The Ten Essentials
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It’s important to prepare for the worst but hope for the best which is why hikers and adventurers should have what’s known as the Ten Essentials in their packs.
You may see people out there with nothing but a water bottle on hikes, but you’ll also see people interviewed after a rescue and either saying they wish they had been more prepared for their adventure or crediting their survival to their gear preparedness. Chances are you’ll be fine on your day hike, but if something happens, you want to make sure you have these things in order to more comfortably survive some extended time in the woods and to help you get home safely.
First aid kit plus a modified kit if you’re hiking with your four-legged family member(s)
Sun protection: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
Headlamp and extra batteries
Navigation aid: compass, map, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB), or satellite messenger (while a map on your phone is nice, if your phone dies, it’s not much use, so paper maps are the best)
Fire: matches, lighter, tinder, etc.
Shelter such as an emergency blanket or bivy
Extra food beyond the minimum
Extra water beyond the minimum
Extra clothes for warmth or if your original get wet
What essentials you bring can vary on the trip. Depending on the length, location, weather, and difficulty, you’ll bring more of some things or modified or lighter variations of others. But no matter the length of the hike, you’ll want to make sure you have some version of these and that you tell someone where you’re going, and what time to expect you back. If you’re not back by then, they can call the appropriate resources to go out searching for you.
Stay safe and have fun!