Updated: Nov 10, 2022
First published in the third edition of ‘Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills’ in January 1974, the ten essentials have long been regarded as an essential part of preparation for hikes. They were quickly adopted by the hiking and mountaineering communities as a trusted list and have continued to be updated to better reflect the gear we use today.
Though changes have been made over the years the main principles remain just as important and it can be argued that failing to bring one of these ‘ten essentials’ can end up either putting you in danger or make hiking far more challenging than it needs to be.
The original 10 essentials were:
Sunglasses and Sunscreen
Since 2003 these ten essentials have been referred to as the ‘classic’ version but they are still perfectly valid for use but do not include the many more modern pieces of gear we carry with us on hikes today. For this reason an updated version was published alongside this original list of essentials which better reflects the items required for hike today.
The 10 essentials today:
Navigation – A compass with topographic maps and a GPS.
Sun Protection – Hat, Sunscreen, Glasses, covering clothing.
Illumination – Head torch and hand torch both with spare batteries.
First-aid supplies – First-aid kit and insect repellent.
Fire – Matches and other fire lighting materials in sealed container.
Repair kit & tools – Knifes, multi-tool, trowel, duct tape and any other repair equipment.
Nutrition – Good hiking food along with extra supplies for emergency.
Hydration – Bring at least 2 litres of water and a filtration device (life straw).
Emergency Shelter – Either a Bivvy, space blanket, tarp, or other shelter.
On top of the ten essentials themselves it is also advised that you bring some communication equipment like a whistle, radio or a mobile phone so that contacting you in an emergency is easier for first responders and/or rescuers.
How to best follow the 10 essentials.
The 10 essentials were created to make it easy for hikers preparing for a hike but it should always be used in conjunction with your own research. Some hikes have special requirements for gear that you must bring so that it isn’t an awful trip and these are often discovered through your own research about the trail.
A lot of hikes in Australia often require gaiters to be enjoyable because of both snakes and spiky long grass that can end up cutting your legs. This is just one example but it is always important to take the location into account when planning your trip.
Tick off your ’10 essentials’.
When it comes to packing my bag, I always check things off a checklist as I put them in just to make sure I haven't left anything behind. If you are looking to take the hassle out of creating your own then you can download the 10 essentials checklist from the checklists area of our website.
So that is the ten essentials, they are an important thing for a beginner hiker to not only know about but also understand and use. If you make sure you bring these items every time you go hiking you can be pretty sure that it is going to go off without too many problems and you are going to have a fun, event free adventure.
Written by Josh Welch