Christmas Gifts for Scouts

Yes! – It’s that time of year again! Sick and tired of hearing about the latest death-and-destruction video games or “hot” smart-phones? Looking for gifts that won’t be guarding the back of the closet by the end of February? Have we got some suggestions for you! You could get them a gift card from or Scout gear – properly selected – will be used and appreciated for many years to come, especially if your son becomes a true outdoorsman in future years; I still have items my parents gave me over 40 years ago.

Preliminary comments: (A) Parent’s of new Scouts should re-review my guide: “Buying Equipment for New Troop 111 Scouts” before hitting the stores by clicking here. (B) Now is not the time to be looking for “big-ticket” items; sales will be much more prevalent and meaningful after Christmas, when everyone’s trying to clear their inventories. (C) Now is also not the time to be buying “winter” items unless you have to have them; wait `til March, when they’ll all be 50% off the current prices. (D) Any item over $50 should be price-shopped first in a camping catalogue (go on-line and check the CampMor catalogue – they’re the most comprehensive, and the listed prices are on the low end of the scale.) (E) Don’t buy oversize or very high quality items for younger Scouts. (F) For older Scouts and adults, buy “real” camping gear at Casual Adventure, R.E.I., Eastern Mountain Sports, Hudson Trail Outfitters, and similar outfits; for 111, Casual Adventure is the closest. For younger Scouts, buy routine and light-duty camping gear at box stores like Dick’s, Sports Authority, and even Wal-Mart; of these, Dick’s is probably the best bet right now. (G) Look for sales! (H) Put your son’s name (and “111”) on everything!

Flashlights: Look for a small, brightly colored flashlight, powered by two C or two/four AA batteries, using xenon-type bulbs or 10 to 25 LED bulbs. Mag-Lites and Mini-Mag-Lites are very popular with Scouts, but are very heavy for their size, very expensive, and readily lost (especially the all-black models). Scouts also like the military-type right-angle flashlights with a push-button “flash” – very popular for flashlight tag-type games; however, these are heavy, use old style incandescent bulbs, come only in green, black, or camouflage, and are easily lost in the scenery when it’s dark outside – so if you get something like this, wrap it several times with yellow or white electrical tape to make it easier to spot. Mark your name on your flashlight(s).

Equally popular and very useful are LED type “headlights” (which have a band that holds them in place on your forehead); a few very small models will clip onto a baseball cap. These offer very convenient hands-free operation, which is helpful when camping. Most have 1 to 5 LED bulbs, and have a switch that allow high, medium, low, and flash settings. Usually powered with three AAA cell batteries; some use more expensive (but longer lasting) watch batteries. LED technology has come a phenomenal distance over the past 25 years, and LED headlights (and flashlights) have also come way down in price. Every Scout can use an LED headlight in addition to their regular flashlight.

Other lighting accessories small to medium sized battery-powered “lanterns;” these are especially useful for summer camp. They come with either multiple LED or miniature “neon light” type lamps in them; again, the LED type is superior with respect to illumination, durability, and battery-life – and also does much better in very cold weather. Avoid the big boxy-type lanterns (and flashlights) that take a large 6-volt battery – or even two! – they weigh far too much, and tend to throw a narrow beam that is not very useful in most camping scenarios. Don’t bother with candle lanterns; Scout haven’t used them since the 1970s, and they’re a distinct fire hazard inside tents. [Really, no store should even sell them anymore, but virtually all of them still do, so some folks are still using them.] Finally, Scouts are not allowed to have personal gas- or liquid fuel- powered items, including lanterns.

Comments on Batteries, Part I: Battery technology is another thing that has come a very long way over the past 25 years. The minimum battery quality for any Scout activity is “alkaline;” batteries marked as “heavy-duty” are anything but – don’t waste your money on them. Note that virtually any item that is marked as “batteries included” comes with “heavy-duty” batteries. The best batteries available, but unfortunately only in AA and AAA sizes at this time, are the Eveready “lithium” models. The regular lithium batteries last 3 to 4 times as long as alkaline batteries, while the “ultimate” lithium batteries last about 6 to 8 times as long. In my experience, those estimates are legitimate. They also perform noticeably better than alkaline batteries in very cold weather (brighter flashlights). Amazingly, they do all this at about half the weight – but also at 3 to 5 times the cost – of alkaline batteries. It’s worth it.

