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Thread: Rucksack packing.

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    Rucksack packing.

    This forum is very quiet these days.

    Throwing this out for comment.

    We're away for the weekend at Easter, indoor camp, two nights. Centre is unstaffed, it has cutlery and crockery. Bunk beds with no bedding at all (horrible rubber coated mattresses...) We're probably out mountain biking on Saturday - that's the only planned activity so far.

    I've said to fellow leaders (if they have time) to pack a rucksack so the kids can get an idea of what they might need.

    I know what I'd be packing, but what would you be packing?

    I cannot abide a poorly packed rucksack - I don't really mind if Mum/Dad/Gran does it, but if there's stuff tied to it on the outside which could easily have gone inside - I get irritated, it makes packing the van tough. I'm also known for not appreciating visible poly bags if out hiking... Seriously, we're outdoors-people, not tramps.

    Anyway, discuss.


    Starting from the top of my usual carry, for this type of weekend would be...

    Waterproof trousers, hat and gloves and poly bags for wet clothes and shorty gaitors. (top pocket)
    towel, toiletries (usually smaller travel types stuff). (Top of main section)
    two changes of clothes. (main section)
    Smalls, (two changes, but double up on socks.) (Side pockets)
    indoor shoes. (Wearing the outdoor shoes.) (Main section).
    Girl Guiding blanket, (got this at Wings I think, much better than the Scout equivalent.) (Bottom section)
    Sleeping bag. (Bottom section).
    First aid kit (This is a group kit but also contains some survival stuff, blankets, matches, wires saws etc.) (Top pocket)
    Torch x 2 (head and hand held) (Side pockets)
    Big knife and penknife. (Main section/side pocket).
    Warm jacket
    Maybe a thin fleece chucked in if it'll fit.

    Lots of other group kit like maps, compasses and big first aid kit. But the above (I think) is the bare minimum of personal kit going into a rucksack - and close to what I'd expect the kids to bring. (Haribo not included).

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    I hear you. Like that mug clipped on to that strap is going to do anything but swing round and hit you somewhere when you're packing the van, before falling off and getting lost.

    Tea towel
    mini pillow
    ear plugs

    I probably wouldn't take a big knife, unless we were doing something that required it.

    For this I might suggest a large holdall if they have one instead. Easier to pack, and no more tricky to carry the short distance from van to building (unless it's not a short distance, obvs.)

    I'd also have a day sack with emergency contacts, FM transmitter or cassette->headphone jack thing and generic MP3 player, minstrels, soft mints, water bottle, phone battery block and charging cable. Plus some stuff from the main bag, like torch and waterproof coat.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Hat, gloves, water bottle, provisions (good dark chocolate, or whatever else...), whistle.

    If you have indoor accommodation, I'm not sure I'd bother with waterproof trousers (I don't own any). It would depend on the weather forecast. Down south (i.e. anywhere south of the M4 ), it is very rarely wet *and* cold. If there's a risk of being cold (e.g. overnight hiking), I'd bring fleece-lined trousers.. If it's going to be wet and warm, the lightest quickest-drying trousers I can find (or possibly shorts).

    Some kids have waterproof trousers that to me seem ridiculous in the amount of weight they add for a relatively low benefit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    I hear you. Like that mug clipped on to that strap is going to do anything but swing round and hit you somewhere when you're packing the van, before falling off and getting lost.

    Tea towel
    mini pillow
    ear plugs

    I probably wouldn't take a big knife, unless we were doing something that required it.

    For this I might suggest a large holdall if they have one instead. Easier to pack, and no more tricky to carry the short distance from van to building (unless it's not a short distance, obvs.)

    I'd also have a day sack with emergency contacts, FM transmitter or cassette->headphone jack thing and generic MP3 player, minstrels, soft mints, water bottle, phone battery block and charging cable. Plus some stuff from the main bag, like torch and waterproof coat.
    Yup.

    Left out smaller backpack. Damn.

    We'll be having a camp fire on Saturday night, hence the 'big knife' which in my case is more of a machete with a serrated spine - it's an axe and saw in one.

    I tend not to bother with too much tech. If I think I'm going to need my phone for a longer period, I put it into airplane/power save mode - that's always been enough. (I'd have a charging cable, usually have one in the van anyway...) Chargers are near the top of the list of things I forget, if not at the top... Usually end up buying them while out and about...

