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the 10 essentials

The 10 Essentials

By Jessica Marie


The 10 Essentials are not only important, but they are the foundation of every trip into the wilderness. Hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking, fishing, hunting, you name it. If you are venturing away from civilization these are the 10 things you need to have every time you go.

  • Navigation
  • Headlamp
  • Sun Protection
  • First Aid
  • Knife
  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Extra Food
  • Extra Water
  • Extra Clothes


This includes map, compass, GPS and any extra batteries or supplies you may need to keep these items working. Always carry a paper map in case your GPS dies or becomes damaged.


Make sure you test the settings before the trip so you know how it operates. Be sure to bring extra batteries.

Sun Protection

Winter, summer, spring, and fall unless you are going spelunking you will encounter the sun. Best to have sunscreen, hat, gloves, long sleeves, and adjustable pants so that you can add layers. It may be hot but the right materials are actually comfortable and protect you from the sun. Sunscreen can only do so much, count it as a line of defense, not as your only line.

First Aid

First aid skills are a must, see this article on the importance of first aid. But beyond the skills are the tools. Make sure you carry a hiking specific (or climbing, hunting, etc.) first aid kit with you at all times. If you are boating, climbing, or doing other specific skills carry/wear measures such as life jackets and helmets. Items that will help you in unfortuante circumstances specific to your activities.


How many times a day do you have to go to the kitchen to use that pair of kicthen scissors? Best to carry a pocket knife, if you can’t in your daily routines, it is a must in the wilderness. Opening food packages, cutting rope, tree branches, and more. You’ll need a good knife. Best to find one with a through tang so that it can handle more damage. Good tools cost money, don’t rely on a cheap pocket knife.


This is another category where redundant measures are important. Carry a lighter and matches and fire starter. Don’t have John carry all the fire supplies, everyone needs their own in case a bear eats John’s pack. A lighter is useless without fluid, rain makes collecting fire starter difficult. The more you bring with you the easier your trip will be.


If you are backpacking, chances are not everyone is carrying a tent. If one person has the tent and the other the sleeping bags, the one without a tent still needs an emergency shelter. They weigh mere ounces but can save your life.

Extra Food & Extra Water

When it comes to food and water, these two items you really don’t want to be without. These are what fuel your body, the longer your body goes without, the more issues you start to have. You don’t need a grocery store on your back, but you don’t want to be starving even if nothing bad happens. It is better to have the option to snack as your body works hard to hike, ski, or ride than to be constantly thinking about the food you can’t eat right now.

Extra Clothes

Think like Shrek and Donkey, you need layers. We are so accustomed to controling the climate with heating and air conditioning. Outdoors we don’t have those options in the same way. You can only control your temperature with clothes and shelter. Vapor Barrier liners, insulating layers, long sleeves, and easily adjustable pants are necessary outdoors. As it can go from searing hot to whipping snow fast, you need the layers to adapt to anything mother nature might throw at you.


Those are the 10 Essentials you need for every venture into the great outdoors. These aren’t to be divided between you and your buddies. Each member carries all 10 Essentials for themselves. Just in case someone gets lost or a pack gets lost there are backups of everything.  Each person carries their own essentials, every time. Alright, go forth and explore!

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