Comments on Batteries, Part II: All D, C, AA, and AAA batteries eventually leak – and most will also slowly lose strength while sitting in whatever appliance they’re powering. Yes, with the power switch “off.” This means that they WILL eventually die and WILL eventually destroy the appliance from creation and leakage of a highly basic and corrosive sludge. For these reasons, batteries should be removed from appliances when they are already weak or if they will be sitting unused for many months, and should also be stored in the refrigerator (if possible) to preserve their remaining power. Fair Warning: Getting your Scout to do this has a likelihood factor of about 1 on a zero-to-ten scale.

Sleeping Bags: A critical item with a wide variety of options. Most Scouts enter Boy Scouting with a sleeping bag; however, it is usually a “basement sleepover” model that is barely adequate for summer camp and similar warm-weather outings. If your son’s sleeping bag is adorned with cartoon or movie characters, it’s time to move on up to a “real” sleeping bag. There are basically two types of sleeping bags, divided by insulation type – down and synthetic. Down is by far the warmer option BY WEIGHT (that is, a pound of down is much more insulating than a pound of virtually any synthetic fiber); however, it is far more expensive and is basically ruined if it ever gets soaking wet. Obviously they cannot be machine washed, so the Scout has to be unusually careful to keep them clean. For this reason, they are recommended only for older Scouts who are responsible enough for their care. Most Scouts can use a synthetic insulation sleeping bag for nearly every event the Troop participates in. There are multiple types of synthetic fibers used; some are moderately better than others, but this is an area which I cannot make any specific recommendations, because it is constantly changing (and improving). Unlike down bags, synthetic insulation bags still have some insulating value when wet, and can be machine washed, with care (as described on their tags).

There are two key points to consider when looking for a sleeping bag, those being: A) temperature rating; and B) length. The temperature rating is the lowest outside temperature that the bag can insulate against; for example, a 40 degree bag would be considered adequate for summer camp, a 25 degree bag for most spring and fall events, and a 0 degree bag for outdoor wintertime or very cold fall and spring events. You want to purchase based on the anticipated use – obviously you do not want to bring a 0 degree bag to summer camp, or you’ll cook yourself. However, nor do you want to have to buy 3 or 4 sleeping bags, either. It is possible to improve the rating of a higher temperature bag by adding a silk, fleece, or flannel liner to it (any of these usually decreases the temperature rating by about 10 degrees. These liners are also useful for use alone on very hot nights (that is, without a sleeping bag), and are also conveniently removed and washed (which greatly extends the life of the bag). Another option is to place one sleeping bag inside another, larger sleeping bag, or inside a large sleeve made with a thick wool blanket (which can be permanently sewn for that purchase, or pinned together using a dozen diaper pins; don’t use safety pins – which are NOT safe – for this purpose). Either of these usually lowers the temperature rating by 20 to 30 degrees. Length – Most sleeping bags come in a standard length, between 6 and 6.5 feet long. Some come in a “child’s size,” which is about 3/4 length. This would be an adequate size for many New Scouts; unfortunately, few quality bags come in this size. Extra long sleeping bags are also available, usually about 7 to 7.5 feet long. In addition, there are a few models that provide extra room inside (intended for oversize adults). Child, extra long, and extra roomy sleeping bags are typically a special order item. Finally, most bags come with a waterproof nylon stuff bag; if not, purchase one – they’re usually inexpensive. Any sleeping bag should have the Scout’s name marked on it prominently ON BOTH THE BAG ITSELF AND ON ITS STUFF SACK.

