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What To Bring On A Boy Scout Backpacking Trip


by Corri Millen



Embarking on a Boy Scout backpacking trip is a thrilling adventure that allows young scouts to explore the great outdoors, build valuable skills, and create lasting memories. Whether they’re hiking through rugged mountain trails or camping in scenic forests, proper preparation is key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.


In this guide, we will provide you with an essential packing list to help you determine what to bring on your Boy Scout backpacking trip. From clothing and footwear to navigation equipment and cooking supplies, we’ve got you covered. Remember, packing light and efficiently will make your journey much more manageable, so be sure to prioritize the most essential items.


Before we dive into the specifics, it’s essential to highlight the importance of research and preparation. Make sure to check the weather forecast, familiarize yourself with the terrain and regulations of your chosen destination, and consider the duration of the trip. By doing so, you can make informed decisions and pack accordingly.


Now, let’s take a closer look at the essential items you should bring along on your Boy Scout backpacking trip.


Essential Clothing and Footwear

When it comes to clothing and footwear for a Boy Scout backpacking trip, it’s crucial to prioritize comfort, durability, and protection. Here are some key items to consider:

  1. Hiking Boots: Invest in sturdy, waterproof hiking boots that provide ankle support and good traction. Break them in before your trip to avoid blisters.
  2. Moisture-Wicking Socks: Opt for synthetic or wool socks that wick away moisture and help prevent blisters.
  3. Quick-Drying Pants/Shorts: Choose lightweight, quick-drying pants or shorts that are comfortable for hiking and allow freedom of movement.
  4. Long-Sleeve Shirts: Pack a few moisture-wicking, long-sleeve shirts to protect against sunburn and bug bites.
  5. Fleece Jacket or Sweatshirt: Bring a warm, lightweight layering option for cool evenings or higher altitudes.
  6. Waterproof Jacket: Pack a breathable, waterproof jacket to protect against rain and wind.
  7. Hat and Sunglasses: Shield yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  8. Gloves and Beanie: Depending on the climate, consider packing gloves and a beanie for chilly conditions.

Remember to adjust your clothing choices based on the weather forecast and potential temperature fluctuations. It’s always better to dress in layers for easy adjustment throughout the day. Pack extra clothes in a waterproof bag to keep them dry in case of unexpected rain.


Additionally, avoid cotton clothing as it retains moisture and takes longer to dry. Instead, opt for synthetic or merino wool materials that effectively wick away sweat and dry quickly.


By choosing appropriate clothing and footwear, you’ll be prepared for the various weather conditions and terrains you may encounter during your Boy Scout backpacking adventure.


Sleeping Gear

After a long day of hiking and exploring, getting a good night’s sleep is essential to recharge for the next day’s adventures. Here are the essential sleeping gear items to bring on your Boy Scout backpacking trip:

  1. Tent: Invest in a lightweight, durable backpacking tent that can accommodate the number of people in your group. Ensure it is waterproof and easy to set up.
  2. Sleeping Bag: Choose a sleeping bag appropriate for the expected temperature range. Look for a lightweight and compact one that provides insulation and comfort.
  3. Sleeping Pad: A sleeping pad provides insulation and cushioning between you and the ground. Opt for a lightweight, inflatable or foam pad for added comfort.
  4. Pillow: While optional, a small inflatable or compressible pillow can greatly enhance your sleep quality and overall comfort.
  5. Repair Kit: Pack a small repair kit that includes items like a patch kit for your tent and sleeping pad, as well as extra cords and stakes.

When selecting a sleeping bag, consider the temperature rating and insulation type. Down insulation, though lightweight and highly compressible, is less effective when wet, while synthetic insulation performs better in wet conditions but is generally bulkier.


Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles and set up your camp in designated areas, following the guidelines provided by the scout leaders or park officials. Take care to protect your tent and sleeping gear from moisture, using a groundsheet or footprint when necessary.


With the right sleeping gear, you can ensure a comfortable and restful night’s sleep, allowing you to rejuvenate and fully enjoy your Boy Scout backpacking trip.


Cooking and Food Supplies

Proper nutrition is essential to fuel your body during a Boy Scout backpacking trip. Here’s a list of cooking and food supplies to consider packing for your adventure:

  1. Camp Stove: Invest in a lightweight, portable camp stove that uses fuel canisters or liquid fuel for cooking meals. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the functioning and safety precautions of the stove before your trip.
  2. Cookware: Pack a lightweight cook pot, frying pan, and utensils suitable for cooking meals on your camp stove.
  3. Food: Bring non-perishable and lightweight food options such as dehydrated meals, trail mix, energy bars, and instant noodles. Consider any dietary restrictions or preferences of your group members.
  4. Water Filtration System: Carry a water filtration system or purification tablets to ensure a safe and clean water supply during your backpacking trip.
  5. Water Bottles and Hydration Bladder: Stay hydrated by bringing durable water bottles or a hydration bladder to carry an adequate water supply.
  6. Utensils and Plates: Don’t forget to pack reusable or lightweight disposable utensils, plates, and bowls for eating your meals.
  7. Food Storage: Ensure proper storage of your food to prevent attracting wildlife. Use bear canisters or bear bags as recommended by your scout leaders or park guidelines.
  8. Camp Soap and Cleaning Supplies: Maintain cleanliness by bringing biodegradable camp soap and cleaning supplies to wash your cookware and utensils.

