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.


    • I do outdoor activities in my field uniform (Class A) all of the time. I wish we had these cargo pants in the seventies to carry stuff, but I wore my field uniform on outdoor activities then as well.

    • When I was in Scouts back in the early 70’s we didn’t have any Class B’s we wore our Class A’s for everything. We put up our tents in them, cooked, cleaned, and sat around the fire in them in fact we wore them all weekend. They weren’t for looking pretty in but they always cleaned up for Court of Honors and special events just fine….

  1. Maybe if Field Uniforms were only $10 and came with patches already attached! Can’t imagine having to explain to a parent how their son’s $100 uniform got ripped on a branch and they needed buy a new one and sew on all those patches AGAIN.

      • I’ve patched my husband’s uniform several times, its not that big of a deal. I think the scouts should learn the value of their uniform and keep it in properly working order. A replacement isn’t always necessary. It’s an issue with this country and it’s youth, the amount of items people toss to fill up landfills is astounding. Thread and a needle cost $1 at the dollar tree, and they could stand to learn a skill that could help them in other situations too. Its Boy Scouts… “Prepared for Life”

  2. I am a committee chair, and I lost the fight to have our scouts even take them when they camp. Scoutmaster said, they won’t be clean for the meeting on Tuesday, and they are too expensive to wear out at camp.

    • Note that (at least in vehicles) they’re not covered by the BSA liability policy if they’re not in Field Uniform. We require our Scouts to wear them to the campouts or other events but, alas, all-too-often they don’t get worn AT the event. The boys can’t wait to take them out, and that’s our fault as leaders.

      • yea, scouts are scouts and covered under insurance no matter what they wear. That being said … look no further than the leader to see how a troop like to dress … or something like that is what Baden-Powell said.

        In Woodbadge our SPL was asked when we could wear our class B and when we should wear our Class A. His reply, if you see myself or the Scoutmaster with their class A on, yours should be. Simple as monkey see monkey do!

      • This is a BSA urban myth. Wearing the feild uniform of not does not trigger the liability insurance. Please don’t spread this myth any further.

  3. Bring the price down–nothing like destroying expensive Class A’s in the field. If Class A is the thing to wear, how come pix in Boys Life and Scouting magazine rarely show kids in full Class A’s? Our scouts wear them to troop meetings (with scout pants, not jeans) on service days and on camping trips and day events when it’s important for the public to know they are scouts. But weekend trips to our local scout camp..nope, sorry.ans and Troop T shirt is the way we go.

    • When BL or Scouting Mag stage photos, boys are always in official field uniform. When they’re covering a real event, obviously they photograph the people wearing whatever they’re wearing.

  4. I think the uniform is *intended* to be worn outdoors, but with the price tag and lack of comfort compared to other clothing options for outdoor activities? I’m not surprised it’s kept for ‘best.’ My sons’ scout uniforms are by far the most expensive clothing they own.

  5. Every handbook used through 1990 (the ninth edition) featured uniformed Scouts on the front cover. No handbook since the 1990 tenth edition has shown uniforms on the front cover.

    The cover of the tenth edition in 1990 featured a Scout in the red “activity shirt” polo which had (coincidentally!) just become available. It seemed obvious at the time that the handbook designer was more interested in boosting sales of the red shirt than in maintaining the tradition of showing uniformed Scouts.

  6. Perhaps if the field uniform shirt didn’t cost upwards of $60 (shirt, plus all the required patches, etc) I might encourage wearing it more!

    A $10 t-shirt seems much more appropriate while hiking and camping where the shirt could get ripped, torn, and dirty beyond cleaning where it would still be suitable for formal events.

  7. Troops and Packs should wear their class A uniform much more than they do now and this especially includes the leaders.

    The uniform has become “un-cool” with the Boy Scout age boys. An effort needs to be made to change this and the wearing of the uniform should be encouraged by the leaders. We can’t expect the Scouts to be proud of the uniform if their leaders do not wear it with pride.

    I am currently a Cub Scout leader and I wear my class A to every scout activity, the second morning of a two night camping trip the scouts see me in a clean Class A uniform, necker and all.

    • I’m a Cub leader as well and wear my Class A most of the time for all of our activities. For me it is important for the kids to recognize and know who is a leader and who is not. I feel rather out of place at our events if I’m not in uniform. Our Cub Family Bash usually has our leaders and our boys in their shirts, camping and hiking. We don’t worry much about uniform pants or jeans. The little boys grow so fast and the uniform cost is so high it is difficult to keep up. A shirt you can buy a little big but not so with pants. When we are to do special things, like flag retirement, we ask the boys to wear either their best jeans, uniform pants if they have them, or something similar to them.

