This is how you organize the inside of a troop trailer

Update: Many commenters have pointed out that it’s best to store propane tanks upright and on the outside of your trailer.


In Troop 101, even the layout of the troop trailer follows the patrol method.

Everything in the 6-foot-by-12-foot trailer is organized by patrol. That means each group of Scouts is responsible for its own stuff.

Patrol gear goes on the right side. Every patrol box, tent and cooler bears its patrol’s name: Ninja, Cobra, Jaguar or Shark.

Troop gear goes on the left side. Labels indicate exactly what belongs: spices, paper towels, garbage bags and more.

The troop is part of New Jersey’s Monmouth Council. Troop 101 Scoutmaster Peter Grasso has read my other blog posts about troop trailers and thought it was time to share what he and his Scouts had come up with.

“Over the years I’ve seen your articles highlighting various trailer designs and always said that we had to send you pics of our trailer,” he writes. “Well, I finally got around to doing it.”

The facts

  • The trailer is 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. It was designed to support a four-patrol troop.
  • Everything is easily accessible, labeled and laid out to support the patrol method.
  • Each patrol has a patrol kit contained in a 24-gallon Rubbermaid ActionPacker container, as well as four tents and a lantern.
  • Troop equipment includes Dutch ovens, water jugs, frying pans, etc. and a kit for the adult patrol.
  • The front of the trailer has a two-burner and a three-burner Camp Chef stove.
  • There is plenty of room for fire buckets, axe yard equipment, staves, flags, coolers and dry boxes.
  • The patrols’ shelves are not flush against the wall. Hidden between the shelves and wall are six folding tables, one for each patrol and two for the adults. These tables, when unfolded, have a metal extension for the Coleman stoves which are part of the patrol kits.
  • The Troop 101 budget contains a provision to update each patrol’s equipment every four years. That means Troop 101 can update a single patrol every year.

The photos

 

The challenge

Think your troop’s trailer is as good as this one? Prove it! Send photos and the story behind them to scoutingmag@gmail.com.

69 Comments

  1. With the exception of storing the propane tanks inside the trailer, it looks like great organization – will share with my troop.

    • We are prohibited from storing propane tanks inside our troop storage shed by State (maybe Federal?) law, and have no other secure place to store them, so we leave them in the trailer for storage. We know there is risk involved with this approach, but it is the lesser of two evils. What do other troops do? Just curious.

      • It is a good idea to store propane cylinders in the vertically upright position. If the cylinder were to leak, it would leak vapor as opposed to liquid.

        • Our Troop built shelves in the side door area that is lockable from the Scouts. We have the tanks, wood cutting tools and medicines in this area. Since we only need the back door to get to everything.

        • James, maybe I’m picking nits here but it really makes no difference if you leak liquid or gas, as the liquid will quickly vaporize to gas.

        • FYI. Propane is only in liquid form because it’s under pressure in the cylinder. When it comes out of the cylinder it turns into a vapor. There is no chance for liquid propane to leak out, it’s always vapor.

        • I work in the Propane field, you should never store the tank inside the trailer. horz prosition tank is worst, because a liquid leak expands 270 time then if it was a vapor leak. You could do a mont in front(outside) like a RV and lock them.

        • Propane gas leaks can cause serious damage to skin. My husband received 2nd degree burns on his hands from a propane gas leak, this may be common knowledge to some but for most folks we’ve spoken (Including us) had no idea that this gas could cause so much injury. We keep reminding our Troop to be careful when transporting or handling.

      • Are troop stores them outside our sheds, in a cage very much like the ones you see in front of Walmart or Ace Hardware store with the propane in them. We keep them padlock so only the troop Quartermasters can open the cage to allow access to them. When we transport, we usually throw them in the bed of the pickup truck that’s pulling the trailer.

  2. The design appears to be the work of adults with a touch of OCD, IMHO ! I’m very jealous though. Our troop trailer is like many, packed to the gills and when you open the back, stuff falls out, like Dutch ovens or tents needing repair. I’m reminded of the disclosure they give you on the airplane “be careful opening the overhead compartments as contents may have shifted during the flight”. When we suggest to the PLC that perhaps they need to spend a troop meeting working on it, all eyes turn to the QM, he writes it down, and nothing more comes of it. We have adopted the “pick your battles” approach and if the boys don’t mind it, then I guess the adults don’t mind it either. We just make sure the Old Goat Patrol items are more carefully organized and stowed in the back.

        • He’s probably referring to this:

          OSHA 1926.350(a)(4) Transporting, moving and storing compress gas cylinders:

          When cylinders are transported by powered vehicles, they shall be secured in a vertical position.

    • It takes the leadership of the Scribe to keep unfinished business on the PLC’s agenda.

