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  • History of Boy Scout mess kits

    Does anyone know anything about the history of boy scout mess kits?

  • #2
    I can only say that the same mess kits, without the plastic cup, were in the catalogue when I was a scout in the early fifties. I had one and used it a lot. They were the only thing widely available at that time other than army mess kits. Today I advise against spending money for one.

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    • #3
      I collect Boy Scout mess kits. I didn't really intend to, but when you start looking for one with a certain cup you are a collector. I even have a Regal girl scout mess kit with a metal cup. I have a old Wearever mess kit that has never been on the fire. I have an older Wearever mess kit that has been used. The Wearever mess kits are at least 50 years old.
      There are Wearever and Regal brand mess kits. When did Wearever start making mess kits and when did Regal start making them. There are some steal Boy Scout mess kits! Who made them, and when were they made. When did Regal go from the metal cup to the green plastic cup? I don't have any new mess kits, what color are the cups now?
      These are the kind of questions I would like to have answered. I know that mess kits have fallen from favor with scouters. However, I believe that Boy Scout mess kits are an important part of the lore and tradition of the Boy Scouts. If you have any favorite recipes that you made in a Boy Scout mess kit, please send them to me.

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      • #4
        I was also interested in old scouting equipment, uniforms, etc. and found a great site that has a picture of a mess kit from around 1910, which was alot bigger and consisted of "a frying pan,handled pot, drinking cup, and grill".

        here's the link:

        http://www.boyscoutstuff.com/Galleries/Equipment/messkit.html

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        • #5
          I know there are tons of "offical trail mess kit" and such knockoffs out there. Most recently the cups for offical kits are black plastic. I own a few knockoffs that have seen some use, but I don't like aluminum flimsy tiny pots no matter who makes them. They should go back to how they were made long ago and get rid of most of the cheap flimsy junk they sell now.

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          • #6
            OK, I would like to amend my comment above. Offical equipment has taken a little slide in the past years but is still a lot better than all of the foreign knockoffs. I still think that the prices are quite excessive, but the quality is a little better for BSA gear than foreign junk. I'm in the process of locating an older offical BSA mess kit.

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            • #7
              I own two older Boy Scout mess kits. One is from the 50's and still in the box. the other one is from the early 60's and the canvas cover is like new. I use the one from the 60's on camp outs. I have one of the newer ones I bought about 3 or 4 years ago. The quality is better than any of the new ones including the stainless steel ones I have paid 30 plus dollars for. What I like about a mess kit is it seals when making dutch oven type meals.
              Dancin

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              • #8
                Got my old (Imperial I think) mess kit and canteen with aluminum stopper off of e-bay about a year ago. Got the Imperial leather cased chow set too. they are a LOT better than the new stuff I had. Kind of funny, that mess kit was in great shape, like it wasn't used even. I have already baked bread in the frying pan. I also snagged a reflector oven, offical even, that I polished up and plan on using this summer. I'm hoping to make this summer an "antique equipment" summer. Working on a mostly complete camping outfit that would fit in about 1948. I even made up a bedroll with a light canvas cover and a wool blanket inside. Surprisingly it's pretty light and just as small as a light sleeping bag, and it has some added utility and durability. I also made up a light canvas Trail Tent from plans in the '48 handbook my grandma gave me when I was a little kid. I also dug out a canvas Yucca pack that I got a long time ago, now all I need to do is get out camping. Old equipment is actually a pretty fun hobby, and using it is another great hobby.

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                • #9
                  As I have said earlier, I have many boy scout mess kits. I also have an almost complete set of scout handbooks. Scouting has changed a lot since the 60s. Scouts used to make their own tents. Our troop uses the latest in high tech camping equipment. We have a huge trailer that has to be pulled by a 3/4 ton truck. Now, we don't let them cook on open fires. We teach kids how to build fires and then make them cook on propane gas stoves. I would like to see a return to a simpler, more primitive brand of scouting.

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                  • #10
                    One mess kit that I did see mentioned was the only square official BSA mess kit ever made. It was the Upton variety and was made by the Upton Machine Company of St. Joseph Michigan. It was a telescoping set and included a folding steel firerack. It had a tall stew pot and square steel cup that slid together and the rectangular fry pan, three wire handles and fire rack all fit inside. It was stamped with the BSA logo and was manufactured in the late teens and early twenties. They are very hard to find and I believe most were destroyed during the massive scrap metal drives of WWII. Upton also made a non BSA type almost identical to the BSA model but it did not have the logo stamped into the stew pot and was called the "Kamp King" model. I have had two of the offcial BSA models and one Kamp King. One official BSA model is now on display at the Miakonda Scouting Museum in Toledo Ohio and I sold the other for about $200.00. The Upton was 100% steel. If you look at the tall narrow stew pot it had to be near impossible to clean. The Upton Machine Company became the Whirlpool Corporation which it remains. Before they were making washing machines they made very early BSA mess kits and quite a number of steel toys during slow sales times. The BSA square mess kits are one of a kind and should be the central piece of any BSA mess kit collection.

                    The standard round design mess kit that you are all familiar with dates back to at least 1915 and there are a lot of the 1915 BSA sets still around that have the date stamped into them. They used a somewhat heavier gauge material and I believe they were also steel at that point. Aluminum sets came later. -Dave Eby, Miakonda Museum Curator

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                    • #11
                      I remember using the collapsing drinking cups in the early 60's. I think they had a BSA logo... on three or four rings of plastic material. If you didn't handle them just right they would spill your drink right into your hand. Glad we don't have those anymore, but now it is throw away styrofoam.

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