The Cub Scout Six Essentials: A half-dozen items to pack on every campout or hike

A big part of Cub Scouts involves introducing boys to the fun and adventure of spending time outdoors. And if you’re going to spend time outdoors, you’re going to want the right gear.

The Cub Scout Six Essentials, learned as part of the Wolf Rank, is a list of a half-dozen items every Cub Scout should carry when going on hikes or campouts.

Cub Scout leaders explain the Six Essentials as part of the Wolf required adventure “Call of the Wild.”

Later, when a Cub Scout enters Boy Scouting, he’ll learn about the Scout Basic Essentials, unofficially known as the Ten Essentials.

Whether he’s a Wolf packing six must-have items or a Tenderfoot packing 10, the purpose is the same: ensuring young people have the tools they need before heading out the door.

What are the Cub Scout Six Essentials?

These are items every Cub Scout should carry in his personal gear when going on hikes or campouts

  1. First-aid kit: adhesive bandages, moleskin, gauze, antibiotic ointment, etc.
  2. Water bottle: filled and large enough to last until it can be filled again
  3. Flashlight: for emergency use only
  4. Trail food: can be made as a den activity prior to hike or campout
  5. Sun protection: sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater and a hat
  6. Whistle: also for emergency use only

When should a Cub Scout carry these items?

On any hike or campout with the den or pack. By encouraging Cub Scouts to pack and carry their own personal gear items, you’re preparing them for Boy Scouts.

How should a Cub Scout carry these items?

For convenience — and to make sure no item gets lost — each Cub Scout should carry his Six Essentials in a small fanny pack or backpack.

Cub Scout leaders should emphasize that these are tools, not toys, and should be used only when needed.

How can adults help Cub Scouts prepare and pack?

Den leaders should bring a sample set of the Six Essentials to a den meeting before the pack’s/den’s big hike or campout.

Adults should explain the importance of each item and what qualities a Cub Scout should look for in each.

For example, you might outline the difference between a flashlight and headlamp, discuss what items go into a first-aid kit, and talk about what goes into a healthy trail snack.

The Boy Scout Ten Essentials

Known as the Scout Basic Essentials in the newest (13th) edition of the Boy Scout Handbook (pages 238-239), the Boy Scout Ten Essentials are as follows.

Items in bold are on both the Boy Scout Ten Essentials list and the Cub Scout Six Essentials list.

  1. Pocketknife
  2. Rain gear
  3. Trail food
  4. Flashlight
  5. Extra clothing
  6. First-aid kit
  7. Sun protection
  8. Map and compass
  9. Matches and fire starters
  10. Water bottle