The Ten Essentials

Nancy Green


KUED Producer, Nancy Green, specializes in the production of documentaries for local, regional, and national PBS broadcast. Her work at KUED spans nearly 25 years, focusing on diverse topics, including healthcare, the arts, history, and the outdoors. Recent, films include, Homeless at the End, Search & Rescue, The Utah Bucket List, Maynard...Read more

Photo by Francisco Kjolseth

Before I began hanging out with SAR teams, I never gave much thought about packing anything extra for a day hike.  I wasn’t a complete novice.  I had learned the lesson (the hard way) that a cell phone is no replacement for a headlamp, and that not having enough water is really painful.  But that was the extent of my planning.  Now that I’ve seen that accidents can happen, even on a short day hike, I always pack what’s known as the “Ten Essentials.”

The Ten Essentials were first listed in Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (January, 1974, Peggy Ferber, Editor). Since then, various organizations, authors, and other individuals have referenced the Ten Essentials as necessities to have in case of an emergency while adventuring in the great outdoors. (Check out Wasatch Mountain Club's list here). The original list has evolved, however the basic concept remains the same – think about the items you would need in the event of an accident, and to make sure you can safely spend a night outdoors, if necessary.

  1. Navigation (map and compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses, sunscreen, hat)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp, flashlight)
  5. First aid kit ( watch the video below for more information)
  6. Fire (waterproof matches, lighter, fire starter)
  7. Repair kit, tools (multi-tool)
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter
The number and details of the items on this list may vary, the idea is to have on hand a few portable items that can help keep you alive

It is important to note that any list of the Ten Essentials may vary depending on different factors: day hike or overnight, frequently populated or backcountry, level of experience, etc. Every SAR member has his or her own variation. Rescuer, author and adventurer, Shaun Roundy, has even expanded the 10 Essentials to his personalized 19 Essentials, which he published in his book 75 Search and Rescue Stories.

Though the number and details of the items on this list may vary, the idea is to have on hand a few portable items that can help keep you alive should the unexpected occur. Stay safe out there, have fun, and enjoy the beauty and wonder that Utah has to offer!

Lindsey Anderson, a nurse who works with Utah County Search and Rescue, covers some of the items to include in your hiking backpack's first aid kit.

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