Tuesday Talkback: Does your troop hike in field uniform (aka ‘Class A’)?

Tuesday-TalkbackIf you’re not meant to hike, sweat and get dirty in your field uniform, then what’s with all the pockets for storing stuff? Why do the shirts come in an option made from breathable fabric? And have Scouts who hike in “Class A’s” been doing it wrong for decades?

Though you’ll see fewer Scouts wearing the field uniform (unofficially called the “Class A”) while hiking or doing muddy service projects these days, that wasn’t always the case, I recently discovered.

Hal Daumé, a member of the National Advancement Advisory Panel and a former Scouting magazine What I’ve Learned subject, did a little bit of research and found that not only have Scouts hiked in their field uniforms throughout history, the BSA at one point did everything short of requiring them to do so through its official handbooks. Lines like “the uniform [is] the clothing of the outdoorsman” made it pretty clear.

You won’t find an official declaration of when to wear the field uniform these days, but Hal’s research gives us an interesting look into the BSA’s past. And it makes an interesting case for wearing field uniforms any time you’re involved in Scouting activities. Take a look after the jump, and weigh in with your own unit’s policy in the comments section.  

Here’s an excerpt from Hal’s research, lightly edited for style and length and used with permission from the author:

I still have my own Handbook for Boys — the book that guided me for some seven years, and beyond. It was the Fifth Edition, first published in 1948 and not replaced until 1959. Mine was the sixth printing, in 1953 — the same year I became a Boy Scout.

So let’s start with its cover, and there they are: Two Scouts and one Explorer sitting around a campfire. Hey, look! They’re all in uniform! Turning to the chapter titled “Signs of a Scout,” I flip to Pages 50 and 51. There it is: “The Scout Uniform — What it Stands For… The Scout uniform stands for the out-of-doors (italics in the handbook). It is made of rugged, tough material, that is suited for outdoor use… Wear it when you go Scouting … [and] in all Scouting activities such as Patrol, Troop, and Tribe meetings, hikes, camps, demonstrations, etc.”

Hey, but that was back in ancient times! Maybe not the Jurassic Period, but pretty close to the Stone Age. Let’s do some more searching.

Now I’m looking at the Sixth Edition (1959-1965). There’s the cover again, with a Scout in full uniform. And he’s wearing a backpack! Maybe he’s wearing it to a troop meeting? Nope, I don’t think so, because, in the background there are other scenes of Scouts camping and hiking and such, and they’re in their uniforms too. I turn to Page 20: “Your uniform is a part of the thrill of being a Scout. The moment you put it on you feel ready for hike or camp or other vigorous activity … The [uniform] color blends with the hues of forest and field.” What, you mean the color wasn’t designed to blend with the motley array of stuff in my closet, or with the inside of a troop meeting room? Well how about that!

But hey, we’re still in the dark ages. Six more editions of the handbook have been published since these two. The Seventh Edition ran from 1965 to 1972. The cover of this one shows three Scouts on the trail, with backpacks. They’re in uniform, too, but I can’t see their pants. Maybe, like so many Scouts today, they’re wearing jeans or khakis below the waist? Gotta check some more here.

Turns out, all the illustrations show Scouts in the out-of-doors in uniform (I guess they haven’t forgotten the Scout pants and shorts after all!). And there is it, on Page 56: “Put on your uniform and immediately you feel ready for hiking and camping.” I read on. Page 57: “The uniform [is] the clothing of the outdoorsman.” Well, that seems pretty clear to me! But we’re not done yet.

The Eighth Edition (1972-1979) represented a complete revamping of the Boy Scout program, and had two different covers (the second one arriving in about 1977). The illustrations, while newly drawn, continued to show uniformed Scouts in camping and hiking settings. But the language on uniforming (Page 14) got shorter and less specific: “Your uniform is neat, yet tough. It will give good service during the years you are a Scout.” The version with the second cover says even less, but the cover itself now clearly tells the story: There’s our Scout, in his uniform, and — guess what — he’s carrying a backpack.