Sleeping Pads: All Scouts should have some type of sleeping pad to put under their sleeping bag – it acts both as insulation and cushioning. Although people use a wide variety of items for this purpose, there are basically two types that are specifically intended as sleeping pads – foam pads and Therm-a-rest pads. Foam pads consist of closed cell, semi-hard foam which is non-absorbent, and usually corrugated. They come in both roll-up and Z-fold styles – both work equally well. “Thicker is better.” They also come in various lengths; a 3/4 length is sufficient for a small Scout using a 3/4 length sleeping bag – most other Scouts and adults should get a full-size (six foot) version. If needed, longer versions are also available for purchase on-line or via special order from a camping outlet like Casual Adventure. Foam pads are “relatively” inexpensive. Therm-a-rest pads are semi-self-inflating air mattresses that contain an expandable foam. [Therm-a-rest is the original such pad; there are now numerous generic versions of the same type pad; the term “Therm-a-rest” is used in this discussion for all such pads.] These are NOT your classic air mattress (beach air mattress/raft), and no Scout should use the latter such mattresses, which are heavy, difficult and slow to inflate, noisy to sleep on, uninsulated, and easily punctured. Therm-a-rest are typically 3/4 – 1 1/2 inch thick, have a tough, non-skid surface, and like foam pads come in various lengths from 4.5 to 6.5 feet. [There are also ultra-light versions for backpacking, but these are quite expensive and are not further addressed in this writeup.] When new, Therm-a-rests will about two-thirds inflate when laid out with their valve open; however, this ability degrades if they are stored rolled up, because the foam gets permanently compressed (for this reason, they are supposed to be stored inflated – but very few people actually do so). Once self-inflated, they are further filled by mouth. Therm-a-rests are significantly more comfortable than foam pads, because they do a much better job of cushioning and evening out ground imperfections. However, they weigh more than foam pads (in some cases, significantly more) and are expensive (over $100 for the largest and thickest non-backpacking models.) The generics are less expensive, but most are also lower quality. For what it’s worth, I own a variety of foam pads and Therm-a-rests – for most campouts I use a Therm-a-rest, but for cold weather camping I will place a thick foam pad on top of the Therm-a-rest for additional insulation. Any foam pad or (especially) Therm-a-rest should have the Scout’s name marked on it prominently ON THE END THAT WILL BE VISIBLE WHEN PACKED. Don’t rely on marking the sleeve or bag that the pad came in, as these are invariably lost within a few campouts. Finally, please avoid the inflatable twin bed-size air-mattresses; they weigh a ton, take forever to inflate, and take up way too much space.

Pillows: Also for sleeping comfort, you can get a small compressible “backpacker’s pillow.” There are two sizes; I own the larger version, and fold it in half for increased comfort. Note that an airline pillow is just about the right size, and some airline companies will sell a new one to you quite cheaply or even give you one if you ask. Avoid inflatable pillows – they quickly slide away during sleep. Note: Scouts should not use their bed-pillow from home on campouts.

Canteens: Well, all Scouts need at least one canteen, and up to four for backpacking. However, I am not a fan of the standard canteen or the modern Nalgene bottle. They are fairly expensive and needlessly heavy. That said, every Scout wants (and needs) at least one. An inexpensive alternative – if you can find them – are the 1 liter water bottles with the wide mouth. They don’t cost you anything extra if you buy bottled water anyway, and are just as good as a $10 Nalgene canteen. You’ll need at least two; four is better for backpacking Scouts. Unfortunately, the wide-mouth type are now difficult to find. Some Scouts now prefer the “squeeze bottle” canteens (available at most camping, sports and cycling stores – also, some fast-food outlets sell them occasionally); however, I don’t like them – they’re usually only one pint capacity, and the Scouts are always dehydrated. If your son does want one, I’d resist simply to save yourself the expense; they’re constantly being given away as promotional items at all sorts of events, and the Troop occasionally lays them out on the “Free” table. Next up are camel-baks and their various generic equivalents. These are bladders with a suck-tube and bite-valve for continuous access to water while backpacking, hiking, or cycling. They come in a variety of capacities, with some style variations. Some come with a specially designed mini-day-pack to carry it. In addition, many backpacks (currently for sale) have a built-in sleeve to accommodate a camel-bak. The military uses these extensively, and they are also popular with Scouts. However, I despise them – too heavy, easily punctured, often difficult to fill, subject to freezing up in cold weather, subject to contamination, over-priced, and requiring experience and discipline to avoid dehydration or over-hydration – but I admit that I am a lone wolf howling in the wilderness about them. Whatever type of water source you get, mark your name on it or them.

Eating gear: Don’t bother with the classic Scout mess kit, and also avoid all the nifty “flexible” bowls and plates – just get a wide-brim plastic bowl or a plate with a deep rim; just as good, lighter, and a lot less expensive. A great (and preferable) substitute for the equally classic Scout “Knife, Fork and Spoon” kit are the Lexan Polycarbonate utensils. These are very lightweight compared to metal and – believe it or not – are nearly unbreakable. About $3.00 for the complete set, sometimes less. Avoid “sporks” – a silly and rather useless item. Most camping stores also sell a double-wall polycarbonate cup; very nice for winter camping, where single wall cups (whether metal or plastic) lose heat very rapidly. This is really a winter specialty item, but can be used year round. Single wall polycarbonate cups with a handle are also commonly available. Do not buy the “Alpine” cup (wide-mouth metal, with a hook to hang on your belt, two sizes available) – very popular among some Adults, but they’re expensive, way too heavy, and don’t work all that well for Scouts anyway. I never, ever used mine; in fact, I gave all but one of them away many years ago (and I keep the one only for demos). Finally, all the above plastic items are easily marked with your son’s name with an indelible marker – which should last through several washings. A power scribing pen is also good for marking most plastic items.

