BSA’s Fieldbook wins 2014 National Outdoor Book Award

ScoutingFieldbook-coverThe BSA’s Fieldbook, already a fixture in Scout backpacks and troop libraries, has officially joined the pantheon of history’s greatest outdoor books.

The nonprofit National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation just announced that the Fieldbook: Scouting’s Manual of Basic and Advanced Skills for Outdoor Adventure, has won its rare Work of Significance award.

Think of it as a lifetime achievement award for outdoor books.

The National Outdoor Book Awards are presented annually, but the Work of Significance recognition is handed out less frequently. In fact, the Fieldbook is only the third book since 1999 to receive this honor, which goes to “books that are unusually well-written and of exceptional significance, and/or books that are tried-and-true works in the field which are extraordinarily useful and practical and/or has contributed to making the outdoor experience more understandable.”

That’s a perfect description of the Fieldbook, which released its fifth edition this year.

National Outdoor Book Awards judges include educators, academics, trade representatives, authors, book reviewers and outdoor columnists. In other words, these men and women are qualified outdoor experts.

Read on to learn why the Fieldbook won and how you can buy your copy.

Why the Fieldbook won

The Robert Birkby-authored Fieldbook was honored in 2014 because that was “the perfect time to recognize its influence and importance in the outdoor world,” according to the award citation.

The citation goes on to offer this praise, which also serves as a nice description of what’s inside its 400-plus pages:

What is the Fieldbook? In short, it’s a compendium of outdoor knowledge oriented to young people. A short list of topics include planning trips, preparing menus, outdoor cooking, backcountry hygiene, navigation, leave no trace camping, first aid, survival, and observing and caring for the natural world. It also covers techniques of specific sports including backpacking, mountain travel, ski touring, snowshoeing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting and caving. It’s all contained in a perfectly sized paperback full of color photography and clear and understandable illustrations.

How to buy the Fieldbook

There’s no better time to pick up your copy than right now. It also makes a great gift for the Scouts or Scouters in your life.

You can buy the Fieldbook at for $20 for the perfect-bound version or $27 for one that’s coil-bound. It’s also available digitally via Amazon for $20.

Other Work of Significance winners since 1999

2007Connecticut Walk Book: The Guide to the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails of Western Connecticut

2003:  AMC White Mountain Guide: Hiking Trails of the White Mountain National Forest



  1. This makes me so proud to be a Scouter, even in the face of my numerous disagreements with national BSA policies. It all comes down to program for our Scouts and receiving this recognition RULES!

  2. I’m glad this book has gotten the recognition it richly deserves. The fourth edition was a vast improvement. The fifth enhances upon it with even more practical advice and gems.

  3. It will take a lot to replace my 1952 GBB edition. I have copied pages into IOLS classes and had folks ask “where’d you get that?”
    Hey, Axel….

    • I’d be interested in a comparison between the 1952 and today’s edition. Surely “best practices” in some respect have changed.

      Is there anything that is glaringly different between now and 52 years ago?
      Anything said or done better from back then than we do now?

      • Now there’s a College of Commissioner Science PhD Thesis if I ever heard one!

        I bet the biggest difference is in pedagogy. Sure there are some new methods like “ultralight gear” and “GPS”, and technical terms like “Wilderness Recreation Area”, but how things are presented is a big deal to most folks. What people presume about how youth learn is much different these days.

  4. Well, in a quick overlook, without specifics, ’52 is in B&W. It goes by the Scout rank requirements and then enlarges on each requirement, ALOT. Fire building? Shows many ways to build a fire for a specific purpose. Many ways to light a fire. Speaks of building a fire no bigger than you need. Fires are dug into the ground, not just on top. (yep, not so much “LNT”). ’52 shows Scouts chopping down BIG trees and how to do it. Cooking? Roast eggs by wrapping them in mud. It suggests how one might cook a whole ox(!) over a open fire. It speaks very little ( a good thing?) about organization and group management beyond a Patrol and each Scout’s duty to each other. It is mainly about woodsmanship and skills. ID tree leaves, animal tracks, insects, birds, snakes, reptiles, mammals. I will know more when I see the latest to compare them. I know I was not impressed with the fourth edition, which used such terms as “A sampling of North American Broadleaf Trees”. With the B&W outline leaf pictures in the ’52, one could ID many, many trees. With the little photos in #4, hard pressed to ID a few…

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