For the past 9 months, I have volunteered to mentor my old Boy Scout Troop. I’ve attended several meetings to give lectures, lead a hike for some of the beginners, and gone on a winter camping trip with the boys and their leaders. One of the lessons I’ve really been trying hard to teach is how to select safe and comfortable outdoor clothing for scouts.
This is the final chapter of a five part series on buying good gear for boy scouts or girl scouts. In the first part, we focused on the materials most outdoor clothing is made from, and the applications each material is good for. In the next chapter, we talked about the importance of wool socks, and what to look for in a pair of quality shoes or boots. In part three, we learned about layering systems for all seasons Chapter four covered accessory items like hats, gloves, gaiters, and mittens. All of the gear we have learned about is important for keeping kids safe and comfortable when spending extended periods of time outdoors in different climates.
Paying for this
We’ve talked about a lot of gear, but I don’t expect you to go out and spend your next paycheck on clothes for your kid. At the very minimum, start with socks, then work your way up. Some gear, like a windbreaker, you may already own from a sports team. The summer rain jacket your kid wears now may make a great winter shell if layered over some insulation. Don’t wait for the week before a trip to buy gear. Most sporting goods stores have big sales at the end of each season, so go stock up for the following year. Camping gear makes great gifts for birthdays and holidays, and its more exciting to get than regular clothes.
“A lot of parents worry that their kids won’t like scouting or the outdoors and the money spent on quality equipment will be wasted. Here’s a hint: if you give your scout quality gear, he’ll be safer and more comfortable and more likely to want to stick with the program. If you send your child into the woods in cotton socks, his feet will get cold and he’ll never want to go back.”
REI is Great for Scouts!
Recreational Equipment Incorporated doesn’t sell BSA brand gear like uniforms and patches, but they do sell everything else you’ll need. The trick is to become a member. For the price of a $20 lifetime membership, you get the following benefits:
- 10% back on all your purchases throughout the year. That’s not a gift card, it’s a check that you can cash.
- Unlimited 1-Year Return policy on all equipment, even if used. Buy it, try it, return it! (Don’t abuse this though or they’ll take it away!)
- Access to the “Garage Sale.” This is when they sell all of that returned stuff at huge discounts, but you have to be a member.
- Special member pricing for end-of-season clearance sales
- Discounts on rental equipment
- Coupons mailed to you several times per year
Look for Other Deals
A lot of stores offer discounts to members of local trail maintenance organizations. For example, Campmor, Ramsey Outdoor and EMS offer 10% off all purchases if you make a yearly $30 contribution to the New York/New Jersey Trail conference. Similar arrangements are available throughout the country. Just ask!
There are several online retailers that offer discount prices on limited items. For example, if a particular color rain jacket from a particular manufacturer didn’t sell well last year, you may be able to find it for 50% off online. Some online retailers to check out:
This is Part 4 of a Five Part Series
Materials: What clothing is made of matters! Footwear: It starts with the feet! Layering: What are these layers they speak of? Accessories: Hats, and gloves and mittens, Oh My! Shopping: Gear is expensive, shop smart!