10 Essentials of Hiking, Backpacking & Outdoor Adventure

From summer day hiking to a winter camping trip, the 10 essentials are elements of gear that are crucial to carry in your pack - no matter the season. In a sticky or emergency situation, these pieces of gear can be used to help keep us adventurers safe and survive an emergency in the wilderness.

First established in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based organization for climbers and outdoor adventurers, the original list was item-specific. In 2003, the 10 Essentials were updated to include a more systematic approach to help outdoor enthusiasts answer two basic questions: 'Can you respond positively in an emergency?' And, 'Could you spend the night in the wilderness, if need be?' Having and knowing how to use this gear means you will be able to answer 'Yes!' to both.

10 essentials of hiking

The 10 Essentials include:

1. Navigation: including a map, compass and knowledge of how to use both.

2. Sun protection: bring and wear sunscreen, hat and/or sunglasses.

3. Insulation/extra clothing: Your extra layers should be enough to keep you warm in the chance you unexpectedly spend the night outside or in the off-chance your clothes get wet from water or sweat.

4. Illumination: a flashlight or headlamp to light your way after the sun sets. Don't forget extra batteries!

5. First aid supplies: whether bringing a kit or a few key essentials, have supplies to perform basic first aid

6. Fire: bring a source of fire that you know works the first time, every time. This could include waterproof matches, a lighter or keychain fire striker. It's also prudent to include a fire starter like petroleum on cotton balls or fire ribbon.

7. Repair kit/tools: this can include anything that might be handy during an outdoor adventure or emergency like a pocket knife, duct tape on a water bottle (pictured), extra lashing straps or bungee cords. Tap into your inner MacGyver; in an emergency, anything can become an important tool.

8. Nutrition: general rule of thumb is to bring enough food in case you unexpectedly spend the night in the wilderness on a day hike. You'll need to bring more for longer adventures.

9. Hydration: this includes a way to purify and carry extra water. This could include something as elaborate as a purifying filter or chlorine dioxide tablets (pictured).

10. Emergency shelter: carry a tarp with grommets and extra cord or an extra rain fly as these could be used to fashion an emergency shelter from wind, rain or snow in a pinch. If you're carrying a tarp, it's also helpful to bring extra tent stakes to secure your emergency shelter.

Each traveler should carry these 10 essentials and know how to use each component, even when traveling with a group. Should you get separated from your group, having these basics and knowing how to use them could make the difference between a change of plans or a life-and-death situation.

Now, go pack your bag, throw in your 10 essentials and get adventuring!

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