Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trip Gear for a Camper

Woodcraft prides itself on educating capable hikers and canoeists. Part of this is making sure they are properly equipped. A lot goes into a camping trip: cooking, shelter, purifying water, and protecting the food to name a few. Woodcraft provides this necessary equipment to the counselors. Campers will learn about these items and how to use them, but they do not have to bring them to camp from home. There are some things the camper does need to provide for his or herself:

Broken-in hiking boots - It is important that the camper wear the boots a few times before using them on a trip. It will greatly reduce the risk of blisters on the trail. Synthetic "wool" socks are also a great idea.

Sleeping bag made of synthetic material - Cotton is an absolute no-no when it comes to sleeping bags. A cotton bag is bulky and becomes completely useless if it gets wet. It is also preferable that the sleeping bag be accompanied by a compression stuff sack. This type of stuff sack has straps that make the sleeping bag smaller. It is helpful when packing a pack. Avoid the large rectangular shaped bags. Most modern sleeping bags are "mummies," meaning they contour to the body to increase warmth and decrease extra bulk. Sleeping bags are graded by temperature. For instance a  "20 degree bag" will keep a camper warm if the temperature dips down to 20 degrees.

Frame backpack - Internal frames are widely available and definitely preferable to an external frame pack. Internal frame packs have rigid but pliable plastic built into the back pack to make it sturdy, adjustable, and comfortable to carry. Packs are measured by liters. For overnight trips, it is preferable that the pack be at least 45 liters -- with the exception of the youngest campers. Many companies offer child-sized packs that will have to be replaced in a year or two. It is preferable to have the camper try on a few of the medium sized adult packs and pick the one that is widely adjustable. Modern internal frame packs have a variety of adjustments and can usually be made to fit even a 9 or 10-year-old.

Sleeping pad - Sleeping pads seem like a luxury at first glance, but are actually pretty important for Adirondack camping. Firstly, Woodcraft trips often utilize the many lean-tos available in The Park. Sleeping on those wood floors can be pretty uncomfortable without a pad. More importantly, it can get pretty chilly in the Adirondacks at night. The sleeping pad is an important buffer between the camper's body and the cool ground. Even with an adequate sleeping bag, lying directly on the tent floor can result in lose of body heat through contact with the ground. They also are an extra layer to prevent coming into contact with any dampness from the ground.

Light-weight rain jacket and non-cotton clothing - There are plenty of options for rain jackets and synthetic clothes. Loose Under Armor-type shirts are a good option because they dry quickly. Synthetic fleece is preferable to a sweatshirt for keeping warm at night. The real key is to avoid cotton.

The above items are the necessities for camping at Woodcraft. Camping gear stores are full of interesting looking gadgets and lots of expensive gear. All of that stuff is great and useful for experienced campers setting out on their own, but you don't have to break the bank to outfit a Woodcrafter. As campers get older and more experienced, many do add their own mess kit, tent, stove, water purifying system, etc. We teach campers how to outfit themselves correctly when the time comes for them to lead their own trips, but the basics are all a camper needs to enjoy a trip led by Woodcraft staff.

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