      My son’s troop is a little different. Class A is required for meetings but Class B will do. The Scoutmaster doesn’t have a problem with jeans to a meeting but as with our Cubs, Scout pants or something similar are required for special events. For her, in that setting it is NO JEANS ALLOWED. They are required to have their Class A at scout camp. Most of the boys wear them to other camping activities. They may not wear them for their activities all day but usually at least part of it.

      Their Class B is used for work projects and are usually taken camping. Many of their work details would ruin their Class A and, has been mentioned, it is cheaper to replace at $10 t-shirt.

  8. We wore our Class A uniforms for everything that I can recall and I never had to replace my uniform. In fact, over 20 years later, I still have that uniform hanging in my closet, as a representation of all of the things I accomplished when I was growing up. I require our boys to wear their uniforms to all meetings and outdoor activities with few exceptions. However, I’m also open to a Class B uniform option, if the parents all want to go in on it so everyone still matches.

  9. I’ve seen some advice on a troop’s website that is a good balance for everyone: Scouts are required to wear Class A while traveling to and from camp. They seemed to have the policy that If the boy was not in uniform, there is not a seat in the vehicle for the boy. Once at camp or at the trailhead, uniforms were optional except at Flag Ceremony.

    I’ve tried to model this idea in my leadership roles. I find I wear the uniform more, but I’m also conscious that certain circumstances dictate different clothing.

  10. In 1995, my Philmont crew (in very grubby troop t-shirts and scout shorts) were passed on the trail from Cimmeroncito to Tooth Ridge camp by a crew of all 16 and 17 year olds, each in his full field uniform with a pack.

    It was incredibly impressive. The next day back at base camp I encountered them again, and their advisor admitted it had taken some effort to pursuade them – and most did wash their shirts every other day in the backcountry.

  11. Yes, I read it and it keeps talking about THE PAST. The boys don’t care that 50 years ago Scouts wore their uniforms on a hike. What does that matter? If that’s the argument then you better start having them hike to and from campouts because my dad tells me that’s what he did when he was a Scout. We acknowledge the past and take the best from the past but we don’t do things because “Thats’ the way they used to do things.” It’s not a reason to continue doing things.

  12. We wear (Cub Scout) field uniforms when traveling as a group, for Pack Meetings/Blue and Gold/Pinewood Derby/Scout Sunday. Many boys wear them for den meetings as well, although with the number of boys moving from event to event, the baseball uniform is nearly as common as the Cub Scout uniform at some Sunday afternoon meetings.

  13. I’m glad the uniform is not required for every hike, campout, etc. The basic uniform costs over $150! [Uniform Shirt, $39.99; Scout Pant, $39.99; BSA Uniform Socks, $8.99; BSA Web Belt, $11.99; Uniform Cap, $12.99; Neckerchief, $9.99; Neckerchief Slide, $4.99; Council Strip Patch, $5.55; Unit Numerals, $4.47; Patrol Emblem, $1.99; World Crest Emblem, $1.49; Shoulder Loops, $2.99;]

    It is the most expensive outfit in my son’s wardrobe, and I don’t want to put it through unnecessary wear-and-tear in the rugged outdoors (especially since the quality of the shirts and shorts aren’t great… and, well, boys will be boys). I can get an outfit of higher quality, that performs better, and lasts long for half the cost of the official uniform. Why am I paying $40 for a pair of pants to go camping in when I can get one of equal, or better, quality at Walmart for $12?

    I understand the merits of the uniform (it is one of the methods of Scouting after all) but having to pay $150 just to “dress the part” is somewhat ridiculous – so let’s be THRIFTY here and not wear out these expensive clothes by getting them all muddy, sweaty, ripped, worn, wet, dirty, stained, and potentially lost during a weekend in the woods! Save the Class As for Troop meetings, courts of honors, fundraisers, parades and ceremonies… but when you’re out getting dirty in the woods, dress appropriately (not in a $150 uniform).