It’s important to plan your meals in advance and portion them appropriately to avoid carrying excess weight. Consider using resealable bags or lightweight containers to pack your food efficiently.


Remember to adhere to proper food handling and cooking practices to prevent foodborne illnesses. Clean all cookware thoroughly and practice Leave No Trace principles by properly disposing of food waste.


By packing the necessary cooking and food supplies, you’ll be able to enjoy hearty and nourishing meals while embracing the outdoor experience of your Boy Scout backpacking trip.


Navigation and Safety Equipment

Navigation and safety should be top priorities during a Boy Scout backpacking trip. Proper equipment and knowledge will help ensure you stay on track and respond to any emergencies or unexpected situations. Here are some essential items to consider:

  1. Map and Compass: Carry a detailed topographic map and compass to navigate your route. Familiarize yourself with their use before your trip.
  2. GPS Device: While not essential, a GPS device can provide additional navigation assistance, especially in unfamiliar or complex trail systems.
  3. Headlamp or Flashlight: Bring a reliable headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries for nighttime visibility and emergencies.
  4. Whistle: A whistle can be a vital tool to attract attention in case of an emergency.
  5. First Aid Kit: Pack a well-stocked first aid kit containing essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications.
  6. Emergency Shelter: Carry a lightweight emergency shelter, such as a space blanket or bivy sack, for unexpected weather conditions or emergencies.
  7. Knife or Multi-tool: A versatile knife or multi-tool is handy for various tasks, including cutting ropes, preparing meals, or carrying out repairs.
  8. Sun Protection: Protect yourself from harmful UV rays by packing sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.
  9. Fire-starting Supplies: Carry waterproof matches, a lighter, or a fire starter kit to quickly and safely start a fire for warmth and cooking.
  10. Personal Locator Beacon: In remote areas, consider carrying a personal locator beacon (PLB) in case of a serious emergency where immediate assistance is needed.

Before your trip, familiarize yourself with basic wilderness first aid and emergency procedures. Share your itinerary and estimated return time with someone responsible who can raise the alarm if needed.


Avoid reliance solely on electronic devices, as their batteries can run out, signal can be lost, or software can malfunction. A combination of traditional navigation tools and technology is ideal for a Boy Scout backpacking trip.


By having the necessary navigation and safety equipment, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the wilderness and respond to any potential emergencies that might arise during your adventure.


Personal Hygiene and First Aid Kit

Maintaining personal hygiene and having a well-stocked first aid kit is crucial for the health and well-being of every scout on a backpacking trip. Here’s what you should include:

  1. Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Good oral hygiene is important even while camping. Pack a travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste.
  2. Biodegradable Soap and Towel: Use biodegradable soap to wash your hands and body. Carry a quick-drying towel for personal hygiene.
  3. Hand Sanitizer: In situations where water may be scarce, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer for effective hand sanitation.
  4. Wet Wipes: Wet wipes are useful for freshening up and cleaning when shower facilities are unavailable.
  5. Menstrual Supplies: Female scouts should pack an adequate supply of menstrual products in sealed bags.
  6. Insect Repellent: Protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects by applying insect repellent on exposed skin.
  7. Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF to protect against harmful UV rays.
  8. Blister Care: Include blister pads, moleskin, and medical tape in your first aid kit to treat and prevent blisters.
  9. Antiseptic Wipes and Ointment: Clean and disinfect minor wounds using antiseptic wipes and apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
  10. Bandages and Gauze: Pack adhesive bandages in various sizes, sterile gauze pads, and adhesive tape for dressing wounds.
  11. Pain Relievers: Carry over-the-counter pain relievers for headaches, muscle aches, and other minor discomforts.
  12. Allergy Medications: If you have known allergies, include antihistamines or other necessary allergy medications.
  13. Prescription Medications: If you have any prescription medications, ensure you have an ample supply for the duration of the trip.

It’s important to customize your first aid kit based on your personal needs and any specific medical concerns. Familiarize yourself with the items in the kit and learn basic first aid skills before your trip.


Remember to properly store your personal hygiene items and dispose of waste according to Leave No Trace principles. Pack them in resealable bags to prevent leaks and contamination of other items.


With a well-stocked first aid kit and personal hygiene supplies, you’ll be equipped to handle minor injuries and maintain cleanliness during your Boy Scout backpacking adventure.


