For those of you who love being outdoors and going on adventures, the thrill and excitement of the unknown is some of the best part of it all, but nothing ruins a good adventure faster than being unprepared. With all the excitement, lead up and thrill of the unknown, one can easily get distracted from remembering that it’s always best practice to be prepared for any scenario. We carry a responsibility to our loved ones and ourselves to make sure we return home safe and secure. That is why whenever you plan an adventure, you also need to prepare for the worst. In the outdoor world it is recommended that a person carry 10 essentials for outdoor survival. The majority of my adventures stem from either hunting, scouting or a combination of them both. In this article, I detail my list of items that I carry, why I chose them and a few extra items I always keep on me as well.
In the days before technology, most people would assume that navigation required a compass and a map. Even though that is true, technology has come a long way and even though the tried and true method of map and compass is the ultimate failsafe, most outdoors enthusiasts might opt for a more modern approach. With the growth in global positioning satellites (GPS) , navigating and communicating with others has grown easier. Nowadays most people carry cell phones that can download offline maps to use. Of course you will need a mapping software or app and the one that I personally prefer using is onXmaps. They make a hunt version, a backcountry version and an offroad version that allows users to mark waypoints, track their movement, download offline maps, and toggle between satellite and topography views.
2. Light Source
When packing a light source, your options are between a flashlight and a headlamp. I prefer to opt for a headlamp so I can go hands free. Headlamps come in multiple lumens, sizes, features and price range. If price is your biggest concern, you can go to any hardware, auto parts or outdoor store and typically pick up one for cheap. It might not have all the bells and whistles as others, but it will do the job. The majority of these headlamps run off of 3 AAA batteries and I always recommend carrying extra batteries for emergencies.
My choice is a rechargeable headlamp because I got tired of not knowing how full the battery was every time I went afield. I also chose a rechargeable for the fact that I carry a portable power bank for all my battery powered items, therefore I am covered for power as well. The headlamp I prefer is the Fenix HM70R Rechargeable Headlamp. When I am hunting I also keep a small pencil flashlight in my bino harness at all times. It doesn’t take up much room and is super helpful and convenient in a pinch. The Fenix LD02 is a great pencil light for every day carry (EDC) if you would prefer to go without a headlamp.
Lastly, if you never leave home without your cell phone and you are concerned with going minimalist and ultralight, then using your cell phone as your light source is an option you could choose as well. Most modern day cell phones have a flash that you can turn on for a backup flashlight.
3.First Aid Supplies
When it comes to first aid kits, the sky's the limit with how intense or serious you want your kit to be able to handle. For your average minimalist kit I recommend the Day Hike - First Aid Kit. If you are looking for more, I recommend reading this article (Read Here) on first aid kits and then deciding what you want to include or leave behind. A few items I always recommend adding to your kit is chapstick (which can be used as sun protection and waterproofer) and a tourniquet.
When it comes to knives, it seems as if there are an unlimited number of options. Even when I am hunting and I carry a skinning knife, I always keep an extra pocket knife in my bino harness that I can access quickly and easily in case of an emergency. My knife of choice is not cheap however it holds an edge and you get what you pay for. The value in knives comes from the type of steel used. Whether it is a softer steel that dulls quickly but resharpens easily versus a harder steel that maintains its edge longer but can be more difficult to sharpen. My preferred pocket knife is the Benchmade Bugout.
5. Fire Starter
There are many different options you can bring for a fire starter, ranging from flint and steel, waterproof matches, all the way to a light. The best and most efficient fire starter for space and weight that I like to carry is a classic Bic lighter. One addition I like to add to the lighter is to wrap duct tape around it. This provides me with the ability to carry something extra and helpful without having to take up much room or weight. Another option you could add is pyro putty. It ignites easily and will burn for a while.
Shelter is always a tricky one and often forgotten about. For some, a shelter could be a tent, tarp or even rain gear to provide comfort and or reprieve from the sun, rain, bugs or any other element you might face. More often than not, I am always carrying a tent on the majority of my backcountry adventures. However I am a big fan of bringing a backcountry tarp. It has multiple functions, from water collection to shade from the hot summer sun. The DryFly Rain Tarp by ENO is one of the options I would consider to fill the need for shelter.
7. Extra Food
Packing extra food is the fun part of the 10 essentials. Identifying and figuring out what you like to eat that doesn’t take up space, isn’t too heavy while being packed with calories is a fun game I like to play. Food provides energy but it also provides a mental or spiritual lift when times are tough. This is why some foods are called “comfort” foods. For me, I like peanut m&m’s and or gummy bears. However double stuffed Oreos provide a huge caloric punch without sacrificing weight or space.
If junk food is not your ideal food source, and I don’t blame you, then look into foods that are high in calories. A good resource is food items that ultra marathon runners would carry such as GU Energy.
8. Extra Water
Regardless of your adventure, carrying extra water and or having the ability to clean and filter water is paramount to your survival. There are a lot of options to choose from; iodine tablets to uv purifiers and gravity filters. My choice of carrying and filtering water is the HydraPak system. They allow you to choose what size bag you want that connects with their filter quickly and easily.
9. Extra Clothes
Identifying what “extra” clothes you might bring for survival can be challenging at times. To help with this, it is best to understand the length and location of your adventure. Sometimes your extra clothes are as simple as a rain jacket and or gloves. Other times simply understanding how layering systems work will be your best friend. A rule of thumb to follow is to always check the weather in the location of where you will be spending your time. This will help you to narrow down what extra items you might need.
10. Sun Protection
This is one that is often ignored depending on what type of climate or region you live in. For people in climates where sun exposure is not a huge issue, a hat and sunglasses might suffice. However for others, sun screen, hats (preferably with a large brim) and shirts that are UPF rated along with chapstick are highly recommended. My go to sun shirt is the Black Diamond Alpenglow Pro Hoody. It is lightweight, comfortable and just right even when it is warm.
Bonus - These extras I carry with me to ensure safety, comfort, return and survival…
- Garmin Inreach Mini - This device is a 2 way communicator and sos transmitter that requires a subscription. The device is also capable of receiving weather updates and sending location information. The inReach can work independently but works best in combination with a cell phone that allows the ability of a full keyboard when typing.
- Portable battery pack and charging cables - With the benefit of technology comes the need for it to have power. Carrying a phone that requires charging, Garmin Inreach Mini, and even my headlamp, carrying the correct cables and extra power storage can go a long way in the survival, comfort and return on your adventure. My choice of power is the Anker Power Core. It is a 10,000mAh power bank that charges quickly and is relatively small and light.
If you enjoyed this article and want to connect, you can go to soulseekersnation.com and drop me a line. I would love to hear what items you would choose to bring along with you on your adventures. If you are looking for some cool hunting content, go check out our show Soul Seekers on CarbonTV as well as listen to the Soul Seekers Podcast anywhere podcasts are found!