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Every Packing List Starts With the 10 Scout Basic Outdoor Essentials

Illustration of items that should go on a backpacking trek

You’re going on your first camping trip or backpacking trek. What should you bring? Every packing list starts with these 10 items, and they’re called “essentials” for a reason. Then you’ll want to add other items depending on the outing.


The Scout Basic Essentials call for the following ten items. These items can help you stay comfortable, safe and prepared:

1. A pocketknife or multitool can be handy in a wide variety of situations. Use it to cut a cord or pieces of food, whittle a stake, tighten a screw and more. Keep your knife sharp and clean, and don’t forget to first earn your Whittling Chip (for older Cub Scouts) or Totin’ Chip (for Boy Scouts).

2. A first-aid kit can be a lifesaver. Literally. A few items will allow you to treat scratches, blisters and other minor injuries. They should also allow you to provide initial care while waiting for help for more serious injuries.

3. Bring extra clothing to match the weather. Temperatures can change during a trip. Have the clothing you need for warm days and cooler nights. Multiple layers are better than a single massive jacket, because layered clothing is adaptable to a wide range of temperatures.

4. Rain gear is very important. Rain can come in a hurry, and getting your clothes drenched is more than just uncomfortable, it can lead to hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition. Have your rain gear easily accessible.

5. A lightweight flashlight, headlamp or a rugged penlight is important for finding your way in the dark. Bring extra batteries, too.

6. Trail food is good for maintaining your energy. Make your own trail mix, bring a small bag of granola and pack a handful of energy bars. Bring more than you think you’ll need in case you get stuck (or lost) in the woods.

7. Water can prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Drink plenty of fluids, even in cold weather. Use a lightweight, unbreakable container with a secure lid.

8. Matches and fire starters may be used to light fires for heat, or for signaling for help. Store matches or lighters in resealable plastic bags. You may not plan to need an open fire, but Be Prepared to build one in an emergency.

9. Sun protection might include sunblock, sunglasses, lip balm and a wide-brimmed hat. Look for an SPF of at least 30. Apply early in the day, and reapply often.

10. A map and compass are probably the most important tools you can carry in case you get lost. A topographic map will help you identify landmarks along the way. Review your route-finding skills before you leave so you’ll be sharp on the trail.

It’s a good idea to bring a daypack for your Scout Essentials, so you can grab it and go if you’re hiking during the campout.


You should also pack clothing matched to the season. Check the weather for where you’re going to camp. It might be warm where you live, but the temperatures might be dropping where you’re going.


Here are some items you may need at night, depending on the outing:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Ground cloth
  • Pillow


Here are some hygiene and toiletry items you may want to pack, depending on the outing:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Soap
  • Comb
  • Waterless hand cleaner
  • Small towel
  • Washcloth
  • Toilet paper
  • Trowel for digging cathole latrines


Here are some cooking and eating items you may want to pack, depending on the outing:

  • Mess kit
  • Large plastic cereal bowl or kitchen storage bowl
  • Spoon
  • Cup or insulated mug
  • Water treatment system
  • Backpacking stove with fuel
  • Large pot and lid (2.5- or 3-quart size)
  • Small pot and lid (1.5- or 2-quart size)
  • Lightweight frying pan (10 to 12 inches in diameter)
  • For melting snow, add 1 large pot and lid (6 to 10 quarts)
  • Hot-pot tongs


Here are some extras you may want to pack, depending on the outing:

  • Watch
  • Camera
  • Notebook
  • Pen or pencil
  • Sunglasses
  • Small musical instrument
  • Swimsuit
  • Gloves
  • Whistle
  • Nylon cord
  • Insect repellent
  • Repair kit
  • Hiking stick or trekking poles
  • Binoculars
  • Fishing gear
  • Animal identification books, plant keys, geological studies, star charts or other guides

For car-camping where your campsite won’t be far from where you park, you can carry everything in a duffle bag. If you camp often, you’ll want to invest in a backpack so you can venture into the backcountry with all your gear.

68 Comments on Every Packing List Starts With the 10 Scout Basic Outdoor Essentials

  1. needs water cleaning tablets.

  2. MY REAL NAME IS // June 16, 2016 at 4:20 pm // Reply

    Good job

  3. We really don’t need a pot for melting snow on the WARM weather checklist… 🙂

  4. Check out the Camping Checklist app on the Amazon app store.

    • Scouter Dad // April 28, 2016 at 10:24 pm // Reply

      Depending on the area in which you are trekking as you climb to higher elevations one may come across snow. However I do agree that this item may not be needed since there are other items that can be used instead.

  5. I’m going on the Klondike this weekend what do you guys recommend

  6. im a boyscout and i love this webpage

  7. What about the Boy Scout Handbook? That is definitely an essential.

  8. Like Bruh from T140 // October 22, 2015 at 8:43 pm // Reply

    Ok so I’m helping with a cub camp I’m pretty sure this will get me through the camp. We leave Saturday and come back Sunday morning.

