10 Essentials for Backcountry Adventures

What are the 10 essentials and why do you need to carry them?

The 10 essentials are the 10 main things you need to bring with you whenever you travel in the backcountry. They are items that could be the difference between life or death, being rescued or not! In some states, if you ended up in a dangerous situation and need to be rescued, the state will fine you for being negligent and not prepared.

What are the 10 Essentials?

Depending on the website you look at, depends on the specifics of the items. But I like to think of it as the 10 essential systems. (I linked my favorite items throughout this post.)

  1. Navigation – Map & Compass
    • These are important because in the case you need to be rescued you need to be able to give your exact location to dispatch so the rescue team can find you quicker.
    • It’s also not good enough to just carry them, you need to educate yourself on how to use them. Many local outdoor stores will offer classes about the basics and there are many great videos when you search the internet.
  2. LightHeadlamp
    • In the case you get caught in the dark, you want to be able to see your surroundings.
    • Even if I’m going out in the morning and plan to be back by noon, I will still bring my headlamp! You never know what could happen!
  3. First Aid
    • Sometimes you need a simple bandaid, sometimes you need more.
    • Some good things to carry are bandaids, tweezers, antiseptic wipes, ibuprofen, benadryl, gloves, ace bandage, moleskin, and tape.
    • It’s also a great idea to educate yourself by taking basic first aid or better yet, wilderness first aid! I highly recommend NOLS, they’re courses are great and they’re leaders in the industry!
  4. Knife or Multitool
    • This could be used for so many things such as opening something, cutting food, defending yourself, or fixing broken gear!
  5. Fire
    • This could be carrying a lighter, matches, or flint and steel. I keep a flint and steel in my first aid kit!
    • You never know when you could be a survival situation and you need to make food, keep warm, or signal for help.
  6. Shelter
    • This could be a simple as rain pants and rain jacket at minimum.
    • I also always carry an emergency blanket or bivvy just in case I get stuck somewhere! They can double as a layer for warmth, protection from a story, or a way to signal for help (with the reflective side). Also they’re so light so why not keep one in your first aid kit!
  7. Warmth
    • This would be extra warm clothes.
    • In the summer this is often a fleece sweatshirt (never cotton!) and extra socks.
    • And as it gets colder it’s extra fleece pants, puffy jacket, hat, and gloves.
  8. Food
    • You should always carry an extra day’s worth of food on a trip. You never know what could go wrong and you need to help someone or you get stuck somewhere because of weather or injury!
    • I always bring a few extra protein bars and a sandwich.
  9. Water
    • You should carry more water than you think or at least someway to treat the water in the case you run out.
    • You should budget at least 2.5 liters of water per 5 hours. I usually do about 3L for every 10 miles (that’s the size of my water bladder). When I go for more than 10 miles, I always bring my water filter!
    • One time, my friend’s water bladder had a leak and she lost most of her water! If we didn’t have a filter, she would have been very dehydrated and our trip would have ended there!
  10. SOS

Now this isn’t everything I bring but its a start. To see my full list of packing gear click on the links below! Let me know if you have any questions!

Spring / Fall

Winter (coming soon!)

Summer (coming soon!)

This post contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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