The “Dozen Essentials” for outdoor trips

  1. NAVIGATION: A USGS or equal topographic map, a compass, and the skill to use both.  GPS units can also be helpful, if you know how to use it, and carry spare batteries.  Also carry a cellphone and conserve your phones battery power.
  2. SUN PROTECTION: Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat suitable for the season (important for both hot and cold environments)
  3. INSULATION: The MOST important consideration: NO cotton clothing! Carry synthetic or wool layers, waterproof/windproof rain jacket/ pants; extra gloves/hat, and extra socks as required. Wear layers of clothing to adjust insulation to activity level and current weather. Stay dry to decrease the risk of hypothermia (which can be life-threatening).
  4. ILLUMINATION: Headlamp and flashlight, with extra batteries.  Make sure both your devices use the same batteries.
  5. FIRST-AID SUPPLIES: Basic supplies such as Band-aids, gauze pads, triangular and compression bandages, etc. Include any medications you may currently be taking and a bee sting kit if you are allergic.  If high risk activities (hunting, rock climbing, etc.) suggest advanced first aid skills and equipment.
  6. FIRE: Waterproof matches, butane lighter or candle stubs, plus fire-starting materials (Fat Wood or similar). Do not expect to find dry materials to help start a fire during inclement weather.
  7. REPAIR KIT/TOOLS: Multi-tool or Swiss Army knife, etc.  A little bit of duct tape can be useful.
  8. NUTRITION: High energy, no-cook foods, such as high-carb energy bars. Carry at least 200 calories for every hour you will be out.
  9. HYDRATION: Extra water; take at least (1) liter for short (1-2 hour) outings and at least 2.5 liters for all-day excursions. Remember that extra water will be needed for hot or cold weather, drink continuously during your outing.  For overnight trips, some type of filtration system will be necessary, to make sure that the water you drink is safe.   Don’t wait until you are dehydrated! 
  10. EMERGENCY SHELTER: A Space blanket or bright plastic tarp (9’ x 12’) and a few large plastic trash bags. These items will insulate you, keep you dry, and provide the supplies necessary to create a rudimentary shelter
  11. Whistle and mirror for signaling others that you need help.
  12. Lightweight cord – to assist with building shelter, pack repairs, shoe repairs, hanging bear bag, etc.