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The Ten Essentials for Outdoor Activities

(For a downloadable/printable version, see the PDF below)

Ten Essentials for Outdoor Activities

1. Map and Compass 

Obviously these are must-have items. Getting lost is no fun, and it can be very dangerous. A map and 
compass are priceless. However, they are useless if you don't know how to use them. Make sure you know 
how to use them by reading a book, taking a class, joining an orienteering club, etc. 

2. Extra Clothes 

Always take at least a little more clothing than you think you'll need no matter how long your trip is. At the 
very least you should always take rain gear and a hat and gloves. An extra fleece jacket is also nice to have. 
And you may want to consider taking an emergency "space blanket". It weighs next to nothing and takes up 
very little room, but it could save your life. 

3. Water Bottle and Means of Purification 

You can go weeks without food, but only a few days without water. You can either take a small filter/purifier 
pump, or you can take iodine tablets or drops. 

4. Extra Food 

Take at least one extra meal on day hikes and at least one day's worth of food for 3 to 7 day trips. You never 
know when you might be stuck out there because of weather, injury, getting lost, etc. The food should require 
very little or (preferably) no cooking. 

5. First Aid Kit 

This might seem pretty obvious, but it can be forgotten easily. You should take a basic first aid course before 
you go, because a first aid kit is almost useless if you don't know how to use it.

6. Fire starter and Waterproof Matches 

It seems like you really NEED to build a fire when it is the hardest to do so (lost in the middle of nowhere, 40 
degrees, windy, and raining). That's why having some fire starter and waterproof matches are a must. You 
can buy commercially made fire starters, or you can very easily make your own. 

7. Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool 

A pocketknife has virtually unlimited uses on a backpacking trip. With a knife you can cut the cheese, spread 
peanut butter, cut medical or duct tape, cut rope down to size, cut moleskin for blisters, whittle wet sticks 
down to get to the dry part for a fire, and so on and so forth... A multi-tool can be even handier, since it has 
more tools. The choice is yours. 

8. Flashlight or Headlamp 

It's extremely difficult to do anything in the dark without one. A headlamp has the advantage of offering you 
hands-free lighting, so that is what we recommend, but a flashlight will do just fine. Be sure to check the 
batteries before you leave. Best bet is to always carry spare batteries

9. Sunglasses and Sunscreen 

This might not seem like an "essential", but it is to us. Good sunglasses are even more important when 
traveling on snow. The snow can reflect a lot of harmful UV radiation and can cause a very painful condition 
called snow-blindness, so make sure your sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays. And bad sunburn can 
make any trip unbearable, so take some sun block. 

10. Means for Signaling 

If you ever get lost or injured then you will need a way to signal for help. A high-pitched whistle is a great way 
to call of help, and it can be heard a lot more easily than even the most desperate screams. Three short 
blasts are commonly known as a cry for help. You should also consider carrying a small signaling mirror to 
signal to planes, boats, or anyone far away. Be sure to learn how to signal with one before you leave. 

11. T.P.

I know this is the TEN essentials list but T.P. needs to be on here too. Take a small roll that has only ¼ left 
on it and keep it in a Ziploc bag
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Nicholas Fortunato,
Apr 14, 2014, 12:47 PM