View Full Version : The ten essentials?

2006-04-25, 08:16
The Mountaineers, a Seattle, Washington hiking, climbing, and conservation organization, came up with a list of 10 essential items in the 1930s, that no outdoorsman should be without.

1) Map
2) Compass
3) Water and a way to purify it
4) Extra Food
5) Rain Gear and extra clothing
6) Firestarter and matches
7) First aid kit
8) Army knife
9) Flashlight and extra bulbs
10) Sun screen and sun glasses

This is their current list.

1. Navigation
2. Sun Protection
3. Insulation
4. Illumination
5. First-aid supplies *
6. Fire
7. Repair kit and tools
8. Nutrition
9. Hydration
10. Emergency shelter

*Basic first aid kit:
Band aids - mainly large fabric type; include butterfly/finger
gauze pads
adhesive or athletic tape (to hold gauze in place)
small tweezers
moleskin (good for blisters)
one athletic compression bandage
one or more triangle bandage (think arm sling)
antibacterial ointment (small tube is plenty)
OTC painkiller such as Advil or Tylenol
OTC antihistamine such as Benedryl
extra supply (2 days) of any prescription medicine

Would you add or subtract anything?

2006-04-25, 10:51
Wow, their latest list is a bit vague. Why not just saying "bring anything you might need?" I am surprised that they are not more specific.

Take navigation for instance, I am sure they have broadened their scope to include a GPS unit. I would say this is unnecessary if you have a good compass and map (with knowledge...).

Repair kit and tools? This can get kind of heavy...

I am really trying not to be negative here, but I like seeing a more specfic list. Maybe an example for each of their essentials? Why say the list is 10 things when they mean 20?

I understand the desire to give vague categories of items to include, but I wanna see examples...

Just Jeff
2006-04-25, 11:09
This is their current list.

1. Navigation
2. Sun Protection
3. Insulation
4. Illumination
5. First-aid supplies *
6. Fire
7. Repair kit and tools
8. Nutrition
9. Hydration
10. Emergency shelter

1 - The first thing I would replace is the fancy words. Why say "nutrition" when "food" will be easier for folks to remember? (And less technical-sounding.) Why "hydration" instead of "water"? This isn't just style; it's important - Does "navigation" include GPS? I don't think it should. When inexperienced people go out w/o a map b/c they have a GPS, they're asking for equipment failure. But this list, w/o accompanying explanations, is open to too much interpretation.

I like the old way better - Flashlight. Knife. Food. Water. Map and compass. If someone has the experience to substitute a headlamp for a flashlight or an energy bar for food, let them have at it. But for the people who are just getting into the wilderness, KISS is best.

2 - Does rain gear now fall under insulation? If not, that's a pretty important omission from the new list.

3 - I think I would add the knife back in - if you're in trouble, a knife can save your life. Unless that's also included in #7.

4 - And I might subtract fire - that can get rather cumbersome to hike with. And what do you do when you hike through a fire-danger area? Just seems dangerous and irresponsible to hike with fire. (Just kidding - I know what it means)

5 - Depending on the trip and the hikers' skills, I'm not sure an emergency shelter is necessary. (They did say never be without, right?) I don't carry an emergency shelter on most day hikes. If I plan to be out after dark I'll often throw one in for "just in case," though. But then, I know how to build a few types of survival shelters if needed, too. I guess it's always best to be over-prepared, but eventually your day pack will be the same as your weekend pack.

6 - "Knowledge" should be #1. For new guys (who may need lists like this, rather than experienced people who just find the helpful), it can't be stressed enough the knowledge and skills are primary, and can keep you out of emergency situations to begin with, or get you out of them when they develop. This also stresses that you shouldn't go beyond your abilities.

Still a useful list - just think they're trying to be too encompassing of technology changes. KISS.

2006-04-25, 11:30
The original list is basically what the Boy Scouts claim to be the Ten Essentials.


