10 Essentials - (Plus 1) - for your Outdoor Adventures

Being prepared, packing the essentials, when heading outside is a very good habit. Even if just out for a day hike, depending on where you go, the essentials could become essential to your survival.
While you might never even need one of the essentials or only a few, you will appreciate the value of those items, when facing a situation when something goes wrong.

The first 10 Essentials list was assembled in the 1930s. By a Seattle based organization called The Mountaineers. 
To help climbers and outdoor adventurers be prepared in emergency situations in the outdoors.

Back then the 10 Essentials included: 1) Map, 2) compass, 3) Sun protection, 4) Extra Clothing, 5) first aid supplies, 6) flashlight/headlamp, 7) matches, 8) fire startes, 9) extra food, 10) knife.

The list has evolved over the years and now it looks like this one below. 
And no you don’t need to carry all of these items on every hike you go. On a short stroll not far from a busy street? On a short hike at a very touristic and busy hot spot? No. I believe I took none of the essentials on my flat land hikes in Germany ever… But hiking in the Mountains (Elbe Sandstone Mountains or in Austria, or the Grand Canyon) yes I do have some Essentials with me.
And when exploring totally new areas in a terrain far away from other people, on a long day hike in the mountains or extreme terrain, it should be considered to pack them all.

(I did like to add a number 11… an item that will get more and more important if we like to protect what we love and keep nature beautiful.)

The 10 Essentials or 11 Essentials

1) Navigation

In times of mobile phones this is a relatively easy task. Most people do have an Offline GPS Map alread. If not, go get one 😉
Should remember power bank to power your phone though, just in case.
You can also bring a map, compass*, altimeter*, a GPS device, satellite messenger, PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)*.

2) Flashlight or headlamp

If you get lost or need way longer than planned, you might need to walk in the dark. So a flashlight or headlamp can be a handy gadget to have in your bag. Try to always carry extra batteries. Empty batteries in your flashlight when lost in the dark might not be a very fun situation.

A headlamp* is even the better choice because it keeps your hands free for hiking poles, or cooking, or climbing.

3) Knife/Multitool

A knife is a nice tool for food preperations, gear repair, first aid and other emergency needs. 
If you are hiking in a group it would be good if more than one adult would carry a knife.

A basic knife or a multi tool* does the job.

If you are way out in the back country a repair kit (duct tape, zip ties, safety pins, etc.) could be great to add to your essentials.

4) Sun Protection

Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, or UV-protection-Clothing* is a must-bring these days. No matter if hiking in summer or winter.
We all know that skin cancer is real and snow blindness can be a real danger when on a winter hike. Lip balm with sun protection is important too.

UV Clothing can be nice to wear too. You don’t need to remember to apply a lot of sunscreen (well only on the spots not covered by the clothing: Face, hands, neck.). 

5) First Aid

It is important to carry and also to know how to use the items in your first aid kit.
You can prepare your own or just buy a pre-assembled first aid kit and remember to add personal needed stuff like medications.

Read more about First Aid Kits in my Article here.

6) Fire

In case of a real emergency you might need to have reliable items for starting a fire.
Matches (waterproof)*, lighter (refillable)*, fire startes like dry tinder, lint (trappings from a clothing dryer), candles, will do the job.

If on a trip where there might not be any firewood available, a stove is highly recommended as emergency heat and also water source if hiking in the snow.

7) Extra Water

Water is even more important than food. Always carry some method of water treatment when you are out there. (Read more about water treatment here).
Most people need about 1/2 L of water per hour.
Check my blog article about how much water to carry when day hiking to learn more.

8) Extra Food

Extra food high in energy and doesn’t require any cooking is the best emergency food. Try to always pack food for an extra day at least. If on a multiday trip, you should consider to bring more than one extra day food supply.
Check out my favorite hiking snacks.

9) Shelter

Some type of shelter to protect against wind and rain in case of an emergency. This could be anything like a bivy sack*, ultralight tarp… 

10) Extra Clothing

In some terrain weather condition can change rapidly. From sunny to cold, windy and wet. So always carry an extra layer of clothing. A lightweight wind jacket/rain jacket might do the job when not up in the mountains. You might consder to bring an extra warm layer if you go up into the mountains. The higher, the quicker and more extreme the weather can change.

For winter hiking apparel tips see my article: “What to wear hiking in winter”.

The 11th Essential: Trash Bag

More and more people enjoying the outdoors means more and more trash on trails, because sadly not every hiker is a responsible one.

That’s why my 11th Essential is a trash bag. Mostly I carry a reusable lightweight bag* with me and pick up trash from trail. 

While picking up litter that got left behind is one important thing, reducing your own trash is another important task. 

Read more about how to reduce your trash and live more sustainable in my articles: Zero Waste Camping, Leave no Trace, Zero Waste Basics.

Hiking a mountain on Guadeloupe, got caught in a very sudden rain, so happy about the raincoat I carried.
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