  14. I love the idea of the field uni for all events. Several problems arrise, some have easy solutions. I love the “uniform” look of a Troop or Patrol in their unis. Its living up to the tradition and the stereotype of the American Boy Scout that everyone knows. I find that the materials, sty, and cut of the uniforms pants are not properly designed for the modern outdoorsman. They chaffe, don’t fit or ride properly on the body, belt loops seem to snag on the belts, shorts cut into knees, and the material does not hold up well. The shirts are better, but stil have issues. Quality not consistant, the material is very hot in summer, and both versions stain easily. With the cost of the uni, parents have reseravtions about buying new uniforms after every summer camp. I would like to see beeter quality, better design, form, function, and durabiilty.

  15. It would be great to see scouts always in the field uniform when scouting. However when the scouts are at summer camp the class A is reserved for travel to and from summer camp. While at summer camp the scouts wear their class A to the opening camp fire,to call night camp fire(honor camping program), formal retreat and other times specified by the camp director. For normal everyday activities going to merit badge class, and outpost and other events it is a camp tee shirt and non scout shorts.

  16. I, the Scoutmaster, always travel ing full uniform. The boys are a mixed bag. I have never had a uniform rip on a camping trip. The only problem I had was a pen leaked.

  17. I liked the campaign hats from years past the best. We gave one to our SPL to wear (it’s a traveling indicator of office) when he was calling formation. He liked it, because it made him feel “extra special”.

  18. We always backpacked in our Clas “A”s at Troop 276 The Mountain Men of Palos Verdes Estates, CA. That included Campaign Hats and neckerchiefs. We did this even on 80 mile treks across the Sierras. The Troop kept the uniform tradition until 2013!

    I would love it if my current Troop would hike in uniform. The new styles are ideal. We try to at least all wear the same Class “B” shirt and official Scout pants or shirts on the trail.

  19. I recently wore my scout uniform on a short backpacking hike. They are definately not made for that purpose. I can feel the difference in the fabric where the shoulder strap of my backpack came into contact with the shirt.

  20. Bryan,

    You might want to check the following sentence.

    As a postscript to Daumé’s research, I’ll add that the 12th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, published in 20098 has very few pictures of Scouts wearing the field uniform outdoors. (I think it was supposed to read 2009). Just fyi,

  21. I’ve found that the material of the BSA Uniform to be incredibly tough, and many people have told me they are virtually indestructible and last forever. Those you who baby it because it’s expensive, look at it this way – perhaps it’s expensive because it’s designed to hike and camp in!

  22. Agreed with those who post about cost. By the time you drop $40+ on a shirt and another $20-30 on patches and sewing, it just becomes to expensive to be a ‘field shirt’. Maybe a true field uniform would not require anything other than the world scouting and us flag patches. Or maybe they should do like the military and go all velcro so that patches can be easily swapped between uniforms (and thus avoiding the ugly badge magic as well!)

    Our Scouts and Scouters wear their uniforms to meetings, most events and always while travelling but we usually leave Class As in the vehicles when we are hiking or doing anything that might mess them up. We have 2 class B troop shirts and opt for those at campouts other than for flag ceremonies.

  23. Our troop never brings Class A’s on camping trips except for summer camp or camporees. Last year, the troop camped at a state park to do the 50 mie ride for the cycling merit badge. Another troop camped nearby and also did the ride. I found it funny to see the boys from the other troop all wearing Class A’s on their long ride, while our boys wore shorts and t-shirts or biking atttire.

  24. I usually wear a mostly “blank” supplex nylon uniform on hikes and camping, leaving off any unneeded insignia to reduce bulk. Most of my other clothes are either too dressy to wear on trips, or they are made of cotton.
    I bought the pants and shirt a couple years ago during a buy one get one free sale, though the full price of the newer microfiber polyester is still similar or less than what you’d find for other performance pants and button down shirts.
    The Scouts who wear cotton clothes have to wait a long time for their clothes to dry after crossing through a stream or doing laundry, I find that the quicker drying fabrics are much more appropriate for outdoor Scouting activities.

  25. As a pack leader and taking 30+ kids to day camp with parents that did not know all of the other kids, we had a unique “standard class B” so we could help keep track of them all. Have you ever tried to keep track of 30+ “bouncing blue dots” in a “sea of blue uniforms”? Otherwise everything was done in a field uniform: popcorn, derby, scout meetings, den field trips, etc.

    But in this blogs recent discussions around being “clean” in Field uniform for the older scouts counters this discussions. Yes, the scouts look great in their uniform when their photos are taken for the newspapers. But I also agree with others when full uniforms are more than $150, just how many uniforms do we require of youths when some struggle to have 1. There are some councils that are lucky enough to have donation (money &/or uniform) programs that allow some kids that have no resources to get A uniform. So are we to tell them that he has to wear the same
    uniform everyday of summer camp, weekend camp, hiking, etc. while trying to keep the uniform clean through the mud, the rain, and snow. I know what it was like to only have 1 field uniform while as a scout. Keep the kids in mind to the resources that they have and what we can offer them.

