How to shop for outdoor gear…
please remember: We plan camps based on the assumption that your child has everything on the kit list for that camp.
This is a constantly updated guide. What are we missing? let us know by emailing
Always ask for a discount! Take your scarf or an email about camp from us.
Where to shop?
Links at the bottom of the page.
If you have stopped growing and are investing for the future, Cotswold outdoor is the best store locally. There is one in Orpington. They offer a 20% scout discount take your scarf or a scout letter as proof. Tell them you are Beckenham Scouts.
If you go up to Covent Garden, there are a few stores all very close to each other. Mountain Warehouse and Trespass are good value and there is also an Ellis Brigham, a Cotswold Outdoor and a North Face (those three are expensive).
Looking for a Bargain?
Outdoor Shops in Bromley: Millets and Trespass compete to offer the best value gear: Millets offers a 10% scout discount (take a letter or your scarf). Trespass sometimes does the same (it seems to be up to the manager. Try asking nicely). Sports Direct has quite a large outdoor section and they drop their prices regularly.
Further afield: It’s well worth going a bit further to get some bargains. The newest player in the market is Go Outdoors. There is one at Lakeside. If you are off to Lakeside, Decathlon is just across the way and you are pretty much guaranteed good quality gear from there, even the bargains. There is also a decathlon at Surrey Quays. Decathlon has now opened in Croydon too.
Click here for details of the scout leader discount from Go Outdoors. This can be used by any adult who is involved with the group and that is most of you!
When shopping, don’t be fooled into buying v expensive gear. For almost all our purposes, a jacket that is sold as waterproof will be as waterproof as one that costs £300 more.
Remember the anoraks that we had as kids? Thin plastic, no insulation? That is the kind of thing we are looking for although they are a bit more technical these days. Don’t buy ski jackets. You are looking for taped seams and they need to be comfortable to move in.
School jackets that are all padded and cosy might be showerproof from car to front door but that is no good on camp.
Waterproof trousers should have zips or buttons at the bottom so that you can put them on over your boots. Try doing it in the store. You should be able to lift your legs and move around comfortably.
Make sure that the jacket has a hood.
more in-depth guide here from Outdoors Magic
For good value gear, you are looking for fabric boots with a waterproof liner. It doesn’t have to be gore-tex, most companies offer an equivalent. Don’t buy outdoors trainers. You should buy boots. With ankle support. Walk in them around the shop, do they slip?
There are clever tricks that you can do with your boot lacing to make them more comfortable, the laces do not have to be an equal tightness from bottom to top. We can show you these if you ask.
More in-depth guide here from OutdoorsMagic
Excellent article on different ways to lace walking boots if you have big feet. The tips are just as useful for everybody else.
If you are buying a pair of boots to last you for years, Cotswold staff are independent and normally very good at fitting.
Remember to buy some waterproofing spray or liquid and treat them liberally and frequently with it.
Hiking socks are not that cheap. But who wants blisters? You can wear a thin base-layer sock that wicks the sweat away and good quality socks (summer ones in summer, winter ones in winter) over those. If you can wick the moisture away from the skin, the feet do not go soggy and blister.
Socks are important!
Headtorches have made camping so much easier so please make sure your kid child has one. They can have a handheld torch too but an LED head torch is pretty much essential. You can get these for less than a tenner (Energizer make a good one).
Please. It’s very rare that we camp next to the car park. Kit needs to be carried across the field. Large sports bags are good, rucksacks can be good too.
Pack your waterproofs at the top of the bag. If it’s raining when we arrive, waterproofs will need to go on.
You should buy a nice warm sleeping bag. It can get cold at night! Have a look at the comfort rating, these are always optimistic so aim for a bit chillier than you expect. If you buy a bag that’s too big, you can tie the bottom off (with string or a belt) to make it smaller. Remember that you are trying to warm up the sleeping bag when you get into it, so you need to be wearing dry clothes to get in and not wear loads of layers, it is the air around you that needs to be warmed up, you should be warm in just t-shirt or thermals. Sleeping bags should be stored out of their stuff sacks and you should stuff them for camps – not roll them.
Buy a permanent pen and write your kids’ names (or even just their initials) on absolutely everything. Your kids’ kit will miraculously gravitate into a big pile of smelly laundry in the middle of the tent and there’s only one way to be sure of getting it back!
Let them pack their kit
You won’t be with them on the weekend so they need to know where their kit is in the bag (and what is in the bag!). Either let them get ready themselves, often disastrous, or get their kit ready and laid out and then help them to pack each item. It’s amazing how many kids will be convinced that ‘Mum didn’t pack me a waterproof’.
Make sure that they can carry their kit
Your kids will be carrying their bags to the tent. They might well be doing this at night and in the rain. Can they even lift the bag that you have given them?!
Be sensible about how much kit you give them
If they are away for a weekend, they will not need enough kit for a week. They should be able to get their kit into a nice small sports bag.
Don’t use bin bags
They rip. They blow away. They don’t have handles. They are useless for carrying anything. Oh! and a scout leader’s natural instinct is to throw bags of rubbish onto the fire, and he won’t be checking the contents first!