The Ten Essentials are basic items recommended when traveling in the backcountry. The seventh edition of the 10 Essentials are:
- Navigation: Topographic and other maps in waterproof container, magnetic compass, optional altimeter or GPS receiver. With a map you can find your current location, find your destination, and possibly find alternate routes, campsites, emergency exit routes, etc. If you rely on a GPS or other equipment make sure to carry spare batteries and make sure that your device has coverage.
- Sun Protection including sunglasses, sunscreen for lips and skin, hat, sun protection clothing. Sun protection is especially important if you are venturing above the tree line. Snow and lighter colored surfaces reflect sunlight so be prepared when you encounter these conditions.
- Insulation includes hat, gloves, jacket, extra clothing for coldest possible weather during current season. It is best to dress in layers so that you can adjust your clothing to the current weather conditions. Be sure to always carry some form of rain gear. Avoid cotton clothing because it retains moisture and always carry a hat (preferably one with a wider brim).
- Illumination should include a long running headlamp, backup flashlight, and extra batteries. I recommend a small, long-running backup flashlight that uses the same batteries as my headlamp.
- First-Aid supplies include a comprehensive first aid kit and insect repellent.
- Fire: Include a fire kit with disposable lighter, waterproof matches in waterproof container, and fire tinder. Items such as insect repellent, petroleum jelly, skin/lip treatment, etc. can be flammable and useful when starting a fire.
- Repair Kit & Tools include a knife, multi-tool, scissors, pliers, screwdriver, trowel/shovel, duct tape, zip ties, sewing kit, patches, tape, etc. You need to be able to repair your backpack, shelter, and clothing. These items are also useful when building a shelter, starting a fire, rendering first aid, etc.
- Nutrition: Have food for additional day in the event of an emergency. You may require additional food due to terrain or other unexpected conditions.
- Hydration: Carry an extra 2 liters of water for one additional day (for emergency) and bring a water purifier. Lack of water can lead to hypothermia and altitude sickness. It is best to drink smaller amounts of water more often than larger amounts of water less often. A hydration pack makes it easier to drink water more frequently.
- Emergency Shelter:. Have a tarp, bivouac sack, space blanket, plastic tube tent, jumbo trash bags, insulated sleeping pad in case you must survive the night or take shelter from adverse weather conditions.
Check ALL of your items periodically and replace the old and worn items. Plastic can deteriorate, liquids can evaporate, and medicines can lose potency. Space blankets and plastic ponchos are often kept for many years but these can deteriorate especially on the folds.