[NOTE: this post has a sequel]
Where should I begin developing my outdoor kit? What do I need to bring on every trip outdoors?
Perhaps you’re just getting started and need to know what to bring for your first substantial day-hike in a state forest. Maybe it’s been a long time since you hiked and you’re just getting back into it, and you want to be sure to be prepared and not forget anything as you dig through all your old gear. And maybe you’re a parent of a new boy or girl scout and you want to make sure they’re ready for the outdoors.
As usual, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel here. The scouts and outdoor organizations have often made lists of “outdoor essentials,” usually of 10 key items that you shouldn’t leave home without. Unfortunately, these lists don’t exactly match up.
Mountaineers (the original list)
REI (includes a cheesy video)
What I’ve found is that the newer “system” based lists are helpful, as opposed to the older “item” based ones, but they tend to miss two key “systems.”
So here is the Jon Trails 12 Essentials, including the following 12 systems, very clearly inspired by the above sources but including the missing two.
- Knife, Tools & Repair Kit
- Fire & Ignition
- First Aid
- Sun Protection
- Insect Protection
I have added Signaling and Insect Protection, for obvious reasons, I think.
I find it easy to memorize the list in pairs, as listed: knife and compass, fire and flashlight, sun and insect protection, etc. This can help if you’re throwing together a pack for a trip. I keep my daypack in the trunk of my car at all times with these items, plus other non-essentials like binoculars and a notepad. Water bottles are kept full. The idea is to have a kind of “go bag” so that I’m always ready to hike around if the opportunity presents itself. The only difficulty I’ve found is with food — you don’t want to leave food in a hot trunk. I must admit, though, that I’ve been caught more than once wishing I had some trail mix back there!
I keep really essential items in the top zipper so that if I don’t need to carry the whole pack or I can quickly grab what I need (knife, compass, whistle, lighter, small flashlight).
There are also these helpful lists from REI: