Tips, Tricks and How-to's for fun, comfy and easy trips!

Complete list of equipment and gear that each BSA scout needs!

If you are new to BSA Scouting (a.k.a., the Boy Scouts), you may find understanding what you need to get your child, in terms of uniforms, gear, equipment, etc.

Below is a complete list of equipment and gear that a child new to Bot Scouts / BSA scouting would need to acquire:

And I will show you how to do for a fraction of the price - you do NOT need to spend a fortune! While you can go to the Scout store online, your local scout shop or REI and spend a fortune getting the equipment and clothing, there are many far less expensive places to get the same or even better gear at lower prices.

So, first, let's look at the essentials, then the "nice to have" items And finally where to get them at the best prices.

Click on the links to see the selection of items and where to get them, either locally or online on Amazon or the BSA scout shop website.  And for the essential guide to all things Scouting for parents new to the BSA, see this page.

  1.  BSA Scout Uniform:
    Scouts are required to wear an official BSA uniform. This includes a
    - Official BSA "Class A" shirt, (about $35 in 2023)
    - Olive pants or shorts, typically the dual purpose "switchback" pants that convert to short by unzipping the lower portion as shown at right) , about $55 in 2023.
    - an official BSA scout belt, ($20 in 2023) and
    - official BSA olive socks. ($10.50 in 2023)
    The uniform also includes a neckerchief and slide, which are specific to the Scout's troop. Your troop typically provides these (and one informal "class B" shirt) to the scout when they join the troop.
    The BSA hat  ($25, yikes!) is typically optional; ask your troop if they require it.
    All of these items are available at your the BSA scout shop.  (This is the locator to find your local BSA scout shop) You can order online or go into the local brick and mortar scout shop. They are rarely sold elsewhere, although sometimes you can find them at a church consignment sale
    Many troops keep an assortment of scout clothing turned in by previous scouts when they graduate. As the clothing can be expensive, this is a great option. Check with your troop!
  2. BSA Handbook:
    The BSA Handbook contains information about the scouting program, including the Scout Oath, Scout Law, and other important information. It also includes requirements for earning ranks and merit badges, and it serves as the hard copy documentation of ranks and merit badges earned, camping nights, outings, service hours, etc .  It does go through revisions, so be sure to keep the current one.  The BSA scout shop always hasthe scout handbook, about $25 in 2023, and their prices are better than on Amazon for the BSA scout handbook.
  3. Handbook cover
    Since the handbook is where all accomplishments, trips, merit badges, and rank requirements are initially signed off and documented, you need to protect this book. A good handbook cover is essential.  Think about rainy camping trips!  My sons loves this BSA scout handbook protector, as it zips completely, has pockets for bens and the scout pocketknife and even has the compass!
  4. Compass:
    Scouts will need a compass for orienteering and navigation. It's built into this scout handbook cover shown at right.
  5. Backpack:
    A sturdy backpack but lightweight that properly distributes the weight of the contents is needed for camping and hiking trips. It should be able to hold all of the Scout's gear, food, and water.
  6. Sleeping Bag:
    A good quality sleeping bag is important for camping trips. It should be rated for the temperature range that the Scout will be camping in.
  7. Mattress - No one, even kids, likes sleeping on rocks.  Some go with the 1/2 inch thick foam, but I'm not that cruel to my sons, so we use the inflatable compact air mattress or self-inflating foam air mattresses. You can get one that fits the size of your kid, so it need not be huge or heavy.
  8. Tent:
    Scouts will need a tent for camping trips. It should be a 2 or 3 person sized tent (4-person if your child is big) lightweight and easy to set up.
    We can spend all day talking about tents, but I'm going to tell you the expensive ones from REI are NO BETTER than a $25 - $35 tent from Ozark Trail WalMart or Amazon. My sons used that tent for years and said it was fine. It is key that it is fast and easy to put up and take down, has a rain fly and enough room.  Forget the 2 man tents.  Even 2 children are cramped in those.  A 3 or 4 man works much better, as they will be sharing the tent with another scout. Be sure to check the weight though.  "Instant tents" tend to be heavy. Check our reviews here. You may need to get a second 2 man hiking tent if your scout will be going on backpacking overnight trips. You don't need to have him come home needing to see a chiropractor!
    BTW, any tent will leak water if it rains long enough, hard enough, or your scout pitches it in a depression that fills like a bathtub.  So always pack your scouts clothes in a pastic trash bag to keep them dry!  See this page for much more about tents
  9. Mess Kit:
    A mess kit includes a plate, bowl, and utensils. It's important for Scouts to have their own mess kit, as they will need it for cooking and eating during camping trips. These stainless steel or aluminum ones are best: they can melt, catch fire, are lightweight hygienic and easy to clean.  Remember, your kid will be out in the woods, cooking on his one around a campfire.  Plastic doesn't work so well in that environment. But, the metal ones can get hot, also. So, my son uses both, when the food is very hot, he buts the plastic plate under the metal one.
  10. Camp Stove - A camp stove is generally not necessary for a scout to own. Most troops have what's called a "patrol box", which they take on all the camp trips except for backpack hiking trips. The Patrol box contains larger stoves like the Coleman Propane Gas 2-Burner Camping Stove . And the scouts usually cook (by patrol) on these stoves. For backpack hiking overnight trips, scouts often bring small portable stoves. However, since you rarely use this item, it's usually a good idea to simply borrow one or share one with another scout. Many troops have a few extra of these for just this purpose. However, you will find the adult male troop leaders who tend to be backyard. handymen and gadget aficionados, are greatly enamored with the jet boil series of camp stoves . These are tiny lightweight stoves that very quickly boil a cup or two of hot water. Which is then used for the essentials, coffee , hot chocolate and to add to dehydrated meal packets. me. I'm not such a fan of these things. They tend to be very expensive and they have pretty much that sole purpose. But if you're wealthy and one another neat gadget go for it. I use a simple small propane stove that screws onto a small propane bottle - it costs MUCH less.
  11. Water Bottle:
    A durable water bottle is a requirement on all trips and is also essential for staying hydrated during outdoor activities. It can be anything from a disposable water bottle to insulated thermos types.  If your child is good at losing things, go with disposable or inexpensive.
  12. Flashlight:
    A good quality flashlight is needed for camping trips and other outdoor activities. Most scouts prefer a bright led headlamp, like this one, especially if it has low light settings, like a red beam for use when others are sleeping. This one is rechargeable and will go for days on a single charge.
  13. First Aid Kit:
    Scouts should always have a basic first aid kit on hand for emergencies.
  14. Hiking Boots:
    A good pair of hiking boots is important for camping and hiking trips. They should be comfortable, durable, and provide good traction. Costco and Sam's Club have good lightweight waterproof hiking boots on sale evey late summer/Fall.
  15. Personal Items:
    Scouts should also bring personal items such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and extra clothing.Deet in wipes in small packets works for short trips. Sunscreen in a tube works well. Any hat, unless your troop requires the BSA hat.

It's important to note that some troops may have specific gear requirements, so it's best to check with the Scoutmaster or troop leaders before making any purchases. Additionally, many Scout items can be purchased at the official BSA Scout shop or online.

Gear for Camping and Outings

See this page for a detailed set of checklists of gear your scout will need for camping and outings.

Road Tripping and