Next, I move to a more contemporary era. The Ninth Edition (1979-1990) was entirely rewritten by none other than William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt. Let’s take a look at the cover. It’s by Norman Rockwell, depicting Scouts on a campout, and guess what they’re wearing — Scout uniforms! On Page 52, Bill returned to earlier language: “Wearing the Scout Uniform — Wear it at all patrol and troop meetings, hikes, camps, and rallies.”

In the 10th Edition (1990-1998), “wearing your Scout uniform” moved to the back of the book (Pages 566-567), but the language held fast: “Wear your complete uniform proudly and correctly at all Scouting events. At patrol and troop meetings, hikes, camps, and rallies.”

The 11th Edition (1998-2009) changed the language but not the intent (Pages 12-13): “The uniform … might be brand new, or it might be an experienced uniform already worn by another Scout to many meetings and campouts … wear your uniform proudly whenever you are taking part in Scout activities … ” But this edition for the first time offers an alternative: “For outdoor activities, Scouts may wear troop or camp T-shirts with the Scout pants or shorts.”

Today, the BSA continues to state:“Since 1910, the Boy Scout uniform has been a recognizable part of the American scene. Wearing the uniform helps boys develop a sense of belonging to their patrol and troop. It reinforces the fact that all members of the BSA are equal to one another.” The uniform, in fact is one of the eight stated methods of Scouting, employed to achieve the movement’s aims of character development, citizenship training, and mental and physical fitness.”

Interesting stuff, Hal! And it certainly debunked a notion I previously stated on the blog that the BSA never instructed Scouts to wear the field uniform outdoors. In fact, it’s quite clear they did.

As a postscript to Hal’s research, I’ll add that the 12th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, published in 2009, has very few pictures of Scouts wearing the field uniform outdoors. Same is true of recent issues of Scouting magazine and Boys’ Life. Take that information as part of the larger picture Hal explained in detail above.

You tell me

Does your unit hike and camp in field uniforms? How did you set this policy? Continue the discussion below.

121 thoughts on “Tuesday Talkback: Does your troop hike in field uniform (aka ‘Class A’)?

  1. This is nothing new. Scouts hated wearing their uniform in the early 70′s when I was a boy. The UK now has a golf-like shirt for their uniform. It is the adults that have more of a problem than the boys. I understand that it is one of the eight methods of scouting and I wear mine 99% of the time. There a definite times that the uniform should be worn but hiking up a mountain or canoeing, I think not…

  2. Another significant facet in this topic is the shift in cultural attitudes toward uniforms. Broadly, I suggest that through the 20th century, uniforms were de rigour for the working class and the glorified military. Those who market clothing to our youth don’t seem to be promoting uniforms any more….. beyond the age of seven.

    A few decades ago my troop required weekly uniform inspections, and we were trained to dress out in platoon style.

    A second significant trend, IMO, has been the cultural demand for a child to participate in multiple (conflicting) activities. I have yet to find a sports team that requires kids to dress out in long pants, a decorated shirt, and kerchief. Keep in mind the current Advancement Guide directs a BoR participant to come in as much of the uniform as he can.

    We do travel in Class A’s, which makes common sense to me.

    • Help me out, here, why would you think it’s common sense to wear the uniform to sit in a car, but not to a BoR? Or did I misunderstand your point?

  3. The material used and construction must have been a lot more durable in the old days. I can’t wear a new pair of scout pants more than three months without them falling apart and requiring repair. Oddly enough the official pants and shirts are not made in the USA either. They should let Carhartt make them and use a lot heavier material. Our troop never wears a Class A uniform on any type of strenuous activity.

    • The material for shirts has not changed since the 1960s when they switched from 100% cotton to 65%/35% Dacron polyester/cotton blend. The 1980s-2000s Oscar de la Renta (ODLR) uniform used 65/35, and the current Centennial Uniform (CU) uses it. That of course excludes the special Nylon shirts that are available now, and the special cotton shirts that used to be available.