Backpack and Storage Solutions

Choosing the right backpack and utilizing effective storage solutions are essential for a successful and comfortable Boy Scout backpacking trip. Here’s what you need to consider:

  1. Backpack: Invest in a high-quality backpack that fits well and has adjustable straps and a supportive suspension system. Choose a size that can accommodate all your gear without being overly heavy.
  2. Waterproof Cover: Ensure your backpack is equipped with a waterproof cover or pack your gear in waterproof stuff sacks to protect them from rain and moisture.
  3. Compression Bags: Use compression bags or packing cubes to maximize space and keep your gear organized inside your backpack.
  4. Internal and External Pockets: Look for a backpack with multiple pockets, both internally and externally, to easily access frequently needed items such as snacks, a map, or a water bottle.
  5. Sleeping Bag Compartment: Many backpacks have a separate bottom compartment or a dedicated space to store your sleeping bag. Utilize this feature to keep your sleeping bag easily accessible and separate from the rest of your gear.
  6. Trekking Pole Attachments: If you use trekking poles, make sure your backpack has external attachments or loops that allow you to conveniently secure them when not in use.
  7. Hydration System Compatibility: Look for a backpack that is compatible with a hydration system, allowing you to easily access water hands-free while hiking.
  8. Lockable Zippers: Ensure your backpack has lockable zippers to secure your belongings and prevent unauthorized access.
  9. Hip Belt and Straps: Opt for a backpack with a padded hip belt and adjustable straps to distribute weight evenly and provide extra support.

Pack your heavier items closer to your back and towards the bottom of your backpack to maintain balance and stability. Keep frequently used items easily accessible, and distribute the weight evenly to avoid strain or discomfort.


Practice packing and unpacking your backpack before your trip to familiarize yourself with the process and optimize your storage system.


Remember, it’s important to keep the weight of your backpack manageable to prevent unnecessary strain and fatigue. Only pack the essentials and leave non-essential items behind to lighten your load.


By choosing the right backpack and utilizing effective storage solutions, you’ll be able to organize and carry your gear efficiently, enhancing your overall backpacking experience.


Optional Gear and Recreational Items

While the essentials are crucial for a Boy Scout backpacking trip, there are also optional gear and recreational items that can enhance your outdoor experience and make your journey more enjoyable. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Trekking Poles: Trekking poles provide stability, reduce strain on your joints, and improve balance, especially on challenging terrains.
  2. Camera or Binoculars: Capture memorable moments or enjoy wildlife observation with a lightweight camera or binoculars.
  3. Portable Camp Chair: Relax and unwind at the campsite with a lightweight, compact camp chair for added comfort.
  4. Portable Power Bank: If you need to charge electronic devices such as a smartphone, GPS, or headlamp, a portable power bank can come in handy.
  5. Field Guides: Carry field guides specific to the flora, fauna, or geography of your backpacking destination to enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the natural surroundings.
  6. Deck of Cards or Travel Games: Keep yourself entertained during downtime with a deck of cards or compact travel games.
  7. Musical Instruments: If you enjoy playing an instrument, bring a lightweight, compact option to share music and create a pleasant atmosphere around the campfire.
  8. Journal and Pen: Document your experiences and reflections in a journal or sketchbook to preserve your memories.
  9. Nature Books or Reading Material: Dive into a captivating book or reading material that connects you to nature and enhances your outdoor experience.
  10. Swimsuit or Water Shoes: If your backpacking trip includes opportunities for swimming or water activities, pack a swimsuit or water shoes for extra enjoyment.

Remember, while these optional items can enhance your backpacking experience, keep in mind the added weight and space they require. Prioritize the essentials and consider the specific needs and preferences of your group.


It’s important to maintain Leave No Trace principles when enjoying recreational activities. Be mindful of the environment and respect the natural surroundings as you indulge in these optional gear and recreational items.


By bringing some optional gear and recreational items, you can further personalize your Boy Scout backpacking trip and make it even more memorable and enjoyable for everyone involved.



Preparing for a Boy Scout backpacking trip requires careful consideration of essential items and proper planning. By packing the right gear and supplies, you can ensure a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience in the great outdoors.


In this guide, we have covered the essential clothing and footwear, sleeping gear, cooking and food supplies, navigation and safety equipment, personal hygiene and first aid kit, backpack and storage solutions, as well as optional gear and recreational items. Each item serves a specific purpose and contributes to the overall success of your backpacking adventure.


Remember to tailor your packing list based on the specific requirements of your trip, including the duration, location, and weather conditions. Research your destination, understand the regulations, and consult with your scout leaders or park officials to ensure you are well-prepared for the challenges ahead.


As you embark on your Boy Scout backpacking trip, embrace the opportunity to connect with nature, learn valuable skills, and make lasting memories. And don’t forget to keep safety a top priority by practicing proper outdoor etiquette, adhering to Leave No Trace principles, and being mindful of your surroundings.


Enjoy the journey, appreciate the beauty of the wilderness, and embrace the spirit of adventure that comes with being a Boy Scout. Stay prepared, stay respectful, and have an incredible backpacking experience!