Make Cub Scout camping enjoyable with just the gear you need.
This past weekend I had my first camping experience with the pack (and a good number of packs in the local district). After coming off of four days backpacking in Kalalau, it was a little eye opening to see how much stuff folks brought for a simple over night.
There were numerous cavernous family style tents. We stood out with a backpacking oriented tent, which drew rave reviews for its single pole design and quick and light set up. The tent, a REI Quarter Dome T3 Plus, was a balance of trade offs. I wanted something that I could fit in lengthwise (I’m 76 inches) and that could hold both boys when the time comes that I can take them both camping. Additionally, I wanted to keep an eye on weight so I wanted something that was fairly light without progressing to far along the cost/weight curve. I ended up going with the REI Quarter Dome T3 Plus, which at the time was on sale. Sadly, REI no longer makes the T3 Plus, only the T3, but the Quarter Dome is a legend in the REI stable so you can’t go wrong with which ever permutation they have. One of the handiest features was the well designed vestibule, so as the drizzle started and stopped throughout the night, we had easy access to stash our chairs and other things out of the rain, without getting into the tent.
Speaking of chairs, I’m always happy when this chair draws unsolicited comments. Bought on the recommendation that a good trail chair would be needed on Kalalau, this chair continues to impress. Again striking a reasonable balance between weight and price, it collapses down into a small stuff sack that is super handy. I have found it to be great at the end of the day when you are on the trail, when sitting in line for sign ups for youth sports, and even sitting in an converted airplane hanger watching Planes 2 Fire and Rescue. The wife, who is normally skeptical of camping gadgets, even liked it so much she asked for one.
One piece of gear that I actually was curious to re-test at the Cub-o-ree was my Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol mattress. When I used it on the trail, I noticed it left marks on my back but I had a hunch that was because the weather was so warm I was sleeping without a shirt. On this outing I tested that hypothesis and was pleased to note that there was nary a mark. Plus coupled with this pillow (perfect for backpacking side sleepers) I slept pretty soundly. The Tiger Scout will be getting his own this holiday season, because my sleep suffers when he slides off of his old coleman mattress and into me!
Surprisingly this is a tough one to prepare for. Scouting requires clothes toe shoes, yet the impact at events like these would rate at best chaco’s here in Hawaii. My shoes from Kalalau stepped up to the task of being light weight enough that ambling around the Cub-o-ree didn’t feel like overkill in trail shoes. The Merrell Moab Ventilation Cross Tab men’s hiking shoes in case you were wondering. I’m starting to wear these shoes more and more everywhere I go. The vibram soles give me far better traction that an old pair of running shoes, and the rest of the shoe is light enough that I don’t feel like I’m trudging around in heavy boots. After three poor fitting previous boot purchases, I’m really shocked at how well I like these shoes, order without trying on, from the internet!
Hopefully this helps you as you start to pick out various pieces of gear. While car camping is a logical starting point, if out are going to invest in some gear while you are involved in scouting think a few years ahead for where you are going to be taking it. Backpacking oriented gear isn’t that much more in cost, usually has a much better build quality, and is one less step you need to take to that epic journey to Philmont of Kalalau!