      The fabric currently used for pants is, in my opinion, far superior to the polyester pants from the 60s-90s, and the short-lived experimental convertible pants that were issued just prior to the CU. For one thing, I haven’t accidentally melted any of the CU pants with my iron as was common with the ODLR pants; they also breathe better. It’s the same sort of fabric used by sportswear companies like Columbia.
      I have not personally had any problem with the CU pants’ construction. I do have piling in the crotch, but I also have that with my Columbia pants. I see lots of complaints like yours, but I have only known 1 person in real life who had an issue with his CU pants, the seam split. If the CU pants are more prone to issues than ODLR and 60s/70s pants, we must remember this: They’re a vastly more technical design than the past pants, which were nothing more than straight-leg slacks.

      As for your suggestion about using a sportswear brand like Carhartt, let’s look at the facts: BSA had an extremely nice quick-dry/UV protection/ventilated shirt for $25 ( They discontinued it, and now they carry a Columbia Sportswear ventilated/UV/quick-dry shirt; it costs $50!!! And they’re made in China, too (
      Carhartt manufactures most of its clothing in the USA. OK, now price out a pair of Carhartt pants that are comparable to the CU pants (convertible, cargo) they cost $10-15 more than what we already pay. Economies of scale guarantee that any Carhartt-branded BSA pants would cost more than off-the-shelf Carhartt pants because it’s a vastly smaller pool of customers.

      Parents already scream about the cost of a full uniform, which is ~$100. But in reality the price of a uniform, adjusted for inflation, has remained the same for 100 years. Part of that in the last decade has been the switch to offshore sourcing. If we switched to American production, the price of a uniform would skyrocket both literally and relative to historical prices.

      • C G Sorry the new shirts are not as durable as the 1960 to 2009 class A’s shirts I still wear my 1988 Shirt and it has no fabric wear on the shirt it has faded a little and I still have my original patches and square knots. I purchased three 2010 Centennial class A shirts to attend the 2010 Jamboree and this year I had to remove all my patches and square knots awards and throw the shirt away because of the material coming apart. I had enough spare class A shirts to attend the 2013 Jamboree. My wife did not enjoy sewing the patches back on another shirt. There are used older shirts available on E-Bay and I will not buy a new one to be thrown away after three years service. I do wear Class B’s on mountain hikes and rough usage activities. Sincerely Trenton Spears

        • If that’s what happened for you, that’s what happened, but it does not change the fact that the material used in both shirts is 65/35 polyester-cotton. Some of the 1960s/70s shirts in my collection are so thin they’re translucent, some are very thick, the weave on the CU shirt is definitely different (much thicker), but it’s all the same fabric, which was Albert’s point.

        • Your wife sewing on your patches! That is exactly why there should be a sewing merit badge for scouts and adults. The patch sewing can be accomplished while watching your favorite sports event on TV.

        • Pets to Go, When I was a boy Scout in 1949 I sewed on all my patches and merit badges it was harder because the merit badges were square and you had to fold them round to sew on to the sash. In those days it was common to sew on all your scout needs they even had a BSA kit that you could carry in your pack or gadget bag. There was no need to have a merit badge certification. My comment on my wife sewing on my patches was that she did not mind doing it she is an excellent seamstress and my Class A’s look very professional my wife just did not like sewing patches on the poor wear ability and quality of the new Centennial class A Shirts. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

      • The percentage of synthetic and natural fibers in the uniform hasn’t changed over time, but there is so much more that goes into a fabric. Thread twist, thread count,fabric weave, fabric weight, the pattern itself, the construction – all of these factors contribute to durability as much or more than the fiber blend.A 60/40 blend of polyester/cotton in a 4 oz fabric has 2.4 oz of polyester and 1.6 oz of cotton. In a 6 oz weave, those numbers change to 3.6 oz and 2.4 oz. Which fabric do you think is more durable, all other factors equal?

        The fabric isn’t the same, despite what one might conclude by looking at the label. Neither are the uniforms. Anyone who has earned the Textile MB would understand why.

