Outdoor Gear & Camping Kit Guide

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Outdoor Gear & Camping Kit Guide

Please remember: We plan camps based on the assumption that your child will have everything that is on the kit list for that camp.

Where to shop?

Cotswold Outdoor is generally the best store. There are shops in Islington, Covent Garden, Piccadilly, Watford and St Albans among others. They offer a 15% Scout discount (take your scarf or a Scout letter as proof).
The advice and assistance at Cotswold is usually excellent.
If you go up to Covent Garden, there are a few stores all very close to each other. Mountain Warehouse, Field & Trek and Trespass are good value and there is also an Ellis Brigham and a North Face.
If you’re happy to buy online you can help Scouting by using Scout Shops.

Looking for a bargain?
Millets in Enfield offers a 10% Scout discount (take a letter or your scarf). Sports Direct has quite a large outdoor section and they drop their prices regularly.
It may be worth going a bit further to get some bargains. The newest player in the market is Go Outdoors. There is one at Colindale Retail Park.
When shopping, you’ll find that you can pay an enormous amount without trying! You don’t always need to buy very expensive gear, but remember that outdoor gear is one of those areas where you get what you pay for. You could buy a sleeping bag at Tesco for £6.00, but your child will almost certainly be cold in the night.


Don’t buy ski jackets. You are looking for taped seams and they need to be comfortable to move in.
School jackets that are all padded and cosy might be showerproof from car to front door but that is no good on camp.
Waterproof trousers should have zips or buttons at the bottom so that you can put them on over your boots. Try doing it in the store. You should be able to lift your legs and move around comfortably.
Make sure that the jacket has a hood.


For good value gear, you are looking for fabric boots with a waterproof liner. It doesn’t have to be Gore-Tex, most companies offer an equivalent. Don’t buy outdoor trainers – you should buy boots. With ankle support. Walk in them around the shop, do they slip?
Here’s an excellent article on different ways to lace walking boots if you have big feet. The tips are just as useful for everybody else.
A video on lace tying. This is two minutes very well spent. Seriously. You spend money on good boots – learn to tie them!
If you are buying a pair of boots to last you for years, Cotswold staff are independent and normally very good at fitting.
Remember to buy some waterproofing spray or liquid and treat them liberally and frequently with it.


Hiking socks are not that cheap – but who wants blisters? You can wear a thin base-layer sock that wicks the sweat away and good quality socks (summer ones in summer, winter ones in winter) over those. If you can wick the moisture away from the skin, the feet do not go soggy and blister.
Socks are important!


Head torches with smaller batteries and brighter bulbs have made camping much easier so please make sure that your child has one. They can have a handheld torch too but an LED head torch is pretty much essential.

No suitcases!

Please. It’s very rare that we camp next to the car park. Kit needs to be carried across the field. Rucksacks are good (make sure that it’s the correct size for your child so that they can actually carry it when it is full), large sports bags can be good too.
Pack your waterproofs at the top of the bag. If it’s raining when we arrive, waterproofs will need to go on.

Sleeping Bags

You should buy a nice warm sleeping bag. It can get cold at night! Have a look at the comfort rating; these are always optimistic so aim for a bit chillier than you expect. If you buy a bag that’s too big, you can tie the bottom off (with string or a belt) to make it smaller. Remember that you are trying to warm up the sleeping bag when you get into it, so you need to be wearing dry clothes (and not the ones that you’ve been wearing all day) when you get in. Sleeping bags should be stored out of their stuff sacks and you should stuff them for camps – not roll them.

Label everything

Buy a permanent pen and write your child’s names (or even just their initials) on absolutely everything. Their kit will miraculously gravitate into a big pile of smelly laundry in the middle of the tent and there’s only one way to be sure of getting it back as they will all deny ownership!

Let them pack their own kit

You won’t be with them on camp so they need to know where their kit is in the bag (and what is in the bag!) Either let them get ready themselves, or get their kit ready and laid out and then help them to pack each item. It’s amazing how many kids will be convinced that ‘Mum didn’t pack me a waterproof’.

Make sure that they can carry their kit.
Your kids will be carrying their bags to the tent. They might well be doing this at night and in the rain. Can they even lift the bag that you have given them?!

Be sensible about how much kit you give them

If they are away for a weekend, they will not need enough kit for a week. They should be able to get their kit into a nice small sports bag.

Don’t use bin bags

They rip. They blow away. They haven’t got handles. They are useless for carrying anything. Oh, and bags of rubbish often get thrown onto the fire – and the contents may not be checked first!

Adapted from an article on the 5th Beckenham Scout Group website