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If You Could Design a New/Ideal Scout Uniform:

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First- the design goals. Mine would be moderate price, field functionality but decent looking for meetings and parades, good durability, and the elimination of the need for seperate 'field' and 'activity' uniforms.


I would suggest...


Crew-neck jersey shirts (sort of between T-shirts and sweats), long or short sleeve. Reinforced necks, cuffs, and hems. Pre-embroided US flag and BSA logo/name. Offered in program colors. (Yeah, I know- awfully UK Cub-like, but it meets most of my design goals without invoking the dreaded polos!) Button shirts would remain an option for a dressier uniform.


Modified insignia plan to keep the shirt from getting cluttered, simplify sewing and placement, and to minimize the insigna cost to units and families.


Full sized, old fashioned neckerchief. I even like the original square versions!


Olive or navy cargo pants/shorts/zip-offs in a good cotton/poly/nylon blend, with optional all-cotton canvas or wool blend versions. (Or, my REAL choice would be to replac the uniform pants with a simple dress code!)


Socks- dark socks with long pants, and anklets for shorts- but thats just me!


Caps/hats- I'd offer a small variety to suit various needs and tastes. Probably the Expedition hat, a waterproofed canvas baseball cap with embroidered logo, a Boonie-type cap of some sort, and a warmer cap design.


A three-part jacket (each part available seperately) of a lightweight (Thinsulite?) pocketed vest, a wool-blend or fleece jacket, and a waterproof shell all designed to work together as needed.


All components made by a uniform or outdoor clothing supplier. (Cabelas offers several shirts I'd love to see available, for example!)




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It can be done simply and cheaply and without a controversial two-year process and lots of trauma.


Keep what we have now, but ADD additional official pieces that can be mixed and matched, for example:


In addition to the current tan shirt -- a tan shirt in modern high-tech, "wicking" fabric; and a shirt with a band collar or no collar that makes neckerchiefs look good.


In addition to the current green pants -- BDU-style pants in the same green color; nylon zip-offs in the same green color; and modern hiking-style shorts in modern fabrics, in the same green color.


In addition to the current red jac-shirt and red windbreaker -- red Polartec fleece jacket.


Each Scout and adult has more options and can acquire the pieces he or she likes but still be in uniform.


Dan K

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Like the current shirt. But the pants leave some to be desired. Kevin has one pair of BSA shorts that have like cargo pockets of the side. He loves them. That is the only addition I would make to anything. As Scouts and Scouters we have to carry things. The pockets on the current pants and shorts aren't big enough to be worth anything.

The only other thing is on the womens shirts. They need to make the bust area a little fuller.

To get them to fit well through the shoulders they are a little tight through the chest. If it fits through the chest they are a little big in the shoulders.



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The pants pockets on my old uniform from the 1980's and early 90's were more functional. Why did they screw that up? The color is the same and I would wear them but I added ~ 30 pounds since college.


Some of my old troop would wear surplus military pants or hunting pants winter camping. More durable, briar resistant, and can layer under them. My hunting pants were even water resistant, perfect for winter camping in the snow. So maybe bring back that style of pant but use better fabric like military ones.


Hats: add a boonie hat, solid green, that is water resistant. It is packable, crushable, and servicable for field use. I use a desert storm surplus one on my own hiking and fishing trips. Or a crushable felt (real wool) expedition hat. I bought a hat like that for ~ $20 at Marshalls. I did like the berets, but mine no longer fits. My dad's flat-fold is still servicable, but he can still wear his greens from the late 60's early 70's.


Cub Scouts (my current affiliation) need a few small retro changes to reduce costs. Belt buckle, hat, neckerchief,and neckerchief slide with generic cub scout logo, instead of one per den level except for Webelos. If must have different logo on hat, same hat but use colored rank pins that have safety-pin or screw-back fastenings to prevent loss.


My am still using my original cubscout slide from the 1970's and the hat and belt is still servicable(but little too small for me now).


How about velcro for rank patches, troop/pack numerals, and CSP's.

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Why Velcro for CSP, etc? That stuff does not change often enough to justify the nuisance. Maybe Badge Magic instead?


Or, I met a guy once who had carefully sewn small snaps all over his uniform. He could reconfigure it for any of his positions in a few minutes. Cool trick, but I shudder at all the sewing he did!



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I heard an interesting proposal during a conversation on this topic the other day...


Step 1- simplify and standardize the uniform- reduce variations, streamline insignia, eliminate things that get sewn on and removed often, etc.


This would include using the tan unifrom for Cubs, eliminating the yellow female option, requiring neckerchiefs as only neck option, etc.


Besides being a true 'uniform' by the 'we all look alike' definition of the term, it also should reduce the costs of the uniforms in general.


Step 2- Make the resulting uniform the National Uniform, required for any activity happening internationally or above the Council level- Jamborees, Adventure Bases, etc.


Step 3- Establish a dress code for units that can be fulfilled with the National Uniform, or assembled from local equivilents. In this level, retain the Cub navy uniform options, etc., but let units assemble them from local vendors based on guidelines. Keep a few standard elements ("Scout shirts must display these emblems, be these colors, etc. to qualify") for the identification purposes.


Let's face it- most people nowadays have no clue what the actual BSA uniform looks like, beyond a rather cartoonish tan or navy with a neckerchief and patches. This proposal keeps a national image, but allows more local authority (which, I admit, is not necessarily a good thing!)

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I already wear the ideal Scout Uniform: olive-drab nylon "zip-off" cargo pants and a tan breathable nylon shirt.


The shirt has mesh vents under the arm pits and under a flap between the shoulder blades.