    A standard Class B for multiple day event are a good alternative when a formal Field uniform is required to be kept clean and “neat”. As a leader, I always had a Field uniform on but I can afford 3 complete sets. By having more than one field uniform in my pack, I would always find the time to wash and “press” mine while the kids are doing their activities/duties stations.

    At the National Jamboree, there is no other site than a sea of uniforms at the general assemblies and during meal times. But once the weather hits, the “field uniform” is not always the best option in form and function.

    So is it form or function that we are looking at? This is the same issue that I have seen since I was a scout in the early 1970s.

    • A standard uniform (pants, shirt, belt, socks, neckerchief, slide, and hat) does not cost $150, it costs $108. The price of basic uniforms has not increased (when adjusted for inflation) in Scouting’s 100 years. You can price uniforms from any year in our history using ads in Boys’ Life at the Wayback Machine http://boyslife.org/wayback/

      • C G – Even as your point that the cost of a uniform has not risen dramtically when asjusted for inflation, but I still hold that some of the boys that can be helped the most may not be able to have ACCESS to more than 1 uniform for the entire time that there are in that program does make a difference to this discussion. I grew up in economically depressed area and I have served as unit commisioners to some units where the boys did not have money for a handbook let alone a uniform.

        Discussions on a mandated uniform becomes lesser of importance when you take into account that some kids may only get 1 – 2 meals a day (only when at school) while they may only have 1 pair pants and maybe 2 shirts in total. Scouting may be their only few options that may keep them engaged. Do you say that if you do not have a Class A, BSA is going to turn you away?

        • “Do you say that if you do not have a Class A, BSA is going to turn you away?”
          Never have, never will, and never did in any of my comments.

  26. My son hates wearing his Cub Scout uniform in the summer because it is too hot. I would love to see what someone like Under Armour could do with the uniforms. They would probably perform better, last longer, and be more comfortable, all for about the same price.

    I agree that the uniforms are too expensive. When you have a bunch of 6-11 year-olds running around, a $12 t-shirt is much easier to deal with when things happen.

    Also, on “Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?” all the scouts would wear their uniforms for the introduction, then quickly change into t-shirts for the competition. Just saying…

  27. This is a really interesting discussion. Our BPSA group is certainly encouraging uniforms be worn on our trips except where/when they are clearly not appropriate. It is interesting to hear people lament the wear and tear this can cause. My rural BSA troop had so many hand-me-downs in service that we rarely looked like a new penny, but we were in uniform. I remember quite a contrast when we’d be alongside suburban troops at Camporees . . . but surely the unifying aspect of the uniform (and utility uses of the neckerchief) does not translate to it being treated as a “dress uniform”.

      • It’s still in the testing phase, the project was delayed and the first shirts weren’t available until July 2012. They are still selling them to youth and adults in the Baltimore Area Council, though they haven’t provided us with an update regarding the pants, adult collared shirts, and if they felt the project was successful enough to expand nationally.
        If you look(ed) at the following link, you can see the different shirts they designed for each Scout rank: http://www.baltimorebsa.org/OrgStore/store/default.asp?orgkey=749

        • Really?? Does BSA really need to have a different “T-Shirt” for EVERY scout rank? Seems like a way to try to sell more products that are not necessary!

        • I agree that it can be excessive and expensive, personally, I probably would only buy one or two of the shirts Scout>First Class, especially since most Scouts are able to reach First Class in a year, through the rest of the ranks, though, the boy likely could wear out or grow out of the shirt by the time he’s ready for the next one. Alternatively or additionally, they could produce a “Trail to First Class” shirt.
          It is a nice way for the Scouts to show their progress while not wearing a full field uniform. A troop could create/expand an experienced uniform closet. Position shirts, like SPL, PL, etc could also be nice. The various colors appear less uniform, though, than a single troop color.

