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Resources include the Backpacking merit badge worksheet in PDF format Adobe Acrobat PDF and Word format Microsoft Word DOC document, links, and cross-references to related badges and awards.
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This is the Backpacking merit badge for Scouts, Lone Scouts, and qualified Venturers or Sea Scouts.
Venturers can complete the Backpacking elective for the Ranger Award
Backpacking merit badge requires prior counselor and/or parent approval for requirement(s) #11b.

Backpacking merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1982
Discontinued: no
BSA Advancement ID: 026
Requirements revision: 2015
Latest pamphlet revision: 2014


Earning the Backpacking merit badge will be demanding but rewarding. Scouts will learn what equipment to carry on their backs and what knowledge to have in their heads. In addition, Scouts will discover how to protect the environment by traveling and camping without leaving a trace. By mastering the basics of backpacking, Scouts will develop an even deeper respect for the outdoors.

Backpacking merit badge is an option for the National Outdoor Badge for Hiking.

Backpacking merit badge 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
by an administrator.
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 2015.
  2. The BSA Backpacking Troop Program Feature offers meeting and activity plans to include Backpacking as one of your monthly themes.
  3. Backpacking is a rare merit badge!

Requirement resources

1. First Aid: Hypothermia - Heat Reactions - Sun Protection - Frostbite - Dehydration - Insect Stings - Insect Protection - Tick Bites - Snakebite - Blisters

2a. Here are the Outdoor Checklists including the 10 Essentials.
2b. Reducing Weight: Backpacks - Backpacking Stoves - Backpacking Food - Backpacking Gear - Water Purification - Clothing - Sleeping Bags - Pads - Tents and other Outdoor_Gear
3. Outdoor Safety
4a. Outdoor_Skills#Outdoor_Leave_No_Trace
4b. Hygiene - Food Handling have a number of resources and videos.
4c. Campsite resources and videos.
5a. Water Purification
5b. Hydration
6a. Topographic_Maps
6b. Map and Compass - GPS - Topographic Maps
6c. Lost includes many resources and videos including how to stay found.
7. Cold Weather - Warm Weather - Wet Weather
8. Backpacking Stoves resources and videos.
8c. Outdoor Cooking
8d. Cooking Gear - Food Storage
9a. The Backpacking planning form is in the Backpacking Worksheet.
9b. Packing a Backpack resources and videos for one night to a week+.
9c. Shouldering a Pack including all major adjustment - resources and videos.
9d. See the Outdoor Checklists and Shouldering a Pack for adjustments.
10. Leave No Trace - Outdoor Code

The forms are in the Backpacking Worksheet.

11. The forms are in the Backpacking Worksheet.
11a. Backpacker's Field Guide: Safety Plan
11b. Leave No Trace - Service Projects
11c. The forms are in the Backpacking Worksheet.

Related awards

Outdoor-related awards

See also

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

External links

Personal tools