Compass: Get the simplest possible standard model [flat, transparent plastic base with a rotating liquid filled compass and a flat base]; anyone that knows how to use a compass doesn’t need a “deluxe” model. About $10 I had – and used – my original Silva for 22 years (before a Scout lost it on me.) `Nuf said on that! A deluxe model would be appropriate for a Scout who is becoming heavily involved in (non-Scout) orienteering.

Knives: For younger Scouts, a small folding, lock-blade knife with a blade length of 3 inches or less (less than $15) is the safest model and all he’ll ever need in Scouting. Although popular, avoid Swiss Army knives with 2 zillion functions – too expensive, too heavy, and 95% of the functions are never used anyway. If your older Scout is really into the outdoors, I recommend a “real” knife; e.g., a Buck or Gerber folding lock-blade with a 4 inch blade (typically $45 – $90). Don’t go over 4 inches; a knife that large is unnecessary and also illegal if “concealed” in a pocket. Many high quality knife companies now have “backpacker” versions of their folding lock-blade knives (with high impact plastic handles) – much lighter, but somewhat more expensive. Don’t bother with the backpacker knives with hollowed out blades – these are really flimsy and bend too easily under real work. If possible, get knives with brightly colored handles, and (as always) mark your son’s name on it with an indelible pen. Fair Warning – No knife given to a 10 or 11 year old Scout has a prayer of still being in his possession 3 years later.

A related item of interest is the popular “Leatherman” tools. Quite expensive ($30 – $60, depending on the model), although generics are available for half those prices. I have mixed feelings on these – they’re far better than Swiss Army knives, but still are only rarely used in most Scout settings. They are also quite heavy and easy to lose, especially when stored in their protective carry sleeve, which (of course!) is invariably black. For what it’s worth, we carry one (only one!) for our Philmont crews, and have only used the non-blade tools a few times, in all cases to repair broken backpacks. Bottom line – only for older Scouts (15 and above) who are developing into true outdoormen.

Winter/Cold Weather Clothing (Please read my treatise entitled: “Winter Outside Camping Equipment List,” also posted on the Troop website, for extensive additional information on this topic) – Purchases of winter (or specialty 3-season backpacking) outdoor activity clothing should be with the “layer” concept in mind – heavyweight, thick coats and other items have only two options: On (a.k.a. “Broil”) and Off (“Deep Freeze”). Use multiple layers which can be added or removed at need – typically a synthetic “wicking” thermal underwear next to the skin, 50/50 cotton/synthetic blends to absorb moisture, wool or similar over all for warmth, followed by a medium/heavy parka or windproof jacket. If wet weather is expected, a “breathable” coat (Gore-Tex or many equivalent products) is superior. These used to be prohibitively expensive, but are far more reasonable now (less than $75); even that, however, is difficult to justify for a Scout who will outgrow it in a year or two, unless he has younger siblings who can inherit it.

Warning: Of all the events the Troop conducts, cold weather campouts and activities generate BY FAR the largest quantity of orphan items. You MUST put your name on every item, and I do mean every item. You will recall my aphorism that the most expensive gear in the world is the stuff you have to buy 3 or 4 times – because the previous purchases never made it home. Avoid these needless expenses with the liberal use of a marking pen.

Gloves: Versatility is key! – avoid very thick gloves or mittens; the boys have to take them off to do anything. The old style military glove (woolen liner with a thin leather outer glove, usually found at surplus stores) is useful and pretty warm. Obviously you can craft up a similar double pair at any camping outlet – a thin pair of “modern insulation” gloves (Gore-Tex/Thinsulate) with a larger set of gloves or mittens to go over them offers the maximum warmth and versatility for “real” winter camping, and will also be warmer than even the priciest pair of winter gloves. If rain or sleet is expected on a winter campout, waterproof gloves are a must. Note that gloves (and all other “winter” gear) will be very expensive now and very inexpensive in March, especially at skiing outlets. Please mark your name on both gloves.

