The 10 Essentials are survival items for people going outdoors. These items prepare you in case things go wrong. Many people associate this with Boy Scouts but they have been long adopted by hikers, climbers, backpackers or just anyone spending any time outdoors. There are several versions of the 10 essentials, mostly because of change in technology over the past 50 years but they all have the same fundamentals for keeping you alive.
The 10 Essentials for Outdoor Survival
- Compass/Map: Today’s terminology is Navigation, so it includes a GPS. Call me old school but GPS don’t always work. I have found a map and compass to be extremely useful, and they don’t require batteries.
- Water: There are several thoughts here. I have heard of carrying an additional days water supply of 2-liters per day to a gallon per day depending on the person and weather. Some also suggest water purification tablets or system.
- Food: It is also suggested to carry an extra day’s food. Most people carry a freeze dried meal, high energy bars, nuts, or fruit.
- Clothing: Carry clothes for the worst realistic weather conditions possible. This can include raingear, gloves, hat and clothes. I am a big fan of layering. An underlining, fleece then winter waterproof jacket if necessary. An extra pair of socks goes a long ways too.
- Sun Protection: Sunglasses and Sunscreen can make the difference between a great experience to one that you will never forget.
- Knife or Multi-tool: is helpful for minor repairs, preparing food, making kindling and even for first aid.
- Matches: Always place in a waterproof case and make sure you have something to strike them with.
- Firestarter: There are several things you can buy, or you can make yourself to get a fire started
- First Aid Kit: There are some really good pre-assembled first aid kits out there. I also like to make sure there is something for blisters and an emergency blanket.
- Flashlight: Some people carry a headlamp instead as it’s much easier to hike without a flashlight in your hand. Extra batteries can also come in very useful. Don’t count on using your cell phone flashlight. Batteries can get run down on your phone.
The Park Ranger in me has to stress the importance of being prepared by giving a personal life experience. I was hiking at Zion National Park and was exploring some of the parks lesser visited trails. There was only one other couple all day hours before and it was getting late. I really wanted to look over onto the canyon before heading back and followed a small path out towards the canyon walls. I remember laughing to myself about the trails aptly named deer run. Finally! The view was spectacular and I got lost in the moment and time.
It was time to head back; this was the point that I realized that it was already starting to turn dark and I had several miles to get back out. In all my excitement looking around, I had somehow lost the trail back. Remember that aptly named Deer Run? Oh My! I looked for a good half hour when panic started to set in, I was lost! Not only was I lost, it was almost completely dark too! I took a deep breath and told myself “OK John, You have to figure this out!” “You can’t be the Park Ranger that got lost in the woods and needed to be rescued!” I would never live that down! I took off my pack and was about to put the 10 Essentials to test! I grabbed my flashlight, map, and compass. After studying the terrain and map, I made a plan based on where I should approximately be. I put my pack back on and was about to leave when I noticed something else. Incidentally, this was also that moment it time where I completely stressed out my now wife Tammilee. I had my cell phone with me and amazingly had just enough signal to get a call out. I remember telling her that everything was OK and approximately where I was. I then told her that if she didn’t hear from me by morning to contact the ranger station and let them know where I was. This was a point in time that I will never live down! I was then on my way. I kept at my compass reading and I hiked for about a half hour. It was already dark when I noticed that I had found the trail again! A couple hours later I found my way back to the parking lot and was exhausted. I made it to my campsite and passed out!
I woke up the next day around noon when I noticed that I had multiple voicemails. Each message was a little more frantic than the previous. It turns out that Tammilee did not sleep all night long waiting for my call, in fact by morning she was researching how to get to Zion! My call came as a relief and with several words that are not appropriate for this post! I deserved each comment too! Have I mentioned how many GPS Units I have recieved for Christmas since that day?
I recommend anyone spending time outdoors to carry the 10 essentials, you will never know how much you appreciate them until the day you find yourself needing them! I know they not only saved me but also saved me a lifetime of harassment!