The Ten Essentials

"When faced with potential disaster, stop, calm down, and think."

The history of the "Ten Essentials"

Back in the 1930's a group called The Mountaineers of Seattle began holding a course on mountain climbing. They discovered that students new to climbing often came unprepared for emergencies if they became separated from their partner or group. A list of "Ten Essentials" was developed and every climber was required to carry them on his person at all times.

The Ten Essentials

  1. Pocket Knife - A knife can be the Scouts best friend or greatest enemy. The best kind of knife to have is 2 ½ inch multi-blade, because not only are smaller knifes sharper, the smaller size make them easier to carry around, but more importantly if you break a blade you still have blades left to use.


  2. First Aid Kit - a first aid kit is essential for any trip to the outdoors. Most of us know that a first aid kit should house bandages and some kind of disinfectant (for more details check out the Boy Scout Handbook), but how many of you would include:
    1. Prescription Drugs - Doctor prescribed no matter how often you must take them
    2. Sun Screen - protect your skin from the sun
    3. Whistle - a way to get attention brought onto yourself
    4. ID Card - proof of who you are
    5. Foil - Tin Foil is reflective and will make a good singling device as well as a cup, bowl, plate, a way to repair flashlight and so on.


  3. Extra Food & Water - If you are like other young Scouts you don't have a stomach, you have a bottomless pit. If you are going on a day trip or an over nighter a good option is some kind of "Trail Mix" or energy bars. Extra food means something other then what you have already planned to take and eat. This food should not be your favorite and nor does it have to be in large quantity. The fact is this extra food probably won't prevent you from starving, but may offer you some comfort while providing a few extra calories to burn to keep you warm.


  4. Water - The human body is 75% water, the body can not last more then a few days without water. It is a must that you carry water with you at all times. As part of your survival kit it might be a wise idea to have some way to purify water such as: a purification pump or iodine tablets.


  5. Matches, Fire Starters & a Candle - If you have ever spent a day in the beautiful but cold mountain air, you would never consider going their without a way to get warm and cook upon. The wooden strike anywhere matches are the best type. A fires starter is classified as something other then matches or a lighter. Candles are just plan handy to have. All these items should be stored in some kind of water and air tight container.


  6. Extra Clothing - This is gear other then what you are planning to take, such as: a sweater, space blanket and a few trash bags. These items are extremely compact and lightweight. The garbage bags will protect you and your gear from the environment. May also include:
    1. Hat
    2. Neckerchief, Bandana or Handkerchief


  7. Map & Compass - Would you go camping without knowing where you are going, so it would be a great idea to carry a map of the area where you are going. The map can help you figure out where you are or start a fire (ha, ha). If you don't know where you are don't try to leave - remember to "Hug A Tree". In other words make a tree, a rock or other object your best friend and stay put. Search and Rescue will be able to find you easier and quicker if you stay put.


  8. Flashlight with extra batteries and bulb - a small "AA" lightweight flashlight like a "Mini Mag" will be just find. The light could help you read a map, or perhaps for signaling. You won't need it to walk after dark if you will only trust your night vision.


  9. Rain Gear - A large trash bag will work in a pinch, but a good poncho or rain coat will work even better. I can tell you from personal experience that it is not pleasant to be wet and cold. If you like to be miserable then this is one item you can leave behind.


  10. Rope - A good sturdy 50 foot chunk of 1/4 inch nylon rope. In a pinch the rope could be used for rescues, to hang wet clothes on, to set-up a shelter and even keep your hands busy.

Whenever Traveling in the Outdoors don't forget the "Outdoor Code"

The "Outdoor Code" reminds everyone of the importance of caring for the environment.

As an American, I will do my best to -
Be Clean in my outdoor manners,
be Careful with fire,
Be Considerate in the outdoors
Be Conservation Minded.


This page was written by Scott Robertson using the following books as guides:

    • The Official Boy Scout Handbook
    • Wilderness Survival by Suzanne Swedo
    • Camping and Wilderness Survival by Tawrell
    • The Webelos Resource Book
    • The Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Pamplet



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