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Outdoor Equipment Needed for a troop


      I just took over as a Scoutmaster for a sister Troop.   We are desperately in need of gear.   How can I get gear for our Troop?   All fundraising goes for summer camp and camping fees.  We do not have an equipment budget.  All ideas are welcome. 

Thank you for you ideas,  Tammy

7 Replies

if I was starting a new troop, I'd gear up for 100% backpacking equipment and absolutely stay away from the old tired pioneer/group camp sets, notoriously pulled around in trailers!!!

Run out and buy - AND READ the latest Boy Scout Field Book, it has the most up to date backpacking guidance you can find!

Backpacking equipment is easier, less heavy equipment, no horrible clean up assembly lines after meals (downside is you forego the pan cakes and dutch ovens - which you can do when you car camp),

Under no circumstances procure giant multi gallon pots and pans!

You can get an excellent canister stove on Amazon for aboout $10.  You can get youth backpacks for less than $35 at Walmart.  You can buy 'grease pots' for patrol cooking pans for about $8.

The kids can use tennis shoes.  Nylon economy sleeping bags are good in summer.

You can get fantastic knock offs of name brand tents on the internet.  Compare on YOUTUBE. Check out comparisons done by "homemade wanderlust" 

Then you can build from there.

My saying is 'parents will only run a troop the way they know how' which unfortunately is the old style that looks like the 50's army mess hall.  Which is great for car camping (or was), when the adults don't have to clean up.

(can you tell I hate that old method?)

good luck

(Woodbadge Class of '89 (fox))

REI Member Since 1979


First, thank you for taking-over as a Scoutmaster – just one hour a week, right!?!?!?!  Understand that you won’t go from nothing to everything overnight, so a plan is critical.  As a longtime Scout and now current Scouter, here's some thoughts that hopefully will help:

  1. Regularly attend your local District’s Roundtable and get to know your fellow Scouters, especially the other Scoutmasters.  Tell them of your predicament and needs – I’d be shocked if you didn’t walk away from your first meeting with leads and ideas.  More established units often will sell their used equipment to other units for almost nothing – outright donations also happen.
  2. Leverage your Unit Commissioner and District Executive – they’re supposed to be your first line-of-defense when ideas and help are needed.  Get on a first-name basis with them.
  3. Work closely with your Troop Committee - they exist to ensure the Troop has everything needed to successfully execute the Scouting program, including equipment.  It’s quite common for troops to conduct one large or several smaller annual fundraisers specifically for gear.  Scouts  are notoriously tough on gear, so you also need to budget for periodic replacement.  Having a $0 budget for gear is unrealistic.
    • Since the majority of the BSA program happens away from the 1-week of summer camp,  maybe you could convince the Committee to use some of the summer camp fundraising to buy round 1 of your gear?
    • Be open and frank with your Scouts and their parents.  Until the troop get on-its-feet, they may have to purchase/loan some gear of their own and allow it to be used at troop events.
    • As mentioned above, start with a plan.  Even if all you can afford is one tent, great.  Put that one tent on a timeline that gets you to the x tents you need.
  4. Consider used gear until you can upgrade (garage sales, local online gear exchanges, and REI!)

I’ll offer a slightly different POV than @Philreedshikes.  I feel that tents can pull double-duty for car camping and backpacking (checkout Eureka and Kelty brands).  But kitchen gear for any unit with 10+ Scouts is probably most effective with a car-camping setup.  Younger Scouts are usually kitchen- challenged anyway, and probably better-served with a couple of simple, stable 2-3 burner propane stoves and, yes, a few multi-gallon pots/pans for cooking and heating wash water.  Pretty much everything else can/should be supplied by the Scouts themselves.

Overall, I’d look to outfit my troop with the most cost-efficient options, that I can afford, that get my Scouts camping and cooking as a unit as soon as possible.  Good gear acquisition is a journey, but make a plan/budget to upgrade over time.

Hope this helps.  What matters most is that you're personally taking an interest in the lives of youth to get them experiencing the Scouting program and getting them outdoors!

Hi Tammy

Thank you for caring enough to step up to be counted.  Do you mind if I ask where you are located?

I suspect that my advice and suggestions would be better focused by knowing how many youth and adults you're referring to and what kind of troop equipment you have in mind.  I'm guessing that you are when you say "outdoor equipment" that you are referring to camping related gear like tents, two burner stoves etc but are you also referring to basic stuff such as first aid kits, a troop library and stuff such as rope/cordage, bow saws, axes, sharpening stones etc?

And is there any chance that the chartered organization might be willing and able to help out with some seed money or starter gear?  I've know things as simple as the chartered organization asking it's members to help out if they can to produce enough basic gear and or funds to get a troop into the field.


Yours in Scouting



Hi Lance,

       I’m located in Oregon.   I am talking about tents and backpacking stoves and gear.   Asking our chartering organization is a great idea.   We are also looking for grants.  

Thank you for your suggestions,   Tammy


The ALPS brand has launched a special website that offers their products to scouting troops for a significant discount. Our Trail Life troop has used it to replace worn out equipment.

Hi Tammy,

So great that you're in Oregon and taking on a troop. I grew up here in Oregon and my Scouting years (1960s) were the best. Now I volunteer with the Forest Service and get a bunch of nights in the backcountry using those same skills I learned in Scouting.