      It’s imperative that your older scouts take responsibility for checking, anchoring, and balancing loads. They are the ones who will soon be driving themselves. (Several of our boys had businesses where they hauled trailers regularly, but nearly every teen packs and unpacks their family vehicle for some odd purpose or another.) What you teach them today with the troop trailer might spare them an accident with some other vehicle tomorrow.

  3. All sizes of propane tanks should always be stored in a separate, closed locker, vented to the outside.
    Empty water jugs are lightweight and okay to store up high, but if filled before leaving for camp, they should be stored on the floor to keep the weight low as possible.
    Shelter items like tent, rain flys,,screen rooms, etc. should be loaded last so they are first items unloaded and set up.

    • The trailer is designed that every piece of equipment can be gotten to without having to remove anything else. The tents don’t have to be loaded last because they can be accessed when the trailer is full.

    • I see that the verticals are extended up to the roof. Can’t tell from the picture, but looks like the stays are anchored to the trusses.

      • Several “tricks”. There is angle iron running along the floor and across the trusses. The shelves are bolted to the angle iron. The shelves are upside down creating a lip that keeps items from sliding off. Finally, there are rubber bungee cords across the front of every shelf to keep everything in place.

  4. Very nice.
    The patrol boxes are secured from all direction movement, shelves should flush to wall (peek from TENT#4 tag).
    The hanging pans next to fire extinguisher could use some strap though.

  5. looks great. love it. I would Not lay the propane tanks on their sides. very dangerous. I never of the metal shelving. also. I love the idea of tables behind d the shelves. makes God sense. I hope the coolers are full if. it you can always add stuff inside them if they are labeled u til you. we’d to use the. for coolers. this set up is way impressive.

  6. A question with which my Troop is currently wrestling – how did you raise the funds to purchase/outfit the trailer?

    • Ours involved generous donations from concerned scouters. It was a used trailer so the cost was reasonable with just a handful of contributions. But, the budget had to increase to cover improvements and maintenance.

    • We were very lucky to have families donate the initial money for the trailer. This Troop started in 2011 with only one patrol. The following year we added a patrol and purchased the trailer. This is not the first trailer I built so we knew what we wanted to do. We built up the equipment over time. We now have a budget to replace one Patrol’s equipment each year. This makes sure the equipment is always in good shape and we never get hit with replacing a lot of equipment at once.

    • If you can show that you have a plan and are also fundraising on your own, many organizations like the Lions, Elks, Rotary, etc. are willing to donate to local nonprofit groups. Of course it’s a great idea to have a few Scouts, in uniform, go to one of their meetings to make the request!

  7. Bryan, one thing I might have failed to mention. The photographs featured on the trailer are from Boy’s Life! The folks at National were fantastic when we explained our vision and asked for help getting high quality photos of Scouts in action. One thing I never understood is that we, Scout Troops, have thousands of rolling billboards that should be used to promote the Scouting Movement! I’d love to see an initiative from National that provides Trailer Graphic designs for free or a minimal cost to Troops. Let’s use a resource we already have to promote our program!

    • BSA already has some great logo and graphics art that are possibly high res enough for large applications. Check out ScoutingWire and the marketing tab.

    • I agree completely with your comment about “rolling billboards” and would strongly encourage all Troops to identify their trailers with Troop info. If nothing else, it is a theft deterrant – we had a local troop get their trailer stolen recently (eventually recovered, but gear was history). Last year on the way to summer camp we got lots of thumbs up and honks on the way to summer camp. My state (MI) offers BSA license plates and people frequently acknowledge them when I’m pumping gas, etc. It’s great marketing for us!

  8. I have a question for you seasoned trailer users. Do you prefer the metal or wooden shelving? For some reason I’m leary of the metal shelving, but I have a leader who is intent on putting it in our new trailer. All I can think of is rust and bent shelves. Of course, wood is heavy. and splinters, and should be painted. Kind of “six of one, half dozen of the other”. Please tell me your preference and why.

    Also, what kind of label maker is T101 using? Those are NICE. (And really appeal to my OCD.) 🙂

    And ABSOLUTELY to Pete about trailer graphics. Ours is definitely going to be a mobile billboard to Join Cub Scouts!

    • We put in wooden shelves 10+ years ago. (Actually, I think it was the SM. It’s taken a lot of work to get him to squelch that servant heart of his and make boys do that stuff! 😉 ) The frames are standard unfinished two-by-fours and haven’t been any trouble (except that 1 1/2″ lip). Ventilation is just enough that things stay pretty dry with the trailer parked in a mostly sunny spot.

      I’ve seen metal storage and it doesn’t wear any worse than wood. Plus it’s a little more adjustable. Tap your leader’s enthusiasm and run with it. Encourage him/her to involve some boys in the installation as much as possible.