  28. Our troop always travels in uniform and if the events of the weekend warrant it (such as being at a museum or the rare meal out or the round of mini golf) then yes we wear the uniform. While in our own campsite or hiking, its ‘class B’ – our own distinctive t-shirt or polo and scout shorts and socks. We are the troop in the dark green t-shirts and that has really helped us before. One example, at a state park a ranger was sure our boys had damaged the bathroom because they had eye witness accounts of the youth that did it. My ASM asked… what color t-shirts were worn by the vandals and the eye witnesses said white, different colors … he then asked the ranger to tell what she saw which was about 40 boys in various patrols cooking dinner or eating and every one had a green t-shirt on. The ranger and the witnesses had to agree it was not us …. it hasn’t been the only time we have been somewhere and just because we are a large mass of youth people at first may worry. Put them in uniform and not only do they behave better, it is amazing the amount of compliments we get for how well behaved our scouts are. Something about that uniforming …even if that uniform is scout shorts and a t-shirt.

    One last thought about behavior, one of the scouts was sitting at a picnic table saying how he could do something very un-scout-like and a young JASM and Eagle scout leaned in over the table and jabbed him in the chest (where our logo is) and said “not while you are wearing that …” Yes, uniforming is both the Class A and the Class B, but it is the concept of uniforming that is most important — A sense of belonging, a sense of pride and ownership, and a sign of that we stand for service to others.

  29. 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…

  30. 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?

    • I’ll bet that sports team requires him to wear his team jersey, t-shirt, team-colored basketball shorts, baseball pants, or football pants and probably matching socks. I’ll also bet that if that kid showed up to a game in a something other than a team-matching outfit he (or she) would be sent home. I have a son that plays school basketball and cross country and Parks & Recreation baseball and I have never seen any team member wearing anything but a designated team outfit matching all others on the team.

  31. 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 (www.ebay.com/itm/Boy-Scouts-of-America-BSA-VF-Solutions-Mens-Camping-Hiking-Vented-Shirt-Sz-L-/111182197141). 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 (http://www.scoutstuff.org/men-s-prepared-for-life-tm-silver-ridgetm-short-sleeve-shirt.html).
      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

  32. 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 (Scoutstuff.org). 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: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/awards_central/alumiaward.aspx

        But, you’re right, it’s not marked as a “field” uniform: here’s a pretty site http://bsauniforms.org/ 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”.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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,

  37. 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 ClassB.com 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 classb.com 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 ClassB.com

    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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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?

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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…

  45. 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.

  46. 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

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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 (http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33066_Section2.pdf).

        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.

  53. 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?.

  54. 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.

  55. I bought the microfiber shirt as a second shirt, and it’s almost comfortable enough for South Texas summers, but as mentioned above, it’s fragile. I’ve only worn it a few times, and it already has several places where it’s been snagged.

    All the ASMs wear the uniform a lot, but the PLC voted a long time ago to wear Troop t-shirts most of the time. Scouts still wear the uniform for Scoutmaster Conferences, Boards of Review, at least 1 Troop meeting a month, Courts of Honor, appropriate service projects, travelling to/from events, etc.

  56. It is called a Field Uniform (Class A, B, or whatever, is military terminology) for a reason. That’s also why we have actifvity uniforms…comfort, to appease parents who are concerned about the cost of the full uniform (I paid about $100 when my ward outgrew his first Scout uniform).
    As a kid, I was proud of my uniform, and mos of my Scout friends and I wore them for hiking and camping, sometimes even sleeping in them for a week of summer camp (Whew!).

  57. They don’t wear the uniform but I wish they did. It is a practical, useful shirt designed for field use. More than that, it clearly identifies the boys as Scouts, is an invaluable recruiting tool and directly influences their behavior. All the reasons that we have uniforms support the argument that we should wear them.

    Yes, it might get ripped and it will certainly get dirty. Those are badges of honor – evidence of hard work and play doing the things that Scouts do.

    That said, if we want our scouts to wear the uniform in more active situations, we have to get rid of all those dangly snagging hazards. The Boy Scout uniform is not too bad with only the temporary pocket button badges getting in the way. The Cub Scout immediate-recognition beads are a real problem in the field, though. They get caught and lost far too easily.

  58. I say the uniform of today of mico fiber. What happened with the cotton fiber it was good around a cook fire. Also lets just the 9th edition book was when I was a scout and you could still buy your uniform at JCPenny. Also your shirt US Garment workers in the pocket. The shirts where better and built to last. We now get are uniforms form over seas and we get the results. My son is a Tiger and I’m the leader. I want my boys in there class A for all meetings and travel to an event. If they want to wear it to school great. When it is meeting day, I wear my same shirt class A that I had as a scout to do my volunteer at his school. That shirt over 20 years old and still is as good as was back then. The memories in that shirt over century of camp out and scout meetings. What I’m getting at is the uniform is a part of scouting. The people who design the uniform really need to stop trying to improve on a old idea.