    FM transmitter? Ummm... I know one of the other leaders will bring his Beats bluetooth speaker thing. I never use earphones except if I'm in the gym. (Yes, I go to the gym, stop sniggering...) We'll also be taking a laptop and projector - but that's not personal gear... I also tend not to carry water bottles, I just buy bottled water and refill as required. Kids are forever losing them so the re-usable aspect is suspect.

    It's usually sleeping mats or poly bags with hiking boots in them attached to the outside of a rucksack, either of which is a total pain... Most kids now have inflatable mats, and they should just wear their boots and stuff trainers in their bag - is what I tell them. There will be mattresses this time round, for which they will need some sort of sheet or rug - because they're a bit minging. (The mattresses, not the kids...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by daveh01 View Post
    Hat, gloves, water bottle, provisions (good dark chocolate, or whatever else...), whistle.

    If you have indoor accommodation, I'm not sure I'd bother with waterproof trousers (I don't own any). It would depend on the weather forecast. Down south (i.e. anywhere south of the M4 ), it is very rarely wet *and* cold. If there's a risk of being cold (e.g. overnight hiking), I'd bring fleece-lined trousers.. If it's going to be wet and warm, the lightest quickest-drying trousers I can find (or possibly shorts).

    Some kids have waterproof trousers that to me seem ridiculous in the amount of weight they add for a relatively low benefit.
    Whistle - good one... I have an emergency whistle... Not sure where it is right enough, it's usually in a rucksack pocket, but I wouldn't guarantee it.

    While we're sleeping indoors, activities will be outdoors, hence waterproof trousers. We also find it's a good habit to get into as well, maybe having things you might not necessarily need, so long as it doesn't bulk things up too much. No waterproof trousers? Hmmm, controversial. We're in Scotland, I think we've used this outdoor centre maybe 6 or 8 times, and it's never been dry. It's usually wet and cold up here.

    I was going to say about holdalls and suitcases. I don't like them on scout trips - I know this will sound like rubbish - but, we found that if you say a suitcase/holdall is okay for this camp, guaranteed there will be one or two who think it'll be fine for everything else. There's something intrinsically wrong about a suitcase or holdall in a tent.

    Plus, more annoyingly, I think we've all had that lazy scout/explorer/parent who doesn't know what to pack or can't be bothered doing it properly, so they pick the biggest bit of hard luggage and put everything they own into it. I had an Explorer who did that, the case was bigger than him and took up as much space as two or three rucksacks.* Another annoying thing which happens, is if you're doing an overnight hike and someone turns up with a tiny day sack stuffed with the bare minimum of what they need, then you hand them their share of food, a trangia and the tent poles... But that's for expeditions.

    Also (digressing slightly) we had an ex-explorer - he's mid 20's now - turn up for a week long indoor camp (all quite civilised) but with only one pair of jeans and no extra clothes. He literally had a day sack with micro sleeping bag, a tooth brush and a spare T shirt in it. He didn't even have tooth paste.

    So, getting into good habits, I think, is ummm, a good habit.

    I dare say we all have idiosyncrasies - techniques and things we do if we're out and about. Probably another thread in there, or share them here.


    * On that trip, two years ago, this Explorer had a very large hard shell suitcase - it looked like a car roof box. He left it on the floor in the dorm with the lid open. Half way through the night, another explorer was sleep walking and decided in his fug, that it was a urinal - which he subsequently used for that purpose. #karma

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I tend not to bother with too much tech. If I think I'm going to need my phone for a longer period, I put it into airplane/power save mode - that's always been enough. (I'd have a charging cable, usually have one in the van anyway...) Chargers are near the top of the list of things I forget, if not at the top... Usually end up buying them while out and about...
    I'm usually driving the a minibus. Quite often it's not maybe the most modern shall we say. Will the cigarette lighter work? Will it have a cigarette lighter? We did have one that someone had plumbed a charging cable into. Not one that fitted my phone of course. I basically have one of those big battery blocks, and put my phone on charge over night, and my head torch on charge during the day, and it lasts all week. Did last year anyway. And we were only doing short trips in the minibus, so not a huge point plumbing it in for a 15 minute charge.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    FM transmitter? Ummm... I know one of the other leaders will bring his Beats bluetooth speaker thing.
    It's for firing the tunes from the generic MP3 player/phone through the bus speakers. Party bus is go. Get the Radiohead on kids! Though yes, often times now someone will have a Bluetooth speaker and use their phone to play music. Not as good as my tunes though obviously.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    because they're a bit minging. (The mattresses, not the kids...)
    You say that but do you really mean it?
    Ian Wilkins
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    Heh!

