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> updated 30/10/09
flat or garrison hats

These are the traditional "field", "flat" or "garrison" hats worn by most Boy Scouts and Explorers in the 50s and 60s

They are still authorized, as the other hats illustrated here, to be worn by Scouts (and by Venturers with the appropriate emblem on the hat) and adults.

Official BSA hats have the BSA's seal inside or on a tag attached to the hat.

BSA official seal


All Uniform headgear Hats

Hats and More Hats for Scouts and Scouters!

Several questions have come up in the past about the various Boy and Varsity Scout hats and which ones are "official". Here's the answer, along with color illustrations from the present and past Supply Division catalogs which show these hats.

Basically, any hat which the BSA has created for wear is suitable for wear by Scouts and Scouters at any time with any uniform. There currently exists eleven different official hats created by the BSA. This does not include official headgear designed for various National and World Jamborees, National Order of the Arrow Conferences (NOACs) and national program emphasis -- all of which may be worn with any official uniform. Types of headgear range from the "smokey-the-bear" Campaign Hat from the 1920s and onward to today's "Indiana Jones" felt hat, Official BSA hats have the BSA's seal inside or on a tag attached to the hat.

For Scouters working with a Boy Scout Troop, a Varsity Scout Team, or Venturing units, the TROOP, TEAM, CREW or SHIP's YOUTH LEADERSHIP determines the hat style for wear. We adults would love to tell the youth what to do, but it's THEIR UNIT, and therefore they make the decision on the hat style (and neckerchiefs, for that matter).

Once the unit's leadership decides on what it's going to wear, then the next thing is to decide to go with official BSA hats (preferred) or a commerical hat (cheaper but not preferred). Your unit's financial state will determine which hat or what style of hat to wear.

Many of these hats are no longer sold through the BSA's Supply Division. I've been told that basically there's a ten-year shelf life on most BSA uniform items. You may be able to obtain these hats (and some others that I don't have scanned here, for instance the Explorer field ("flat" or "garrison") hats worn between 1958 and 1975 or so) from second-hand stores, auction houses, resellers, memorbilia collectors, and the like. The Supply Division only maintains in CURRENT STOCK the hats shown in the most current BSA Supply Division catalogs. However, as I've wrote below, there's that slight chance that some of those hats are "found in a box in the back somewhere", and are made available to local Councils for "liquidation sales" or made available for general purchase.

Commercial hats can be obtained through the BSA's Supply Division, using their Custom Design catalog ; or from a number of local and regional companies that deal with creative hat designs. Firms which create distinctive hats for your unit incorporating one or several of the BSA's official indicia MUST be registered with the BSA's Supply Division. Please consult your local Council before signing any kind of contract with a local or regional company, because only local Councils can enter into contracts with companies. (source: BSA Rules and Regulations; BSA Fund-rasing guidelines).

Most of the questions I receive are those dealing with the old red beret...it was popular during it's time but not enough for the BSA to keep it around:

Henry Kramer asked:

I was wondering if anyone has information about the old red Scout beret. Specifically I would like to know when they were made a part of the uniform, also when they stopped being official Scout headgear.

The red beret was introduced originally as part of the Leadership Corps uniform in 1971. The Leadership Corps, as rolled out then, were the forerunner to today's Venture Crew -- three or more boys aged 14 or over, whose jobs it was to work with and advise the Troop's elected leadership, while training and coaching younger Scouts and continuing on their advancement. Leadership Corps members wore the kelly green Scout shirts with special "SCOUT BSA" strips (that's what we were calling ourselves back then...SCOUTS and SCOUTING/USA). In 1973, the red beret was extended for wear by ALL Scouts if the Troop's leadership (that is, the YOUTH leadership) elected to wear it.

The beret has NOT stopped being official, Henry. As long as the hatgear is decided upon by the Troop's membership and leadership, it may be worn if you can obtain them. This not only goes for the red beret, but also for the "floppy ears" hat, the Campaign ("smokey the bear") hat, the flat Scout field hat (in the military we called it the "overseas" or "garrison" hat) and seven other hats that the BSA has rolled out for it's youth and adults to wear over the years.

The key, Henry, is the last part of the first sentence in the above paragragh: "...it may be worn if you can obtain them." For some reason (popularity, I guess), those hats are HARD TO FIND (the official ones, not the ones that you can get from Brigade Quartermaster or other military surplus outlets). The OFFICIAL ones, like the one draped over my bookcase behind me (I earned it by being the best Patrol Leader in my Troop for a year), has the BSA's official seal and space for your name inside the hat and of course the BSA outlined emblem on the front.

eBay seem to carry a few from time to time; do a search for "wool Scout hats" to see if you get one or two.

