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Hiking or trekking or backpacking is a long outdoor walk, normally through the countryside, but it could go through urban areas too.

Types of hikes

Day Hike

A hike that is completed in less than a day, could be as short a 4 km or as much as 20km. Day hikes (sometimes called a day walk) are great for building up the confidence, hiking skills and fitness of the patrol.

Night Hike

A night hike is an adventure in itself. It is short like a day hike, but is done after sunset. It teaches us different skills like navigation with a compass and

Overnight Hike

The hiker has to carry all kit and food for the duration of the hike. On some routes the scouts may sleep in overnight huts or in hiking tents.

Patrol Hike

Simply a hike done as a patrol, it could be a day hike or an overnight hike. These activities are great for building patrol spirit and opportunities to teach the younger scouts important scoutcraft skills.

Scout Hiking competitions

Planning and preparing for a hike

Hike safety

Have a look at this important section on Hiking Safety.

Choose a date (4-6 weeks in advance)

Choosing a date, and then getting confirmed availability is a great starting point. Once you have this confirmed, the rest of the planning will follow fairly easily. You do not need to wait until every other detail is planned before agreeing on a date.

Make sure you consider weather expectations and seasons when choosing a date.

Route selection (4-6 weeks in advance)

Spend some time with an experienced hiker, to ensure that you plan a safe route that is suitable for the age and experience level of your hiking group. You should consider:

  • Overnight campsite
  • Water points
  • Plan B / escape routes

Hiking group

Make sure to finalise who will be hiking with you in advance. Make sure the people you invite are suitably fit and experienced for the route you have chosen. The minimum Scout hiking party size is 4.


Arrange transport to and from the start and end points. Ensure that the vehicles have sufficient space for your backpacks, staves and other equipment. Are you budgeting for transport costs, or are parents volunteering?


Create a suitable hiking menu that is easy to prepare, and provides sufficient energy and sustenance for hiking. You should also keep emergency rations.

Equipment and kit list

Create a personal kit list and send it to each member of your hiking party. You can also divide up group kit between you.

Personal kit

Be prepared to handle any weather conditions

  • Suitable shoes for hiking/walking. Wearing of thick socks is recommended.
  • Shirt, shorts, group scarf.
  • Sun hat, sun lotion, sunglasses (optional)
  • Jersey / wind-breaker / raincoat (a large plastic bag makes a good raincoat)
  • Water bottle (2 litre per person, filled)
  • Notebook / paper and pencil
  • Compass
  • Lightweight eating utensils (enamel mug, plate and spoon)
  • Pocket knife
  • Food (provided, or each bring their own?
    • sandwiches, sweets, fresh/dried fruit, peanuts, cheese, provita and/or boerewors, meat and vegetables for cooking over a fire
    • if scouts must bring their own food, ensure that you specify what food would be suitable for a hike
  • Plastic bag in which to bring back rubbish/litter
  • Stave/walking stick (optional)
  • Rucksack or improvised backpack, with suitable water proofing
  • Sheet of plastic for improvised shelter
  • Torch
  • Toiletry bag
  • Personal medications

Overnight camp

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Pillow
  • Ground Sheet

Group equipment

  • Map, and a spare
  • Food for the group
  • First Aid kit
  • Emergency kit - ground sheets for shelters
  • Gas cookers
  • Pots
  • Matches (in waterproof container)
  • Toilet paper (in waterproof container)

How to pack a backpack

It is important to pack your backpack correctly to avoid early fatigue and discomfort. Check out these videos for some tips.


You will need to obtain the following permits and consents:

  1. Permit for outdoor activity from Scouts South Africa, approved by the authorised hiking representative
  2. Nature conservation permits (SANParks, Cape Nature, etc)
  3. Permission from private land owners if you intend to cross private land
  4. Parent Consent Forms


See How to create a budget for scout activities for more details.

On the day

  • Arrive at meeting place in good time
  • Collect outstanding parents' consent forms (check details)
  • Check Scout's kit and food
  • Brief Scouts on what is expect of them before departure on hike

Outdoor Code

Make sure everyone is familiar with the Scout Outdoor Code

Keeping a log

Logs and Strip Logs

Logbooks of hikes are required for the Springbok Scout and the Hiker Interest Badge. Written logs may also be presented for Adventurer Day Journey and First Class Hike. How to Write a Hiking Log is a guide to Scouts on how to write these logs.

Trails and Tracking

See Tracking and Trail Signs for details.

Expedition mapping

Hiking tips

The following programme during the hike is suggested:

  • During the first hour collect items for a nature logbook e.g. seeds, leaves, flowers, feathers, etc. The collection must have due regard to the Outdoor Code.
  • In the next hour spot and identify at least 5 different trees, bushes, birds, animals, insects etc. Make a note of these.
  • Take regular note of cloud formations and wind direction throughout the journey.
  • Demonstrate an ability to use a compass or point out the general direction in which they are hiking according to the eight cardinal points.
  • Stop for a meal or refreshment at a place where the Scouts can prepare a meal - it is recommended that the making of a fire and the cooking of an item of food, e.g. boerewors, meat, mealie meal, etc. be undertaken. Allow at least 75 minutes.
  • Keep written notes of what is observed on the way for easy reference when reporting back later.
  • During the hike look for possible areas of soil erosion, water pollution, or vandalism of property which may be corrected in a future Troop conservation project.

See also