2006-04-25, 11:34
11. iPod 40 GB (to maintain cultural ties to home)
12. Cell phone (for real links to home)
13. portable GPS system
14. passport
15. American flags (plus patches and decals)
16. foot powder (for perspiring feet)
17. gun (pistol or rifle)
18. extra ammo (could be more than one "bear")
19. claymore mines (for perimeter security)
20. M-72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW)

2006-04-25, 16:31
The old list is better.

The lack of 'shelter' is puzzling until you think 1930s... Those guys would have made a lean-to in a heartbeat if they needed to, something that the LNT fanatics would totally whig out over.

I guess 'Army Knife' isn't PC any longer--though the omission of any sort of knife is unforgivable, IMO (unless Just Jeff is correct in assuming that a knife is covered by #7).

I keep going back and re-reading the lists, and I am still puzzled as to why they revised the list at all.

2006-04-26, 02:27
OK, I went to their website and this is what I found (or believe is true) defending their new list.

old list and current list

1) Map
2) Compass
I believe they changed this so that either a GPS or a map & compass would fulfill the requirements and they didn't need to list all the possibilities.

3) Water and a way to purify it
This one was changed because they think it's smarter to bring water with you than depend on finding it, and didn't want to sound like they thought you always could find it. -- besides hydration sounds cooler -- They still support having some way to purify water though.

4) Extra Food
Sounds neater.

5) Rain Gear and extra clothing
They wanted one word that would encompass more possibilities - snow, rain, wind, sun, heat, and cold. They all require clothing, but different types.

6) Firestarter and matches
They wanted to encompass more than just something to start a fire, and there are too many possibilities. i.e. matches, lighters, fire starters,candles, sterno, stoves, etc. (with no fuel a match is fairly useless)

7) First aid kit
First-aid supplies

8) Army knife
Repair kit and tools
In the original I believe the army knife referred to a SAC. Repair kit would depend on where you were going and what you were doing. i.e. rafting a hole patch kit, camping nylon repair tape, hiking a spare shoelace. Tools a multitool or SAC or any specialty tools needed.

9) Flashlight and extra bulbs
To many possibilities.

10) Sun screen and sun glasses
Sun Protection
Wanted to include more possibilities (hats, shirts, etc.).

Emergency shelter
Space blanket or garbage bag, a good idea and they needed another item to make 10.

They were trying to make a list to meet all occasions, and so made it vague.

While it probably isn't very helpful to many of us, it still provides a baseline you might work off of, and could be helpful to both the forgetful and people new to outdoor activities.

I'm in the forgetful - I once drove 300 miles to go fishing and left my reel at home on the kitchen table.

2006-04-26, 10:00
One thing that is always on my list of essentials is a whistle. The widely recognized signal for distress is groups of three sounds. You could use a gun, but will eventually run out of ammo. A series of whistle blasts will carry a lot farther than my voice and my voice will give out a lot quicker.

Just Jeff
2006-04-26, 11:01
One thing that is always on my list of essentials is a whistle.

YES! I knew I was forgetting something! I was trying to go through my pack and pick out what I always carry, but I left off the whistle because it's not in my pack...it's always on my shoulder strap. And the kids always have their own, too.

An emergency signal device that doesn't rely on electronics should definitely be on the list.

Dropkick, my point about Navigation was that a GPS is not sufficient. Batteries die, electronics go haywire, etc. It may help, but it's not sufficient - a map and compass with the skills to use them are not only sufficient, but required, IMO.

And I see what you're saying on the insulation and rain gear, but when most new hikers hear "insulation" they think "keep me warm" and not "keep me dry." Let's say they printed out the list, but not all the accompanying descriptions on the website, to help them pack. It would be easy to forget rain gear - and that's a pretty important piece of gear in most locations. I just think it would be more clear if they said, "Rain gear and insulation."

And I'm holding firm on the knife - should be listed explicitly on the list. Period.

2006-04-26, 11:47
How about Forest Pass, or parking permit, cash ? :biggrin:

Doesn't this just make you cringe? One more reason to hike away from the popular spots and trails. No Fees! (Atleast where I go...)

