Gear Guide

Miscellaneous

On this page you'll find our advise about lots of different bits and bobs that didn't fit anywhere else and didn't quite justify a page of their own!  That doesn't mean they're not important though, a lot of the things on this page will make your life easier and more comfortable!

 

Knives

Beavers and Cubs will not be able to bring their own knives to Scouting activities.  Depending on the event, Scouts may be allowed to bring their own knife as an optional item on the kit list (we'll always have knives available to borrow if they're needed for an activity).  If you're bringing your own knife, it should be packed in your main kit bag for travelling and it should stay in your kit bag unless you've been told you can use it. 

If you're looking to buy a knife we would either recommend either, a Swiss Army style pen knife with both a large and small blade, or a fixed bladed sheath knife.  If possible try to buy the knife from a shop, rather than online, so you can make sure that you can grip it properly.

If you're buying a Swiss Army style pen knife, avoid the temptation to get one with lots and lots of accessories - these make the knife bulky and harder to hold for actual whittling (we suggest that the Victorinox Camper, Hiker or Spartan knives are probably about as "big" as is practical).

If you're buying a sheath knife, then we'd recommend the range of knives produced by Mora.  Some of the ones that we have in our knife box are:

  • Mora Basic 511 - a good general purpose knife
  • Mora Scout 39 - a good general purpose knife for smaller hands
  • Mora Basic wood carving knife - a good knife with a smaller blade for finer whittling, but not recommended as a general purpose knife

We'd avoid sheath knives with a serrated blade as these aren't good for whittling.  Some knives are marketed as "survival" knives and have a fire steel in the handle, we'd avoid these too as the fire steels tend to be quite small and difficult to get a good spark from (if you want a fire steel, it's better to buy a separate one).  

 

Midge nets & insect repellent

Sadly, midges are something that we can't easily escape and having a midge head net will make things significantly more pleasant if the wind drops.  

When buying a head net, make sure you get one with ultra-fine mesh.  Some mosquito head nets use a coarse mesh which isn't fine enough to keep out the midges.

If you don't like the feel of the net on your face - you can out the net on over a wide-brimmed hat or cap.

Midge nets and long sleeved/legged clothing can help reduce the available skin for midges to bight, but it's still worth carrying some insect repellent.  There are lots of different repellents available; make sure you try it out at home to check that you don't react to it.

 

Torches

A good torch is essential for everything from winter outdoor activities as part of your normal section meeting to finding your way to the toilet in the middle of the night on camp.

We strongly recommend buying an LED head torch.  LEDs give a bright light without needing lots of big expensive batteries.  A head torch allows you to see what your doing whilst keeping your hands free to actually do whatever it is!  

Please do not buy wind-up torches, the novelty factor of having to pump the handle for a few minutes of not very bright light soon wears off, and there's nothing more annoying for leaders when we're trying to give instructions than having to compete with the whir & whiz of a chorus of people winding up their torches.

We strongly recommend buying a torch that takes regular batteries (and packing spares) rather than those with a custom, rechargeable lithium battery. We can help replace regular batteries when they go flat on camp but if your rechargable battery goes flat after the first night, there's not a lot we can do to help!

Also try to avoid head torches with big bulky lamps and battery packs as these can be front-heavy uncomfortable to wear.  There are lots of options with a small combined light and battery pack which are lightweight and comfortable to wear (examples include most of those made by Petzl, or Eurohike COB 1 LED head torch)  

Other useful features to look out for when choosing a torch:

  • adjustable angle - so you can tilt your torch down when talking to people so you don't blind them!
  • adjustable brightness - most of the time you won't need your torch at full brightness, and being able to change to a lower power setting will help your batteries last longer and help you avoid blinding people!
  • "night vision" red LED option - really useful if you need to turn your torch on but don't want to destroy your night vision, or for playing wide games when you're trying to see, but not be seen! 
  • weather proofing

 

Towels

You don't need to bring a fancy towel.  Make sure that it's big enough so you can get dried easily, and ideally one that you don't mind if it gets muddy.  For longer camps, or camps where we're planning to do water activities, it's worth packing a couple of towels.

For water activities, wild swimming, etc. we often don't have access to dedicated changing rooms; make sure that your towel is big enough to wrap around you so you can get changed under it!

Microfibre travel towels are small, lightweight and dry easily. This makes them good to pack on a hike where we might have the chance for some wild swimming, and for longer camps where you're likely to want to use your towel more than once and will be trying to fit more clothes into your kit bag.  However, they don't always leave you feeling as dry as a traditional cotton towel, so it's worth getting used to the feel of them at home.  

 

Wash kit

For camp, most people won't need a large wash kit and most of it probably won't get touched!  At most, your wash kit will need to include:

  • A towel (essential, see above)
  • Tooth brush and tooth paste (essential)
  • Shower gel/soap (tends not to get used on weekend camps unless we're doing water activities, or someone gets very muddy/messy)
  • Shampoo (if your shower gel isn't multi-purpose)
  • Flannel (optional - probably won't get used!)
  • Comb/brush (optional)
  • Deodorant - stick or roll on, not spray-on (optional, for Scouts and older)

If you're packing shower gel / shampoo - either buy small travel bottles, or decant some into a small bottle.  Not only does this make them smaller and lighter to carry, but if the bottle leaks - there's less to make a mess and clear up!  We've had people come to camp with full, family size bottles of shampoo in the past - you really don't need to bring that much!

If Scouts are bringing deodorant, please bring stick or roll-on.  There are a number of reasons we discourage spray deodorant, these include preventing damage to the waterproofing on the tents, and because we got fed-up of being asphyxiated by clouds of Lynx!

 

Wetsuits & rash vests

For water activities or swimming in the sea we strongly recommend a wetsuit.  Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water close to your skin which gets warmed by your body; this and the neoprene of the wetsuit then help keep you warm.  

Because you still get wet when wearing a wetsuit, if it's windy you can still get cold so you'll still need to wear a windproof jacket over the top (although the wetsuit will offer a bit more protection from the wind than just a t-shirt of fleece).

When choosing a wetsuit it's important that your wetsuit fits tightly, otherwise as you move in the water the warm layer of water will get flushed out and replaced by cold water, and you wont get the benefit from the suit.  The thicker the wetsuit, the warmer it will be, but the thicker fabric will also restrict your movement slightly.  Some wetsuits use a thicker fabric on the torso to keep you warm and thinner fabric for the arms and lengths so it's easier to move.  For water activities and sea swimming in the summer, a 2-3 mm wetsuit should be warm enough.

Full length wetsuits will keep your arms and legs warmer, especially in the spring/early summer when the water tends to be colder but may feel a little bit more restrictive.  Shorty wetsuits have short arms and short legs, these make it easier to move and can feel more comfortable, but your arms and legs might get cold, especially in early/late part of the summer so you may want to wear a warm synthetic layer over the top if it's a bit cooler.  

Under your wetsuit, most people normally wear underpants or swimwear.  For comfort, some people also choose to wear a rash vest (although this is entirely optional).  A rash vest is a tight fitting synthetic layer which can prevent the wetsuit from chaffing.  Cycling shirts, synthetic sports shirts or even a t-shirt will all do the same job, although we'd recommend a tight fitting synthetic fabric (a loose cotton t-shirt is more likely to bunch up and become uncomfortable. 


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