The Ten Hiking Essentials

It is often said that hikers should not leave home without the “ten essentials.” The ten specific items vary a bit from list to list but this one is typical:

  1. Map
  2. Compass/GPS
  3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
  4. Extra food and water
  5. Extra clothes
  6. Headlamp
  7. First aid kit
  8. Fire starter
  9. Matches
  10. Knife

I have developed an alternate list:

  1. Left sock
  2. Right sock
  3. Left shoe
  4. Right shoe
  5. Underwear
  6. Pants
  7. Shirt
  8. Hat
  9. Car key
  10. House key

Of course, this list is also subject to change. A hat isn’t always necessary, but sometimes a jacket is. A car key isn’t always necessary, but perhaps I’ll put a food bar in my pocket. A person could always wear sandals or go commando.

My point is just that one-size-fits-all lists are silly. In many situations, several of the ten canonical essentials are dead weight; on other hikes a pack containing these items would be suicidally incomplete. I don’t know, just use some common sense people. And for God’s sake take a cell phone so you can call in a helicopter rescue when you get lost or stuck on a ledge somewhere.