

1/2 - 1 1/2 lower insulating layer

A lower insulating layer covers the legs with the equivalent of a wool sweater in thickness. Examples: expedition-weight polypropylene long underwear (1); mid-weight long underwear (1/2) and wool pants (1/2). Again, avoid cotton (blue jeans).

1 lower rain/wind shell

2 pair light cotton or polypro socks

2-3 pair wool socks.

Worn over light socks in all weather to help prevent blisters, also for insulation in bad weather.

1 pair lightweight hiking boots (water-resistant).

1 pair gaiters (optional)

1 pair wool gloves or equivalent

Thin, cheap $7 rag wool gloves that can be mistreated, worn when cooking, etc.

Clothes organizing bag(s)

To put all or most of the clothes in for easy packing.  Most boys do a couple of small water-resistant bags of different colors to keep things straight, and perhaps one kitchen-sized garbage bag for clothes that have become "toxic."



1  Properly fit external frame backpack or internal frame backpack with padded hipbelt and in good condition.

1 Sleeping bag

We require synthetic insulation bags for all boys below First Class/Venture, rated to an appropriate temperature (10-20° F) depending on individual preference.

1 Insulating pad

Closed-cell foam or open-cell foam inflatable (Thermarest) pad, 3/4 or full body length.

1 Sleeping bag stuff sack (waterproof nylon).

If possible, stuff sack should be large enough to hold an insulating pad & sleeping bag, with a bit of room to spare. Slightly oversized stuff sacks are easier to handle for new scouts. 

1 Pocket knife

1-2 Large-mouth water bottle 1 qt. minimum each, or 1 water bladder with a small back-up water bottle.

1 Compass

1 Headlamp-style flashlight & 1 set spare batteries

1 Ditty bag containing insulated cup, bowl, utensils, toothbrush, toothpaste

1 small nylon bag or stuff sack for holding food.

Sunscreen & insect repellent

1 Water-resistant wristwatch with alarm.

Glasses or corrective lenses for boys who need them

Not optional!  Boys need to be able to see to play capture the flag, to navigate without getting lost, etc.   Boys with glasses should consider glasses retaining straps.

1 Pair Sunglasses (optional)

Small lightweight pack towel (optional)

Small Game(s) (hackey sack, small balls, cards, frisbee, etc.) (optional)


NO PERSONAL ELECTRONICS (gamegear, personal cell phones, iPod, etc.)



Group Gear

This group gear list is placed here as a reminder for Patrol Leaders and trip planners only.   Scouts do not need to worry about personally bringining anything listed on the group gear list.   However, if you are a senior scout who has some of this equipment as personal gear, you should consider bringing it if you coordinate with the trip leader.

Backpacking (light weight) white gas stoves & repair kits
One stove per 3-4 people, plus one "spare" emergency stove and one repair kit.
Stove fuel & containers
1/2 quart per stove per day, plus reserve.
Backpacking cookware.
Usually 1-2 pots with lids (3 qt or so), fry/bake pan w/lid, serving spoon, spatula, pot grips, spice kit per each 3-4 people.  Bake kit if needed.
Small U-Dig-It handheld, stowable shovel (for latrine duty).
Patrol Thelma Fly
Tents as necessary (remember bug count!)
Backpacking first aid kits
One per hiking group, minimum
Repair kits
For stoves, packs, tents, etc.
Water purification equipment (filter or chemical)
Games, special equipment to make things more fun!