The Ten Essentials for Hiking traces its roots back to The Mountaineers, an outdoors club in Seattle founded in 1906.
The first list was published in the 1930’s. Since then the list has been revised, updated and modified many times to suit different hiking conditions, seasons and changes in hiking technology.
Most of the lists found around the Internet lean toward long distance, back country hikers. Some lists are geared toward day hikers – 6 to 8 hours on the trail and double digit mileage.
But most hikers don’t fall into the above categories. Most recreational hikers head out on trails for about five or six miles, or hikes under fours. These can be called “Front Country” hikes. These are also the hikers who get in the most trouble because “we won’t be gone long.” This is an effort to get casual hikers better prepared for the unexpected on the trail.
The Ten Essentials does not include clothing for hiking. Some points to consider:
Wear sturdy shoes – Back country hiking boots are not necessary for half-day hikes but, at a minimum, good quality walking shoes are a must.
Proper Clothing – Among hikers, cotton is known as “Dead Man’s” clothing. Invest in a reasonable quality set of nylon or nylon/cotton blend hiking clothes.
Nylon deflects moisture, dries faster after a rain and stays warmer if you have to wait out a storm or a rescue. Wear nylon or wool or nylon/wool blend hiking socks that dry fast and keep your feet from moving around inside your shoes.
Web Belt – A nylon military or scout style belt with a detachable brass buckle doubles as a survival tool. It can be tightened as a tourniquet, used as a sling, support for a splint or to tie limbs for a shelter.
Bandanna – There are entire websites devoted to hundreds of uses for the bandanna.
It’s a sweat band, sling, signaling cloth, compress, water filter, ear muffs, sun shade, shoulder pad, dust mask, carry bag, neck protection, ground cloth, fly swatter, etc.
What if things go wrong?
Preparing for a good hike also means preparing for when things go wrong.
Leave your hiking plans with someone and notify them when you are off the trail. If you are overdue, your contact will know where to send Rangers to look for you.
This list is not definitive or exhaustive. You may think of your own variations. At the very least it starts a conversation about being prepared on the trail.
Compiled and edited by Mark Richie,
CTC Life Member, WFA, Certified Master Trail Builder