The TEN ESSENTIALS*

(Recommended by San Diego Trail Tramps)

Every hiker, backpacker and climber should carry these survival items, which are recommended for safe travel in the back country. Carrying these basic items improves the chances that one is prepared for an unexpected emergency in the outdoors.

1. Sun Protection - Don't forget sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and chap stick for your lips.
2. Extra food and water - Take more food and water than you think you will need, particularly water.
3. Appropriate & Extra Clothing - A warm morning can quickly turn into a wet, cold afternoon. Take an extra shirt and some rain gear. Appropriate foot gear is necessary, too. Hiking boots are more sturdy than sports shoes, while "Flip flops" are out of the question on most hikes.
4. First Aid Kit - This is a must-take item. Many outdoor stores sell well-stocked, compact first aid kits for hikers. For those new to hiking, make sure the kit contains moleskin, an indispensable solution for foot blisters on the trail.
5. Pocket Knife - A simple, swiss army-type knife is best.
6. Map - This should be a detailed map of the general area you are hiking, that shows the specific trail you intent to hike. We recommend taking a topo map with latitude and longitude co-ordinates on the map to orient yourself to major landscape features and help find your current location.
7. Compass - When you reach the trailhead, note on the map the general direction of the trail, then use your compass periodically to make sure you are still heading in the right direction. If you get lost, you can also use the compass to find your position on the map by taking bearings.
8. A whistle - It can be a good signal if you become lost. To communicate with it, blow once to signal "Where are you?", twice to say "Here I am.", and three times to say "I need help!".
9. Flashlight and/or headlamp - Critical equipment if you find you're still on the trail after dark. Make sure to have an extra bulb and batteries.
10. Matches and Firestarter - A box of water proof matches and a film container with Vaseline-soaked cotton balls will get a fire going most anyplace. A candle and small butane lighter work well, too.
Supplemental Bonus Items:
A "Space Blanket" - can keep you warm, especially if you get wet or have to spend the night outdoors.
A cell phone - If you are hiking in an area close to cell phone coverage, this can be a lifesaving item if an emergency occurs. You may need to move to higher elevation or out of a canyon to get cellular service.
A GPS device - With the cost of a lightweight (4 oz) GPS below $100, there is no reason that frequent hikers should not carry one every time they head into the wilderness. If you get lost and are carrying a GPS and a topo map with coordinates, it's a snap to find your way back to the trail.
Smartphones with navigation apps - Most new smartphones now have GPS apps available, which turn your cell phone into a GPS device with a compass. Other new apps also provide TOPO maps for reference, and the ability to "PING" your exact location and locate it on a map. So, there's no longer any excuse for getting lost once you learn how to properly use these applications.

*The Ten Essentials were first described in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a hiking and mountain climbing club based in Seattle, Washington. For more details, please refer to their book "Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills".