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Pathfinder Clothing and Gear


Gearing up for Pathfinder does not need to be expensive. A minimum of quality gear is required, and the best daily clothes are those that can get sweaty and muddy!

Plan, buy early, test new items, label everything!

  • Label all your clothing and belongings. Pack a list to help the repacking.
  • Use iron-on cloth labels and good-quality laundry marking pens.
  • Plan ahead and pack early. Test new purchases. Avoid a last-minute rush.
  • Find that camp trunk! Wash new clothing, wear-in new footwear, test outerwear.
  • Test sunscreens and bug lotions ahead of time.
  • Pack only biodegradable soaps and shampoos!

Packing for Camp is an exciting first step, enjoy it!

  • Understand what’s recommended /what’s required on the Camp List.
  • Little is required at Pathfinder, but a few items are a must.
    The recommended items make a Pathfinder session safe and comfortable.
  • Understand what’s not recommended / not permitted.
    When we say ‘Not recommended’ it’s usually for safety, health, comfort reasons. When we say ‘Not permitted’ it’s for safety reasons.
  • If you are locking trunks and duffels, provide our Staff spare keys with labels. Spare keys will be placed in the camp safe in case originals are lost.
  • Camper Medicines, tickets and valuables belong with the Staff.
    These items must be given immediately to Staff members on arrival. Pack accordingly.

You can order Pathfinder gear for some needed items at a good price.

  • A Sleeping Bag, Dry Bag, Canoe Paddle or Pathfinder Sweatshirt can be ordered before June 1. 
    For senior campers who can wear an adult size, we will offer a top-quality paddling vest as well.
    Items are first-quality, sold at our cost only. Call Camp at 705-633-5553 or use the Gear Form.
    Please remember: Orders placed for gear can not be cancelled and will be billed to the camper account.

    Click to use Gear Order Form ...

The List 2015-2016

Please label all belongings. Provide spare labeled keys for trunk and duffel locks.

Traditional Camp Pathfinder luggage:

  • 1 camp trunk or “footlocker” (approx. 13” x 18” x 32”)
  • 1 large duffel bag
  • 1 day pack or backpack optional
    It is okay to substitute an extra duffel for a foot locker, especially if traveling by airline. However having the foot locker is great if you can manage it.

The List
Two-week campers may need less gear. Items available for purchase from Pathfinder are marked **

  • **1 sleeping bag  (20 degree-F rating, preferably compressible synthetic fill)
  • **1 waterproof dry bag (size 30 litre, i.e. a Seal Baja Bag 30)
  • ** 1 canoe paddle (optional)
  • ** 1 hooded camp sweatshirt (optional)
  • 1 set of sheets and 1-2 blankets for a twin-size camp cot
  • 1 pillow and 2 cases
  • 2 fleece jackets and/or wool blend sweaters (medium weight warmth with wicking)
  • 1 quality rain jacket (pants optional). Waterproof-breathable is recommended.
  • 1 pair trip boots (pack extra insoles)
  • 2 pair sneakers or closed toe sandals
  • 3 pair shorts
  • 2 pair long pants
  • 2 long-sleeved shirts
  • 8 pair under shorts
  • 8 t-shirts
  • 1-2 long sleeve crewneck shirts (performance fabric preferred)
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 pair sleepwear optional
  • 6 pair trip socks (wool, ‘smartwool’, or synthetic blends)
  • 4 pair general purpose socks (cotton or blends)
  • 1 large bath towel (lighter weights dry quicker)
  • 1 labeled drawstring laundry bag (no mesh bags)
  • 1 hat (ball caps ok, hats with neck and ear coverage desirable)
  • 1 pr sunglasses (basic uv protection for young eyes, nothing fancy; add a neck cord)
  • 1 flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries (buy best-quality batteries, it’s worth it)
  • 1 sunscreen (spf 15 - 30l)
  • 1 insect repellent (avoid high % DEET; try citronella oil formulas)
  • 1 toilet kit –  (send only biodegradable soaps and shampoos; send washcloth or loufa)

Technology: Pathfinder provides a rare opportunity to live simply in a natural setting. When restricting or prohibiting any items at Pathfinder, we are concerned with the health, safety, comfort and feelings of everyone in the community. Technology items in particular are not permitted, in order to open our senses to the world of Algonquin. Includes computers, iPods, iPads, e-readers, game machines, all cell phones, etc. Cameras are permitted. A phone may not be used as a clock or camera.

A Note on Knives: Small camp knives are permitted. Use is supervised. The Staff will monitor and teach responsible use of pocket knives, and will immediately confiscate any knife used in an improper or unsafe manner. Young campers have their knives held by their counselors for safekeeping.

Required Items

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Dry Bag
  • Rain jacket/pants
  • Life Jacket
  • Pillow
  • Laundry Bag
  • Flashlight
  • Hat
  • Washcloth / Scrub loufa
  • Nalgene type water bottle

Recommended Items

  • Books and magazines
  • Camera
  • Ball Glove
  • Lacrosse Stick
  • Fishing rod
  • Musical Instrument
  • Sunglasses
  • Day pack
  • Head lamp
  • Sheets/Blankets
  • Citronella based repellents

Not Recommended

  • Personal electronics
  • Cash
  • Fine Watches or sunglasses
  • Jewelry
  • Misc. Valuables/Collectibles
  • River Sandals / Tevas with open toes
  • 100 % DEET Repellents (choose 20% or less)

Not Permitted

  • Food & Beverages
  • Non eco-friendly soaps
  • Inappropriate literature
  • Offensive clothing/pictures
  • Military Knives
  • Martial Arts items / Weapons
  • Fireworks
  • Aerosol Cans
  • Lighters & Matches
  • Open Flame lanterns
  • Phones
  • Consumer medications (unless kept with the nurse)
  • Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs
  • Personal Canoes or boats
  • Personal  Bikes
  • Personal Climbing Gear

Gearing Up

At Pathfinder there is very little required clothing and equipment. The following notes are informal wisdom from Camp experience, they can help inform a parent’s range of choices. Our head guides, The Headmen, were Campers themselves; here’s their advice.

Remember to pack your final list and to label all items, so your son’s counselors can help him keep track of everything. Label absolutely everything! Use iron-on cloth labels for most clothes, but for socks and personal items try a permanent laundry marker.

Option to Buy Pathfinder Gear
If you would like to save time and money, you may order your Camper several items from Pathfinder. These will be obtained and given to your Camper upon his arrival. They are sold at our cost and this is simply a courtesy to our families; there is no obligation whatsoever to buy from Pathfinder. 

We offer a sleeping bag, dry bag, canoe paddle and hooded sweatshirt. For senior campers, we offer a top-quality paddling vest in adult sizes. Gear Order Form ...

Campers should pack everything in a Trunk and Large Duffel and optional day pack.
Together, camp trunk and duffel bag can easily contain everything a boy needs for a session at Pathfinder. Each camper has shelves and hanging pegs around his bunk for his personal items.  A large duffel or hockey bag is essential, because it stows under a camp cot, while the trunks are grouped in the middle of the tent floor facing each camper’s bunk area.

The Trunk size most campers use is approx. 13” x 18” x 32”. A couple large duffel bags or hockey bags can substitute for a trunk. Solid well-made trunks are nice because they are used as seats, step-ups, card tables etc. in the tents. A trunk with a tray inside helps sort toiletries and small items. The best trunks are often heirlooms from other family members. If you must get a new trunk, there are lots of options. At Target or a similar discount store, camp trunks will range from large Tupperware plastic models to press board trunks with vinyl covering. They will be cheap but will not last forever. A better quality trunk would come from a supplier such as Bunkline at, Camp Supplies at or C&N Footlockers at In the Toronto area, try Camp Connection for trunks and other camp essentials, Quality trunks will cost between $100-$200 US. The C&N people actually give you a discount and send Pathfinder a donation when trunks are ordered by Pathfinder families.

For Canoe Trips
On trips, every boy should have a dry bag for his spare trip clothes and sleeping bag. A size30-Litre bag is right for use with Pathfinder canoe packs. Look for the “SeaLine Baja 30 bag.” If it's easier for you, we have a supply of new dry bags priced at cost, @$28.00cn.

The sleeping bag itself can be generally speaking a 20-degree F rating that is highly compressible. Synthetic fill retains its loft if wet, dries quickly, and is perhaps the ideal bag for Algonquin Park. Down can be less than ideal. Down can be kept dry with care, and is a beautiful lifetime bag. But, if it gets wet it won’t hold its loft and becomes useless, so the dry bag’s a must. Today’s synthetic bags are top-notch. An important tip: prevent any unwanted bugs or mildew coming to Camp -- please be sure sleeping bags are properly cleaned before sending them. Paying $80 - $200 for a bag is about right. Be wary of chain outdoor stores pushing pricey bags intended for extreme climate mountaineering.

A Camper’s rain gear should be waterproof and large enough to be non-restrictive for paddling and portaging, for layering, and to vent body heat. Choose a jacket, and pants are optional except for AA campers. Ponchos are not effective. Do not send ponchos or value-priced rain jackets that will rip on the trail. In general, the jacket will be used a lot and the pants not very much. Invest in the jacket and choose a moderate priced pant. Some families skip the pants altogether but in the event of cold temps and wind driven rain, they're great.

A word about Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex rain gear is expensive, but it can be found at discount outdoor suppliers like Dick's or Mountain Equipment Co-op at a reasonable price for kids. For example, this spring at Dick's stores a youth Marmot rain jacket is $99.00. L.L. Bean mail order has similar quality gear priced right. This is no ad for a particular store, but you get the idea. There is no need to buy the ultimate 3-layer bombproof Gore-Tex shell worn by mountaineers. Remember, there are also decent basic rain jackets that are rubberized, non-breathable but effective in a downpour. No matter what the claims, Gore-Tex won’t prevent perspiration dampness in all situations. It’s your call. Just expect your son’s rain gear to get well used and potentially pine-stained and muddy. After all, they’ll be canoe tripping in the great north woods!

