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Backpacking and Hiking for the Prepared Boy Scout

Packing List Guide   Food Ideas   Water Safety   Additional Resources  

More than perhaps any other outdoor activity, backpacking rewards the efficient packer and punishes the over-packer. After all, you will have to live with and carry every decision you make. This list is focused on a three-season, three to five day outing, but when packing always plan against the highest high and the lowest low temperatures you'll encounter. It'll protect you from spending a miserably cold night out in the woods, give you a bit more of that oh-so-precious pack space, and save your back.

It's also good to compartmentalize when packing by putting similar items in individual bags. Keeping all your food in one place will save your from leaving an errant energy bar behind when prepping your bear bag (to say nothing of preventing a bear mauling), and putting things like flashlights, matches, and your multi-tool together will help you quickly locate what you need. Also, let things do double duty. For example, a sleeping bag stuff sack or tent sack can make the perfect bear bag.


Packing List

Basic Items

Food and Drink



Optional Items


Food Ideas





Additional Items



Water Safety

Safe drinking water is vital, but boiling water for every drink is not feasible.  Here are the most common methods to purify water on the trail.  The CDC (if you trust them) has an excellent Water Treatment While Kiking, Camping, and Traveling PDF that compares the various methods to purify water.

These are ranked from my top to least choice.

  1. Sawyer Mini Filter is my FAVORITE method.  It's cheap (about $20), light, small and filters up to 1,000 gallons.  These will work with other popular backpacking items and comes with everything a backpacking person needs to start out.  I replace every few trips, even if I don't get to 1,000 galons.
  2. Runner up is the LifeStraw, much like the Sawyer but larger and sometimes cheaper; however, you many times need to use other items to add to it.
  3. Bleach - Just a  few drops per quart or liter of water, I have used this on numerious trips where I know the water will be fairly clear.  The EPA have a great Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water page outlining the use of bleach.  DO NOT use bleach with 
    Volume of Water Amount of 6% Bleach to Add* Amount of 8.25% Bleach to Add*
    1 quart/liter 2 drops 2 drops
    1 gallon 8 drops 6 drops
    2 gallons 16 drops (1/4 tsp) 12 drops (1/8 teaspoon)
    4 gallons 1/3 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon
    8 gallons 2/3 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon

    *Bleach may contain 6 or 8.25% sodium hypochlorite.

  4. Water disinfection tablets - Like "Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets" are OK, but the time having to carry enough tablets makes this my last pick

  5. Iodine - I have not used this, but seems like a good idea in some settings.  I don't have much to share since I have not investigated this further... but it is an option.


Additional Resources

YouTube Channels

Suggestion: Search for backpacking, but compare what several people say.  In general there is great content, but I'd favor those that go on the trail and do it, over those that are just showcasing "stuff" in their showroom or office.  The following links are people that live what they talk about.

Search things like: ultralight backpacking, backpacking food, youth backpack

General (not scout specific) Websites




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