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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.

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

  1. a Scout at a summer camp // June 12, 2024 at 4:20 pm // Reply

    As a First-class scout i agree with a lot of things on here . And you definitely need bug spray no matter where you live its a must need. Another point that has also been mentioned, but just to reinforce the idea- Your scout book is definitely a much-needed item. especially at a summer or winter camp. And a deck of cards is always a handy thing to have with you for some late-night games of bs around the fire. also maybe also a soccer ball or a football to play some games of catch or 1v1 in soccer.

  2. You should always have lots of ways to start a fire, if your lost not only does a fire keep you warm but it gives you moral support if your lost. Remember keeping calm if your lost sometimes means the difference between life and death.

  3. You should most definitely bring your scout book. Its full of tons of information. Also bring a small source of entertainment like a rubix cube.

  4. Why are there no sleeping bags, sleep pad or tents on this list?!? Otherwise a good list for scouts.

  5. Playing cards. Always pack a deck. You’re welcome.

  6. This are the most important attribute of outdoor conduct

  7. Thanks this will help me while camping

  8. This is helpful

  9. Very helpful

  10. Scouts BSA // June 14, 2020 at 10:15 pm // Reply

    Include duct tape. very useful. it is waterproof and very strong, also you can make things in it

  11. This was really helpful thank you

    • Baconlord733 // May 12, 2022 at 3:51 pm // Reply

      Depending on where you are going bring a phone or disposable camera to take pictures. If you don’t you’ll regret it

  12. No sleeping bag???

  13. No cotton clothing If you’re going to be in the back country. Only synthetic or wool.

  14. …late, But really helped me for summer camp! Because i’m always forgetting one thing or another that they don’t put on the list. Likely because the cabins do different things in their free-time!

  15. i have a question on sleeping mats. so i can never find the right size, how do i know which size to buy

  16. Why are sleeping bags and pads not on the list?? Almost forgot to pack this for a weekend trip when I used this list!!

  17. Thank you for the Helpful Post.
    Swiss knife handle will help you
    remove splinters, cut cloths into bandages and – most importantly of all
    it will help open a can food for a cosy campfire meal.


  19. Troop 298 C-dude // October 30, 2018 at 9:05 pm // Reply

    This is awesome! I’ve checked about 50,000 other websites and this is best!

  20. Nice that they have that

  21. Hi

  22. what about tents and sleeping bags and food…

  23. Anonymous // May 16, 2018 at 9:10 pm // Reply

    what about tents and sleeping bags and food…

  24. Colorado Scout mom // March 10, 2018 at 12:45 pm // Reply

    This is absolutely terrific. Nicely done, thanks

  25. Helpful when packing and thinking about what I need before a campout. Thanks!

  26. Please if you use LED flashlights or headlamps, be respectful to others with them. They are much brighter than older ones and can ruin the night vision for others.

  27. hi matt, now i know how to keep a spider as a pet…thanks, christina

  28. Bear Den leader and we always go over the “Six Essentials” that go into a day pack. Even for a Cub Scout a whistle is a must have.

  29. Thank you.This helps not forget

  30. Been a scout for 3 maybe 4 years almost a life scout. Also love your magazines

  31. No tent, sleeping bag or sleeping pad

  32. Rough and ready Rangers use this list

  33. Freddymcjunior // June 12, 2017 at 9:41 pm // Reply

    I am a Boy Scout and this really helps me for packing for summer camp! So I don’t forget things.

  34. I like Football // June 9, 2017 at 10:04 pm // Reply

    Good list, but you are missing one crucial thing: A whistle. What if you get lost in the woods, and you yell? After a certain amount of time, Your energy will probably deplete. With a whistle, you only need your breath. Its loud, nd high-pitched. Great thing to bring for a camping trip (Like for the pack or scout camp)

    • great i am a boy scout never been to camp hale so i will use this list

      • A whistle is on the list, in “Extras.”

      • One thing that is vital is your scout book. For some it might sound obvious but it’s an essential. I usually carry some sort of entertainment such as a small instrument, deck of cards, or even a tennis ball.

      • Dave's Mobile Home Phone // July 20, 2018 at 4:02 pm //

        As someone else mentioned, a whistle is, in fact, included on the above list. Another point that has also been mentioned, but just to reinforce the idea- Your scout book is definitely a much needed item. And a deck of cards is always a handy thing to have with you for some late night games of bull around the fire.

  35. i always over or under pack

  36. Where is the dehydrated water?

  37. you dat boi // May 17, 2017 at 10:14 pm // Reply

    i’m using sign language, I need to pee!

  38. none of your busnes // May 17, 2017 at 1:58 pm // Reply

    i always over pack or under pack
    this should help

  39. ProudEagle312 // April 28, 2017 at 8:46 pm // Reply

    I think that they should actually make a whole other list for stuff that shouldn’t be brought

  40. thank you very much. I like it. I’ll share it.

  41. Great! it helps. thanks so much.

  42. micahman11 // March 17, 2017 at 5:41 pm // Reply

    this is a great web site for finding the stuff I need to pack! and I really like your magazines!!!! thank you

  43. It is a good advise thankyou.

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