What to Pack
As day 1 of camp gets close, we know what you’re thinking: what should my child wear to camp? If you’re registered for a Trackers program, you will receive a separate packing list specific to your program. But here is some general information on what to pack, aka Your Trackers Kit.
A Trackers Kit, which includes clothing and gear, gets you ready for the outdoors. Staying warm and dry and hydrated are key ingredients of survival. Assembling a Trackers Kit with your child is critical, and your child’s first outdoor skills lesson. You can print this illustration of a Trackers Kit and share it with your kids.
You can print the attached illustration of a Trackers Kit and share it with your kids.
In outdoor wilderness survival, clothing is the shelter you wear. The right clothing allows you to go almost anywhere in any weather. We divide clothing into 2 categories: Insulation & Armor.
Insulation (base & mid-layer)
Insulation keeps heat in. Insulation includes the base layers and mid-layers of clothing. A Tracker uses several thin layers of insulation, so they can remove or add items as the temperature changes. Base layers include long underwear and socks. Mid-layers include a warm coat and pants.
Armor (outer layer)
Armor protects from wet, wind, and sun. Armor includes your outermost layer of clothing. For wet weather, Armor keeps your Insulation layers dry. Staying dry is important because when you’re wet, you cool down much more quickly. Armor includes a waterproof coat, pants, and boots. For hot and sunny weather, your Armor keeps UV rays away from your skin. Armor includes a sunhat, sun shirt, and sunscreen (applied throughout the day)!
Not all materials are created equal. Consider what your layers are made of when assembling Insulation and Armor.
Cotton clothes should be avoided in cold, wet weather. It dries slowly and holds moisture against your skin rather than wicking it away. In hot weather, cotton’s cooling effect can be valuable.
Wool does not absorb moisture as quickly as cotton and is better insulation when wet. We highly recommend merino wool for the base layer of your Insulation. Merino wool is soft and less itchy. Because it wicks moisture away from your skin, it’s also antibacterial. Kids won’t smell (as bad) after days of wearing unwashed merino wool!
Synthetics come in many types—nylon, pile, and more—which are useful for different reasons. Some are insulating, while others are waterproof. Synthetic fleece can be warm and often dries faster than other fabrics (even wool). But many synthetics are hazardous near a campfire, getting holes from every spark. Synthetics also lack antibacterial properties of wool, so they get smelly and must be cleaned more often.
Water RESISTANT vs WaterPROOF
Do not confuse water-resistant with waterproof! In wet environments, a Tracker needs waterproof jackets, pants, and boots—not water-resistant. Some materials look like they will shed rain, but are only water-resistant, so the water will eventually get through and make you cold. Check the labels and confirm that your Armor is fully waterPROOF.
Breathability (Don’t Get Wet From Your Sweat)
As you warm up, sweat evaporates from your body. If it gets trapped inside your clothes it can make you cold. Breathable waterproof clothing is made of special material or vented so water (rain, dew, etc.) can’t get in, but water vapor (from sweat) can get out.
A Tracker trains to be stealthy and invisible in the woods. Bright colors stand out, while beige, brown, and forest green blend with nature. Wearing all black creates an unnatural outline not found in nature. Instead, wear shades of gray to blend with the shadows and dappled light of the forest. You don’t need to wear camouflage, but choose colors to match the forest, fields, and places where you adventure.
Gear includes a Tracker’s backpack and survival systems. The gear you carry depends on your adventure. Will you be way out in the backcountry? Are you staying overnight? Your plans determine what you pack. We recommend assembling these basic survival systems and having them ready to carry in your backpack, based on your expected needs:
Food System Could include snacks, staple foods, utensils, cookstove, fuel, and fishing tackle.
Water System Always pack a water container. If water isn’t potable, bring a filter or water treatment.
Clothes System This includes the clothes on your body, plus extra clothes for if you get wet/dirty or weather changes.
Health System Toothbrush, sunglasses/sunscreen where needed, other toiletries, medications, first aid kit.
