An excerpt from The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook
Ever heard of the “Ten Essentials”? The original list of ten essential outdoor items was drawn up in the 1930’s for mountain climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. A Seattle-based group called the Mountaineers designed the list for two reasons. First, it gave people a list of gear to acquire in case of emergency or accident. Secondly, it provided a support system in the event that someone had to unexpectedly stay outdoors overnight (or longer). The classic ten essentials are a map, compass, sunglasses and sunscreen (counted as one item), extra clothing, flashlight, first-aid supplies, fire starter, matches, knife and extra food. Since then, the group has updated their list by focusing on systems rather than a specific ten items.
The Updated Ten Essential “Systems”
1. Navigation (map and compass)
2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
3. Insulation (extra clothing and outerwear)
4. Illumination (headlamp or flashlight)
5. First-aid supplies
6. Fire (waterproof matches, lighter, candles)
7. Repair kit and tools (duct tape, multi-tool, etc.)
8. Nutrition (extra food)
9. Hydration (extra water)
10. Emergency shelter
The original list has some great selections in it, which could help anyone survive an unforeseen situation. The matches, knife and food are “can’t miss” survival selections. And while the average outdoor enthusiast may not need the sun glasses and sunscreen in all conditions, for those trudging through a sunny snow field – their importance is significant. Jumping forward eighty years, the updated list has a nice sense of compartmentalization, but it also has two game changers in it. Hydration and emergency shelter are the two most critical elements of survival (barring any first aid items needed for injuries). Water and shelter are glaringly absent in the original Ten Essentials, but thankfully for a new generation of outdoor adventurers – they are spelled out in the new list. Overall, the updated list is far superior to the old one and it provides a great framework for any outdoorsperson to assemble some valuable lifesaving gear. Although, the old list is better than no list at all.
These tips, and many more survival tips, are in MacWelch’s books: Prepare For Anything, The Hunting and Gathering Survival Manual, How To Survive Anything, and available now, Tim’s latest release, The Ultimate Winter Survival Handbook.
Follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch
And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.