Hi, I have a Girl Scout that will be participating in a 24 hour Winter Freeze-in where the girls will be testing their winter survival skills. They will be building a shelter and sleeping outside. I am getting her a sleeping bag, water resistant snow pants, socks, thermal underwear, boots, and a 3”-5” locking knife. Any suggestions on brands would be very helpful.
A lot more information would be helpful for everyone here to make recommendations. My 12 year old girls have gone alpine backpacking with us and we have the following for them:
Bag: Moutain Hardwear Rook 15 degree down bag. A down bag is not necessary and actually not ideal if there is a possibility it will get wet (you mentioned she is building a shelter). The main advantages to down bags are that they are generally lighter and more compressible. If she doesn't backpack or plan to back pack, a synthetic bag will work just fine and save you a lot of money. As someone else mentioned, you could add a bivy bag for protection from rain/snow. You can also add a bag liner to increase warmth if needed.
Socks: My girls hike with synthetic socks. They use Wrightsock CoolMesh II's (fantastic sock). They also have merino wool socks for camp and sleeping. Their socks are a brand called Peoples Socks, which REI doesn't carry, but you can find other merino wool sock brands at REI.
Thermal underwear: My girls wear Minus33 kids midweight wool. Smartwool, REI, and icebreaker are other brands that make good wool base layers.
Boots: She really just needs to find what fits her well. Any of the brands REI sells are good. Go gortex if it will be wet or snowy.
Others: I don't have any rain/snow pants, so can't make any good recommendations, and there are just too many knife options to suggest something specific, and it also depends on what she will be using it for. I really like benchmade knives, but I'm not buying one of those for my girls until I can trust they won't lose it!
Good luck, and hope your daughter has a great experience!
Depending on the age, Katabatic...one bag that rules them all ...and VERY Warm ....
In addition to an appropriate sleeping bag for the expected temperature, she will also need a sleeping pad with an appropriate R value. When comparing, make sure the quoted R value is the ASTM standard. Some vendors are still making up their own. 5 or greater is generally advised for winter. Cheap inflatibles and basic closed foam are often only R1. A good closed cell foam pad like the Themarest Z-lite Sol are around R2. The gold standard for winter backpacking is the Thermarest X-Therm which is a light weight inflatible with an R6.9. There are many other good pad from Nemo, Sea to Summit etc with different trade offs to suit different preferences. It is difficult to predict what suits without trying but for one night I would chose warmth over comfort.
Note: You can use two pads to sum the R value, say a closed foam and an inflatible, but you may need to lash them together and a combo while having some advantages will be heavier.
For winter water containers, wide mouthed polyethylene Nalgene bottles work well and are heat tolerant so can be used as a hot water bottle. The wide mouth resists freezing closed and the polyethylene resists splitting. I do not recommend theses bottles for summer use or for anything other than water since they tend to impart a flavor, retain odours and are prone to staining. Note: Metal can split and poly carbonate can crack if the contained water freezes.