The 10 Essentials

The list was provided by Diana Moy, Superintendent of Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park. They are taken from a class that she did to teach people about the 10 Essentials. The Wyler Aerial Tramway State Park list of events can be found HERE.

The original 10 essentials list was put together by The Mountaineers, an organization for climbers and outdoor adventurers in the 1930s to help people be prepared for emergency situations in the outdoors. The list was updated to a “Systems” approach rather than listing individual items in 2003.

1.    Navigation (map, compass)
•    A map (topographic preferably) should accompany you on a trip that involves anything more than a short, impossible-to-miss footpath or frequently visited trail.
•    A compass is a vital tool if you become disoriented in the backcountry; even better if combined with map-reading knowledge.
•    Compass vs. GPS: A compass is less bulky, is lighter, and doesn’t rely on batteries (some come with a little mirror that can be used to flash sunlight to a rescuer during an emergency). 

2.    Sun Protection (sunscreen, sunglasses, clothing)
a.    Good quality sunglasses should block ultraviolet light. 
UVB rays are the rays that can burn your skin have been linked to the development of cataracts.
b.    Sunscreen that offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 is recommended for extended outdoor activity and one that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
c.    Lightweight, sun-protecting clothing, long sleeve, loose, light color clothing.

3.    Insulation (extra clothing)
•    Layers!
•    Conditions can abruptly change, so it is smart to carry additional layers according to the season.
•    When in doubt of what to take answer the following question: What is needed to survive the worst conditions that could be realistically encountered on this trip?

4.    Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
•    Headlamps are lighter, hand-free, and have long battery life. Some have a strobe mode that can be helpful in emergency situations.
•    Flashlights and packable lanterns
•    Always carry spare batteries.

5.    First-aid supplies
•    Any kit should include:
o    Treatment for blisters
o    Adhesive bandages of various sizes
o    Gauze pads
o    Adhesive tape
o    Disinfecting ointment
o    Over the counter pain/allergy medications
o    Pen and paper

6.    Fire (waterproof matches/lighter)
•    Waterproof matches stored on a waterproof container.
•    Firestarter: something that ignites quickly and sustains heat for more than a few seconds.
o    Candles
o    Heat Nuggets (chipped-wood clusters soaked in resin)
o    Lint trappings from a household dryer

7.    Repair Kit and Tools
•    Multitools are handy for gear repair, food preparation, first aid, and other emergency needs.
•    A basic knife/multitool should have at least:
o    1 foldout blade
o    1 or 2 screwdrivers
o    A can opener
o    A pair of foldout scissors
•    Duct tape! The fix it all!

8.    Nutrition (extra food)
•    Mountaineering recommends packing at least an extra day’s worth of food.
•    Granola bars, chocolate, trail mix, jerky, dried fruits.

9.    Hydration (extra water)
•    At least 1 water bottle and a collapsible water reservoir.
•    Some means for treating water (filter, chemical treatment)
•    Identify possible water sources and resupply at the last water source.

10.    Emergency Shelter
•    The idea behind this is, if getting lost or injured leaves you stranded something better than nothing if you must deal with wind or rain.
o    Ultralight tarp
o    Emergency blanket
o    Large plastic trash bag

Beyond the Top Ten
•    Insect repellent
•    Whistle
•    Personal locator beacon (PLB): can help search-and-rescue workers find you in an emergency.
•    Communication device: Two-way-radios, cellphones
•    Signaling device: small mirror
•    Bandana
•    Knowledge Having the items in your pack has no value unless you understand how to use them.

Packing the 10 essentials whenever you step into the outdoors whether for a long trip or a day hike is a good habit; you might not use them all, but you’ll probably never fully appreciate the value of the 10 essentials until you really need one of them. 

© 2019 Celebration of Our Mountains, El Paso, TX, USA, a 501c3 organization