    No, we hose the kids down daily. (I'm joking. We don't do that... )

    I'm usually driving my own bus, so I know it works. I never got into the habit of carrying or having one of those battery things. My phone will do a 70% charge in 15 minutes so... I suppose it's a balance. On expedition type trips, I take a charger - which is usually a mains plug with USB slots so other stuff can be charged. I used to also have an adaptor for different phones for other people, but phones moved on.

    I also don't mind just switching my phone off to be honest.

    It's classic FM in my van or nothing.* I'm joking, it depends where we are, I usually go for a local radio station. We spend a fair bit of time up in the Inverness area, so it's usually MFR or if we're in the Fort William/Great Glen area, it's Nevis Radio.

    Sometimes when your packing, it gets right fiddly though doesn't it? You find you're packing two or three bags and - to me anyway - it just gets complicated. Sometimes it's good to go right back to basics, and if you don't have something or your phone or what ever runs out of charge - you just need to move on and find something else to do.

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    I would take a waterproof coat

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    Forgot to add to my list: first aid book (the St. John Ambulance one), a notebook (a5 size) and a handful of pens/pencils, and a print out of emergency contact details - these live in the top (flat) pocket of my rucksack. The first aid book is there more as a comfort blanket than anything - I'm not sure I've ever looked at it for an actual incident. The notebook is there for keeping scores, noting down times of things (useful for emergencies / medical things), writing up "things that I must not let this scout forget" and "things that I should read in the future in case I ever wonder why I'm doing this" (often the same).

    On the unsuitable luggage issue - we don't generally provide transport for the scouts, so they have to make their own way to wherever. However, if you're putting 3 kids in a 3-man tent, that doesn't leave a lot of room for bags that don't collapse (preferably completely flat). What annoys me is if kids don't pack their own stuff, then they will insist that they haven't got X, and will blame someone else. Then we have to force them to empty out their bag... which is just tedious.

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    St John's Ambulance book is a good shout. I'll include that for future weekends away. I only did the training in November there, but it's all leaked out my ears.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I was going to say about holdalls and suitcases. I don't like them on scout trips - I know this will sound like rubbish - but, we found that if you say a suitcase/holdall is okay for this camp, guaranteed there will be one or two who think it'll be fine for everything else. There's something intrinsically wrong about a suitcase or holdall in a tent.

    Plus, more annoyingly, I think we've all had that lazy scout/explorer/parent who doesn't know what to pack or can't be bothered doing it properly, so they pick the biggest bit of hard luggage and put everything they own into it. I had an Explorer who did that, the case was bigger than him and took up as much space as two or three rucksacks.* Another annoying thing which happens, is if you're doing an overnight hike and someone turns up with a tiny day sack stuffed with the bare minimum of what they need, then you hand them their share of food, a trangia and the tent poles... But that's for expeditions.
    Suitcases are always a no-no (as are bin bags), but I don't bother with rucksacks any more, unless we're actually hiking (and as I don't usually go on proper overnight hikes, I've just donated my large rucksack to the local charity shop). I use a decent holdall instead - this one, actually.

    And I'd actually recommend decent holdalls for YP when staying at a static camp, simply because it is easier for them to access everything in it without emptying the entire contents all over the tent. Alongside this, I've always insisted that YP pack their own bags, just so they know what they have brought. The worst thing about rucksacks is when a YP can't find anything, because they don't actually know what they have or where it is! At least with a holdall it is easier for them to find it without completely emptying the thing.
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    Cuddly toy!

    Always interesting to match the toy to the Scout. They don't seem to harbour any feelings of embarrassment about them, no matter how manky, chewed or threadbare. In fact I'd say they are still visibly fond/proud of them! Size may be a factor of course

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASLChris View Post
    Suitcases are always a no-no (as are bin bags), but I don't bother with rucksacks any more, unless we're actually hiking (and as I don't usually go on proper overnight hikes, I've just donated my large rucksack to the local charity shop). I use a decent holdall instead - this one, actually.

