By Dain McQuarrie
Jan 07, 2014

It’s Klondike Derby Season! Do You Have the Right Equipment?

Hey there! My name is Dain McQuarrie. I’m a Scoutmaster in Spanish Fork, Utah and a new blogger for The Boy Scout blog.

I thought it would be a good idea to share just a little about myself to start.

As you may be aware, we become Scout leaders in one of two ways: 1) some volunteer for duty and 2) some are volunteered. I fall into the second category.

Although it wasn’t my idea to be a Scoutmaster, I’ve quickly learned that it’s a great opportunity to work with these talented and hilarious kids. If I knew before I started how great of a kid the Scouting program could create and the lessons I could learn myself, I would have been the one volunteering rather than being volunteered.


Winter camping

Now, on to our topic at hand—Klondike Derby camping. Leaders and parents alike know that winter is all about the Klondike. It’s a challenging outdoor camping event but one that really tests the boys’ Scouting skills through fun competitions between Scout groups.

Depending on how the Klondike is setup, the boys can learn anything from pioneering, signaling, first aid and rope-making to search and rescue, Iditarod-sled racing, shelter building and snow blind navigation. Click here for a PDF document from Boys’ Life magazine that provides a brief breakdown of possible Klondike events.

One of the first things that comes to mind for any Scout leader or Scout parent in Utah when they hear the word “Klondike” is “Will these kids even live through this cold, outdoor event?!” The answer is “Of course they will,” but what we all mean is, “Are they well enough prepared to endure the cold conditions in order to have fun and learn something rather than being cold and miserable?” The answer again is yes, if the boys and their leaders plan ahead and bring the right equipment and have the right game plan. Once again we turn to our Boys’ Life document that lays it all out for us.

The equipment listed below contains the basics needed in order to be prepared to participate in most planned Klondike Derby events. The Scout leaders and their Scouts need to work together to ensure all of this is gathered.

I’ve added a number of items to the bottom of the equipment list in italics that should also be brought. Some of these may seem optional but they’re truly essential.

Equipment (Needs to fit on the Iditarod-sled or in a personal backpack)

  • One can of soup per boy (No “cream of” soups)
  • Patrol flag
  • Roster
  • Pencil & paper
  • Clipboard & cover (Or equivalent)
  • Watch
  • Compass
  • Flashlight (Headlamp preferred)
  • Two (2) six-foot-long staves (or equivalent)
  • Blanket
  • Padded splints for arms & legs
  • First-aid kit including four (4) cravats, gauze pads
  • Pocketknife (No sheath knives/fixed blade knives)
  • Two (2) foot-long 2×4 lumber
  • Tin foil
  • Three (3) gallons water in container
  • Flint & Steel or Hot spark kit
  • Lunch for each Scout
  • Eight (8) foot length of rope (Whipped)
  • Scout Handbook
  • Rain gear for each Scout
  • Cup for each Scout
  • Waterproof ground cover (Visqueen or canvas)
  • Tarps for shelter
  • Trash bag
  • Firewood and kindling
  • Natural fire tinder (Dryer lint is fine)
  • Matches
  • Eating utensils
  • Medicines (Those required for personal needs and basics such as ibuprofen etc.)
  • First aid kit for group
  • Snacks
  • Body warmers (Found at Walmart in a “hand and body warmer” combo pack)
  • Gear bags with all your personal items inside
  • Warm sleeping bag (Rated for at least 0° F or 2 lighter sleeping bags, one inside the other)
  • Sleeping pad (To insulate them from the cold ground. Sleeping bag alone won’t cut it)
  • Small sleeping pillow (Or a larger one if it can be packed down and made less unwieldy)
  • 32 oz. water bottle (Or larger if easily portable)

The clothing list below contains all essential items for maintaining warmth and happiness. Group morale is important in these settings and if a single scout is cold and miserable, it’s hard to maintain positivity of the group.


  • Class A Boy Scout shirt (The tan colored one. Required for some Klondike Derby’s)
  • Warm, waterproof snow boots (Not hiking boots)
  • Snow pants (Waterproof or water resistant if possible)
  • Warm winter coat (Waterproof or water resistant if possible)
  • Two (2) additional pairs of pants (One in case one gets wet from snow or sweat and one to change into for sleeping)
  • Two (2) additional long sleeve shirts (One in case one gets wet from snow or sweat and one to change into for sleeping)
  • Two (2) additional pairs of socks (One in case one gets wet from snow or sweat and one to change into for sleeping)
  • Two (2) snow hats (One for day use and in case one gets wet from snow or sweat and one to change into for sleeping)
  • Sweatshirt or jacket (To wear under coats)
  • “Long Johns” (To wear under pants)

If you have additional equipment or clothing ideas, feel free to share them with us in the comments!

Klondike Derby’s are awesome experiences where the boys get to learn new skills and learn about themselves. In order for them to get the most out of the event, preparation is required. Having the right gear, clothing and personal items will ensure everything goes well. Happy camping!

Dain McQuarrie - Medium    Author: Dain McQuarrie | Scoutmaster – Troop 1567, Spanish Fork, UT


Photo, see

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