We think there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate gear and clothing.


Living outdoors is all about living with less. Whether you’re staying in a cabin, tent, or backcountry shelter - you cannot bring all of your favorite things with you. Not only would this be impractical, but too many things can distract from the beauty and experiences of the outdoors! 

Remember, you will carry the weight of whatever you bring on your back. For Explorers and Pioneers, you will need to be able to carry your things during our week in New York City, and to the Basecamp site. When we go on hikes, however, you will be able to bring your smaller Haversack, with room for water bottle, lunch, and a jacket. 

For Groundbreakers and Trailblazers everything you bring will be in your Rucksack most of the day! Challenge yourself to get by with as little as possible, and to select only the lightest of gear. Yes, this means forgoing your favorite hardback book, but it also means choosing a lightweight sleeping bag or pair of hiking pants over heavier options! If you choose to overpack - your things will become a burden on your trip. 


As you plan for what to bring to Basecamp, please carefully read through the packing lists we have provided. Consider looking in the Shop section of our website for gear recommendations. The gear we have chosen to include is a good representation of what will be most practical for your age group and activities

As we live with less at Basecamp, you’ll soon see how little you need to not only “survive” outdoors for a week, but have tons of fun! 


At Basecamp, we will most certainly get rained on, have super hot days, and have chilly nights! We believe there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate gear and clothing. We will cross streams, hike through mud, climb in trees, swim in lakes, get caught in rainstorms, and play games in the dirt. We encourage closeness with nature that can lead to muddy faces from hiding in the moss and ripped clothing from jumping off rocks.

As you will learn through achieving Cairns and Summits, you’re preparation is key for not just a happy trip, but survival! Especially as you get older and go on longer and more intense adventures, having the right gear is critical! These packing lists are not just suggestions - these items are important to have for the variety of activities we will participate in while at Basecamp.

It is also helpful to practice using your gear ahead of time. Of course, we will go over lots of skills in regard to packing and preparation, but you should know how to unpack and repack your items carefully, what gear you have, and practice wearing and walking with your gear. 

Here are some good rules of thumb for prepping gear:

  1. Opt for lightweight over heavy

  2. Look at the Shop section of our website for gear recommendations or for inspiration to find similar types of gear and equipment 

  3. If it’s not on the list, probably don’t bring it. (No, you won’t need 5 pairs of pants. You can wear 1 pair three times)

  4. Borrowed or rented gear is better than buying it new. Especially if you are new to camping and hiking - try before you buy the first year! Ask neighbors and friends to lend you gear, whenever possible. We want this to be easy on Mother Earth and your wallet. Check out our Rental Gear Packages on the website. 

  5. Make sure ALL gear can fit in your Rucksack (for Groundbreakers and Trailblazers) or Haversack and extra backpack or duffle (for Explorers and Pioneers).

  6. Break-in your walking shoes ahead of time.


For Each Basecamper (Explorers, Pioneers, & Groundbreakers)

  • Tent & Rain Shelter (or Cabin for Explorers) We sleep 4 per tent. We always separate Girls and Boys tents. 

  • Mess Kit (bowl, plate, fork, knife, spoon, cup, in a mesh baggie or collapsable cooking set)

  • First Aid Kit

  • Sunscreen & Bug Spray 

  • Basecamper Field Guide (Cairn Handbook and Journal) and pen

  • 2 Backyard Basecamp shirts 

  • Rental Gear Packages (if rented during sign up)

For Groundbreakers Only

  • Camp Stove 

  • Water filter

  • Fire Starter Kit

  • Outdoor Tools: knife, hatchet, and handsaw

PROVIDED BY BASECAMP (must be purchased by parents):

Haversack (Explorers/Pioneers) OR Rucksacks (Groundbreakers)

Your pack is your Backyard Basecamp “uniform” and must be either purchased (or received via a promotion) directly from Backyard Basecamp. Having a good bag that can be neatly organized makes hiking and backpacking possible. We partnered with Osprey and ______ who make top of the line quality packs that will last for years to come! (Our Osprey packs have lasted 10+ years!)