        • Margaret you are a breath of fresh air. I commented to CJ on the poor quality of the Centennial Class A.s and his comment was no change in the Cass A’s for many years. Margaret you are right on target thanks for educating the bloggers on this site If we do not bring awareness to the BSA program we will continue to accept poor quality in our uniforms. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

  4. Just to observe …it does say, “field uniform,” as in “in the field,” or “stream” or “woods”, and not “dress uniform,” as in, “to dress for formal occasions,” doesn’t it?

    • Really, that’s your reasoning? If we follow that we should ONLY wear the uniform in the field, not for BORs or COHs. We also have a field book is that just for the field?

    • I just checked the BSA website ( I had a choice of apparel or camping and chose apparel. Under Youth it does not refer to a “field uniform” only a “Youth Polyester Microfiber Short-Sleeve Shirt”. Possibly field uniform is a term no longer in use for Scout uniforms.

      • It’s used here:

        But, you’re right, it’s not marked as a “field” uniform: here’s a pretty site The word is not used, although the figures are “floating” in a meadow!

        For youth, we don’t really have any other class of uniforms besides this one. (Your troop activity shirt does not constitute a class because it can be completely different from some other troop’s activity shirt.)

        As I mentioned in last week’s Talkback, our “field” uni’s are similar in form to the Army’s “class B”.

  5. I believe that wearing the Class A’s is a troop decision and depending where you are hiking. If it is in a area of high visibility such as hiking in a National, State or County Park or touring Historical sites such as Washington DC. I believe that class A’s should be worn for bringing recognition to the BSA. If you are on a trail hiking in the mountains class B’s should worn as most of the time as troops are alone and class B’s are more comfortable and less expensive to replace if torn or ripped. You will have longer shirt life if you wear your Class A’s wisely save them for Scout Meetings, Ceremonies and to and from Campouts.

  6. We travel in Class A, and generally switch to troop T-shirts once at our destination, but some of the Scouts stay in Class A. I personally try to stay in Class A all the time. I would *prefer* that they stay in Class A but, as others have said, they’re expensive… and for a multi-day trip you either get stinky, or do laundry, or have multiple sets, none of which is very appealing.

    I do wear a BSA cycling jersey on troop bike rides…

    Do people really turn Scouts away for not wearing the uniform? Much as I want them to wear it, I want them to show up more.

    • I’m pretty much a Class A all the time guy too. In California, it’s often quite warm and I find the scout Class A shirt to be cooler than our troop class b cotton tshirt. It looks more formal which I think has an accidental side effect of enhancing my command presence.

  7. We travel in Class A, but switch to Class B at camp or for activities. Our scouts wear Class A for meetings, BOR, and COH, and again, travel to and from camp outs. If it’s a local hike or outdoor activity then we might just wear Class B. Adults also wear Class A traveling, and I can assure you it’s a plus, I’ve gotten help I might not have gotten since my uniform clearly identified me as a Scout leader. It removes people’s wariness in times of need to help you out.

  8. Well, when I was on staff at Philmont back in the early ’70s, it was full class A uniforms everywhere, even in the back country (except for evening campfire) — neither ‘interpretive clothing’ nor ‘class b’ had been invented yet,

  9. Things change and organizations need to adapt. Maybe it was true in the past that “Class A” was the way all the time. For whatever reasons (the uniforms are less durable, more expensive, not as comfortable, whatever), it looks like that has changed. As to what our troop does, it’s easy to tell we are scouts when the “Class A” is on. That’s one reason we wear it when out in public. But, when doing service projects that might mess up the uniform, then we go to “Class B.” We make up for it being less obvious who we are when in “Class B” by having a troop sign we put out that more or less mimics our Troop flag. Have you ever seen a scout or adult leader in a beat up, dirty old uniform shirt? Sweat marks under the arms and around the collar? How well does that represent us vs. having a good looking “Class A” because we beat up our t-shirts instead? We also wear “Class A” to one meeting per month (other weeks are “Class B”) and to all more formal occassions (SM conference, BoR, CoH, Flags, etc.). Class B when in camp.

