Activity Pants
BDU Sources ]



Troop Activity Uniforms:
Relative Advantages of Official Boy Scout Pants 
vs. BDUs vs. Nylon Zip-Off Cargo Pants

(Click on Photos to View Details Close-Up)

  Official BSA 
"Boy Scout Trousers"
(Battle Dress Uniform)
Quality Nylon "Zip-Off" 
Convertible Cargo Pants.  Various Brands Available in Clothing & Outdoor Stores
Budget Generic Nylon "Zip-Off"  Cargo Pants.  Similar Styles Available in Most Discount Stores

Olive Drab

Olive Drab

Olive Drab

Olive Drab


bsa1seat.jpg (17739 bytes)

bsa-stitch.jpg (67023 bytes)

Single layer of a loosely woven polyester blend.  Note rip at stress point.

Note seam stitching method and compare with example at right.

Click on photos to enlarge.


bdu-seat.jpg (19683 bytes)

bdu-stitch.jpg (63921 bytes)

Heavy-duty polyester blend.  A SECOND LAYER is added to the knees, seat, and other high wear areas!  Seams are folded under before stitching.

nes-seatc.jpg (33388 bytes)

nes-stitchc.jpg (10561 bytes)

Extra Fabric for Movement

Tightly woven 100% Nylon.   

Good for shell layer, even in the winter.  Promotes group cohesiveness in the woods, where the  Uniform Method  belongs.

Seams are very strong.

Copy_of_kru-seat.jpg (21735 bytes)

Copy_of_kru-stich.jpg (42190 bytes)

Tightly woven 100% Nylon.   

Good for shell layer, even in the winter.

Seams are very strong.

Olive drab color is usually a closer match than indicated here.


Purpose Designed for indoor Troop meetings and to be worn in a car on the way to a campout.  Its main purpose is symbolic, to indicate membership in the BSA.

To use the Uniform Method with rugged outdoor activities, look for a "Troop Activity Uniform."  We suggest nylon.

Designed to withstand rough use in battle during a war.  

Still contains 40% cotton because 100% polyester can melt in some combat situations.  Nylon can not be used in battle because it makes some noise with leg movement. 

Very well thought-out design.  This was the choice of the Scouts in my Troop.   Look for similar features in other brands available near you.

Breathable nylon is the best choice for camping due to 0% cotton content.

Designed to withstand rough use by kids.  

Nylon is the best choice for camping due to 0% cotton content.  

Cheap nylon that appears to be glossy or shiny is reported to retain body moisture (may not "breathe").  Scouts in my Troop that use them do not agree. 

The 1980 Oscar de la Renta design is not popular with  21st Century boys.  

Seldom (if ever) worn except to indicate membership in BSA. 

Considered by most people to be too expensive and impractical for campouts.

Our Scouts wore them  during the 1990s at meetings, year-round high adventure camping, at the mall, school, and for rough after-school play.

Unlike nylon "Zip-Off" styles (right), you still need to buy both long and short pairs, according to season.

Zip-off feature makes them most convenient for a game period at meetings, and to quickly remove a layer to avoid overheating while hiking. 

Zippered mesh sides in pockets for drainage and ventilation.  Can be used for swimming and canoeing.

Good for wind shell year-round, including winter.

Zip-off feature makes them most convenient for a game period at meetings, and to quickly remove a layer to avoid overheating while hiking. 

Drain holes in pockets for swimming and canoeing.

Good for wind shell year-round, including winter.


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Sold by individual waist sizes

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Sold by waist size-ranges.

As Scout grows, he adjusts the straps on the waistband himself.

neswaistc.jpg (86465 bytes) Sold by general sizes such as Small, Medium, Large.

Includes a built-in belt, but look for styles with  belt loops.

Copy_of_kruwaist.jpg (10694 bytes) Sold by child sizes.  

Expandable elastic waist. 

Sometimes also have belt loops for a Scout belt.


Copy_of_Bs2cuff.jpg (16973 bytes)

Must be hemmed.

  As the Scout grows, the cuff must be let down and hemmed again, leaving a "high water" mark (click detail on left).  Not convenient for growing boys.

bdu-cuff.jpg (19924 bytes)

Drawstring cuff is adjusted with each wearing.

The drawstring helps guard against the ticks that carry Lime Disease.

nes-cuffc.jpg (53044 bytes) Adjustable shock cord is adjusted with each wearing.  This feature is superior to the BDU drawstring (left).

The shock cord helps guard against the ticks that carry Lime Disease.

The removable lower leg portion is wide enough to  pull over large hiking boots (check this feature when buying other brands).

Copy_of_kruzipo2JPG.jpg (39541 bytes)

Cuff is hemmed with elastic.

A hidden zipper on the leg converts the long pants to shorts for strenuous activity or water sports.

Pockets bsa3pock.jpg (54771 bytes) 2 small front pockets, 2 small rear pockets without flaps.

Note rip at stress point due to  poor seam design (see above).

"White pocket" visible from side when you sit down (check your photo album). 

Tiny "Merit Badge" front cargo pockets are proof to some that National listens.


bdu-poc.jpg (25883 bytes)

bdu-handbook.jpg (284862 bytes)

2 roomy front pockets, 2 roomy rear pockets with buttons.

2 large pleated cargo pockets on side of legs, rather than the fronts (see left). A BSA Handbook fits OK, but the weight is annoying.

Pockets have flaps with buttons.

Note the superior styling.

nes-pocket1.jpg (207388 bytes) 4 roomy front pockets (1 pair zippered, 1 pair with flap  & snap).

1 average rear pocket with Velcro flap.

4 cargo pockets (1 pair with Velcro flap.  A BSA Handbook fits OK, but the weight is annoying.

1 smaller pair of "cell phone pockets"), 1 accessory loop, 1 loop with D-ring.

Extra "cell-phone" pocket on side of right leg below knee.

Very small "key" pocket inside the waistband.

Pockets have zippered ventilation mesh.

Copy_of_kru-poc.jpg (40937 bytes) 2 average front pockets.

2 small rear pockets with flaps and secure Velcro closures. 

2 average cargo pockets on front of legs. 

Small extra  pocket on side of left leg below knee.

Drain holes to let out water after swimming.


Fit Tight fit is out of style, and uncomfortable for many Scouts and Scouters. Comfortable, practical, roomy fit.  Constantly updated and used by various NATO armies. Perfect fit, shows the genius of a market economy. Comfortable, practical, roomy fit.  Otherwise, kids won't buy them.  
Availability Most child sizes available at your local Scout Shop.  

Call ahead in September (and before summer camp) to confirm availability.

Local military supply stores may require that very small child sizes be ordered a week in advance.  
Subject to the whims of style.

This particular Nesi brand was offered a couple of years ago, and is featured here for comparison purposes only.  

Try or or other outdoor stores.

Subject to the whims of style.

This pair was purchased at Kids-R-Us. Similar models sometimes available through Walmart, Target, other discount stores, and


bsa_tag.jpg (27675 bytes)

Copy_of_bsa_tag2.jpg (22095 bytes)

 USA origin  said to be the justification for price. bdu-tag.jpg (53102 bytes) Made in USA.  

Note that  American product is significantly cheaper than BSA product. 

  Made in Taiwan.


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Copy_of_kru-tag2.jpg (20374 bytes)


Made in China.
Price Child sizes:
Child sizes:
Child Sizes: 
Child sizes:

See Also:






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.