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Scouting’s Manual of
Basic and Advanced Skills
for Outdoor Adventure

First edition:1944
Latest edition:2014, 435 pages
BSA Supply Number:34006, ISBN 9780839531043

Fieldbook (subtitle: Scouting’s Manual of Basic and Advanced Skills for Outdoor Adventure) is practical guide for outdoor backcountry activities written by Robert Birkby. Fieldbook collects concise but detailed information about outdoor and backcountry knowledge oriented to youth. It includes information on planning and preparation for outdoor adventures, basics of being in the backcountry, how to protect the environment, how to be survive and be safe, what adventures, activities, and sports are possible in the outdoors, and some basic information on the natural world that one will experience in the outdoors.



For more than a hundred years, Scouting has introduced young people to adventure and taught them the craft of outdoor living and travel. Using skills and leadership learned while camping and hiking close to home, Scouts have gone on to climb our planet's highest peaks, explore its deepest oceans, survive in its most extreme environments, and cross the heavens to walk on the moon.

The skills and commitment to enjoy the outdoors responsibly aren't just for Scouts—they are for everyone who seeks to explore, to experience adventure, and to appreciate the natural world. That's also true of this manual. It's book of basic knowledge for safe and comfortable backcountry activities and a guide to more advanced skills for exhilarating high adventures.

Fieldbook represents the collective knowledge and experience of countless outdoor experts, mountaineers, explorers, researchers, and Scouters. We hope that you find it to be a valuable resource for your own outdoor journeys and a trusted companion along the way.

— from the Foreword of Fieldbook, 2014

Reviews and criticism

Reviews of Fieldbook have largely been positive. Fieldbook was selected as a Work of Significance in the 2014 National Outdoor Book Awards.[1] As of January 10, 2019, 55 Amazon users have rated Fieldbook 4.2 stars out of 5.[2]

Jonathan Jarvis, Director, National Park Service:

"Slip this Fieldbook into your pack as a terrific guide to the passion of adventure, skills for the backcountry, and stewardship of the environment —three keys to enjoying America's national parks and other public lands."

Gregory A. Miller, Ph.D., President, American Hiking Society: "As a longtime hiker, outdoorsman, and Scouter, I recommend the Fieldbook as an essential read for any outdoor enthusiast, regardless of age or ability. The time-tested skills and practical approaches are a credible, invaluable resource that will help make your outdoor adventures fun, safe, and memorable in America's great outdoors."

Dana Watts, Executive Director, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: "This new Fieldbook provides excellent, detailed guidance on how to put Leave No Trace principles into action. Scouting plays a key role in developing the next generation of outdoor stewards."[3]

— {{{2}}}

However, Fieldbook is criticized for inadequate treatment of outdoor gear[4], potentially dangerous advice on preparation for and response to avalanches,[5] and inclusion of use of denatured alcohol stoves.[6] In addition, Fieldbook's guidance (in both the 4th and 5th editions) on the three steps to wash dishes (wash, sanitize, rinse), is inconsistent with the Boy Scout Handbook/Scouts BSA Handbook[note 1] and the camping merit badge pamphlet, which specify the order as "wash, rinse, sanitize."[7][8][9] "Wash, rinse, sanitize" is also the order prescribed by public health authorities.[10]

Tables of Contents

5th Edition Table of Contents
1 - Organizing for Adventure
1 - Planning
2 - Gearing Up
3 - Menus and Meals
4 - Leadership
2 - Backcountry Basics
5 - Camping
6 - Stoves and Campfires
7 - Backcountry Hygiene
8 - Navigation
3 - Environmenal Protection
9 - Leave No Trace
10 - Stewardship
4 - Safety and Survival
11 - Emergency Preparedness
12 - Hazards
13 - First Aid
14 - Survival
5 - Outdoor Adventuring
15 - Backpacking
16 - Mountain Travel
17 - Hot-Weather Adventuring
18 - Cold-Weather Adventuring
19 - Ski Touring and Snowshoeing
20 - Canoeing
21 - Kayaking and Rafting
22 - Caving
6 - Our Natural World
23 - Observing Nature
24 - Examining the Earth
25 - Weather
26 - The Night Sky
27 - Plants
28 - Wildlife
Scouting and the Outdoors