    And I'd actually recommend decent holdalls for YP when staying at a static camp, simply because it is easier for them to access everything in it without emptying the entire contents all over the tent. Alongside this, I've always insisted that YP pack their own bags, just so they know what they have brought. The worst thing about rucksacks is when a YP can't find anything, because they don't actually know what they have or where it is! At least with a holdall it is easier for them to find it without completely emptying the thing.
    Must admit, it's partial outdoor snobbery when I say rucksacks only. The bag you link to is fine, it's still meant for the purposes of outdoor pursuits. It's waterproof, hard wearing and large.

    Thing is, not all the kid's parents will buy them one, and a rucksack - so it's a compromise situation. (If I could insist they all have a bag like yours, I would, it appeals to my mild selective-OCD around orderliness... Packing a van only with those types of bags... Perfect... And I'm not even joking...)

    It's a really good point about rucksacks having to be fully unpacked to get at things, meaning a fair bit of mess. Last time we were away was to Lochgoilhead, one of the rooms looked like a poltergeist had been in - there were clothes everywhere. But, this time, I'm re-introducing the full kit inspection so scouts at least get everything back which was theirs - even if the poltergeist visits again.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by bigcheese View Post
    Cuddly toy!

    Always interesting to match the toy to the Scout. They don't seem to harbour any feelings of embarrassment about them, no matter how manky, chewed or threadbare. In fact I'd say they are still visibly fond/proud of them! Size may be a factor of course
    Hmmm...

    That's not been our experience at all. I mean, if a kid did turn up with a cuddly toy, I'd be sure to clamp right down on any negativity around it. We only have a couple who'd be that way about it right enough, and they're not the older ones either (who might still have cuddly toys themselves, but know not to bring them...)

    Years ago, on a weekend away to a place in the Borders called Towford, a scout brought a stuffed toy, I think it was a squirrel or a kangaroo. It ended up headless and tie-wrapped to the front grill of the minibus.

    That sounds terrible, but we're not entirely sure it wasn't the scout who brought it that did it.

    More recently, on an overnight hike/camp, we had a scout who brought his favourite claw hammer. I'll be sure to tell him not to pack that this time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ASLChris View Post
    I use a decent holdall instead
    Snap. Well, nearly, a 120l one from Decathlon. It's great for the leader in a hurry/that can't be bothered to stuff their 4 season bag back into its slightly too small stuff sack on a Sunday morning. That said, as it's huge I do tend to take too much stuff, and also, I did take it to Brownsea last year and discovered it's not really that great using the shoulder straps, it's not really a rucksack, there's no frame, and it's long, maybe I needed to adjust it, maybe I'm a shortstop, but it was sodding uncomfortable.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    If I could insist they all have a bag like yours, I would, it appeals to my mild selective-OCD around orderliness... Packing a van only with those types of bags... Perfect... And I'm not even joking...)
    I've seen pictures from airports or collection points for the WSJ, the UK contingent all get a holdall, probably 100l, maybe 80, all the same, all in nice big neat woodpile stacks. Oooh, it did appeal.

    When we went to the Canaries we were shifting our stuff about a lot, and developed a routine of everyone lining up their rucksacks standing up in rows, all went to crap on the ferry, but when it did work it was great. 46 rucksacks in two or three neat rows, and everyone can get to their bag if necessary. Lovely.


    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Years ago, on a weekend away to a place in the Borders called Towford, a scout brought a stuffed toy, I think it was a squirrel or a kangaroo. It ended up headless and tie-wrapped to the front grill of the minibus.

    That sounds terrible, but we're not entirely sure it wasn't the scout who brought it that did it.
    Overcompensating maybe.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    More recently, on an overnight hike/camp, we had a scout who brought his favourite claw hammer. I'll be sure to tell him not to pack that this time.
    Or maybe not. Maybe you just have a rum bunch.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Holdalls are much more convenient in a tent (or indoors) than a large rucksack - sit neatly at the end of their beds and are easier to access the contents. That said our Scouts seem to find it necessary to take everything out of their bags and disperse across the entire groundsheet (with some items finding their way outside the tent).... so it probably doesn't matter what bag they bring.

    In addition to your list I'd add a full size pillow - sleep much better with one compared to a travel pillow or scrunched up jumper. Depending on the bunk arrangements (and other leaders) I might also pack a tent - one thing worse than no pillow is having to share with a snorer - no sleep at all!

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