Outdoor Gear & Camping Kit Guide
Where to shop?
Links at the bottom of the page.
Stores in our area
Hall & Coates on Church street offers good quality equipment at good prices, and if they do not have what you want in store they may be able to order it in for you. They are also excellent for obtaining spare parts for most outdoor equipment with some common items kept in stock (will need to ask for assistance as most are not on display). They have said if they get enough enquires they may even give us a discount so don’t forget to mention your part of Eskmouth Scouts and ask when you are there!
Also on Church street is Tog 24, selling outdoors clothing, boots and small items they have a good selection for boys and girls. They have two stores, the first selling items primarily for girls and the second primarily for boys but with a discount area upstairs.
The Poachers Pocket on Skinner Street has some decent outdoors clothing, you are unlikely to find camping equipment but most of their range is suitable for hiking.
Finally we have Yorkshire Trading and to a lesser extent Boys, both on Baxtergate. Yorkshire Trading have a decent range of low cost outdoors clothing and both stores usually stock a range of low cost camping items such as sleeping mats, plates and compasses.
If in Scarborough, Millets and Mountain Warehouse both have stores on Baxtergate selling a wide range of items. Take your neckers for a 10% discount on none sale items, though I’d recommend going during sale time as many quality items are reduced to afforable prices.
Also in Scarborough is Crag and Moore, prices are higher but the items are top quality.
If you are willing to travel Go Outdoors can be found in Stockon-On-Tees or York and offers a massive range of items.
On Stirling Road, York you will find Great Outdoors, a huge selection for all your camping needs.
Again in York we have Blacks at Monks Cross Shopping Centre, they sell technical items that are often difficult to find elsewhere. Take your necker as the prices reflect the quality and even the 10% discount they give scouts can make a huge difference.
If you have stopped growing and are investing for the future, a trip to Cotswold outdoor may be in store, our closest stores are Durham and Harrogate. They offer a 15% in store discount to members, take your scarf as proof.
A quick note on costs
“You get what you paid for” is just as true with camping and hiking equipment as with anything else but when shopping don’t be fooled into buying very expensive gear. For almost all our purposes, a jacket that is sold as waterproof will be as waterproof as one that costs £300 more.
What you tend to pay more for is robustness or weight, a backpack that is 100 grams lighter may be twice the cost but do the same job, while the weight difference may matter on a 5 day expedition it will hardly be noticable over the 200 metres from the car to the tent. Neither do you need to spend £30 on a titanium spork when a £3 knife, fork and spoon set from Boys will do the job just fine, it may weigh more and be a little more likely to bend but not enough to make a real difference.
Remember the anoraks that we had as kids? Thin plastic, no insulation? That is the kind of thing we are looking for although they are a bit more technical these days. Don’t buy ski jackets. You are looking for taped seams and they need to be comfortable to move in.
School jackets that are all padded and cosy might be showerproof from car to front door but that is no good on camp.
Waterproof trousers should have zips or buttons at the bottom so that you can put them on over your boots. Try doing it in the store. You should be able to lift your legs and move around comfortably.
Make sure that the jacket has a hood.
For good value gear, you are looking for fabric boots with a waterproof liner. It doesn’t have to be gore-tex, most companies offer an equivalent. Don’t buy outdoors trainers. You should buy boots. With ankle support. Walk in them around the shop, do they slip?
There are clever tricks that you can do with your boot lacing to make them more comfortable, the laces do not have to be an equal tightness from bottom to top.
Excellent article on different ways to lace walking boots if you have big feet. The tips are just as useful for everybody else.
A video on lace tying. This is two minutes very well spent. Seriously. You spend money on good boots – learn to tie them!
If you are buying a pair of boots to last you for years, Cotswold staff are independent and normally very good at fitting.
Remember to buy some waterproofing spray or liquid and treat them liberally and frequently with it.
Hiking socks are not that cheap. But who wants blisters? You can wear a thin base-layer sock that wicks the sweat away and good quality socks (summer ones in summer, winter ones in winter) over those. If you can wick the moisture away from the skin, the feet do not go soggy and blister.
Socks are important!
Head torches have made camping so much easier so please make sure your kid child has one. They can have a handheld torch too but an LED head torch is pretty much essential. You can get these for less than a tenner (Energizer make a good one).
Backpacks are best, large sports bags are good, rucksacks can be good too but suitcases can be difficult to carry over fields and rollers become jammed in grass and mud.
Pack your waterproofs at the top of the bag. If it’s raining when we arrive, waterproofs will need to go on.
You should buy a nice warm sleeping bag. It can get cold at night! Have a look at the comfort rating, these are always optimistic so aim for a bit chillier than you expect. If you buy a bag that’s too big, you can tie the bottom off (with string or a belt) to make it smaller. Sleeping bags should be stored out of their stuff sacks and you should stuff them for camps – not roll them.
If camping in summer a 2 season bag is sufficient, for autumn or spring a 3 season is ideal and for winter camping a 4 season sleeping bag is essential.
At a push a lesser sleeping bag can be used together with warm blankets or a quilt, but this increases weight and takes up space.
A sleeping bag liner can be used to increase warmth as well as helping to keep the inside of the sleeping bag clean (just wash the liner after use!).
While we on the topic of sleeping, many kids like to bring a pillow, this is perfectly fine. Other solutions are to use a cushion, an inflatable camping pillow or stuff spare clothes into the bag the sleeping bag comes in!
If camping a roll mat is essential, it helps to reduce heat loss to the ground as well as providing padding. Most kids can manage with a 3mm sleeping mat but a 6mm is better and hides stones. It is recommended to get a foil backed sleeping mat as this further reduces heat loss.
Buy a permanent pen and write your kids’ names (or even just their initials) on absolutely everything. Your kids’ kit will miraculously gravitate into a big pile of smelly laundry in the middle of the tent and there’s only one way to be sure of getting it back!
Let them pack their kit
You won’t be with them on the weekend so they need to know where their kit is in the bag (and what is in the bag!). Either let them get ready themselves – often disastrous – or get their kit ready and laid out and then help them to pack each item. It’s amazing how many kids will be convinced that ‘Mum didn’t pack me a waterproof’.
Make sure that they can carry their kit
Your kids will be carrying their bags to the tent. They might well be doing this at night and in the rain. Can they even lift the bag that you have given them?!
Be sensible about how much kit you give them
If they are away for a weekend, they will not need enough kit for a week. They should be able to get their kit into a nice small sports bag.
Don’t use bin bags
They rip. They blow away. They don’t have handles. They are useless for carrying anything. Oh… and a scout leader’s natural instinct is to throw bags of rubbish onto the fire!
- Cotswold Outdoor
- Crag and More
- Ellis Brigham
- Field and Trek
- Go Outdoors
- Great Outdoors
- Mountain Warehouse
- Sports Direct
- Tog 24
Guide originally written by 5th Beckenham South Scout Group, used by permission and modified to suit our needs.