    • No the wood doesn’t need to be painted. We had a welder weld metal frames for our shelving a d we bought high quality wood (can’t remember what we bought now), the wood fits nicely I to the welded frame, doesn’t warp or so tee, and is not painted.

  9. How do you manage the weight balanced the trailer with all those coolers loaded with ice and food? Have you ever measured your tongue weight?

    • The coolers, dry boxes (for food that doesn’t need refrigeration) , and water jugs are empty when in the trailer. I pull the trailer with my pickup and the full coolers and dry boxes are transported in my truck bed.

    • Looks exactly the same. Everything is cleaned by the Scouts before it goes back in the trailer. Everything has a place. When we return from a trip the Patrol cook takes the Patrol box home and is responsible for replacing any supplies (aluminum foil, etc). Tents used on the trip go home with Scouts to be cleaned and dried.

  10. My only (unfortunate) thoughts on putting a bill board on your trailer is it makes it a target for thieves. There are lots of items easy to sell in a scout trailer.

    • Trailer is not owned by the troop. The trailer is owned by the troop sponsor. In most cases, insurance is through your sponsor.

  11. Please store your propane tanks in an upright position. Not only is it the law but if, for any reason the valve should be sheared off, a sideways tank turns into a torpedo. Great job, our trailer does not look anything like that.

    • Mike, your statement above is totally not true. There are no DOT or CCA standards or laws that require propane tanks to be transported with the valves in the vertical position. As for the tank becoming a torpedo, the pressure in a propane tank is about 125 psi, as compared to a nitrogen or oxygen cylinder which is about 2200 psi. Also you can transport oxygen cylinders in a horizontal position.

      • William they are designed to be stored standing up the relief valve is not designed for laying on the side.

  12. This is very cool.

    I’ll show this article to the QM. He will politely say it’s pretty neat, then go back to whatever non-QM thing he was doing before. I’ll also show it to some adults, who will say “let’s do this!” then the head ASM will say no, show it to the QM, and let him organize some other scouts to do this. Adults will be disappointed, and everyone will go back to thier regular routine, and that’ll be the end of it.

  13. looks great the only thing they need to do is to is to take the propane tanks off the side that not how they were designed to be stored it a safety issue

    • Yes. It is a Hot Water on Demand system we use at Summer Camp. It saves a lot of propane and we prefer to have Scouts having fun instead of sitting around waiting for water to heat up. 😉

    • That’s great, Scouts should Hike and Backpack. Our Troop is a Boy Run Troop that chooses the activities they want to do from Cooking Competitions to Historical Hikes to Amusement Parks and yes, Backpacking. We believe variety keeps Troops healthy. Troop 101 is the newest Troop in our Council. It was founded in 2011 (The 101 year of Scouting. Get it?) and we have 45 Scouts. We have a healthy Troop and we believe that variety is a big reason for that health.

  14. like the organization by patrol. Each patrol maintains own tents cooking gear etc.Worked for our troop. Truthfully the happiest day was when we parked the trailer for good. The boys used their own gear and packed it in. Meal time cooking was shortened by hours. One pot meals for the patrols became the norm. We got rid of the battle of putting up clean equipment all together. This is the worst part of being a scout leader.
    We (yes adults) all hiked in at least a mile each adventure. Amazing the fast setup and take down. the boys loved it and learned to be efficient.Never hauled the trailer again. We all camped the same.

    • The problem with requiring each scout to own their own equipment is that many of our scouts cannot afford it. this would put scouting out of reach for many of them. We try to pay for the program with fundraisers with the scouts only paying for their food on a campout and the scouts are responsible for planning their menu and buying the food.

  15. Have you weighed your trailer to be sure it is not over it’s designed weight? We bought a used trailer just like yours (6x6x12 single axle) we had trouble with blowing tires. I took it to a scales and found out it weighed 6000 lbs. Checking the serial number plate we found out it had a max GVW of 2500 lbs. We were way over weight. Our “new” trailer is 7x7x14 with a 7000 lb max GVW. We have our trailer arranged similarly with each patrol having their own area. Rather than store the tables behind the shelves we strap them in front of each section as a door to keep things on the shelves and the tents are accessable from the end of the shelves. Ours is also set up for 4 patrols of youth plus adults. Each tent is numbered with each patrol having a block of 4 numbers. The tents are also dated as to when they were bought. All major parts of the tent are numbered the same (tent, fly, and both bags) so that parts don’t get lost while they are drying.

  16. It’s nice to have a trailer, except… what if the leader with the proper hitch for a rather hefty trailer like this isn’t attending the campout, or the leader (who has the hitch attached) ages out? This can quickly become an expensive and conspicuous storage unit.

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