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This article is about the Boy Scout Backpacking Merit Badge.
Venturers may complete the Backpacking elective for the Ranger Award
The Backpacking requirements were revised effective January 1, 2008.
Backpacking requires prior counselor approval for requirement #11b.
Backpacking merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1982
Discontinued: no
BSA Advancement ID: 026
Requirements revision: 2008
Latest pamphlet revision: 2008


Backpacking requirements

  1. Discuss the prevention of and treatment for the health concerns that could occur while backpacking, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, and blisters.
  2. Do the following:
    a. List 10 items that are essential to be carried on any backpacking trek and explain why each item is necessary.
    b. Describe 10 ways you can limit the weight and bulk to be carried in your pack without jeopardizing your health or safety.
  3. Do the following:
    a. Define limits on the number of backpackers appropriate for a trek crew.
    b. Describe how a trek crew should be organized.
    c. Tell how you would minimize risk on a backpacking trek.
    d. Explain the purpose of an emergency response plan.
  4. Do the following:
    a. Describe the importance of using Leave No Trace principles while backpacking, and at least five ways you can lessen the crew’s impact on the environment.
    b. Describe proper methods of handling human and other wastes while on a backpacking trek. Describe the importance of and means to assure personal cleanliness while on a backpacking trek.
    c. Tell what factors are important in choosing a campsite.
  5. Do the following:
    a. Demonstrate two ways to treat water and tell why water treatment is essential.
    b. Explain to your counselor the importance of staying well hydrated during a trek.
  6. Do the following:
    a. Demonstrate that you can read topographic maps.
    b. While on a trek, use a map and compass to establish your position on the ground at three different locations, OR use a GPS receiver to establish your position on a topographic map and on the ground at three different locations.
    c. Explain how to stay found, and what to do if you get lost.
  7. Tell how to prepare properly for and deal with inclement weather.
  8. Do the following:
    a. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of backpacking stoves using at least three different types of fuel.
    b. Demonstrate that you know how to operate a backpacking stove safely and to handle liquid fuel safely.
    c. Prepare at least three meals using a stove and fuel you can carry in a backpack.
    d. Demonstrate that you know how to keep cooking and eating gear clean and sanitary and that you practice proper methods for food storage while on a backpacking trek.
  9. Do the following:
    a. Write a plan that includes a schedule for a patrol/crew backpacking hike of at least 2 miles.
    b. Conduct a prehike inspection of the patrol and its equipment.
    c. Show that you know how to properly pack your personal gear and your share of the crew’s gear and food.
    d. Show you can properly shoulder your pack and adjust it for proper wear.
    e. While using the plan you developed for requirement 9a, carry your fully loaded pack to complete a hike of at least 2 miles.
  10. Using Leave No Trace principles, participate in at least three backpacking treks of at least three days each and at least 15 miles each, and using at least two different campsites on each trek. Carry everything you will need throughout the trek.
  11. Do the following:
    a. Write a plan for a backpacking trek of at least five days using at least three different campsites and covering at least 30 miles. Your plan must include a description of and route to the trek area, a schedule (including a daily schedule), a list of food and equipment needs, a safety and emergency plan, and a budget.
    b. Using Leave No Trace principles, take the trek planned and, while on the trek, complete at least one service project approved by your merit badge counselor.
    c. Keep a daily journal during the trek that includes a day-by-day description of your activities, including notes about what worked well and thoughts about improvements that could be made for the next trek.

The official source for the information shown in this is:
Boy Scout Requirements, 2018 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #641568)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
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Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Backpacking is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Backpacking requirements. has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

  1. The Backpacking Merit Badge requirements were updated in 2008.

Requirement resources Scott's Pepsi-G Stove — Wow! Information on building your own hi-efficiency stove out of pepsi cans.

Related awards

See also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

External links

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