The 9 Things You Need For A Scout Kit

When I say scout, I am not referring to the BSA. I am referring to moving and checking out what lies ahead. This is where the 9 things you need for a scout kit come into play.

Before we get into the 9 things, let’s talk about scouting as a whole. 



You’ve seen an old western and watched as a Native American moves stealthily through the woods. He stops every so often and looks in the distance, up in the trees and even down at the ground. Because of this, the brave warrior is able to look for wild game, a new place for his people, or at extremes, his enemy.

When he stops to do those three things, he sees what may be hiding in the bushes or trees. As a result, he sees what had been in the area by looking at tracks and poop.

When standing still, the first thing he does is look around very slowly to ensure he is in no immediate danger and then listens. He listens to the wind, the bushes and the trees. At some point, he even sniffs the air for smells that are not supposed to be there.


A modern comparison is the traits of a recon scout.  They move slowly to find camps, persons or danger for other troops. In the Armed Forces, there are many names this group is called depending on the specific branch. While I won’t list them off, I am using recon scouts in a general sense.

So you can see some of the reasons why moving slowly and moving silently is crucial when you are scouting an area for hunting, camping, or true survival.

One last note before we get to the 9 things you need for a scout kit. You may wonder why scouting a camping site would need to be done stealthily.

When not referring to a park or public campground, other people or wildlife may be in the area. As a result of being still and quiet you see and hear exactly what you are looking and listening for.

If it is a survival situation, this can be a major factor.



While that may seem like a lot for a kit, everything in the main list will fit in a day pack or haversack. In fact, most can be stowed into pockets, especially if you wear cargo pants. For clarity, I’m breaking each of the items down.


A Multipurpose Emergency Survival Tarp is small enough to fit in your day pack but is handy for a lot of things. As the M implies, it can be used as a blanket, a ground cover, and a shelter.

Different tarp configuration ideas and uses can be found here.


For my container, I usually fill it before I go so I am not worried about looking for water in addition to what my priority is.

If you are out looking for water, then it is essential that you fill your container before you leave.

I use a single wall stainless steel container because it can be used for multiple purposes as well. An example is the need to boil what may seem like fresh water in order to make it drinkable.


The debate of using actual military spec 550 paracord still lingers throughout the internet. You can substitute the paracord for cordage of choice. However, the military has been using it forever, so I go with tried and true.

The purpose of the cordage is again, multipurpose. It can be used for constructing a shelter, setting a trap or snare, and the list goes way beyond the imagination.

You will notice a theme for these first three of all of them having multiple uses. And this is why they are essential for the 9 things you need for a scout kit.


If you want a time killer, look at the debates on what knife one should carry. You might want to think about carrying more than one if you can spare the weight. 

I carry a fixed blade between three and six inches, a folder that is a quickdraw for defense, and a Swiss Army Knife. Typically, these fit 99% of what I need in an emergency and sustain me during my short trip.


This is simply one of those no brainer things in my opinion. If I need fire, I need a way of starting one fast. A couple of examples are warmth or boiling water

I have started many fires using primitive methods. But the reality is, if I need a fire now, I do not want to depend on those skills. This really comes into play if I am unfamiliar with resources or if it is simply raining.


I have been in many situations where I did not want to carry either of these, but training reminds me to put them in my pocket just in case.

It is usually those times when I didn’t want to carry them that I needed them the most. An example is when I found myself standing at the edge of a cliff wondering how to get down. 

As a result, this could have been avoided by reading the map first and then setting my course.


A Personal First Aid Kit can be very simplistic. Salt, sugar, honey, Tylenol, 4×4 gauze pad, and gauze wrap usually takes care of what I might encounter. A reminder is to add any medicines you take even if you are only going to be out for a “short trip”.

Other items may be added based on comfort level. That being said, don’t be too proud to put a couple of Band-Aids in a Ziplock bag and put them in your pocket.


What do you see? Where should you go? How will you get there? What resources are available?

The answers to these questions can be a lot to keep in your head. If you are in survival mode, you will rarely remember everything you are looking for. 


My personal recommendation is a headlamp opposed to a flashlight for one of the 9 things you need for a scout kit. It shines where you want to see without taking up the use of one of your hands.

I recommend a light with adjustable brightness. Keep in mind, there are times where a red lamp can be crucial for survival because it is not clearly visible in a distance.

Also, a blue light helps in spotting blood on game trails. 


Briefly I want to address the optional items for the 9 things you need for a scout kit. Each one of these is based on mission. I’ll give an example of different missions shortly.

While it is not listed here, T R A I N I N G is the biggest factor in usage. Using a compass and reading a map is not instinctual. Similarly, handling a weapon properly and using it accurately takes both training and practice.

Firearms types are dependent on the scouting mission itself. Food may require a rifle or shotgun. But defensible scouting may require a rifle and handgun. As an example, where I scout, I always carry a handgun for bears and other predators.

Water filtering systems are also another hugely debated item. While carrying one is desirable and recommended, it may not be essential. 

WHAT did you just say? Not essential? Yes.

Boiling water kills almost everything that you are worried about to start with. If you are in a situation where fire is a death sentence, carry a filter. Use your instincts on this one.

Depending on terrain, binoculars may be just another item you will never use. Thick brush in the hills render these fairly useless. If there is open terrain it is definitely a great addition to the 9 things you need for a scout kit.

In Closing

Make the kit yours. If you need to add something then do so. My word is not final but these are what I have used after thinning down my kit.

I have used this kit in multiple ecosystems and it has not failed me once. However, I am not too proud to refine as needed.

Above all, stay safe and use your instincts to survive.

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Bill Reese

Author Bill Reese

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