    I would also like to point out, on a slightly different note, that Scouts are given some leeway in wearing the neckerchief. The uniform inspection sheet says “The troop/team may vote to wear a neckerchief, bolo tie, or no neckwear.”

    The whole uniform issue does bring up some questions though:

    1) Isn’t Class B also a uniform? So, doesn’t that work for the fact that a uniform is one of the 8 methods of scouting? As long as everyone in the unit is dressed alike, aren’t they still a team in “Class B?”

    2) If BSA did not want “Class B” uniforms, why did they license to sell t-shirts (OK, skip the obvious answer that BSA likes the money they earn from it!)?

    3) If BSA is good with “Class B” uniforms, why don’t they have a uniform inspection sheet for it, or include details on the sheet they do have?

    4) Maybe instead of having all the different shirts to pick from, BSA should let them sell only a single design front and rear, in a single color, with the only difference being the unit number to distinguish bewteen units? That way we would have two uniforms and they would be the same for every unit. Just as a large group made up of different units looks impressive when in “Class A,” they would also look impressive all dressed alike witht he same t-shirt.

    5) Are there really only two uniforms? Picking up on point 4, there really are way more than just two uniforms. There dozens, or maybe hundreds, when you consider all the variations available from

    Hmmm, so what is the official BSA line on uniforms? I think they need to decide and publish some guidelines. Then we can all stop spending time on this and spend the time we save on other important aspects of our program.

    • This is not the military, it is BSA. There is no Class B uniform. Class B is a company that makes unit T shirts. Maybe we need 2 sets of uniforms; one for adults who want to relive their past and one for the youth, something they want to wear. Please remember uniforms are a METHOD nothing more.

  10. Hi all, my troop wears the Class A uniform during all official events in the public. My SPL just set up a schedule for the troop to wear the Class As. we do in ranks inspections and SMC the first meeting of the month. and we have class b or activity uniforms week 2 and 3 , Then the last week we are back in class A for BOR week. When in the field we wear class A dressed down no sash. but for long term events or ones where a uniform can get destroyed we do not wear class As.Both pants and shirts cost a lot and we try and save the parent extra expenses.

  11. We hike, camp and perform other active activities in our Class B (Troop t-shirt), saving our good uniforms for sales events, meetings, especially Courts of Honor and other public events. Why burn out a good uniform cutting brush in the woods?

  12. The field uniform is for in the field. Otherwise it becomes like that one set of china… What’s the point in having it if you don’t use it? People need to see SCOUTS not just a bunch of kids in hoodies. (IMHO) …and yes, I am nearly always in my uniform during activities, or in one of our camp’s shirts.

  13. Our unit wore the full uniform on all camp outs and hikes, some as long as 10 days in the mountains of California, Every patrol had a patrol flag. The troop was large enough that we split it, in to two sections. Each section had a flag. Every scout worn a smoky the bear hat, that gave them a lot of protection from the sun, especially at hight altitudes. Some times we would be stretched out for a half mile on the trail. People would step off, and applaud as we went by. We looked like a ‘Norman Rockwell Painting’. On one outing we stopped at a McDonalds. When it came time to pay. Someone had already picked up the tab. On one occasion I was speeding, and didn’t realize it. A California Highway Patrolman pulled up along side of me on his bike, and motioned with hand to slow down. He then pointed to my council patch, gave me the high sign, and sped off. If you want to see a lot of smiles, wear the uniform.

  14. I love the BSA Class A uniform. The current uniform and the Centennial uniform are the best I can remember since I came in to the organization in 1970. Cotton uniforms were great until about 1973 when they went polyester and (ugh) collarless. The red beret…not a fan. The red and green trucker cap of the 80s and 90s…not a fan of that, either. At least now there are many options for headgear that not only look good, but that are often worn outside of Scout activities and in the public so the BSA can be kept top of mind.

    The one thing that has changed is the expense of a uniform and I think that can be one of the main factors why there is often a Class B option. Take in to consideration the cost of insignia, how fast boys grow and how rough they can be, and you are looking at quite an expense for just one uniform. Having a Class B option to save wear-and-tear on uniforms is a good thing. ALL Class B shirts should be properly branded with either “Boy Scouts of America” or with the fleur-de-lis.

