Day hiking is meant to be a beautiful walk in the wilderness, “wilderness” being the operative word. This is where the “Ten Essentials” come into play. The Ten Essentials is a list of items that are widely agreed upon by many outdoor groups as the items you should not leave without. They are items you will need/want when your trip takes an unexpected wrong turn (literally).
In 1974, Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills Mountaineers (third edition) detailed the original list in print. This list is now referred to as the “classic essentials” and is composed of the actual ten items that you would carry.
- Sunglasses & Sun screen
- Extra clothing
- Head lamp or flashlight
- First-aid kit
- Fire starters
- Matches (preferably waterproof)
- Additional Food
In 2003, the seventh edition of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills Mountaineers , revised the list to keep up with the advances in outdoor equipment. The new list takes a ” systems” approach.
1. Navigation – Topographic map and assorted maps in waterproof container plus a magnetic compass, optional altimeter or GPS receiver.
2. Sun protection – Sunglasses, sunscreen for lips and skin, hat, clothing for sun protection.
3. Insulation – Hat, gloves, jacket, extra clothing for coldest possible weather during current season.
4. Illumination – Headlamp, flashlight, batteries. LED bulb is preferred to extend battery life.
5. First-aid supplies, plus insect repellent.
6. Fire – Butane lighter, matches in waterproof container.
7. Repair kit – and tools. Knives, multi-tool, scissors, pliers, screwdriver, trowel/shovel, duct tape, cable ties.
8. Nutrition – Add extra food for one additional day (for emergency). Dry food is preferred to save weight and usually needs water.
9. Hydration – Add extra 2 liters of water for one additional day (for emergency).
10. Emergency shelter – Tarp, bivouac sack, space blanket, plastic tube tent, jumbo trash bags, insulated sleeping pad.
The textbook recommends supplementing the ten essentials with:
Portable water purification and water bottles.
Signaling devices, such as a whistle, mobile phone, two-way radio, satellite phone, unbreakable signal mirror or flare, laser pointer.
Please remember that these items may vary based on location, time of year, weather conditions, and of course, personal preference. You will customize your list to equip what best suites your needs.
These items can be purchased at several locations. Below you will find a few suggestions, with my favorite being