  59. If they were meant to be worn on hikes they would not be 67% cotton. I realize not all are different but if BSA meant for these to be worn on hikes they would ALL be synthetic. I don’t think it’s fair to ask 2/3 of a troop to buy a new one for hiking due to no one being told THIS troop wears class A’s on hikes before they got their uniforms.

  60. Interesting read. Comments are also great. I agree… Cost is a huge factor…
    I liked that at Webelos Adventure Camp it was Class B but Class A for meals and confute. Class B let them get dirty and grimy and experience the adventure. Class A kept tidy allowed them to show their pride and respect the ceremony participation.
    I liken it to military service. They have less expensive grimy options, but the dress outfit is never used to do morning PT.

  61. My Troop requires FULL Class A uniform when traveling to and from all camping trips. When in view of public, hiking historic trails, service projects, or in any public venues outside of a camp on those trips, we are in Class A. If we are in public, we are representing the Boy Scouts of America, our State, Town, our Chartering Organization, and our Troop. We will look and act accordingly.

  62. Our troop wore our uniforms for camping and hiking in the 60’s and 70’s. It wasn’t a “Class A”, because there was no “Class B”, just “the uniform”.

    The epaulets on the current uniform shirt totally rule it out for backpacking. I still can’t believe they added those and I really can’t believe they kept them in the re-design.

  63. My troops policy was field uniform for all meetings, travel, court of honor, and non-dirty public events (I.e. Food drives, fundraisers…). Class B was normally only worn during camp set up / break down and meeting outdoor activities. During most camp outs it was just a troop tshirt and any pants.

  64. I am of the philosophy that uniforms are nice, keep with tradition, and are necessary for certain functions. But, that is where I diverge, the most important reason we do this is for the youth that we serve and dressing up in the olive drab/green khaki pants/shirts does not make any scout less worthy or more worthy. Too me, many scouters play dress up for the sole purpose of impressing others, and not for the purpose of the youth we are there to serve.

    I don’t really care what the boys wear as long as they are there and willing to participate. My troop was one of having little to do with uniforms other than official functions, When we went to Philmont in the mid 80’s we didn’t wear our field uniforms on the trail at all, they stayed back at base camp. No one cared and no one looked down on us. If your troop likes to do that great, if your troop doesn’t great. But, let’s not use this as a tool for judgement.

  65. My son got a class B tshirt when he joined and earned his class A through the popcorn sale. If that hadn’t been an option he still wouldn’t have one. They also got him tan instead of blue because it would be able to move up with him. And they told me not to put any patches on it until he hit bs. It honestly is too hot for him even indoors, so would hate to see him on a hike in it, and is synthetic so not good around the fire….. that he would be happy as a lark to wear it around as he worked. I see adults at round table with shirts that obviously have been around much longer than the synthetic ones and they look much more useful.

  66. We wear Field Uniforms in meetings, when traveling and during most activities. I’m a Scoutmaster with the belief that the field uniform is to be worn, get dirty, and at times stained. I’d much rather have the Scouts in uniform and have a few stains from the past adventures than keep a pristine uniform for ceremonial purposes only. There are times, however (rock climbing and caving primarily) that the field uniform isn’t practical, and I always allow the Scouts to wear their “Class B” under the field uniform, so that if it gets too rough and tumble, then they can take the field uniform off and put into their day/ overnight packs during these times.

    We’ve been on SEVERAL 10 and 20 mile hikes, backpacking trips, cross country orienteering runs, horsepacking events, and much, much more with field uniforms, and I’ve had mine for 7 years and counting. The Scouts tend to outgrow theirs every few years, which is much sooner than they tear up (other than a button lost from time to time).

    We are a field uniform Troop, and it is an expectation developed years back, when I became Scoutmaster. The parents realize the expectation, and the Troop knows as well. It is a part of our Troop culture and tradition.

  67. I wear my Scout Uniform everywhere. As to cost if you were to go and buy the pair of pants at an outdoor store it cost the same. The only time I wear something else is if it would damage it as in painting, construction or, fiberglass. I’m a UC so when I visit my units I’m in my uniform.
    Lead by example.

  68. My cub scout wore his class A to a camp out at a minor league baseball game over the summer and he left it behind. It was never found and it cost me over $100 to replace his shirt and all of the patches. Never again!