Many good suggestions in response to your question. I hope you find some of the following helpful:

Backpacking and camping don't need fancy gear, but there are a few required pieces. You can make a game of this with some of your Scouts by shopping thrift shops, garage sales, used gear rooms of retailers (REI Gear Loft and Garage Sale), military surplus stores (check Andy & Bax in Portland and Aloha Surplus in Aloha, there are also others around town), and see who comes back with the best find.

Funding - As suggested, you need to check with your sponsor, but it's possible to outfit a Scout for $50-$75, new is not necessary, and kits can be built over time. Depending on your Scouts and families, they maybe able to outfit themselves, which immediately solves your funding problem. Besides, gear ownership means Scouts will more likely respect and care for their gear if they own it.

Packs - Scouts don't need big, fancy packs. A simple, top-opening pack bag will handle anything a Scout needs. The pack only needs to be large enough to hold a sleeping bag and pad with room leftover for some food, a water bottle, a jacket, and a small cook kit. Even a book backpack can work if it's packed carefully. I've picked up used packs for $5, but you might spend as much as $20. You can also make a pack out of two IKEA bags, find a parent or two handy with a sewing machine and hold a pack-party!

Tents - Our troop used plastic tarps instead of tents, and we camped every month of the year and weather from dry to rain to snow. Tarps are waterproof, can be rigged in multiple configurations for anywhere from one to four campers, and they're cheap. Cheap is good with Scouts, they tend to be hard on equipment while they are gaining skills and tents are fragile as well as expensive. Each Scout gets a tarp (either 6x9 or 8x10) and they join together to pitch a great

Sleeping Pads - These are easy, the old blue foam roll is good enough for most Scouts--and these rolls are indestructible as well as cheap. Kids can sleep on anything, although they need the insulation of that pad under their bag. But get yourself a really good pad, adult leaders need their rest!

Sleeping Bags - This is one place where the warmer the bag, the more money it costs. But used gear works here too. Also, there are alternatives: an old wool blanket is good, but sometimes heavy; sleeping quilts are the ultralight thru-hiker preference these days, the COSTCO down quilt is only $20 and good for summer night temps in the 50s; and a military surplus "woobie" poncho liner is an old familiar standby.

Stoves - Alcohol stoves are the rage for ultralight backpackers and Scouts can make their own. This can be a fun activity, like a grown up Pinewood Derby, and there are instructive videos all over YouTube. There are drawbacks to all stoves, but alcohol is fairly safe to work with (unless during a fire ban).

Each Scout needs a pot to cook in, even if they are only boiling water. $15 will buy a new Stanley or similar cook kit at Fred Meyer, Walmart, or Amazon, or find a kit at a thrift store for $1. Our troop used 5 lb coffee cans that easily lasted a year before some Scout crushed it under a pack by accident.

A spoon is all that's really needed for eating, along with a knife to cut food and open packages. I picked up a great 3" knife at Harbor Freight last year at $4 for utility use in the garden. Backpacking bowls are recycled microwave bowls. Same thing with water bottle, grab bottled water and reuse the bottle, get on with a sport cap for fancy drinking in 

First aid kits can be assembled from pieces by Scouts as part of their second or first class qualifications. You can get most of the ingredients for

Most important is a troop water filter or individual Scouts using Potable Water sterilizing pills or MSR pills, boil water (kills everything better than pills or filters), or simply two drops of Clorox bleach in a quart/liter of water. 

There are probably things I've forgotten. Another gear idea is to look to manufacturers who might offer group discounts to Scouts and other groups. I volunteer with the Forest Service and we have discounts with Cascade Designs and other manufacturers. The Portland area has manufacturers such as Klymit (sleeping pads $$$), Six Moon Designs (ultralight packs and tents $$$), Columbia Sportwear/Nike/Adidas/boutique outdoor clothing companies, CNOC (water bladders $$), and others.

Gear doesn't have to be expensive. You can make it a game with a leader board as each Scout collects their gear and see who finishes first. The objective is to learn skills that teach a Scout how to handle the life ahead and to have fun in the outdoors.


@memathews on Twitter & Instagram, Mike Mathews on LinkedIn

REI Member since 1978

I'm an Eagle Scout (bronze palm), and my recollection was that I obtained my camping gear the same way my sisters obtained their dance costumes and musical instruments: my parents bought them!  I had my own tent, backpack, sleeping bag, camp clothes, eating utensils, etc. etc.  The only time anything was provided for me was when we were at an established campground, where platform tents and cots were available.  

I say you make a list of what equipment each scout is expected to have, along with suggested options, and send that list to the parents.  Scouting - like other extracurricular activities such as travel sports, dance lessons, music lessons, martial arts lessons, etc. - isn't free.  You need to set the expectation with parents that they will need to invest in suitable equipment for their kids who wish to be scouts.  

Finally, the cost of any "communal" equipment will need to be shared among all the scouts.  Tally up those costs, divide by the number of scouts in the troop, and ask the parents to pony up. 

Sorry if that sounds like a harsh suggestion, but everybody needs to pay their fair share.  Scouting is not a charity event.