2006-04-26, 12:15
I'm in the forgetful - I once drove 300 miles to go fishing and left my reel at home on the kitchen table.

At least it was still on the kitchen table when you got home, which is not usually the case when you leave stuff on top of the car! :bawling:

2006-04-26, 18:44
I'm in the forgetful - I once drove 300 miles to go fishing and left my reel at home on the kitchen table.

Reel :confused: .....Ohh! You meant nutrition acquisition tool! Now i get it! :biggrin:

2006-04-27, 07:04
How about Forest Pass, or parking permit, cash ? :biggrin:

Doesn't this just make you cringe? One more reason to hike away from the popular spots and trails. No Fees! (At least where I go...)
Makes me want to scream.

I have always liked to go out during the summer and set up a central campsite (with potable water if possible) and then hike and fish from it, using it as a homebase. When I get tired of an area I move to another campsite and do it again. Now many of the areas I would like to go have become paysites.

Even worse some of the campsites I used to go to, have not only become pay sites they've been "improved". They've added toilets, dumpsters (I'm o.k. with these 2) added more tables and pits, put in faucets instead of hand pumps for the water, trimmed the trees, and PAVED the roads and parking spots, so that the 30 foot R.V.s can come in.

What the hell is the matter with these people? If they don't want to actually camp out, they should stay at home and leave the woods alone.

- I was reading a journal entry from an AT hiker and his party got checked for permits and searched for weapons and drugs. - Worst part to me was that they were o.k. with it, even said the ranger was a nice guy.
Makes me think of an assualt victim saying it was their own fault for taking a shortcut through a public park.

2006-04-28, 00:28
I have most always taken my kids camping at undeveloped sites, back country, in the woods, nobody around.... Three years ago, we were talked into meeting two other couples and their kids, at a developed campsite. You know, paved road in, lights, electric hook ups, water, slot #124. Anyway, my wife brought our SUV with a small utility tralier to haul coolers, tents, sleeping bags... the kids jumped out of the SUV and cryed "Awww, this isn't camping!"
My work is finished here. Big smile on my face that night. It just ain't the same if you have to smell your neighbors, hear their fighting, see their trash. This was not camping. Kids were right. If I wanted to hang out with a bunch of white trash, I would have stayed at home, in our neighborhood. Lots of trash around here....

2006-04-28, 10:27
from everything you've previously posted, iceman, it sounds like you're doing a good job with your kids...

i broke one of mine, the other one's ok... she came in yesterday with a mushroom. she asked all of us to feel the fins on the underside... said if felt soft, like a cat's fur... she was right... but mom and older daughter wouldn't touch it... oh well... can't win 'em all...

2006-04-28, 11:02
i broke one of mine... .

Ok, got to ask, "you broke one.." of your kids? I have found that they aren't as predictable as advertised. My son will not retrieve a lost ball out of a deep bush...you know..."spiders"... whereas my daughter will pick them up with their hand and check them out. Same training, different result.....

Oh, and thanks for the comment on my kids, my reason for going to work each day...

Just Jeff
2006-04-28, 11:37
...the kids jumped out of the SUV and cryed "Awww, this isn't camping!" ....


I do the same with my kids. Last time, the wife came with us and she wanted to stay in a campsite. It had a parking lot, but you couldn't see it from the campsite (walk-in, no water, but still a campground). When we pulled up, my 6yo started crying. "You said we were going camping! You lied!" Haha - perfect!

My 10yo was just glad that mom was going so he didn't care.

