The Ten Essentials and Beyond for a Day Hiking Trip

The Ten Essentials and Beyond for a Day Hiking Trip

Packing the Ten Essentials whenever you step into the backcountry, even on day hikes, is a good habit. True, on a routine trip you may use only a few of them. Yet you’ll probably never fully appreciate the value of the Ten Essentials until you really need one of them.

The original Ten Essentials list was assembled in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based organization for climbers and outdoor adventurers, to help people be prepared for emergency situations in the outdoors.

Our checklist for day hikers features required and optional gear, clothing and accessories. The list is intentionally comprehensive so you don’t forget anything.

The Ten Essentials

For safety, survival and basic comfort:

1. Navigation

•  Map (with protective case)
•  Compass
•  GPS (optional)
•  Altimeter (optional)

2. Sun protection

•  Sunscreen
•  Lip balm
•  Sunglasses

3. Insulation

•  Jacket, vest, pants, long underwear, gloves, hat

4. Illumination

•  Headlamp or flashlight
•  Extra batteries

5. First-aid supplies

•  First-aid kit

6. Fire

•  Matches or lighter
•  Waterproof container
•  Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)

7. Repair kit and tools

•  Knife or multi-tool
•  Kits for stove, mattress; duct tape strips

8. Nutrition

•  Extra day’s supply of food

9. Hydration

•  Water bottles or hydration system
•  Water filter or other treatment system

10. Emergency shelter

• Tent, tarp, bivy or reflective blanket

Beyond the Ten Essentials

  • Daypack

  • Lunch

  • Snacks (energy bars, gels, chews, trail mix)

  • Energy beverages or drink mixes

  • Utensils

  • Cups

  • Toilet paper

  • Sanitation trowel

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Insect repellent

  • Whistle

  • Binoculars

  • Trekking poles


  • Bag for collecting trash

  • Route description or guidebook

  • Interpretive field guide(s)

  • Outdoor journal with pen/pencil


  • Quick-dry towel


  • Post-hike snacks, water, towel, clothing change

  • Trip itinerary left with friend + under car seat


  • Multifunction watch

  • Camera with camera case

  • Helmet cam

  • Two-way radios

  • Cell or satellite phone

  • Personal locator beacon

Warm Weather Clothing Options

  • Wicking T-shirt

  • Wicking underwear

  • Quick-drying pants or shorts

  • Long-sleeve shirt (for bugs, sun)

  • Sun-shielding hat

  • Insulating fleece jacket or vest

  • Bandana or Buff

  • Mosquito net clothing

Cool Weather Clothing Options

  • Wicking long-sleeve T-shirt

  • Wicking long underwear

  • Hat, cap or headband (synthetic or wool)

  • Gloves or mittens

  • Insulating fleece jacket (or vest) and pants

  • Rain jacket (or soft shell and waterproof hat)

  • Rain pants (or soft-shell pants)

  • Boots or shoes suited to terrain

  • Socks (synthetic or wool)

  • Gaiters

  • Sandals (for river fording, trip home)