Wayfinding System Compass (ideal with declination marks), topographic/aerial map of the area, GPS (though consider power needs). Know true north vs magnetic north.
Camp Craft Tools Knife, saw, and useful other tools.
It’s critical to care for your Trackers Kit and keep what you carry in the best condition. Your survival could very easily depend on it. A Tracker is a caretaker, ensuring their clothing and gear lasts a lifetime. We encourage young Trackers to contribute funds toward the purchase of their own Trackers Kit. Often a higher level of caretaking comes with ownership and investment.
Maintenance prevents waste, so learn to care for your clothing and gear. Store and carry gear in a way that limits damage. Know where your Kit is at all times. Follow washing instructions and do regular maintenance, applying necessary conditioner to shoes, clothing, etc. Check for damage after each use, and promptly repair or replace as needed.
Learn sewing and other crafts that will help you repair your Kit. Don’t throw out that sleeping bag with a hole—patch it! Rescue and restore those old leather boots. Repairing is an art we need to revive. As your skills improve, you can even make your gear.
By Used, Barter Used (BUBU)
A Tracker always practices sustainability. In modern society, we’ve developed a bad habit of throwing things away when they are still useful. That means it’s easy to find used gear in great condition, which saves you money and is better for the planet. Even if you can afford to buy new clothes and gear, buy them used! Consider donating the money you save to groups that supply outdoor gear to youth who can’t afford it.
Don’t throw away clothes and gear that are still useful. Learn to sew and repair your Kit. Don’t toss out that sleeping bag with a hole—patch it! Glue those old leather boots for more years of hiking. As your skills improve, you will extend the life of your gear and even make your own items.
Pay it Forward
Young Trackers will outgrow items in their Kit—especially clothing. In the spirit of Caretaking, share what no longer fits with extended family and community members who can use it. Your gift will encourage others to spend time outdoors.
Always Organize (AO!)
One of the best ways to take care of your gear is Always Organize! (AO!). Make sure there is a place for everything in your Trackers Kit and put everything in its place. AO is also a safety issue. In modern times, if you misplace or forget something in your Kit, you can buy a backup. In the wilderness, if you forget something in your Kit, you could die.
Before heading out on an adventure, make a “gearline.” Neatly line up everything that will go in your Kit, including your pack, out where you can see it. Imagine what you will do during your adventure, and check to see that you have everything you need for those doings. Order your gearline based on how often you will use each item–used most often goes on top, used less often on the bottom. Based on your access plan, carefully place everything into your pack and its pockets. For example, if it’s sunny, your raincoat goes in the bottom and your water bottle and sunscreen go into side pockets for easy access. Your knife should always go in a safe, snug spot where it won’t fall out.
Check your Kit frequently. When leaving an area, look around to make sure you left nothing behind! When you’re with your Trackers Team, call out “Kit Check” each time you arrive at or leave an area.
Program Packing List
When packing for Trackers, follow these Guidelines:
- First off, put you or your child’s FULL NAME on as many items as possible.
- Pack as lightly as you can! BUT include the right gear needed for the day (see below).
- Keep it light and tight! Everything should fit into a single pack—nothing clipped on the outside.
- Choose wisely! Read our “Your Trackers Kit” blog for help assembling gear.
- Be ready! Check the weather report every morning to guide you in what to pack.
Please DO NOT Bring
Downloadable Packing Lists
- Packing List – Basecamp | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Adventure | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – General DEN | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Mariners PDX | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Mariners BAY & SEA | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Woodworking| [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Rovers Wheelers | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – School Bus Time | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Paintball | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Wilders | [Download PDF]
- Packing List – Rangers | [Download PDF]
- Packing List – Captain Nick | [Download PDF]
- Packing List – Stealth Trackers| [Download PDF]
- Packing List – Mystery Trackers | [Download PDF]
- Packing List – Realms | [Download PDF]
- Packing List – Studio| [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Outdoor/Boating Adventure Adventure | [ Download PDF]
- Packing List – Overnight Camps | [ Download PDF]
- Handbook – Camp Trackers Overnight| [ Download PDF]