Are you planning a hiking or camping trip but unsure of what to bring? Deciding what to bring may feel overwhelming and unfortunately there is not one list that covers all scenarios. Ultimately, a lot of what you bring will depend on the specifics of the trip (e.g. how many days, how many people, etc.). However, the U.S. National Park Service does make it a little easier to get started on the planning process by providing their list of "ten essentials". Granted, their list is specifically stated to be for trips to National Parks, but we believe it can be applied more universally for every adventure in the great outdoors.
Sure, at times it may feel like overkill to lug all of these items along. Especially on routine day trips to areas that you are familiar with. However, as I'm sure you know accidents happen. You will never regret being prepared in case of an emergency. The 10 essentials consists of items that will allow you to survive in the event things don't go as planned.
For those of you interested, the original list actually dates back to the 1930s and a group called The Mountaineers. You can read more about the history of the list on The Mountaineers' website here.
Since then, the list has evolved from individual items to more of a "systems" approach, where a system such as "Navigation" can be made up of multiple items.
Jumping ahead, if you are one that prefers to buy things in a kit as opposed to individually then you are in luck. The My Medic 10 Essentials Survival Kit was tailored specifically to the 10 essentials list and has all the systems included in one convenient pack. It also functions as a dry bag and flotation device!
Here is what the list is comprised of today:
THE TEN ESSENTIALS
Navigation - Map, compass, and GPS system
- We also like the idea of including a satellite phone/messenger or even a personal locator beacon. Check out our selection of navigation instruments here.
Sun Protection - Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat
- While the sun provides us with essential vitamin D, it can also harm us with harsh UV rays responsible for sunburns and skin cancer.
Insulation - Jacket, hat, gloves, rain shell, and thermal underwear
- Time of year or climate can change the specifics of these items somewhat. Bottom line is to pack an extra layer of clothing that reflects the most extreme conditions you could expect to encounter where you are going.
Illumination - Flashlight, lanterns, and headlamp
- The nights are darker in the backcountry. While this is perfect for stargazing, it's not so great for when you are lost. Waterproof lighting options are best. Don't forget your extra batteries! Check out our collection of light options here.
First Aid Supplies - First Aid Kit
- We find it easiest to start with a pre-made kit and then modify accordingly to fit your specific needs. We personally recommend the My Medic MyFAK first aid kit. Be sure to check the expiration date on all items before your trip!
Fire - Matches, lighter and fire starters
- Fire can really come in handy - whether as a heat source, for cooking or an emergency signal. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the local fire use regulations before your trip.
Repair Kit and Tools - Knife, multi-tool, duct tape, and scissors
- Carry basic tools to help you repair gear or make items as needed. Our preference is to bring along a multi-tool so you don't have to pack so many items. Check out our knives & multi-tools here.
Nutrition - Food
- Our recommendation is to pack for the length of your trip plus one day. This ensures you have enough food in case things go awry. Consider no-cook items with good nutritional value to keep your energy high. We have a great selection of food items that fit the bill here.
Hydration - Water and water treatment supplies
- The need to stay hydrated on your trip cannot be overstated. Be sure to drink water BEFORE you feel thirsty. If you are feeling thirsty, that is your body telling you it is already behind on it's hydration needs. Consider a hydration pack/bladder as this is easier to carry and store than a standard water bottle. We also recommend some sort of electrolyte/hydration enhancer, especially in hot weather (our favorite is Re-Lyte). Lastly, don't forget a water filter or purification tablets.
Emergency Shelter - Tent, space blanket, tarp, and bivy
- Shelter to protect you from the elements is critical in an emergency situation. A tent while add some extra weight to your pack, although there are some lighter/small options nowadays. A tarp or space blanket are nice light weight options to give you at least some coverage when in a pinch. Check out our collection of tents & accessories here.
It never hurts to be prepared! Nature can be unforgiving, and even the most well-planned trips can go awry. We believe that the list of 10 essentials for camping and hiking is a great place to start when deciding what items to bring on your next adventure.