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Hiking Merit Badge Requirements

We begun our hiking merit badge by doing trail backpacking and hiking in the Porcupine Mountains. Our Troop has Scouts who need to complete the 15 and 20 mile hikes. Do those hikes require carrying a backpack. Practicality aside, they will bring a backpack with water and other supplies. I’m looking to verify if:

  1. A backpack is required and,
  2. If so, what is the minimum weight

Thank you in advance.

Yours in Scouting,
Dave Schwartzberg
Troop 69 Scoutmaster and Hiking MB Counselor

The requirements don’t say anything about using a backpack, so I would guess that’s up to you as the MB counselor. They have to provide you their hike plan, which includes “map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.” That implies using backpacks, but doesn’t make them mandatory.

I could easily see them not using backpacks for some longer hikes – we did a 10 miler last winter and used a Scout-pulled sled instead of backpacks to carry almost all of the gear.

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If the requirements don’t say anything about a backpack then the Merit Badge Counselor cannot require their use. This would be adding to the requirements.


The MB is Hiking, not Backpacking.
The name says it all.

Have the scouts met with the Hiking merit badge counselor?

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OP is their Hiking MB Counselor…

Oops! Missed the by-line!
So, each scout has met with the counselor, preferably in buddy-pairs?

With badges like these, there can be the horse that you lead to the water but can’t make drink. So, be sure that the scouts who start this hike are willing participants, and have a plan B for those who aren’t there yet. The 20 miler really works best with compatible buddy pairs. Even the 15 miler can be a stretch for many scouts. (Most days it’s a stretch for me. :wink: )

P.S. – the Porcupines are on my bucket list.

There is quite a difference between a day pack for storing the 10 essentials and a backpack when moving from place to place.

My council has a long 20-plus mile day hike where there is no water available for part of the hike. How to carry water is a challenge: backpack, vest, etc.? Weight depends on the weather. Hot weather requires more water to be carried. Then there are snacks, first aid kits, etc.

Remember, “safety first”.

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