    The option to wear a Class B is perfect for those dirty jobs or activities where a Class A is just impractical. I spent most of my Scouting years up in northeast Ohio and you could wear a uniform under a coat during fall and winter. Here in Tampa, Florida, it’s a whole different ballgame. Even with its venting, the current BSA shirts can get hot and impractical outdoors from April all the way through to late October when temperatures remain in the high 80s and in to the 90s and the humidity makes you feel like you’re in a sauna.

    Both my Ohio troop and my Florida troop insisted on Class A uniforms for travel, regular troop meetings, PLC meetings, SM Conferences, Boards of Review and Courts of Honor…and for interfaith worship service. Many of the adult leaders wear their Class A uniforms at all events as a matter of example. We conduct regular uniform inspections at our troop meetings and I have instituted what I call the “TITO Rule”: Tuck it in or take it off. 100% of the time our boys tuck in their shirttails when I mention “TITO”. We also have a custom-made troop neckerchief we give to boys who cross over and we ask that all troop members wear them to Courts of Honor and when at church for Scout Sunday.

    By the way, I think the BSA got it right with the convertible pants. I wore mine unzipped, as shorts, at Philmont last year and they held up very well.

      • Bob is right on point! BSA has NO field uniform or Class A or Class B. They have a uniform. The military has their uniforming and BSA has theirs they are not interchangeable.

        • You wrote that a couple times but haven’t said anything of substance. The posts seem primarily antagonistic… I’ll worry about people mixing up the boy scout uniform and the military uniform when I start seeing kevlar in the scout shop.

          Do you keep your entire troop in the scout uniform all the time? I commend you if so.

  15. We treat the class A’s like formal uniforms in our troop. They’re a special uniform for special events. We wear them to camp, for Courts of Honor and for any formal event. My philosophy is that the class A is like a the military’s dress blues, they’re reserved for formal occasions.

    I’d like to see the BSA adopt a field uniform. The current class A’s are hot, uncomfortable and laughable when it comes to a field uniform.

  16. The microfiber uniforms are comfortable, the back vent does help in the summer. But they are not durable. Briars branches or bark tear them up. Then remove a patch from them…..the fabric will show the thread holes and patch ring for the remainder of its life.

    If you want us to wear it for more than that, how about have someone design it who actually is active in the outdoors. Instead of the fashion designer….. I need and want function.

    We wear the uniform to meeting, while traveling and while working the food pantry. The rest is in the troop activity shirt.

    • The new pants are also problematic for growing boys – I don’t mind hemming mine but taking the hem out and re-hemming my son’s pants leaves a definite line of thread holes. Repeat every few months as he grows.

      I’ll add (knowing that some here will dislike this because they object to having female leaders) that the women’s uniforms need to be designed by someone who understands that women are built differently that boys and men…

  17. As CG pointed out above, the material may be the same, and in general I like that, but the construction is not what I would want to backpack in for multiple days. The Fit is wrong, the Sewing is weak. I did wear the uniform to Philmont in 2010 and found the Switchbacks to be really convenient but still they fit wrong and weren’t really durable for multiple day wear without laundering. I didn’t have that issue with any of my other non-BSA sourced gear.
    We do wear the Field uniform for Travel, for Public events, for Troop meetings, and add sashes etc. for Courts of Honor and Boards but there’s no way I’m going to sell to our Scout Parents that they need to continually replace the weakly constructed items that are now being sold as “Outdoors” wear due to normal use.