Thermal Underwear: Avoid cotton thermal underwear; instead, get silk (the best, but priciest option) or one of the “wicking” style synthetics (polypropylene, Capilene, etc.) – all more expensive than traditional thermal underwear, but also all much more effective. The synthetics come in light, medium, and heavy weight versions – I usually wear heavy weight or two sets in a layer arrangement. Another item that’s cheap in March.

Socks: This is another item with a wide, almost bewildering array of options (some of which have outlandish claims as to their capabilities). Properly fitting boots are more important than socks! This is important to keep in mind when selecting socks – if your son has to jam his feet into his boots because his sock arrangement is too thick, he will be totally miserable. The “classic” arrangement for cold weather activities is a “wicking” polypropylene sock liner next to the skin and a thicker 50/50 synthetic/wool blend over that for comfort (cushioning) and absorption of sweat. A recent product that I heartily endorse are Injinji “toe socks,” which fit on a foot the way gloves fit on a hand. These do a remarkable job in preventing blisters, and are an excellent purchase for any Scout who suffers from blisters even though he has properly fitting boots. These are the only socks I wore for my AT through-hike attempt, and I did not suffer a single serious blister in 1100 miles; amazing. They come in a variety of lengths and thicknesses. Of all the various regular camping socks out there, my personal recommendation is Smart-Wool socks. Smart-Wool over Injinji socks is an excellent combination for most winter activities.

Another useful item for wintertime sleeping is a pair of loosely fitting, thick rag-wool socks or down-filled “booties.” These are particularly useful for Scouts who “sleep cold.” Finally, avoid battery powered socks – good idea in theory, rarely live up to the hype.

Hats, etc.: Go for wool/synthetic blend knit pullovers; avoid full face mask hats – they’re too irritating to wear all day, and eventually get wet (and therefore miserably cold) from condensed breath moisture and saliva. A good woolen or synthetic scarf is a more effective and versatile accessory to your typical winter outerwear (a fleece headband will also work as a neck scarf, though not as effectively). The thin ski “face-mask” is a very popular item, and also works in camping scenarios.

Summer/Warm Weather Clothing: Summer items are at their cheapest prices right now! Thus, synthetic or synthetic blend hiking shorts, T-Shirts, summer-weight long-sleeve shirts, long pants, wind-suits or rain-gear, hats, sun-visors, summer weight sleeping bags, etc., are all items to keep an eye out for. Note that these will only rarely be up front and “in your face” when you walk into a store – you’ll have to look and/or ask for them. And because many stores now clear their inventory at seasonal changes, they may be available only via on-line sales.

Backpacks: This is a classic Scout item, but one that should only be purchased when actually needed, and also only at Christmas-time if it’s on a closeout special. Backpacks are not needed for routine campouts, and so few young Scouts need one. For Senior Scouts who are going on a serious backpacking trek like Philmont, I always recommend buying used backpacks off ebay and craigslist to save big bucks (and some of our older Scouts may loan or sell you theirs if asked). Backpacks are another item with a wide variety of options. The primary dividing line is that between external and internal frame packs. External frame packs are the traditional type, and unfortunately high-end versions are currently produced by only a few companies (Kelty and Jansport are the two primary companies in this specialty), but low quality generics still abound. The high-end models are adjustable to fit the Scout, have quality hipbelts and shoulder straps, provide easy options for strapping on sleeping bags, tents, and similar gear to the frame, and typically have multiple compartment bags that offer good options for gear organization. A minimum capacity for a typical Scout would be 5000 cubic inches. Internal frame packs are now much more popular (and more expensive), and are offered by many different companies. When properly fitted, they are considered by devotees to be much more comfortable, especially when carrying heavy loads. However, most have few compartments, usually require gear to be hung on their exteriors (which can be awkward to accomplish), typically need to be readjusted whenever gear is removed or added, and are challenging to keep organized. For these reasons, they require skill and experience to pack and use properly (which can be difficult for younger Scouts). Note that Small, Medium, and Large designations for internal frame backpacks refer to torso length – NOT capacity (this is a common misconception). Torso length should be measured at a camping outlet. A minimum capacity for a typical Scout would be 85 liters. I personally still use high end external frame packs, but (as with so many traditional aspects of Scouting) I am a vanishing breed in that respect. A must-have option for all backpacks is a rain-proof pack cover that is large enough to cover both the full pack and any gear strapped to it.