2006-04-28, 14:14
Ok, got to ask, "you broke one.." of your kids?

yeah... about 7 years ago, when they were 4 and 8 or so... i lived near the smokies, and took them on too long a hike one day... 8 miles round trip to indian flats falls, up the middle prong trail near the tremont institute (just south of the Y after townsend, as you go toward cades cove). anyway, i about walked their little legs off... the young one fell asleep on her feet and i carried her on my back the last 1/4 mile or so. the older one carried my day pack... both their feet were hurting, but the older one remembers it, while the younger one doesn't... so the older one doesn't like to hike with me anymore but the younger one will. two entirely different kids... i still feel bad about pushing them that far though... i did it as a kid, but then i was out all day every day, and taller at that age than they were... so that's what i mean when i say i 'broke' one of them...

the younger one brings in mushrooms, slugs, bugs, worms, and lizards she's caught on the side of the house...those little green anole things... i watched her pull up a plant of some sort in the back yard a few weeks ago and spend 15 minutes digging in the hole with her bare hands. when i asked her what for, she said she'd seen some cool worms and was 'just looking at them'. i showed her how to dig out a seep of springwater once, alongside a trail, so you could get a cup or your hand into it later, once it cleared up... on the way back, she stopped, unbeknownst to me, to check on it... i noticed her missing a little while later and stopped. she caught up and nonchalantly mentioned that the water was good... her mom was horrified. i'm proud.

2006-05-05, 18:23
I love making lists. Different lists for different purposes.
But a general functional list is a good start for more specific lists.

0) Wits - Knowledge, Experience, Shit Together
1) Warmth - PonchoTarp, Insulation, GroundPad, Carbohydrates
2) Mobility - Map, Compass, Watch, Footwear, WaterKit, More Carbohydrates
3) Health & Safety - FireKit, StoveKit, Comms, Lamp, Knife, Cord, Whistle, FieldBook/Pencil
4) Specialty Kits - FirstAid Kit, Repair Kit, Shelter Kit, Scavenging Kit, Climbing Kit

As long as you have #O, you will know what you need for 1-4
The hardest part is always knowing what you don't know, and keeping your shit together as you realize that you don't.
Some kit, like fire and a knife and a groundpad and food, is more useful than others in being prepared for the unprepared.

I like to avoid batteries, but there is hardly an excuse not to have some sort of communications and a headlamp these days. Hard to find a good wind-up watch though. I think a watch is an essential part of navigation. I would often prefer a watch over a compass. Depends on whichever in a particular situation helps you keep your wits. I sometimes need neither but often need both. Same with comms.

2006-05-05, 23:16
I too dont rely on batteries. The only thing in my present kit that has batteries is my Photon microlite II. I dont use my GPS for camping. Other than that, can't see a use for batteries.

2006-05-06, 00:28
I loved that stuff about breaking kids and stuff. I have a six year old daughter. I think part of the secret is when they go through that 3-6 year old phase when they are really obsessed anything and everything related to going to the bathroom you have to get them going in the woods. I think this will be a critical summer for my girl. We didn't get out as much last summer so I really want to get her out a lot this summer, but no death marches like you say. We went out alot when she was 3 and 4 and she loved it. Of course she was light enough to carry on my shoulders and insisted on navigating with the compass around my neck. She always wanted to get down to cross over anything that looked like a bridge or a set of stairs, and of course to go to the bathroom. We would always turn around when she wanted to go home, but she was generally quite the little trooper. I would sort of push her, but mostly just for fun, making a small hike seem more heroic than it really was and always telling her how proud I was. When we got back she would always tell folks what she had accomplished, and of course we would exagerate. She will make a good fisherman I think. "Margaret. What do we do in the French Foreign Legion?" I would say. "March or Die!" she would say. Mothers would look at me rather strange. Anyhow, I'll try not to break her this summer, but you never know for sure how they want to turn out. If she turns out more like her mother that wouldn't be so bad. :biggrin:

p.s. Of course I am not really in the French Foreign Legion and I mean no disrespect to those that can make such a claim honestly, but I think when you are hiking in the woods with a child still young enough to believe in Santa Clause you have a little more latitude in these matters. Besides, she knows I only joined the Legion for a short time after a girl broke my heart, and then I retired from the service to become the Chief Cook at the Waldorf Astoria, where I used to serve breakfast for the Queen of England. That was where I rescued her mother from the motorcycle gang and escaped back to Canada. It's all good, and of course it is all true, or at least true enough. :)