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Easy Guide to The Ten Essentials for Outdoor Adventure

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Adventure-seekers who relish outdoor experiences understand that proper preparation is essential for a secure and rewarding trip. To ensure safety in case of emergencies, it’s vital to bring along the ten essentials. This article will delve into each item, clarifying their significance and offering guidance on selecting the appropriate equipment to suit your requirements.

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Key Takeaways:

What are the “10 Essentials”?

The concept of “10 Essentials” for outdoor packing was first introduced in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based hiking and climbing club. Their aim was to provide a list of necessary items to ensure safe mountain travel. Over time, the list has been updated but the core principle remains the same - to prepare outdoor enthusiasts for most emergencies.

The current iteration of the 10 Essentials consists of items such as navigation gear, warmth-providing clothing, a light source, first-aid supplies, fire-starting materials, food, hydration sources, sun protection, a repair kit, and a knife or multi-tool. The objective is to have a compact and comprehensive kit that can meet basic survival needs in an emergency situation.

Note: The 10 essentials are not an exhaustive checklist of everything you should take in all situations. It’s just a handy guide to ensure that the basics are covered. Do your research on wherever you are going, and when, and make sure you have everything you need before going out.

Build A Ten Essentials Survival Kit | Better Then 10 C's?

The Ten Essentials


Having the right navigation tools can mean the difference between getting lost and finding your way back to safety. A good quality map and compass should be part of your kit, as well as a GPS device if you have one. Familiarize yourself with the area you will be exploring, and mark the key landmarks and points of interest.

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Sun protection


Even if you don’t live in New Mexico, staying protected from the sun is important. Sunburn is a danger regardless of the time of year or weather conditions. This includes wearing a hat and applying sunscreen to your skin, as well as wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.



When the weather changes unexpectedly, it is important to have extra layers of insulation to keep you warm. This can include a jacket, hat, gloves, and a blanket. Make sure to choose materials that are waterproof and windproof to provide maximum protection.



A reliable light source, such as a headlamp or flashlight, is crucial in case you find yourself out after dark. Make sure to bring extra batteries (or a hand crank flashlight) and a backup light in case your primary light source fails.

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First aid

First Aid

A well-stocked first aid kit can be a lifesaver in case of injury or illness. Essential items include bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any prescription medications you may need. Don’t know what you need, don’t worry we have a DIY first aid kit for hiking and a DIY first aid kit for camping.



Having the ability to start a fire can be critical for survival in case you are caught in the wilderness overnight. Pack waterproof matches or a lighter, as well as tinder and kindling to start the fire. Emergency firestarters are light and affordable so there is no reason not to pack an extra just in case.

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Repair kit and tools

Repair kit and tools

A repair kit and tools can help you fix gear or equipment in case of damage or failure. This can include a multi-tool, duct tape, and any specific tools or parts you may need for your gear.



Bringing enough high-quality food is crucial for maintaining energy levels. Pack non-perishable, lightweight, and easy-to-carry options, such as energy bars and trail mix. Make sure to bring a bit more than you think you need for the trip. We have a guide for the best foods to take hiking.



Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining physical and mental performance, as well as avoiding dehydration-related health problems. Bring enough water for the length of your trip, and consider bringing a water filtration system if you will be accessing natural water sources.

Emergency shelter

Emergency Shelter

An emergency shelter, such as a tent or tarp, can provide protection from the elements and help you stay warm in case of an unexpected overnight stay in the wilderness. Make sure to choose a lightweight and compact option that is easy to carry on your trip.

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Video Guide

We know that reading isn’t everyone’s favorite so we want to provide this great video on the 10 essentials for survival. Even if you read the list above, the video is still worth watching.

What are The Ten Essentials? - REI


Remember, when venturing into the wilderness, always prioritize safety and be prepared for the unexpected. The Ten Essentials, including navigation tools, a headlamp, sun protection, first aid supplies, a knife, fire-starting gear, shelter, extra food and water, and extra clothes, are designed to equip you for a wide range of scenarios.

Planning is key when it comes to wilderness adventure, and the Ten Essentials serve as our trusted guide in this regard. By carefully considering the environment, weather conditions, difficulty, and duration of your trip, you can ensure that you have the necessary tools and resources on hand to tackle any challenge that comes your way. So, pack smart, stay safe, and enjoy the beauty of the wilderness!

In conclusion, the ten essentials are a critical part of any outdoor adventure kit. You probably won’t need them, but if you do having them will greatly improve your chances. Taking time choosing the right gear and understanding how to use it can help ensure a safe and successful trip. Remember to always plan ahead, follow the Leave No Trace philosophy, and let someone know your itinerary before you head out into the wilderness. Happy exploring!


  1. Daniel, Nicholas J., et al. “Rethinking hiker preparedness: Association of carrying "10 essentials" with adverse events and satisfaction among day-hikers.” Am. J. Emerg. Med., vol. 49, 1 Nov. 2021, pp. 253-6, doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2021.06.017.

  2. Daniel, Nicholas J., et al. “Assessment of "10 essential" preparedness among day-hikers on Mount Monadnock.” Am. J. Emerg. Med., vol. 38, no. 2, 1 Feb. 2020, pp. 401-03, doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2019.158382.

  3. Mason, Ryan C., et al. “An Analysis of Hiker Preparedness: A Survey of Hiker Habits in New Hampshire.” Wilderness Environ. Med., vol. 24, no. 3, 1 Sept. 2013, pp. 221-7, doi:10.1016/j.wem.2013.02.002.


Q: What are the Ten Essentials?

A: The Ten Essentials are a list of crucial items that should be packed for any wilderness adventure. They include navigation tools, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first aid, fire-starting gear, repair kits and tools, extra food and water, and an emergency shelter.

Q: Why is navigation important in backcountry travel?

A: Navigation is crucial in the wilderness to ensure you can find your way and stay on track. Tools such as a map, compass, GPS device, altimeter, and personal locator beacon can help you navigate accurately and safely.

Q: How can I protect myself from the sun in the wilderness?

A: To protect yourself from the sun, wear sunglasses that block 99% of UV light, sun-protective clothing with a high UPF rating, and apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30.

Q: What should be included in a first aid kit?

A: A first aid kit should include treatments for blisters, adhesive bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, disinfecting ointment, over-the-counter pain medication, nitrile gloves, and specific items like foot care and insect repellent based on your trip's needs.

Q: Why is fire-starting gear important?

A: Fire-starting gear is important because it allows you to start and maintain a fire for warmth, cooking, and signaling in case of an emergency. Matches or a lighter stored in a waterproof container, along with appropriate fire-starting supplies, should be carried.

Q: What type of shelter should I carry?

A: An emergency bivy is a lightweight shelter option that can be easily carried at all times. The specific type of shelter should be chosen based on the duration and type of your trip.

Q: Why should I carry extra food and water?

A: Carrying extra food and water is important in case of emergencies or unexpected delays. These extra supplies can provide sustenance and hydration when needed.

Q: Why should I carry extra clothes?

A: Carrying extra clothes is necessary for surviving an emergency overnight in the wilderness. Pack sufficient clothing based on the weather conditions and duration of your trip, prioritizing layering and materials suitable for the outdoors.

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By Summer and Bill

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Summer and Bill are the dynamic duo behind, a blog dedicated to inspiring others to explore the great outdoors. With a combined lifetime of experience traveling and adventuring across America, they have a wealth of knowledge to share. From hiking to camping, kayaking to travel, Summer and Bill are passionate about helping others discover the beauty of the natural world.

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