Scouts' Festival Survival Guide - Part 1: Packing



You’ll spend lots of time carrying your kit, so it pays to apply some Scout wisdom to your packing.

Distribute weight evenly in the rucksack but pack heavy items near the top; a higher centre of gravity makes a rucksack easier to carry. Put commonly-used items in side pouches for easy access. Roll socks and clothing to maximise space and pack items inside drybags so if it rains or something leaks your whole kit won’t be soaked.

Layer up

‘Choose lots of thin layered clothing rather than big bulky stuff,’ adds Katie Farnish, Marketing Assistant for Scout Activity Centres. ‘Whatever the weather, shorts are preferable over trousers; they dry quicker, take up half the space and it’s much easier to clean mud off your legs than fabric. Pack an ultra-compact soft fibre towel instead of a regular one. Plan ahead: if you are going as a couple or group, check with others what they are taking – you don’t all need to take toothpaste, shower gel and wet wipes. Do make sure someone has a small first aid kit.’

Cunning kit

Scouts are incredibly practical: they can transform even the most mundane item into a practical essential. Pack a few multi-purpose items in your backpack. ‘Clothes pegs are a quick solution if your tent door zip has broken and are useful for pegging snacks, washing and even as hair clips,’ says Katie. ‘Heavy duty bin bags are great for storing anything wet and muddy but can also be used to sit on, as a basic rain cover/coat and also to patch your tent if you spring a leak. Glowsticks are a party essential but can also be used to mark guy ropes – and if your torch runs out, you can make a makeshift lantern by putting them inside a large plastic bottle filled with water.’

Consider replacing bootlaces or the drawstring of your rucksack with paracord – it’s stronger than normal cord. Also carry a hank of it in your pack for a myriad of situations: it can be used to fix guy lines, hang kit and food in your tent, or to make a sling or a stretcher in a first aid situation. Duct tape is essential for making temporary tent repairs to torn fabric or splintered poles.

Food for thought

The standard and variety of food on offer at festivals has greatly improved but it’s worth packing key non-perishable essentials like teabags, sachets of coffee, instant noodles, baked beans, cereal and UHT milk.

To save on space in your backpack be realistic about what you’ll actually use. A portable fuel stove means you can get a brew on in the morning and prepare some slow-energy release porridge, making all the difference between a great start to the day and a miserable one.


Campingaz Bleuet 270 outdoor camping stove, £11; Gelert 1.2Litre Whistling Kettle, £7.25; Summit space saver mug, £1.75; Lifesystems Duct Tape, £3; Grangers Fabsil tent seam sealant, £4; Gelert tent pole shock cord repair kit, £4.75; Gelert neon Nylon line, £1.79; travel pillow, £4; Exped 3 litre drybag, £6.99; Lifesystems travel first aid kit, £19.

The Scout Association currently has over 37,000 young people on its waiting lists so if you’d like to carry on the festival spirit, why not consider becoming an adult volunteer?

For more timeless Scouting advice check out Be Prepared – How to light a wet match and 199 other useful things to know (published by Simon & Schuster and available for £9.99 at Scout Shops). 

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Index: The Scouts' Festival Survival Guide

Part 1 - What to take and how to pack

Part 2 - How and where to pitch a tent

Part 3 - How to navigate the festival site

Part 4 - Stay warm, dry and un-burnt

Part 5 - Essentials: from mosh pits to long drops


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