Boots: This is another critical item, and unfortunately one requiring multiple re-purchases as a Scout grows. Fortunately, it is NOT necessary to purchase high-end boots, even though those are often the only options offered at most camping outlets. As noted above, proper fit is the most critical aspect of boot purchases, and a Scout may be far better off with an inexpensive “sneaker-boot” from K-Mart or Sports Authority as opposed to a top-of-the-line pair of Vasques or Asolos from REI or EMS. The latter should be purchased only for Scouts who are tackling a serious backpacking trek like Philmont where boot quality is important, and who have hopefully stopped growing. Two points are key – first, bring and wear thick socks when boot shopping; and second, ask to see and wear every boot that fits (keeping in mind that one company’s size 6 may be another company’s size 8, and that most boots come in only two widths, regular (D) and extra wide (EE)). If nothing works at the store you’re at, try elsewhere (patience needed!) Do not be overly concerned with waterproofness, but do pay attention that the boot has decent tread and adequate ankle support (especially if the Scout frequently sprains his ankles during sporting activities). Boot purchases for Philmont should be left to late Winter unless you see a sale you can’t pass up. On a related note, be aware that we do not allow the Scouts to use “Crocs” or open-toed sandals on campouts, and so we do not recommend their purchase.

Hiking Sticks: Older Scouts and adults can use a pair of adjustable hiking sticks, not only for hiking but also for setting up certain types of ultralight backpacking tents (including one type owned by the Troop). We’ve come a long way from broken broom handles and “Wizards’ staffs.” Options include 18-24 inches of length adjustment, shock absorbing capabilities, carbon-fiber or similar high-tech shafts, indestructible titanium tips, and “hand-friendly” grips. A pair can run from $30 to over $150; however, the average Scout doesn’t need more than a standard set, typically running about $50. To emphasize the point, many Scouts use old ski poles with the baskets removed – free! – and find them to be perfectly adequate.

Books and Magazines: The Scout “Field Guide” (the one with the green cover) is a great complement to the Scout Handbook; it contains a good amount of actually useful information, and the guys will actually read them. Available at the Scout Shop – about $15. The Scout Shop also has a good library of additional books which may catch your son’s eye, but you’ll generally do just as well looking in the “outdoors” section of the local camping outlets for practical books like “How to Stay Alive in the Woods,” or “Supermarket Backpacker,” etc. Books on mountain biking, rock climbing/rapelling, caving, skiing, SCUBA-diving, or other Scout-like activities also tend to go over pretty well if your son enjoyed these programs with the Troop. With respect to magazines, there are two decent general magazines that are appropriate for older Scouts – Backpacking magazine and Outside Magazine. Of the two, Backpacking is the better option. Of course, there are many others magazines that focus on specific outdoor activities.

Other items of possible interest: Biking helmet or biking gloves, digital camera, folding camp-stool, fishing gear, closed-toed sandals, and rock climbing shoes. Philmont trekkers – ultralight sneakers (“marathon flats”), bandannas, sunglasses, backpacker’s towel (largest size), ultralight daypack, ultralight workgloves, packstraps with quick-release clips (for strapping sleeping bags or tents onto a frame backpack), bright yellow parachute cord (25 feet), package of 10 small binder clips, and if you purchased a used backpack with a worn out belt and shoulder straps, new, heavily padded replacements.

Really Cool and Nifty Things to Avoid: Flint and Steel Kit, Snakebite Kit, Mini First-Aid Kit, Firestarters (of all types), Waterproof Matches, Metal Cook or Mess-kits, Military Canteens, Sterno-Stoves, Axes, Hatchets, Bowsaws, Machetes (and other oversize knife-like items, including “Survival Knives”), Emergency Flares, Cots, Dutch or Reflecting Ovens, Lumi-Lite Sticks, “Survival” kits, Emergency Blankets (noisy and useless!), Signal Mirrors, all aerosol spray items, all items packed in glass, anything and everything that weighs a ton, nearly all 100% cotton clothing, and virtually all the BSA camping items (a.k.a. overpriced trash) at the Scout Shop. All of these are highly attractive to young Scouts, but most serve only to separate parents from their hard-earned cash.

Dr. Bob, SM-111

[2011 Revision of 1997 Original]

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