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Haversack: (Explorers & Pioneers) 

This is a smaller pack for day hikes in city and at Harriman State Park. This pack will hold Nalgene size water bottle, full lunch and snack, and jacket or a few extra clothing pieces. You will be able to use this Haversack for four years of Basecamp.

*These children will need a duffle bag or backpack from home in order to pack their clothing and other equipment. They will only use the Haversack for day hikes. 

Rucksack:  (Groundbreakers & Trailblazers) 

Osprey 45 liter packs 

Made of durable weather proof canvas. Has adjustable waist sizing so it will “grow” with your child. You will be able to use this Rucksack for 4-6 years of Basecamp and into adulthood.

*All that you bring to camp should fit in this pack or be strapped to the outside - in the case of sleeping bag. Please ensure that when all is rolled and carefully compressed into your stuff sacks or compression bags, that everything fits and the pack is not too heavy.

Grab a loaf of bread, a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.
— John Muir, Naturalist




  • 2 Backyard Basecamp shirts (short and long sleeve) - Provided!

  • 2 extra T-shirts

  • Sweater or Hoodie or other warm layer

  • Rain Jacket 

  • 1 pair hiking shorts or hiking pants 

  • 2 pair athletic/lightweight shorts

  • Underwear for 5 days 

  • Socks for 5 days - make sure they are thick and good for hiking in

  • Hat or visor with brim 

  • One pair of hiking shoes: broken-in

  • Water shoes like flip flops, Chocos, or Tevas (for swimming or water crossing)

Backcountry Clothing:

  • Rain jacket should be made of Goretex

  • Hiking boots need ankle support and should already be broken in

Sleeping Equipment 

  • Inflatable or compact sleeping pad

  • Sleeping bag (rated for at least 40 degrees F) 

  • Inflatable or compact pillow 

If backpacking: Please consider the weight and area required for your sleeping gear. No super puffy sleeping bags or pillows from your bed - you can’t carry that.

Gear & Tools:

  • Personal Flashlight or Headlamp

  • Large Water Bottle (Nalgene size) 

  • Stuff Sacks or Compression Sacks: Need stuff sacks to keep the rest of your clothes, food, and gear organized. Helpful even if you aren’t “Backpacking” 

Backcountry Gear & Tools


  • 2 Liter Water Reservoir with straw - fitted to Rucksack.

  • Rain Cover for Backpack 

  • Fire Starting Kit


  • Trekking Poles

  • Your own compass, knife/hatchet from home

Optional Comfort Items:

For Explorers & Pioneers:

Light board games

1-2 paperback books 

Your own Field Guides or Outdoor tools (binoculars, astronomy guide, bug jars, etc).

For Groundbreakers & Trailblazers: 

*weight is ALWAYS your number one consideration as you will have to carry every item you bring yourself! That being said, here is a small list of extras that you may be able to fit, only after you’ve packed the necessary survival gear, and feel confident you can carry.


Deck of cards or light game set

Rental Gear Packages 



We all love to play games on our phone or watch a movie in the evening. Technology is awesome and helps us in so many ways. However, it’s important to find a way to balance our tech use with being present for experiences and connections in life. 

While at Backyard Basecamp, opportunities to adventure and make new connections with others and nature are everywhere. Cell phones, game systems, and other screens will distract from these opportunities. Because of this, we ask you to leave your tech at home. Whether during our day camp or overnight camping, you will not need these devices.

Your Guides and Leaders will have devices to connect with parents or use in case of emergency. 


Backyard Basecamp Gear

Here is a list of Backyard Basecamp gear available for purchase on our website.

  • Nalgene Water Bottle

  • Hat 

  • Stickers 

  • T-Shirts & Long Sleeve shirts 

  • Jackets 

  • Cairn Patches

  • Summit Patches

Our Gear Picks

Don’t forget to check out our Outdoor Gear & Store to find our favorite gear picks for outdoor adventure at Basecamp or with your whole family!

We’ve already done the work of finding the most durable, affordable gear that’s kid-tested & approved! Plus, buying your gear from our site helps us

Chapter 5: GEAR & PACKING