Ten Essentials for the Modern Adventurer


Picture this. It’s 5am on Saturday. You’ve got all your gear packed in your backpack, you've locked the house and started the car. You’re ready to hit it and tackle whatever challenge you have set yourself for the day, but you just can’t seem to shake the feeling that you’ve forgotten something.

If the above scenario sounds familiar, you might be interested to know more about this internationally recognised list of ten survival essentials. Once you check these things off your pack list, you’ll never have to worry about leaving something behind again.

History of the “Ten Essentials”

Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills” has long been called the mountaineers and climbers textbook. It's an American publication that has been embraced by Australian adventurers since it was first released. In 1974, the 3rd edition included a list of ten necessary items for safe travel in the bush. The original list included things such as a map, knife and matches.

In 2008, the list was updated. It moved away from an items-based approach to reflect advances in technology (because, you know, there’s more than one way to pitch a tent).

So, what are they?

  1. Navigation

Topographic map, compass, handheld GPS unit or outdoor watch. The form of navigation you choose is really up to personal preference – remember it can be handy to have an old school backup for your gadgets, just in case your trip is unexpectedly extended and you run out of battery.

  1. Sun Protection

Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, protective clothing. Safeguarding your body from the sun is vitally important, no matter the climate. Not only will these items protect your skin in the long run, they’ll ensure you can enjoy your trip without the having to nurse uncomfortable sunburn the next day.

  1. Insulation

Jacket, thermals, balaclava. Many people make the mistake of neglecting to pack these items in Summer, forgetting that the evenings can be brutally cold. Even if you’re only planning a day trip, remember that conditions can change at the drop of a hat so you’ll need to be prepared for rain, hail and shine.

  1. Illumination

Headlamp, torch, lantern. A headlamp is generally the best choice for climbing, hiking and camping – primarily because it allows you to be hands-free. They’re also much more compact than a torch or lantern and tend to have a long battery life.

  1. First-Aid Supplies

Pre-assembled kits can save you time and money, and you can be assured that you have everything you need in case of an emergency. A waterproof kit is a good way to go – make sure that it includes bandages, gauze, tape, blister treatment, antiseptic products & pain relief.

  1. Fire

Matches, firestarter. Make sure that your matches and firestarter are both waterproof – even if you’re not planning on staying the night, you should be prepared in case your trip is unexpectedly lengthened.

  1. Repair Kit & Tools

Knife, multitool, tent/mattress repair kit, duct tape. A good multitool is an adventurer’s best friend. They can help you with everything from food preparation to first aid. Tent and mattress repair kits are deemed a luxury by most, however can be incredibly handy in the event of a puncture on your first night (especially if you’re planning on being outdoors for more than a few days).

  1. Nutrition

Food – at least one day’s extra. Freeze dried meals, energy bars and trail mix are backcountry picks for nutrition – remember to clean up your scraps before packing it in for the night (you don’t want to attract unwanted critters overnight!).

  1. Hydration

1 water bottle, collapsible reservoir, filter/purifier. Most adventurers consumer many litres of water a day, and carrying this on your person can prove to be extremely heavy. Taking a water filter or purifying tablets can greatly cut down on your pack weight; remember to plan your trip with pitstops at known water sources so that your supply never runs low.

  1. Emergency Shelter

Ultralight tarp, lightweight tent. If you become lost or stranded whilst hiking or climbing, an ultralight tarp or hiking tent can provide adequate shelter whilst you’re planning your next move. These items can also provide much-needed shade from the sun or shelter from a thunder storm. A hammock tent is another lightweight product that provides decent protection from the elements and is also comfortable to sleep in.

Variations of the list exist, however the modern Ten Essentials are generally used by outdoor educators worldwide. Partnered with adequate survival skills, these essentials might just be the difference between a great trip and a disastrous one.

Info taken from Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, published by Mountaineers Books.


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