What to Pack at Trackers Summer Camp
This update goes over important tips for selecting outdoor clothing and gear. Remember, if you’re registered for a Trackers program, you will also receive a separate packing list specific to your program.
For this update, we want to introduce the Trackers Kit…
A Trackers Kit readies you for the outdoors. Assembling a Trackers Kit with your child is important. Everything in your kit makes up the first lessons of survival. You can print the attached illustration of a Trackers Kit and share it with your kids.
In Trackers Survival, clothing is the shelter you wear. The right clothing allows you to go almost anywhere. 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)
Not all materials are created equal. Consider what your layers are made of when assembling Insulation and Armor.
Avoid cotton in cold and rainy 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 keeps its insulating properties for longer when wet. We highly recommend merino wool for the base layer of your Insulation. Merino is soft wool that does not itch (might take a couple of days to get used to).
There are many types of synthetics—nylon, pile, and more—and each is useful for different reasons. They are as numerous as the companies that make them. Some are insulating, while others are waterproof. Some are good quality, others not so much. Synthetic fleece can be warm and is often faster to dry than other fabrics (even wool). But many synthetics can be a hazard around a campfire, quickly getting holes with every random spark. Synthetics also lack the natural antibacterial properties of wool, so they need to 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 is important in waterproof clothing. As you warm up, sweat evaporates from your body as water vapor. You don’t want to get wet from your sweat on the inside. Breathable waterproof coats, pants, and boots are made of special material or vented so liquid water (rain, dew, etc.) can’t get in but water vapor (from sweat) can still escape.Earth Colors A Tracker trains to be invisible in the woods. Stealth is a great part of the Game of Tracking. Some colors blend better than others. Bright colors stand out, while colors like beige, brown, forest green blend in with nature. You don’t need to wear camouflage, but do choose colors to match the forest, fields, and places you will adventure.
Gear includes a Tracker’s backpack and survival systems. The gear you carry depends on your adventure. Are you 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 based on your expected needs:
Food System Could include snacks, staple food, eating utensils, cookstove, fuel, fishing, and foraging tackle.
Water System Water containers. If water is not potable, also bring a filter or water treatment.
Clothes System Clothes on the body. With 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 other useful tools.
The Trackers Band is like a “belt” in martial arts. It’s a bandanna (not a banana!) that every Tracker carries with them, tied around their ankle, wrist, or Trackers Stick. For weeklong camps, Trackers provides the first Band, which all kids can take home. While Tracking, you can use the band as a blindfold for sensory games, to stay cool (by wetting it), to keep bugs away, as a temporary face mask, and much more.
It’s critical to care for your Kit. Your outdoor life depends on it, so keep what you carry in the best condition. Young Trackers are encouraged to contribute funds toward the purchase of their own Trackers Kit. A Tracker is a caretaker, ensuring their clothing and gear lasts a lifetime.
Maintenance also prevents waste, so learn to care for your clothing and gear. Store and carry gear in such a way that you limit the damage. Know exactly 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 revive those old leather boots. Repairing is an art we need to revive. As your skills improve, you can even make some of 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. So it’s easy to find used gear in great condition. Which saves you money. Even if you can afford to buy new clothes and gear, buy it used anyway! Consider donating the money you save to groups that supply outdoor gear to youth who can’t afford it.
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 with Tracking and more!
Always Organize (AO!)
The #1 motto for Caretaking is Always Organize! (AO!). Maintain your gear with precision. Make sure there is a place for everything in your Trackers Kit and put everything in its place.
Before heading out on an adventure, make a “gearline” where you neatly line up everything that will go in your Kit, including your pack, out where you can see it. Imagine what will happen during your adventure, and check to see that you have everything you need for those happenings. Order your gearline based on how often you will use each item. Based on your access plan, carefully place everything into your pack and its pockets. For example, if it’s sunny, maybe your raincoat goes to the bottom of your bag. Meanwhile, your water bottle and sunscreen can go into side pockets for easy access. Your knife should go in a safe place where it won’t fall out.
Kit Check!Check your Kit frequently. When leaving an area, look around to make sure you left nothing behind! When with your Trackers Team, call “Kit Check” when you arrive at or leave an area.
Program Packing List
These are general packing lists for Trackers programs. Please refer to the reminder letter that will come before your camp week for specific or updated details.
Day Camps Packing List (Summer)
Guardians, please have your kids bring the following items to camp:
- CDC Recommended Mask
- Backpack Pack with your child. Appropriate to carry comfortably for long periods. Must contain all gear with nothing clipped or tied to the outside.