You might even write National Supply; sometimes, in cleaning out their warehouses and storage facilities, and sometimes in the merger or closure of camping facilities or Council service centers (Council offices) they get back some uniforms and insignia and sometimes those hats find their way "back home" again, ready for resale.

The other question I get a lot deals with "where and when to wear a hat", as illustrated by James' email:

Our Scoutmaster and the Troop Committee Chair keeps going back and forth about when and where our Scouts are to wear their hats. We're chartered to a Lutheran Church, and meets in the basement of the church. The Scoutmaster keeps telling everyone that Scouts are "exempt" from some policy about wearing hats in churches; the Troop Committee Chair says "there's no policy...just common sense and people don't wear hats inside churches or any other place!" Who's right here, Mike?"

This is from one of my favorite references — the BSA’s “Scout Courtesy, Customs and Drills”, which was printed in 1942 and as I stated earlier, provides a lot of “Common Scouter Sense”. Yes, I’ve shared this resource with the Uniform and Insignia task force (and before that the Committee), but it never got past the “that’s nice” stage.

Your mileage may vary.

“The Scout hat is an integal and essential part of the Scout Uniform. In many ways it is its most distinctive feature, one which even at considerable distance proclaims that its wearer is a Scout.”

(they are speaking, of course, to the “broad-brimmed hat” we later called the “Smokey the Bear” hat. It is still “legal” and “official” to wear, BTW.)

“The Scout hat should be worn at all times that the Uniform is worn. The Scout or Scouter removes his hat, however, in the prescence of ladies or upon entering a home, church, school building, office or indoor public gathering. At church and school assemblies where Scouts are in formation, leaders by prearrangement may indicate that Scouts will remove their hats upon entering the building.

At Scout meetings, Courts of Honor, circuses, camps and camporees, the leaders should determine the custom to be followed according to the circumstances.

Scouts attending a funeral service in uniform should remove their hats, unless otherwise requested.

While marching or standing in a Color Guard, Scouts wear their hats at all times.

There you go, James. Hopefully this will appear in the BSA's current Insignia (Control) Guide soon!

Cub Scout/Scouter Hatgear
These are the current Cub Scout/Cub Scouter hats worn today. Each year program -- Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and WEBELOS (right) -- has their own distinctive hat which also may be worn by male and female Cub Scouters.
In addition, a special version of the "down under hat" for either male or female Cub Scouters was also designed.

Boy/Varsity Scout/Scouter Hatgear
These are the most commonly seen hats used by Boy Scouters and Cub Scouters today. They include the red Boy Scouters' hat, the blue and gold Cub Scouters', and the "smokey-the-bear" Campaign hat (with the optional rain cover)
These are the two commonly used hats today; the one on the right has a meshed back while the one on the left has a straight cloth back.
While rolled out for wear with the "Centennial" (current) Scout uniform, this hat may also be worn with all previous uniforms as well.

Boy/Varsity Scout and Scouter Hatgear
The campaign hat is the oldest official BSA hat
The field ("flat or garrison") hat is the second-oldest hat and the most common one found in resale stores
This is the first version of the winter hat (note the flaps!)
This was the last version of a winter-style Scout hat

Boy/Varsity Scout and Scouter Hatgear
One of several styles of knitted winter hats
This hat was known as the "camp staffers' hat" and the campers' hat; Councils and even Philmont would replace the BSA emblem in the center with their own emblem
Introduced before the National Scout Jamboree in 1997, the "bush hat" or the "Indiana Jones" hat (for the character that wore a similar hat) has been a hit with Scouts and Scouters!
The BSA's Supply Division also has special "made to order" hats which can be ordered with your Troop number or other information along with a variety of emblems that are sewn onto the hats.

Female Scouter Hatgear
This is the most common female Scouters' hat
The traditional female ("Den Mother's") hat, updated with the newer Cub Scout emblem
The Cub Scouter version of the common female Scouters' hat
Because the male red beret was so popular, the BSA created a special blue beret for Cub Scouters and Explorers (the Exploring/Cub Scouters' jackets were blue)

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Credits: Scans courtesy of the BSA and Mike Walton. The link to eBay™ and Brigade Quartermaster™ does not imply any endorsement and is placed here as an additional source of hats and in eBay's case, older uniforms as well as hats.

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