The Ten Essentials

I’ve heard some people say that hiking is a universal hobby, a way to have fun with other people that only requires time and physical ability, rather than money. What I’ve found to be more accurate is that while this is technically true, the reality for me is that the more I hike, the more equipment I convince myself is necessary to do so. This is in addition to the Ten Essentials, which can be purchased on a budget but should not be skimped on either.

You can find variations of this list all over the internet, but I will share REI’s here because it’s my favorite version:

  1. Navigation (map and compass)
    • GPS technology has become much more widely available for the consumer to purchase, but I would argue that being able to accurately read a map is one of the most important skills a hiker can have. Whether you are only interested in day hikes or you are planning a week-long backpacking trip, being prepared for an emergency requires you to know how to navigate the area you’re exploring. Compasses can be generally found for anywhere between $10 and $100, so there’s no excuse to not have one to bring on your hiking, backpacking or camping trips.
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
    • Layers, layers, layers! I highly recommend wearing multiple, thinner layers rather than bulky coats–this allows you to remove articles of clothing in increments when you get warm. Additionally, it allows you to have dry clothes under an outer, waterproof/resistant shell when it’s raining, as it so often does here in the PNW.
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
    • Flashlights will do the job if they are all you have, but headlamps are much more convenient when you’re hiking in the dark. Having your hands free is a huge advantage, and headlamps also give you a wider view with better peripheral vision.
  5. First-aid supplies
    • The basics: bandages (various sizes), instant ice pack, antibacterial wipes/ointment, elastic bandage wrap, gauze, medical tape, mini scissors, tweezers, Benedryl (or another diphenhydramine), disposable gloves, Aspirin, etc.
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
    • I always bring enough food for at least one extra day, just in case something goes south and I need to wait for emergency assistance.
  9. Hydration (extra water)
    • Water weighs 1kg per liter, or about 2.2 pounds, making it one of the heavier items you’ll carry with you on any given hike. However, one of the great things about consumables is that their weight decreases as you use them. I would recommend getting a hydration bladder or a collapsible water bottle to keep it as light as possible, but I know some people prefer solid water bottles instead–so, do what works best for you!
  10. Emergency shelter


In the future, I’d like to share my thoughts on the equipment I use, and I am always looking for suggestions! Happy hiking!

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