Your Trackers Kit [Part 2 of 4]

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.

A Trackers Kit Includes

(Click on the category below to jump straight into that section.)

Clothing

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)

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. When you’re wet, you cool down much more quickly. Armor includes a waterproof coat, pants, and boots. For hot and sunny weather, Armor keeps UV rays from your skin. Armor includes a sunhat, sun shirt, and sunscreen (applied throughout the day).

Materials

Not all materials are created equal. Consider what your layers are made of when assembling Insulation and Armor.

Cotton

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

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).

Trackers Tip
Because merino wool wicks moisture (sweat) away from your skin, it’s also antibacterial. Kids won’t smell (as bad) after days of wearing unwashed merino wool.

Synthetics

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.

Trackers Tip
Since most synthetic fibers are not biodegradable, they stay in the environment forever (essentially). They may also be conditioned with different chemicals for waterproofing, etc. Today, many companies make synthetics from recycled materials and try to use components that are better for our health and the environment. Do your research to learn about the health and sustainability qualities of different garments. Some synthetics are necessary for your Trackers Kit (especially for waterproof layers), so care for your gear so it lasts a long, long time and doesn’t end up in a landfill.

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.

Trackers Tip
Waterproof material is rated in millimeters. This is the amount of water pressure an article of clothing (or gear like a tent) can take. Look for rain gear with a waterproof rating of 5000mm or higher (10,000mm is ideal).

Breathability (Don’t Get Wet From Your Sweat)

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.

Trackers Tip
When washing wool garments, use delicate cycles, cold water, and no soap (or soap specifically for wool). Don’t put wool in the dryer—always hang it out to dry to prevent shrinking and wear.

Gear

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.

Remember
These are ideas for a Trackers Kit that will work for all occasions. If you’re registered for a Trackers program, follow the packing list you receive with your camp reminder. You will find sample camp packing lists below.

Trackers Band

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.

Caretaking

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

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.

Trackers Tip
When washing wool garments, use delicate cycles, cold water, and no soap (or soap specifically for wool). Don’t put wool in the dryer—always hang it out to dry to prevent shrinking and wear.

Crafting

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.

Gearlines

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.

Trackers Tip
We suggest strategically rolling your clothes to save room in your pack and keep it organized. Check out how Marie Kondo does it. Finally, limit the gear you take to only what you need. Unneeded extras add clutter and weight to your Kit.

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.

Trackers Tip
AO! goes beyond keeping gear in good condition. Precision and symmetry is an issue of safety too. In modern society, if you forget something, you can buy a backup. In the wilderness, if you forget something in your Kit, it could mean life and death.

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.

Trackers Tip
All items must be clearly labeled with the child's name and should fit inside a backpack with nothing attached to the outside. Space is limited, so please do not overpack.

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.

Trackers Tip
Every morning, check the weather report. If there is even a minor chance of rain, pack a raincoat and rain pants, as well as waterproof shoes.

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.
  • Backpack OR duffel (anything that can hold their gear, strapping things to the outside is fine. Trackers will travel with their kit no more than 1/4 mile from the dropoff point)
  • Daypack (To hold water, lunch, snacks, extra layers, etc. during adventures)
  • Sleeping bag (rated to at least 30°F)
  • Sleeping pad (anything designed for camping)
  • Warm clothes top and pants (anything other than cotton, wool preferred)
  • Waterproof boots/shoes (comfortable enough to walk on all day)
  • Socks (again, wool is better than cotton)
  • Underwear
  • Pants (The more durable, the better)
  • Shorts
  • Shirts
  • Waterproof top and bottom (see Materials on the blog for details, cheap rubber rain jackets/pants will work)
  • Warm stocking cap

The key elements of clothing are warm layers and waterproof layers. For the remaining items, bring what is comfortable for your youth

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Medication
  • Feminine hygiene products (if applicable)
  • Water Bottle (minimum 1, 2 is ideal)
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Mess kit (bowl, fork, spoon minimum)

 

BONUS (helpful but not essential):

  • Knife (we can supply these for use for the week)
  • Compass (listed as essential on website, but if it’s unavailable for your youth, we have a few to use for the week)
  • Pocket Tape Measure

At the end of the day, if your tracker is warm and dry, they will be successful.

Please DO NOT Bring

Parents & Campers

If you prefer to download the Trackers Relic illustrations as a PDF, please click the image to the right so you can download and print at home.

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…

Part III: A Quest for Relics

Prepare to quest for treasure, save the village, and find one stick to rule them all. Seriously!

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