Gore-tex is not necessary. (Although is does work) If your boys or girls are still growing I wouldn't invest a whole lot of money into a boot. My advice is to buy a sturdy, good-fitting boot from a respected name. In other words, if you can afford it, buy a brand name boot instead of a wal-mart boot.
Why? I bought a pair of vasque boots that had no gore-tex but were sturdy nonetheless for a trek I took in 94. I had them branded, part of them melted b/c of a little foolishness near a campfire, and I had approx. 150 miles on these boots. They probably cost me $60. A seam began to come loose one day, I took the boots back to the store, they gave me a brand new pair. I can't promise similar results, but I can say that buying from a respected name, even if you don't buy at the high-end, has its advantages. The less expensive boots can be "upgraded" to a degree by applying some type of agent such as a silicone spray to the fabric/suede.
If mom or dad (who's feet have stopped growing) is planning on doing a good bit of hiking/backpacking) and he wants to spend a little more, then go ahead. And more doesn't necessarily mean gore-tex. Solid leather (not split suede) boots from a respected name will shed water, usually give better support, and (with good care, a few resoleings and a little boot oil) will probably last ten to twenty years.
So, bottom line. It is not necessary to spend a lot, AND I wouldn't spend a lot on growing feet. I've seen guys have the time of there life at Philmont wearing all kinds of boots from all kinds of price ranges. That goes for all gear. Buy gear that will meet your needs and that will be dependable. Know how to use your gear, know its limits. And most importantly, don't let gear make OR break your Philmont experience.
Again, I've seen ALL kinds. And I've talked to old-timers who did this stuff with packboards and wicker baskets, so fancy and expensive isn't necessary.
First of all, if you don't plan on doing a lot of backpacking, the rental packs at Philmont are a very good deal. THe ones we had in '98 were for the most part brand new Kelty packs with good hip belts and a good amount of room. The only problem with renting a pack is that you can't try it out at home. You can't hike in it, you can't adjust it before Philmont, etc. But they are still good packs at good prices.
Internal vs. External - the debate continues. My advice, try it out and see what you like. End of Story. If you buy a pack, buy a good one, from a respected name. Buy one that you've tried on, buy one that will fit. And especially for those still growing, buy one that has a good bit of adjustment left in it.
Another option to buying folks! Especially for growing people. Borrow! Borrowing may well be the best of both worlds. You pay nothing. You get a pack. You are able to try out the pack. You are able to hike with the pack and adjust said pack. So, if you know a friend who's not making the trek this year, you might consider borrowing.
Alan's (who obviously knows all there is to know and should be the first, last, and only one consulted. did you catch the irony?) list of important stuff:
And for the love of god remember these two axioms:
ROADS are bad! very bad! are to be avoided! You could have stayed home and hiked dirt roads!