4th Edition Table of Contents
Leadership and Trek Preparation
1 - Organizing for Adventures
2 - Outdoor Leadership
3 - Becoming Fit
4 - Planning a Trek
5 - Outdoor Menus
6 - Managing Risk
Leave No Trace
7 - Implementing Leave No Trace
8 - Using Stoves and Campfires
9 - Hygiene and Waste Disposal
10 - Traveling and Camping in Special Environments
Trek Adventures
11 - Gearing Up
12 - Navigation
13 - Cold-Weather Travel and Camping
14 - Hot-Weather Travel and Camping
15 - Backpacking
16 - Watercraft Adventure Safety
17 - Canoeing
18 - Kayaking and Rafting
19 - Sailing
20 - Bicycle Touring and Mountain Biking
21 - Riding and Packing
22 - Ski Touring and Snowshoeing
23 - Mountain Travel
24 - Caving
25 - Fishing
26 - Search and Rescue
Appreciating our Environment
27 - Understanding Nature
28 - Observing Nature
29 - Examining the Earth
30 - Monitoring Weather
31 - Plants
32 - Wildlife
33 - Watching the Night Sky
34 - Being Good Stewards of Our Resources


  • First Edition, Scout Field Book,
    1944–1967, 14 printings, 540 pages (1st-10th printings) & 552 pages (11th-14th printings);
    Focused on advanced outdoor skills and nature appreciation.
  • Second Edition, Fieldbook,
    Subtitle: For Boys and Men,
    1967–1984, 14 printings, 565 pages;
    Added backpacking.
  • Second Edition (commercial edition), Boy Scout Fieldbook,
    Subtitle: A practical guide for everyone to life in the outdoors,
    1978, 565 pages;
    Included a 16-page color insert of Norman Rockwell Scouting paintings.
  • Third Edition, Fieldbook,
    1984–2004, 630 pages;
    Full-color photos and line drawings; Major emphasis on low-impact camping; Expanded to include mountaineering, snow camping, whitewater rafting and kayaking, wilderness survival, and many other outdoor activities.
  • Fourth Edition, Fieldbook,
    Subtitle: The BSA's manual of advanced skills for outdoor travel, adventure, and caring for the land,
    2004-2013, No. 33104, ISBN 0839531044, 614 pages
  • Fifth Edition, Fieldbook,
    Subtitle: Scouting’s Manual of Basic and Advanced Skills for Outdoor Adventure,
    2014– , No. 34006, ISBN 9780839531043, 435 pages


  1. Early printings of the 13th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook had the order as "wash, sanitize, rinse," but this was changed in subsequent printings of that edition to be "wash, rinse, sanitize." The 14th edition of the Scouts BSA Handbook confirmed the order as wash, rinse, sanitize.


  1. Winners of the 2014 National Outdoor Book Awards. National Outdoor Book Awards. Retrieved January 10, 2019
  2. Fieldbook Customer Reviews. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  3. Fieldbook: Your Guide to the Outdoors. Boy Scouts of America. Archived from the original on July 28, 2016.
  4. Underwood, Walter (May 18, 2014). BSA Fieldbook Fumbles the Ten Essentials. Most Casual Observer. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  5. Beckner, Josh (November 14, 2013). misleading leaders.... Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  6. 2014 Fieldbook: Your must-have user’s guide to the outdoors. April 15, 2014. Bryan on Scouting. Retrieved January 13, 2019
  7. Wash, Sanatize, Rinse (sic). Bryan on Scouting Forums. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  8. Wendell, Bryan (March 30, 2017). The three-pot method: This is how to wash dishes at a campsite. Bryan on Scouting. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  9. DAO (March 30, 2017). Comment on The three-pot method: This is how to wash dishes at a campsite. Bryan on Scouting. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  10. Rutledge, Stanley (August 9, 2016). Keep Your Home and Food Safe: How to Clean, Sanitize, & Disinfect. Stop Foodborne Illness. Retrieved January 10, 2019.

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