  18. I wear the made in USA uniform to scouting events. The red shirt-jacket (Woolrich USA) is worn alone or as layered clothing with another coat. My headgear? BSA made in America only, I no longer purchase collector series since they have gone overseas. Scout bolo tie for regular wear, neckerchief and Stetson campaign hat for formal occasions. Socks and a few coats are the only area foreign made clothing encroaches in daily wear. The Centennial series shirts I do wear are not American, but I only wear them as class B over a scouting tee shirt. Unofficial jackets worn with uniform are “decorated” with scouting patches.
    Eagle ‘73

  19. Advertise Scouting, by wearing the uniform, when ever, and where ever you can. If your a squared away unit, and your know what your doing in the field, the uniform will survive. What worries me, is if we water down the program, by dressing down, and you can’t tell who is who. A lot of units do not have a identifiable “B” uniform. At a camporee, its like watching the Ohio State football team show up, in different jerseys and pants. I think we need to maintain a standard, and live by it. People will respect you for it. In cold weather, you have to bend the rules and make some adjustments.

  20. I’m lucky to have several youth from the JROTC program. They understand the statement “When you put on that uniform, you represent me!”. With the recent events in Goblin Valley, we need all the good press we can get. My scouts get that.

    Our uniforms typically come off and on several times during the day on an outing. We don’t lounge around in them, cook in them, etc because we want them kept clean. However, when we lash together poles and hold a flag ceremony or hold a 2 mile orienteering course along a beach, or anything else that’s visible to anyone but us it’s uniforms all the way.

    On our first (and only, so far … we’re only 3 months old) hike it was Class A’s all the way to the top of the mountain.

    • I think you hit on something. Scouts who are proud of their uniform look good and people are drawn to their pride.

  21. Create a lower cost uniform and scouts will wear it more. With the cost of patches and sewing parents don’t want their youth “messing up” their only scout shirt.

  22. I do not hike in the uniform. The shoulder epaulet buttons cause pain when a backpack is strapped on. The uniform previously did not have these, and so we could wear it on hikes and backpacking.

  23. As a Scoutmaster and representative of the Scouting movement, I wear my BSA field uniform on all Scouting activities. The only exception would be a conservation project or service project where I would get overly dirty and/or sweaty. I think this is a decision that should be made with your best judgement in mind.

    Hiking, camping, service, lashing, teaching and doing good turns are what Scouts do and when we are doing Scouting I think we should wear the recognizable field uniform. Two weeks ago our Troop Guide planned a 5-mile hike for our younger Scouts to fulfill the 2nd Class requirement. All Scouts showed up in the BSA field uniform. We were in a state park and whenever we past other folks on the trail they stopped to recognize us and some even shared stories of when they were Scouts.

    I don’t think that the field uniform should be kept just for boards of review, Scoutmaster conferences or courts of honor. Those are appropriate times, yes, but in my opinion when we are doing Scouting we should wear the field uniform.

    How many of our Scouts are active in sports? Each team requires a uniform and, in most cases, that costs a family just as much–if not more–as the BSA field uniform. Sometimes, Scouts participate in multiple sports and are required to pay for a 2nd or 3rd uniform.

    Obviously, these are my opinions but it’s how I live my Scouting life. Scouts tend to just show up in field uniform on our outings and activities and they don’t complain about it.

    • I agree that sports teams all require uniforms. However, many allow, or even require, them to be worn only in games, not in practice. The idea is to keep them in good shape for the games. Not that different from keeping a “Class A” looking good.

      • Hi, ECJ. I see your point and appreciate the feedback. However, I would argue that when we are doing Scouting (in practice and in ceremony) and should wear the uniform proudly. Also, I would argue that there is no such thing as a “Class A” uniform as far as Scouting is concerned. The field uniform meant to be worn for Scouting, in my opinion.

  24. Does anyone know what the expected duration of a field uniform would be? Some of my more rugged outfits won’t survive a couple of years of camping. Most parents expect that field uniform to last at least four years. To do that, it has to be used for less demanding activities.

    • Can someone show me where I can purchase a “filed uniform” or a “Class A” uniform. The only exception may be the Centennial uniform. The others don’t exist; it’s a uniform, no more no less. BSA used to sell activity shirts but a search of the catalog doesn’t show those either. So can we stop confusing folks and call it what it is, “the uniform”.