- Water Bottle 1 Liter or more. Non-leaking. Clearly labeled with the child’s name. Fill with water. We refill later.
- Lunch + Morning/Afternoon Snack Must not require refrigeration.
- Sunhat Covers both neck and face.
- Sunscreen & Sunhat SPF 15 or higher, clearly labeled with name. Apply before check-in.
- Clothes All-Weather Remember to check the weather report.
- Hand Sanitizer Make sure it does not leak. Consider putting in a ziplock baggie.
- Clothes Change Of Pack in a large plastic ziplock bag, if possible. Include socks.
- Hiking Shoes Shoes or boots appropriate for rugged terrain. If visiting a water site, campers may in addition bring closed-toed sandals for wading. No flip-flops.
- (IMPORTANT) Trackers Stick Harvest this before coming to camp. A staff for walking and other adventures. Sustainably harvest at home—never cut without permission. Standing, your stick is two hands higher than your elbow. Find wood that is straight, so it rolls on the floor with few bumps. Light enough for walking with, but sturdy enough to lean your knee into it without breaking.
- (OPTIONAL) Woodcarving Knife & Tools We also have knives to use. We follow strict woodcarving protocols. If your Tracker brings their own knife, ensure they keep it in a safe place (backpack) until carving time designated by their instructor.
Overnight Camps Packing List (Summer)
Pack as lightly as possible, but include the right gear to stay protected and safe. All packed items should fit into a single pack (nothing clipped or tied onto outside). We provide all tents for Trackers overnight programs.
- Lunch, Morning/Afternoon Snack For the first day. Must not require refrigeration.
Carry System (Backpack)
The smaller bag should fit into the larger bag.
- Backpack Size and weight appropriate to carry comfortably for long periods. Capable of fitting clothes, sleeping bag, mat, and more. 40 – 60 liters in size.
- Small Day Pack For carrying water bottles and day gear.
Make a good investment. How you sleep at night affects mood and learning capacity during the day.
- Sleeping Pad Does not need to be fancy, but no inflatable pool mattresses.
- Sleeping Bag Cold weather mummy bag, if possible. A quality bag rated at 10°-30° is essential. No cotton or flannel-lined sleeping bags.
Focus your investment on this clothing for overall comfort and safety.
- Base Layer (aka Thermal Underwear) Merino wool.
- Waterproof Boots + Light Camp Shoes Waterproof and good fit.
- Merino Wool Socks 3 Pairs Must fit well to prevent blisters.
These are important but can be purchased cost-effectively new or secondhand.
- Rugged Pants Wool, good synthetic, or heavy-duty canvas.
- Warm Insulating Coat Wool or good synthetic.
- Warm Stocking Hat Wool or good synthetic.
- Waterproof Coat and Pants Heavy-duty rain gear that covers the entire body. Not a light poncho. See water-resistant vs waterPROOF description above.
- Gloves Thin enough to perform tasks while wearing them.
- Swimsuit Used during camouflage exercises or showering. Shorts can work as swimsuit bottoms.
- Change of “Normal” Dry Clothes If your “outdoor” outfit gets wet.
- Tooth Care Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss (the most important thing EVER!!!).
- Personal medications (prescription AND non-prescription) Check in with our staff at drop-off. Please have them out and ready to check-in.
- Sunscreen SPF 15 or higher clearly labeled with the child’s name. Apply before check-in.
Tools & Wares
- Woodcarving Knife Straight edge only, no serrated blades (see our blog on choosing the best knife). Mora Classic is a good option.
- Water Bottle 1 Liter or more. Non-leaking, clearly labeled with the child’s name. Fill with water. We refill later.
- Mess Kit Bowl, fork, spoon, cup. Metal or wood are preferred.
- Pencil + Eraser For Trackers Journal.
- Pocket Tape Measure Small and compact for measuring tracks and plants.
- Illumination Headlamp or flashlight with charged batteries.
- (ESSENTIAL) Safety Whistle On your person at all times.
- (ESSENTIAL) Compass Best with declination marks.
Please DO NOT Bring
Check out Part 3
We hope this guide helps your family assemble Trackers Kits together, so you are ready for everyday adventure. Message us back with questions and ideas! Our next update about Trackers Teams and playing the Game of Tracking is…
Prepare to quest for treasure, save the village, and find one stick to rule them all. Seriously!