  69. When did Boy Scouts get a Class A? Last time I checked there was only one uniform for Boy Scouts.

    The last set of Class A’s I had are current;y on a hanger and are Army Green; those have been replaced by the ASU.

    But, the Army, like the Boy Scouts have not made the best of uniforming decisions in the past 20 years. There have been some improvements, but nothing all encompassing.

    The change to the Oscar De larenta uniform suffered blow back in 1980. Collars? Epul… Epalut… Shoulder Loops, Different color shorts/shirt. Then in 2010 we introduced the “Centennial” uniform. Some good changes, some bad. (*thanks for changing the cut of the shorts) Siwtch-backs weren’t the best idea. Now we have the ‘new’ uniform. Is it the best? no. But it is ours. Wear it

    BTW, I have not paid retail for a uniform since 1985. Last shirt I bought was on ebay, and already had some of the patches I need on it.

  70. So $100 for the latest gym shoes or jeans that will be wrecked in 2 weeks is ok, but for a Scout uniform is bad? The shirt cost like $35, by the way, so buy 1 for activities, and 1 for meetings. Put basic rank insignia on the activity one, and now it’s not so big a deal! No more than the muddy Air Jordans or whatever that no one seems to have much of a problem with.

  71. The uniforms back then were built to last and made in America, not Chine. In fact I still use my old uniform when I go on outings. Mine is from the 60’S. Made in America. Boy Scouts of America should have MADE in America uniforms. They still charge us as if they are made here.

  72. I believe uniformity is important. The scout handbook says uniforms remove all social and economic differences. I agree with this 100%.
    Do I think they need to be in a Class A uniform? No.
    We just returned from Fall Camporee. On Saturday morning when all of the scouts came pouring out of their tents in matching troop hoodies of one color and the scouters came out in another color. People stopped and stared.
    Throughout the day, other scouters commented on how sharp the troop looked in matching hoodies. And stated they had to look into them for their troops.

    It is much more important to me that they all match, not which uniform they do events in.
    And in a sea of scouts at a district event, I can spot every one of our scouts by looking for matching activity uniforms. (Tshirts too)

  73. The new uniform is durable and well made?? No, it is not.I have had the stitching tear out of 2 pair of their pants in the past 6 months (and that wasn’t even hiking). The uniform should have never been redesigned by anyone other than a company that makes outdoor clothing.

    As far as the money issue, yes, buying the scout uniform is about the same as other uniforms and even a single pair of shoes. However, you have to take other costs into account; books, backpack, dues, cost of the trips, etc.so the cost of a second uniform isn’t an option for some people.

  74. There is no such thing as “Class A’s”. A Scouting uniform is … of course … a field uniform. The Scout uniform is what is worn for all scouting events. Wearing plain street clothes is no more appropriate in Scouting than it is in the military. Certainly Lord Baden-Powell would roll over in his grave if he only knew what some Scout units do these days by not wearing their uniforms, or making “classes” of uniforms. A scout not in a uniform … much like a policeman not in a uniform or a soldier not in a uniform … loses the basis and authority that comes with his position. In the military, in fact, to not wear one’s uniform can be punishable, and also strips one of any protection under Geneva convention. Scouting’s heritage is from the military, and it carries all the same heritage of etiquette and decorum. If a Scout is not in uniform AT a Scouting event, he is not exhibiting true and proper Scouting spirit.

  75. The current Boy Scout Handbook (12th edition) quite clearly says, at page 33: “Proudly wear your uniform to troop meetings, ceremonies such as courts of honor, and most other indoor troop functions. When you’re headed outdoors, you can pull on a T-shirt with Scout pants or shorts, or wear other clothing that is right for the events of the day.” In other words, these days the uniform shirt is an indoor shirt; it is _not_ for outdoor activities.

    Looking back at the Handbook of my youth (7th edition), and comparing it to the current Handbook, there’s something else interesting. Look at the inside of the front and back covers of both books, which show the placement of insignia on the pockets (inside front cover) and sleeves (inside back cover). In the 7th edition, there are 3 insignia items on or above the right pocket. In the 12th edition, there are 7 items on, above, and below the right pocket. Left pocket — 3 in the old book, 4 in the new book. Right sleeve — old book, 2 items; new book, 5 items (including shoulder tab). Left sleeve — old book, 3 items; new book, 6 items (including shoulder tab). And the insignia back then was simpler, with a very limited color scheme. Very different from today. And you can see it in the pictures in the 7th edition — limited, subdued insignia made the uniform look the way it is described (at page 58): “The khaki color blends with the hues of the forest, making you almost invisible when you track animals or study birds.” Today’s insignia-heavy, Soviet general-style uniform has only one advantage outdoors: it makes it easy to find you if you get lost.

