Prepared. For Life. It’s more than a motto for Scouting; it’s a way to plan and execute each outing, even if it’s just a Saturday morning hike. In the woods, the products here (stowed in a daypack) can keep you comfortable, warm, hydrated, safe and, most of all, prepared to face what nature puts in your path — whether you asked for it or not.
This list is based upon the Scout Basic Essentials included in the Boy Scout Handbook and Fieldbook, with some upgrades (like using a headlamp instead of a flashlight). The list in the Handbook includes: a pocketknife, first-aid kit, extra clothing, rain gear, water bottle, flashlight, trail food, matches and fire starters, sun protection, map and compass.
POCKET KNIFE: Swiss Army Serrated Spartan
Featuring a large serrated blade, screwdriver, a can opener, punch, tweezers and the requisite plastic toothpick on the end — what more do you need? Plus, it folds down to 3.58 inches. Don’t go down a trail without it.
WATERPROOF SACK: SealLine Baja Dry Bag
$15 and up (depends on size); cascadedesigns.com/sealline
Roll it shut and clip it closed — that’s all it takes to protect your clothes, sleeping bag or electronics from rain or even an accidental swim. A dry bag is a must for anyone backpacking in rainy places. SealLine’s Baja series comes in a range of sizes, using tough vinyl and a solid buckle on top to seal up watertight.
FIRE STARTERS: REI Stormproof Matches
If your gear gets soaked, you need a fire — fast. Let’s hope your matches survive. REI’s basic Stormproof Matches have a coating to prevent compromise of their fire-starting ability. Twenty-five matches in each small box are enough to bring many campfires to life.
COMPASS: Silva Polaris 177
Read a map, set your bearing and go. A compass is essential, and the Polaris 177 is a great entry-level choice. It’s small and durable. The clear base plate has the scale, measurement and cartographical markings you need to navigate in the woods.
HEADLAMP: Princeton Tec Fuel
A flashlight? No way. Modern outdoorsmen use headlamps for their hands-free convenience and point-of-view shine. This Princeton Tec design illuminates with four small and efficient LEDs, which are now the standard “light bulb.” Three AAA batteries offer enough juice for up to 146 hours of enhanced vision in the dark.
WATER: Platypus Big Zip SL
Hydration reservoirs are the canteens of the 21st century. A drink hose snakes near your mouth, easily connecting you to 100 liquid ounces stowed away in your backpack — keeping hydration within your reach at all times. A leak-free closure and no-taste plastic reservoir make the Big Zip a solid choice for on-the-trail water needs.
WATER PURIFICATION: Potable Aqua Tablets
Illness-inducing bacteria is a thing of the past with purification tablets that kill microscopic “bugs” living in even the most pristine-looking wilderness water. Potable Aqua removes common microbes (including Giardia lamblia) in 30 minutes after being placed in a bottle or hydration reservoir.
HAT: OR Drifter Cap
Protect your head and shade your face from the sun. These are the goals of a cap like the Drifter, which uses a Gore-Tex fabric to offer a waterproof cover that can also breathe. A stout bill shades the face. A draw-cord cinch on back will keep your cap on even if the wind picks up.
WATERPROOF SHELL: Marmot PreCip
Don’t call it a raincoat. While the PreCip is waterproof for rain, it’s so much more. A waterproof/breathable membrane in the fabric keeps the elements out and lets the body breathe. Taped seams, zipper flaps, and a hood make this jacket a veritable coat of armor outside through a huge swing of temps. Wind, snow, and, yes, downpouring rain, are kept easily at bay in the PreCip.
FIRST AID KIT: AMK Medical Kit .9
It weighs 12 ounces and comes in a watertight case. Inside, you’ll find an assortment of meds, bandages and other anatomical fixers you might need in the woods. Whether it’s minor scrapes or stomach sickness, blisters or burns, this kit has you covered.
STEPHEN REGENOLD is editor and founder of GearJunkie.com.
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