When you pack up your backpack to hit the trail you stash some water, a few snacks + maybe a rain jacket. Those are basics, things you know you’ll need while you’re out roaming. But do you always remember to bring the “ten essentials”? There are the items you *might* need while you’re on the trail…if things go awry.

Ideally, we never need to use the items but should we get into a situation where we’ll need them we will really, really need them! So, what are the ten essentials + why may you need each one of them?

In short, these ten essentials are meant to be there to save you if you get stranded on the trail. Each one of these items could save you or help you save someone else. When you’re packing up your bag a few of these items may feel a bit unnecessary + cumbersome. Yea, we know, but put yourself on the trail in a dicey situation, wishing you had that fire starter or your sunscreen or…anything else you could have put into your back for this moment.

1: Navigation

There are a lot of options for navigation these days — GPS devices, your phone, map + compass. You simply need to choose the one that you know how to use. If you have a fancy GPS device it’ll only help you out if you actually know how to properly use it. The same goes for a map + compass — sure, it’s fool-proof…if you know how to read a map + use a compass!

2: Sun Protection

The sun is glorious + we love seeing it in the summertime. However, it can be brutal. When we put ‘sun protection’ on a list like this we are referring to sunscreen as well as a hat, sunglasses + light layers that protect you from the blasting heat of the hot, hot sun. These are all important to keep your skin + eyes safe as well as help keep you cool.

3: Insulation

Even on the hottest days you’ll want to add at least one extra layer to your pack. What if it rains? What if you get stuck on the trail overnight? You’ll want an extra layer. Even if it’s a lightweight long sleeve shirt, pack that extra layer. Check the weather + choose your layers accordingly.

4: Illumination

Regardless of what time of day you hit the trail, pack a light! A headlamp or mini flashlight doesn’t take up that much space + you never know when you’ll need it. If you are headed into the wilderness later in the day pack a headlamp as well as replacement batteries.

5: First Aid

This can be a very basic first aid kit — no need for elaborate stashes of all the medical devices. A simple sealed baggie with bandaids, antibiotic ointment, ACE wrap, medical tape, sani-wipes, ibuprofen + anything else you know you may need on the trail if you manage to fall on your face!

6: Fire Starter

Even if you’re not planning on spending the night outdoors, bring along something to start a fire with. You can get some ideas on what to pack on the How To: Make Your Own Fire Starter. Bring something as an ignitor + a fire start — just in case you get stuck in the wilderness overnight! Fire will provide warmth, comfort + a light so it’s always a good idea to be able to make one.

7: Repair Kit

This kit will change a bit depending upon what adventures you’re headed out on. If you’re going kayaking an inflatable kayak you’ll probably want to bring a patch kit, but you won’t need that patch kit if you’re hiking up a mountain side. Plan accordingly + make sure you can fix up your gear when you’re on the trail. When in doubt, pack duct tape!

8: Shelter

When it comes to shelter you can get really creative depending upon the terrain + environment you’re exploring in. If there is a chance of rain, be sure your shelter is waterproof. If you’re in the desert, take a shelter that will be able to protect you from the beating sun. Again, be sure to plan according to where you’re going + what you’ll be encountering!

9: Hydration

Water! Bring water! It’s a no brainer, right? But what happens when you’ve drank all of your water…how will you get more? Of course pack water to drink when you’re hiking, but also pack along something to gather + purify water should you run out. You have a handful of options — iodine tablets, steri-pen, filters, etc.

10: Nutrition

This goes hand + hand with water. Of course you’re going to bring snacks on your trail-ventures. Snacks are the best! But don’t limit yourself to exactly what you’ll need in the planned miles. A few extra granola bars or candy bars can go along way if you get stranded on the trails.

That covers the bare essentials of what you may need on the trail if things go wrong. With a little trail-side creativity you can do a lot with these items, things that can save your life or the life of someone else!

Have you ever needed to use your ten essential items? Or, have you ever wished you had something on the trail — what was it + how would have it saved the day?