Boy Scout Backpacks and Canoes

Putting together a Boy Scout Fifty-Miler on a flat water lake (Ross Lake in WA). Most boys will only have a backpack. Is it ok to pack everything in large plastic bags in case of a dump? What do other troops do? Do we abandoned the backpacks and use sports bags with plastic bag liners? Some of the boys will actually canoe 25 miles and hike the other 25 so they will have to bring their backpacks. How do we waterproof? This is a poor troop so please don’t suggest that we all go out and buy Duluths.

Hefty construction bags
From Home Depot or such. The heavy mil “Hefty” brand construction trash bags. They are very tough. Use one per backpack as a water resistant storage. Make sure the boy’s pack it out in their back pack though. Should work great.

Trash compactor bags
They are heavy, you can use several in each pack, and they will last. One thing though - do NOY use twist ties. Twist the top of the bag as tightly as possible, double it back, and secure it with rubber bands cut from old bicycle inner tubes. For critical items, you can always double-bag.

Have fun!


I recommend double-bagging the sleeping bags. Even if the boys tip, the sleeping bag is the only thing that usually must be kept dry. Put the bag into a stuff sack, then put the stuff sack in another heavy-weight plastic bag, then put the whole thing in the bigger plastic bag inside the pack. To seal the bags, roll the tops down a number of times, then double the tops over and seal with a rubber band. Don’t let them hang their sleeping bags outside their packs as is common on many external frame (and some internal frame) packs.

Sounds like you’ll have fun!


I would
put the bag in the pack then stuff gear in. then seal top .Finally close the pack lid. Then outer bag the whole pack. Wouldn’t want to have wet clothes or sleeping bag in the woods. your climate is similar to ours in MI, so I know about what conditions you may face. Have fun.

Slightly different
I put the sleeping bag in a plastic bag inside the stuff sack, then another over it. That way the stuff sack provides protection against the inner plastic bag tearing or being punctured.

Our troop used regular packpacks in 1999 for an 8 day trip. Essential backup clothes (jacket or fuzzy sweater) was wrapped in plastic, as were the sleeping bags. We used trash compactor bags and also some red “biological hazard” Red Cross plastic bags.

The packs lay in the bottom, and stayed mostly dry provided the frame was underneath, keeping most above the bilge water. We would only tie a cord in one place to the pack and boat, to speed unloading and loading for portaging. Also, the boat can be uprighted and bailed better with the packs out.

Double bagging is good and
you can spray (or launder, depending on the instructions) the packs with waterproofing stuff. Bag, stuff sack, bag layering (as mentioned)will prevent holes from wear. The guys need to be careful when handling the bags so that they don’t get holes. You can use plastic jars/bottles of various sizes also. Ziplock (doubled) bags for small items. 5 gal buckets with gamma lids can work as bear barrels. Put them in a sack or harness with a tumpline for hauling. Not light, but watertight and hard for animals to get into.

Have a great time! My neighbor has been taking his scouts out to the BWCA for years.

Trash compactor bags
The compactor bags are the heaviest I have found. Think Sears sells them also.

Another reminder
Rubber bands!

Rubber bands!

Rubber bands!

No twist ties.


Contractors bag,Ruffies-3 mill thick-3ft.x4ft.

18 per box,$7.99 wallys mart.