The 10 Essentials are survival items that outdoors organizations recommend for safe travel in the backcountry. It’s a good habit to carry the 10 Essentials whenever spending time in the backcountry, even on day-hikes.
- Navigation: don’t get lost. Always bring map & compass when traveling unfamiliar territory. Never assume you will have cell-phone coverage.
- Sun protection: prevent sunburn and overheating – sunglasses, sunscreen for lips and skin, hat, clothing for sun protection.
- Insulation: stay warm. Bring hat, gloves, insulated/rain jacket – extra clothing for coldest possible weather during current season.
- Illumination: sometimes a hike takes longer than expected (especially if hiking with little kids!) – don’t get lost after sunset. Always carry a small flashlight or headlamp (don’t forget extra batteries).
- First-aid kit (and insect repellant): you should always keep a basic first aid kit (at least!) in your pack.
- Fire: butane lighter and/or matches in waterproof container.
- Knife: doesn’t have to be a sword or machete, a quality pocket knife is usually sufficient.
- Nutrition: don’t starve. Dry food is preferred to save weight but usually needs water. Energy bars works well too.
- Hydration: avoid dehydration by brining extra water. Always carry an extra bottle of water. Amount of water depends on location, but generally a Liter bottle is sufficient. Hot climates may require significantly more – I sometimes carried up to 3 extra Liters while hiking Grand Canyon. Consider bringing a water filter or treatment system on longer hikes.
- Emergency shelter: Emergency Thermal Blankets; size of a candy bar, weigh only 1-2 ounces, and cost only $3-$5.
If traveling with baby, several additional items are necessary to avoid disaster. Never leave home without the 10 Baby Essentials.
In addition to items above, always take following precautions:
- Plan your route.
- Check weather forecast.
- Dress appropriately.
- Fuel up – food and water; never hike on empty stomach.
- Know your limitations. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries, but do so safely.
- Stay dry – stay warm.
- Share your plans with a friend; where are you going? When are you coming back?
- If disaster strikes – don’t panic; stay calm, collected, and focused. Assess situation, assess risk, evaluate options, and make a rational plan before acting.