      • I gave you a link from an official site up above. But let me be more specific: “field uniform” is referenced as such in the insignia guide on page 26 (

        That’s it’s name. Just because the marketing folks don’t use it doesn’t make it unofficial slang. For boys that’s all there is. For us crotchety adults there is also the “dress uniform” (whichis similar to the military “class A” in style and function).

      • So, now that we’ve established it’s name, how much do you all think the complex insignia that goes with the field uniform undermines its utility in the field?

        • I don’t think the insignia undermines the utility when you consider the insignia has utility sometimes. That said, when I was a scout, even after I became an Eagle and you would think I would want to show my rank off, I had a completely blank shirt that I used for field service projects. I got it from a second hand store for just that reason so I guess I would say you have a point.

  25. I hear a lot of complaining about uniform durability. I don’t get. I have over 500 miles of backpacking, over 100 miles of canoeing, and who knows how many nights of camping on the same pair of nylon Cenntenial Scout pants. A little faded but still serviceable. The gear is very similar to the state of the art outdoor clothing made by Ex Officio, The North Face, or Columbia. Scouts are probably growing out of their clothes every 24 months anyway. It’s just the cost of doing business. Have a “hand me down” uniform exchange at your Troop to keep costs down.
    The uniform is good to go. Wear it with pride and don’t worry about the “trendiness of uniforms”. If a Scout really wants to stand out in a crowd he will in his uniform.

    • I agree with you. I think parents who feel the uniform isn’t durable enough may not be appreciating or understanding what that uniform may be enduring when it is outside their view. My sons uniform have all lasted until they out grew them, which is way more than I can say for most of their clothing!

    • Comparing costs with premier specialty gear. For many scouts who we want in the program, we are comparing against the thrift store. There you can find your children a decent pair of jeans and durable flannel shirt for a fraction of the cost of any outdoor gear, including uniforms.
      Yes the uniform exchange is important. But, I think that puts even more pressure on families to preserve them so they can return them to the troop closet.
      It’s a tough cycle, and our toop hasn’t broken it.

      • Why couldn’t National come up with buy back program. Buy back pants and shirts in good condition for $5.00 and resell them for $10.00 to $15.00 dollars. The individual selling back the uniform must be sure the items are clean and in resalable conditions.

        • Better yet. How about scout shop coupon for returning torn and tattered uniforms that have been dragged through brush, raked over rocks and dropped in the drink – repeatedly?

          Remember, the topic is ubiquitous uniform use, not cloth preservation!

        • I don’t get your point. Why the sarcasm? The buy back program would permit those that are financially challenged to afford to shell out 15 to 30 dollars rather than 50 to 100 dollars for possibly a next to new uniform.

        • No sarcasm intended. You have to be very careful what you are rewarding a boy for. Your “in resalable condition” requirement may be incentive to keep that shirt in the closet rather than wearing it on that hike or orienteering course or canoe trip.

          If we care about him wearing his uniform for those activities, we need to make sure the boy can return a uniform with a few rips that have been properly patched, and maybe a stain or two that can’t be removed. Then, the next boy needs to have a little pride in buying a uniform that his fellow scout wore everywhere, and now he is going to try to where it even more!

          Wouldn’t it be cool if a resold uniform came with a tag: “Worn to Baldy, 50 miles of canoe trails, 10 campfires, 8 parades, 4 school days, 6 service projects, 20 rounds of British bulldog … take me and try to top that … if you dare!”

        • Donated uniforms are good for units that serve those that are below poverty level. I would like to see council ACTIVELY educate each unit that can participate to donate to either a general fund or to a “uniform bin”. I made this part of our unit Popcorn sell to donate “scout shop credits” to a unit that had boys that could not afford a book let alone a uniform.

          If each Unit would “donate” or fund raise for approx. $135 for a book and a uniform (1 youth) per year, would this not help out with the program through directly helping a youth directly?.

  26. Went hiking in the White mountains of NH this weekend with Troop 842. Didn’t wear my field uniform. Why? It would have been buried under at least 2 layers of clothing the entire trip. Did wear my switchback pants (they did well). Also wore a red scout nylon jacket which was on the outside for a time.

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