Buy trip boots well ahead of time and wear them in! Wear your new purchase around home for a week. There should be ample room in the toe box up front. Imagine walking down hill with a trip pack on your back. You need the toe-room. Try new boots on with the brand of socks you’ll actually be wearing. SmartWool is smart ! Plan on wearing one pair of quality socks with your boots. Wearing two pr. socks causes blisters.

There are so many boots on the market right now, it's hard to recommend one brand/model. In general, an ankle height trail style hiking boot that's not too stiff is the best call. Gore-Tex-lined trip boots are popular, but can trap stale wetness when immersed – a common occurrence in Algonquin. They can lead to foot troubles unless dried and fresh socks are worn daily. Work boots like Timberlands and other hikers without a Gore-Tex lining are a good value as well being easier to dry. In the end, it's what is most comfortable and fits best that matters.

Open-toed River Sandals or ‘Tevas’ are not permitted on trips or for daily wear at camp, because local conditions (rocks and roots) cause too many foot injuries. These can hamper a trip or ruin a summer. A beat-up pair of sneakers or Crocs are best to change into on the campsite, or to walk on the Island’s trails. A closed-toe sandal like some Chakos or Keens are o.k. Crocs are popular right now. A lot of Campers swear by them because they dry fast and are comfy and ultra light in the pack. Open-toed sandals are permitted for no more than going to Swim Dock.

General Trip Clothes
Other favorite trip clothes are usually a couple of t-shirts, an old long-sleeved flannel shirt for cool evenings, loose fitting tough shorts, and a pair of similar long pants to change into. Denim jeans are not recommended, because they’re heavy when wet, lose body heat, and never seem to dry. Today's base layer shirts and looser-fitting short and long sleeve synthetic shirts can block UV rays, wick body moisture, repel odors, etc. Might be worthwhile to get one l.s. synthetic crew neck for the trip trail. For AA Campers, definitely get base layers and a quality fleece jacket. 

Trip socks are medium-weight wool or synthetic blends. Bring at least a half-dozen pair to camp. SmartWool socks are the best and are worth it.  A medium weight fleece or wool blend sweater make ideal layering pieces. An extra fleece vest is also okay. Cotton sweats stay wet and lose body heat, so we don’t use them on trips. A cap with visor is a must. Hats shading ears and neck offer maximum sun protection. Pack quality sunscreen. Try it first. We recommend non-DEET bug repellent, but if you wish you may provide repellents with 50% or less DEET as the active ingredient.
*A note on sleeping pads. Older boys taking longer trips may want to bring a 3/4 length thermarest or ground pad, provided it packs small.

Life Jackets
Life Jackets will be worn a lot. Get a good quality vest with minimal straps and buckles. There are generally two styles: vest style with front zipper, or pull-over-head with side zipper. Companies like Lotus and Perception make expensive but excellent paddler’s vests, while makers like Mustang, Salus and Oasis make first-quality front-zip vests. If your camper is a Mic-Mac, make sure his vest is the right style for small kids.

Water bottles, Sunglasses, Sunscreen and a Hat!
Research shows excessive sun exposure is not healthy for kids in the long run. Sun glare on canoe trips, especially off the water, can give serious sun burns. Send sunscreen that you have already tested on your camper, minimum SPF 15. Pump spray or lotion ok, aerosol cans prohibited. The Staff will also have sunscreen and use it frequently, and will apply it on younger campers for them.

Also, inexpensive but effective sunglasses that block UV rays are worth it to protect young eyes. Add a neck cord. Either ball caps or hats with brims are okay. Pack a bandana to wet and drape on ears and neck on bright, hot days. A simple hat that has a full brim offers best protection.

For essential daily water intake (hydration) Pathfinder has a great 32-ounce lexan Nalgene drinking water bottle. It sells for @ $15.00. Most of the campers get one. They are hip with Camp’s logo, and they are a sure way to get your camper hydrating all day the way he should. An important skill we teach. You can buy a similar bottle for as little as $10 at the outdoor store. *Please note: the recent concern about polycarbonate bottles is over whether an ingredient BPA may leach out of the plastic over time when exposed to hot liquids. Pathfinder uses Nalgene products with no BPA.

Toiletries: Join us in protecting the Pathfinder environment!
Camp is for getting dirty but it’s not a place to stay dirty for long. Campers routinely take soap baths. These are supervised by Headmen and Swim Staff. Please send your Camper with a washcloth or scrubby!

We are lake bathers, so Camp Pathfinder permits only biodegradable soaps and shampoos. These can include Ivory bar soap, Herbal Essence shampoo, Camp Suds liquid soap, Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, or Burt's Bees soaps, body washes and shampoos. Camp provides additional without charge if a camper runs out.

A Note on Canoe Paddles
Camp provides paddles for the season no charge, but if your son would like his own, order a custom Pathfinder paddle in his size. Measure him floor-to-nose and call us with your order. Prices are charged to candy store account and run @$45.00 cn. AA campers seeking expensive whitewater paddles need parent permission.

Pathfinder Early Birds automatically receive a free new paddle when they arrive at Camp.

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