Venture Crew 27
Crew 27 has outdoor adventures

Scout Gear
by Bill Keenan

Outfitting your scout for T27/V27 activities can be a chore if you don't normally buy outdoor gear and outerwear.

Sleeping Bags

Which Fill?
Goose down: Goose down is simply the most thermally efficient fill material available. Lightweight, compressible, and incredibly warm, down continues to be the bag choice of serious backpackers and mountaineers the world over. Properly cared for, goose down bags will maintain their loft and last for many years.

Synthetic Fills: Providing warmth with the ability to insulate when wet, synthetic bags are excellent for trips where excessive moisture is a factor. Backpacking through rainy climates or kayak expeditions are two scenarios where a synthetic bag may be the best choice.

T27/V27 Thoughts?
T27/V27 leadership strongly favors synthetic fill, because the scouts have not, for the most part, learned the art of keeping their gear dry. Since down's thermally efficiency is lost when it gets wet, only the most expensive down bags, which have a waterproof shell, could be a choice. If your scout only has a down bag, a bivy sack and water proof stuff sack can provide a lot of protection against the bag getting wet. Paul Cleveland wrote a review of bivy sacks in 2000, which provides useful, but somewhat dated information.

Klondike, summer camp, and outings in between, does my scout need two sleeping bags? A four season bag will probably be too hot for most  of our outings. A three season bag can be "upgraded" with a zip in liner or bivy sack. Most zip in upgrades provide an additional 10 - 15° F of protection, and a bivy typically adds 5 - 10° F protection. So a 20° F bag, with an upgrade and bivy, should provide protection in the range of -5 - +5° F. The downside is compressing the bag, upgrade, and bivy down, so there is still room in the scout's back pack. Also, the upgrade can be used as a Summer bag (with or without the bivy). Bottom line, layers in sleeping gear, just like outerwear, are very flexible, but add cost and weight. Since Winter outings are rare, you might consider renting a four season bag from someone like REI. Wouldn't it be nice if money was no object, but it is! However, to complete the options, one could have two sleeping bags: late Spring, Summer, and early Fall (20 - 32° F), and a bag for the rest of year (-20° F give or take).

In outdoor gear, top brands earn their reputation, but come with a premium price for that reputation. Some of the top brands in sleeping bags are: Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, Sierra Designs, and Western Mountaineering.


Cold, wet scouts do not have as much fun as they do when they are warm and dry. The flexibility of layers cannot be beat. However, at the rate scouts grow, spending a lot on outerwear they will soon outgrow is hard to justify. Take a look at the our "where to buy" section. For the younger scouts, who can wear Men's size Small, eBay has some real bargains. There seems to be much less bidding for size small compared to sizes L and XL.

Dry, Compression Stuff Sacks

Granite Gear's drylite rock solid and Outdoor Research's Hydroseal DryComp Sacks come up solid performing water resistant (proof), compression stuff sacks. So far, a discount internet store, which ships to the USA, has not been found.

Where to buy: