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What Are the Cub Scout Six Essentials for Hiking?

The Cub Scout Six Essentials are the tools that our Scouts need for hiking and other outdoor activities. Do you know what's included? Find out by reading up on the 6 essentials.

cub scout six essentials

We all want our Cub Scouts to be safe especially when we're doing outdoor activities such as hiking. That's why the Boy Scouts of America has compiled a list of the Cub Scout Six Essentials for Hiking. The essentials can also be used for other outdoor activities as well.

If you search online, you'll find many different lists of hiking essentials. But how did these lists get started?

An outdoor recreation, education, and conservation nonprofit organization called The Mountaineers published a book called Mountaineering:  The Freedom of the Hills. Written by a team of over 40 experts, it's considered standard reading for mountaineering and climbing.

Mountaineers Logo

The third edition of the book, published in 1974, listed the Ten Essentials recommended for safe outdoor activities. Through the years, the list has been updated to reflect changes in gadgets. 

For example, the original list called for a map and compass,  but that has changed to “navigation” which could also include a GPS receiver.

Since our Cub Scouts won't be out hiking alone, the Cub Scout Six Essentials is pared down to what they would need. The items are listed below. 

Cub Scout Six Essentials for Hiking Quick List

  1. First Aid Kit
  2. Water Bottle
  3. Flashlight
  4. Trail Food
  5. Sun Protection
  6. Whistle

Cub Scout Six Essentials for Hiking Explained

1. First Aid KitTypically, one of the adults on the hike will carry a larger first aid kit like this one.

So, Cub Scouts will only need a small kit of their own. These are the kinds of supplies their kits should have:

  1. Adhesive Bandages
  2. Moleskin (to prevent blisters)
  3. Antibiotic Ointment (these single use packets are great)
  4. Insect Bite Pain Reliever

This isn't a comprehensive list, but it will get your Cub Scout started.

2. Filled water bottleKeeping the Scouts hydrated is crucial, especially when it's hot out. Everyone should have a water bottle that will hold enough water for the entire hike. This Camelbak Eddy water bottle holds 20 ounces, is lightweight, and can be attached to a carabiner.
If you're going on a longer hike and need to carry more water, a Camelbak hydration pack is a great solution. This one holds 50 ounces and has awesome flames printed on it!  My boys love their Camelbaks!
3. Flashlight – Rather than worrying about fresh batteries, why not take along a rechargeable crank flashlight? We have a couple of these, and cranking them up to use them definitely has a cool factor! I like that this one has a carabiner too.
4. Trail FoodI love trail mix! Maybe it's because I can convince myself that the M&Ms are healthy. 🙂 You can purchase trail mix or you can make your own.
5. Sun Protection – We all know how important sunscreen is–even when it's cloudy. These small bottles with a carabiner or these single use packets are perfect to carry on your hike. And don't forget your hat!
6. Whistle – This kids' camping whistle includes a thermometer, a magnifier and a compass which makes it a great value.

There are two things the kids need to know about the whistle: 

  1. It's only for emergencies
  2. Three blasts of the whistle means “Help!”

Because they're going to blow it, tell them that you're all going to practice the help signal. After a couple of minutes of this, maybe they'll get it out of their system! 🙂

Who's Responsible for the Cub Scout Six Essentials?

Being responsible for their own gear is an important lesson for our Cub Scouts to learn. This includes packing and carrying it. As you're preparing for your outdoor activity, have your Cub Scout use the list in their handbook to collect their essentials.

Because they're still little folks, Cub Scouts should have a lightweight backpack for their gear. This Zomake backpack only weighs about 8 oz. and is roomy enough for the six essentials with room to spare.

After they've packed their six essentials, go over the list with your Cub Scout to make sure they have everything. This is a great time to talk about what might happen if you forget to pack an item.

For example, you could discuss how not having your sunscreen could lead to a really bad sunburn. Or how not having enough water could be very dangerous to your health.

Speaking of water, Bryan on Scouting asked Scouters for their favorite hydration slogans. My favorite is “Don’t Be A Drip! Take A Sip!” These can be fun to share with your Cub Scouts while you're enjoying the outdoors.

What do you think? Do you have any additions to the Cub Scout Six Essentials for Hiking?

Yours in Scouting,

P.S. Here's a cool den meeting idea to help the Scouts learn the Six Essentials!

Krish Timsina

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

Thanks! Good, important info.

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