Contrary to common wisdom, this material is ideal for all Scouting activities, the pants can even be used as a shell in the winter.


For about the same price as the official Uniform, you can buy high quality outdoor clothing such as this retail, or for about half the price if you wait for sales and close-outs. Most of the stuff is made in China, but presumably if you ran the biggest outdoor youth organization in the world, you could cut a similar deal with American manufactures.


Sometimes I wear olive drab BDU pants, which are American made and cost $20-30, but are slower to dry because of the cotton in the blend.


Speaking of cotton, I also like the feel of my 100% cotton official BSA shirts for indoor wear. The only problem is that the BSA hired a dress designer (what were they thinking?) and he did not understand how the neckerchief is supposed to be worn.


Oh, and those Christmas tree red epaulets: I hope the next BSA hot house dress designer changes them to tan to match the shirt (what were they thinking?).


For a detailed comparison of various existing materials for Scout uniforms, see:



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I know that you can have your BSA uniform made. But when I was working with Girl Scouts we could buy a uniform kit. It included a pattern, fabric, buttons, and all necessary patches that came on the uniform. It took me about three hours to make my uniform. And it fit to a tee. BSA does not offer that. I would love to make my and Kevin's uniform.


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  • 1 month later...

I love topics that require lateral thinking...


My new [not necessarily ideal for everyone] uniform would consist of:


wrinkle-free wool-blend machine-washable long-sleeved tan shirt w/o epaulettes,less badges, and roll-tabs to hold sleeves up [also available in a lightweight moisture-wicking version for South Texas]


wrinkle-free wool-blend machine-washable green trousers w/o cargo pockets, but w/deep dress pockets and generous belt loops


wrinkle-free heavy-weight canvas [carhartt type] green convertible cargo pants/shorts w/heavy reinforcing [available in lined & unlined, w/ the lining being the McLaren plaid]


green neckties for adults & useful [ie large] neckerchiefs for youth


headgear to be chosen by respective unit [i know my youth would choose a light-colored straw cowboy hat because they're proud of their Texan heritage.]


poly-fleece tan or green convertible vest/sweater w/hood and zippered pockets


I think National Supply should have Edna Mode working on this; goodness knows we need it to be fire-proof, friction-proof, able to withstand all types of weather, and DEFINITELY with a homing beacon...


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  • 5 months later...

Here is what I would consider to be an ideal uniform.


I would use one uniform for all programs. Same shirt, same pants/shorts. Still offer the shirt in short and longsleeved versions. I would have one standard short and long sleeved t-shirt (with a breast pocket (pocket tee). This would eliminate the need for those in multiple positions and units having to have multiple uniforms.


I would change from the current pants to make them more like the current Venturing pants but with velcro on all pockets and I would make them convertible so that the legs could be zipped off to convert them to shorts.


I would continue to use colored shoulder loops to indicate the program of the wearer.


The belt would be the web belt - but each program would have their own buckle, or custom buckles would be permitted, or custom leather belts and buckles.


For socks I would would like to see similar to what is offered now. Ankle socks, crew, and knee socks, and both heavy boot socks and liner socks.


Neckerchief: I would change to the older square version that is folded in a triangle to make it a true multi-purpose neckerchief. The neckerchief could either be standard or customized with either a standard or custom slide.


Insigina. I would convert many of them to pin on or velcro.


The council patch I would leave as is. Sewn on.


The unit numbers I would convert to a velco attachment so that those in district and higher positions can just remove them.


Same with the position patches. Velcro them so that those with multiple positions can just switch them.


I would add a district patch - also velcro worn between the council patch and the unit numbers. Some people are not in districts or serve in more than one district.


I would move the den or patrol patch to be velcroed below the unit unit numbers.


I would leave the flag patch and add one to the jackets discussed below.


I would change the rank patches to either velco or to hang from the shirt pocket button of the left pocket - possibly either as an option. And I would change the Venturing awards to patches to patches similar to the Boy Scout rank.


I would also add velcro to the right shirt pocket for temporary patches or hang them from the pocket button.


I would change the Trained patch to a knot ribbon with devices to indicate the specific training.


I would change the current square knots to miliary style ribbons that can be removed when not needed, with devices to indicate specifics. In addition to those that exist, I would add a tenure or service ribbon (one for each program (Cub, Boy Scout, Varsity, Venturing, District, etc. ) with star (bronze for one year, silver for 5 years, gold for 10 years devices to replace the year pins. I would add a Wood Badge ribbon and a ribbon or badge for those who are trainers. But I would leave the current Wood Badge beads as they are.


I would change the optional name plate to required for adults, optional for youth, but to be worn as a pin on about the right shirt pocket or a sewn on embroidered style but so that either that can be customized by the wearer. I would not allow the type that hang from the pocket button.


Most of the metal pins and badges I would change to pins worn about the pocket or convert them to the miliarty style ribbons.


Develop a standard sweat shirt and hooded sweatshirt with full zipper as optional items. Custom versions would also be authorized.


Jackets: I would use a standard jacket in a layered system:


Inner fleece zipped jacket that can be worn separately or with a wind/rain resistant zipped jacket with a hidden hood in the collar with a universal BSA patch on the left front that could be worn with or withot the fleece jacket. And matching wind/rain resistant pants. I would continue to offer the current red jac-shirt as an option but offer a green and or brown color version as an option - both with slash pockets at the sides.


Headgear: I would offer standard basball style, floppy brim style, campaign and expedition style and knit cold weater caps - all the same for all programs with the same universal cap/hat emblem, but optional baseball style and floppy brim style that are custom. I would also add a cowboy style hat in both straw and felt versions for those so inclined!


Just some of my ideas.



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