  9. firstclassscout......... // October 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm // Reply

    11. duck tape

  10. A camp chair would also be good. Everything else is great

  11. COOL

  12. Good article. Toothpaste n floss not necessary but, the whistle is a must.

    • floss can be used for things other than getting food out of your teeth. It’s good string, even if waxy. Also, I wouldn’t want food stuck in my teeth for a whole weekend!

  13. Just get your Scouts to read their Boy Scout Handbook to “Be Prepared”.
    Excellent checklist’s are in it!!!

  14. I’ve used this list before and I did not need anything else

  15. trekkerboss // July 30, 2015 at 6:36 am // Reply

    good list-dont forget to do a shakedown

  16. It helps to never unpack your backpack so you don’t have to pack every time you go camping.

  17. I have boys life and I’m a boy scout I didn’t know wat to bring till now it tells me all the stuff I need this site is grate

  18. 〰zon͜͡ε 5™ // June 25, 2015 at 10:16 am // Reply

    Thanks, but Some things you really don’t need expecially for a two day campout…

    • Old Time Hiker // July 29, 2015 at 8:25 am // Reply

      I can’t think of “Some things” from the ten essentials that you would not need for a “two day” campout. Remember the motto “Be Prepared”!

  19. beachboy12 // June 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm // Reply

    thank you, that was very helpful.

  20. da bomb diggidy // June 18, 2015 at 4:54 pm // Reply

    you do not need extra clothes, almost no one changes in my troop on a normal two night camping trip.And who needs musical instruments or binoculars or any of some of that useless stuff. UL for the win

  21. If you can’t remember what to bring then write a list and check things off.

  22. Obviously whoever put this list together has not had a lot of experience backpacking,two major areas are overlooked,weight and bulk.

  23. I am heartened to see that a pocket knife/multitool is listed FIRST as Essential Gear. With a pocket knife, almost all other “essentials” can be found, made or repurposed as needed. I don’t feel dressed without a good pocket knife.

  24. If you are camping in hot weather, medicated powder like Gold Bond is great in case of chafing. I live in Florida, the heat and rain and humidity will cause chafing very quickly.

  25. I’ve been camping for years and still always get out this list before going. Lately I’m into SUL backpacking (less than 5 pounds base equipment not counting consumables) this list is easily done in less than half a pound before food and water. 2 lb sleeping bag and poncho becomes shelter and your set with a little extra for luxuries (sleeping pad harmonica spork)

  26. Thx that was a really helpful list

  27. HikerGirl // May 8, 2015 at 2:33 pm // Reply

    A whistle is essential and should be carried by every hiker, especially kids.

  28. Thanks for the help

  29. I feel like ten essentials should be on that list. Twice.

  30. Drew the Dude // April 23, 2015 at 7:09 pm // Reply

    Thanks! This will be very helpful.

  31. greenninja 44 // April 17, 2015 at 12:30 pm // Reply

    There is a method using a watch to find a north-south line.

  32. trekker tk // April 9, 2015 at 8:39 am // Reply

    really nice list- have used these items on many outings

  33. A CAMERA ON A HIKE????

    • Why not? Don’t want to catch your friends face when you pull the best prank ever?

      • Cameras are good to help practice the Leave No Trace Principles of which Leave What You Find and Respect Wildlife are part. Boy Scouts should be following these principles.

  34. well said

  35. Member of troop 341 // March 18, 2015 at 6:20 pm // Reply

    Great, all you need is some batteries for the light.

  36. hiboyslife // March 6, 2015 at 4:08 pm // Reply

    you might want to carry some rope or paracord also

  37. Troop 934 is awesome // February 7, 2015 at 2:57 pm // Reply

    Goog list but usually don’t have to carry all of these things

  38. good list but seems a bit heavy weight for a daypack.
    maybe seperate lists for different durations of hikes.
    (day hike, overniter, weekender, etc)

  39. Pioneers did not have batteries. I think a scout should have a old-fashioned kerosene lamp. It may be out of style, but I always go for the old ways.


  40. uh eh ting tang walla walla bang bang // December 4, 2014 at 6:21 pm // Reply

    I was taught the 9v battery and steel wool method… BY A BOY SCOUT THAT WAS 1ST CLASS!!!!!!!

  41. Chief scout Bear Grylls // November 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm // Reply

    All of these are handy there may seem a lot of things but its better to carry them than die!

  42. Magnesium helps2

  43. Well written and explained. Nice!

  44. Wrong wrong wrong these r not the BSA ten

    • Boy Scout Handbook, p. 207
      Remember the “10 Essentials” is not Scout Law… Do your thing, be safe and have FUN!

  45. No clean clothes? They never get worn anyway…

  46. you also might want to have a survival kit on hand!

  47. Troop72 firstclassscout // November 6, 2014 at 8:26 am // Reply

    9 volt and steel woll always good

  48. Troop 6284 member // September 26, 2014 at 6:44 pm // Reply

    It’s also good to have extra batteries with a flashlight for essentials and surival.

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