  76. Our challenge, is that we travel to and from our activities in the uniform for our campouts. If we enforced wearing it for the activities on Saturday…that is one outfit for the whole weekend. Some of them could do it, but others would definitely not be holding to ‘clean’ at that point.

    So, we tend to not do the campout activity day in uniform, but we require that it come with us. It would also be available for use if they had some reason to need to change – which is good.

    Similarly, some of the Eagle Scout projects would be okay in uniform, and some are not. I have a fleece jacket with paint on it from an Eagle Project done in the winter when it was too cold not to have something on. I am okay with the jacket having paint, but I would have been steamed up if that paint was on my uniform instead.

  77. There is certainty a lot of comments about a uniform that DOES NOT EXIST!!! If you will look in any Scout Handbook ever printed ( including the current one) you will find reference to “The Scout uniform and the activity uniform” Scouts do not have and have NEVER had any class “A” “B” “C” “D” or “Z”. The military has even dropped the Class description of uniforms, and we are NOT and have NEVER been a military organization. The scouts will never learn the correct way to wear and name uniforms if the leaders no not set the example in work and wear and do thing by the scout book. I have been a scout for 35 years and a commissioner for over 20 years, I am retired military and live in a military community. We wear Scout uniforms not letter uniforms.

    • I would say you will probably have to get over yourself. Class A and Class B are common names whether offical or not. I don’t see them no longer being used any time soon

  78. I’d like to point out that we need to have some context here as well. The scouting uniform has evolved to what it is today from a long tradition of uniform wear. At the time of the inception of scouting until the 70’s (60’s in some areas) people were far less casual. Men wore suits to parties, women wore dresses. A t-shirt was considered underwear. The uniform for most of scouting history likely WAS the most rugged that a boy would have. We live in a society where our closets spill into our bedrooms and we have racks of shoes. It wasn’t always that way. Getting your scout uniform was like getting “church clothes” used for certain events. Look at pictures of the world war 1 doughboys. They went into battle in jacket, tie, and campaign cover. The old scout uniforms look to be surplus in appearance. The scout uniform has relaxed a lot over the years, but it isn’t designed to be casual wear, it designed to instill a sense of outdoorsmanship, heritage, and pride.

    If it doesn’t do that maybe we aren’t doing something right as leaders.

    • I still have my first Boy Scout uniform shirt from the late 1960s (just before Oscar de la Renta brought the design into the modern 1970s). It is a heavy green cotton material. Rugged is the right word to use, but also comfortable. We wore them on hikes and campouts, and running around playing the kind of rough boy games we wouldn’t allow now. For summer camp, I also got one of the short-sleeve collarless shirts made from a much lighter fabric, if I recall correctly (as well as shorts, knee socks, and garters). But both shirts were intended for outdoor activity wear as well as for meetings and courts of honor.

      The irony is that our official uniforms are more outdoorsy than they have been since the 1960s, but the shirts are so laden with badges, patches, pins, beads, and danglies that it would not be thrifty to risk getting them stained, torn, or lost by wearing them in the field. But the pants (zip-offs) and shorts? Not much more expensive than a brand-name pair of jeans, and if the youth are going to grow out of them anyway, why not get as much use as possible out of them while they still fit?

  79. Yes! Our troop wears our scout uniform at all scouting events and yes, even on the trail! I have covered about 200 trail miles, all in my uniform.

  80. We wear class A to travel in and at meetings and outings even bike riding around town. We don’t hike in them. We have matching troop shirts and those class B and any other scout shirt is considered class B . My grandson and most of the boys after their first year only wear scout clothing to scout outings. We find as boys start out they buy pieces as they go along. Our scout has two complete class A uniforms . He goes to almost every camp out ,nobody complains it’s what we do. As time goes on and they earn the badges they are proud to wear it. All scout activities are class A unless SPL is wearing class B. When one does it the rest soon follow. Yes it is expensive but over time his closet has more scout shirts ( class B ) then anything else. He wears scout shirts to school and out running around guess our guys don’t think they are not cool. He has 4 troop shirts too. He was a CIT at camp and they recommend 2 complete uniforms. We never have to say anything our SPL just tells them to wear as much as they have of the uniform. Once in a while a scout forgets his shirt at home or something but it’s the exception not the norm. All leaders wear uniforms A and B also!

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