The Ten Essentials You Need to Have Before Going Hiking

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The Ten Essentials

Always carry on your person, a whistle and an emergency shelter (large trash bag, tube tent, mylar space-rescue blanket or bag, etc.), whenever you are outdoors.

In addition, always pack the 10 basic items on every back-country trip, whether it’s a day hike, or a two-week backpacking trip in the mountains:

1) Pocketknife and/or multitool.

2) First-Aid kit.

3) Extra clothing, including a hat.  Based on the season, pack enough clothing to keep warm while sitting still.

4) Rain gear.

5) Canteen or water bottle Full.

6) Flashlight with extra batteries and bulb.

7) Extra food.

8) Extra matches and fire starters.

9) Sun protection: sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, lip balm.

10) Map and compass.  Know how to use them.

Wear the correct footwear.  Keep everything in a waterproof pack.  You may also want to carry a small piece (12"x18") of foam sleeping pad for insulation from the cold ground, signaling device like a mirror, a marking pen, and an in season insect repellent and/or a head net.  Consider taking a personal locator beacon. 

Be Prepared

Before you leave on your trip:

Plan your trip and tell your family or friends where you are going and when you will be back.  Stick to your plan.

Choose clothing, footwear, and equipment suitable for the weather and terrain.

Carry the ten essentials, and your other outdoor equipment with you.

Get a weather forecast before you leave.  Postpone your trip if bad weather is predicted.

Carry this brochure with you.

STOP if you think you are lost!

Stop and stay put.  Stay calm.  If you’re in a group, stick together.  Don’t go any further without thinking things out.

Think.  Use your brain.  It’s your best survival tool.  Study your map and surroundings.  Don’t make snap judgments.  If you have any doubt about where you are, stay put.  Move only if necessary to clear a hazardous area (avalanche, rock fall, dead-fall, lightning, flash floods, etc.) then stop and stay put.

Observe.  Are there any hazards nearby (avalanche, rock fall, dead fall, lightning, flash floods, etc.)?  What condition are you and your party members in?  Does anyone need first aid?  What does the weather look like?  What do you have with you to help?  Where is the best spot within view to make camp?

Plan and prepare.  Rig a shelter near an open space, if possible.  If it can be done safely, make a fire. Set out signals (streamer, marker, or panel). Rest. You will survive.  Wait for help.  It’s on the way!

Emergency Use of Cell Phones in the Back Country.

Who will I Reach?

9-1-1 calls for assistance are picked up by the nearest cell tower to your location. It may be sent to a county 9-1-1 center different from where you are, or even a different state.

Be prepared. Use 9-1-1 only in case of an actual emergency. Remember, help may be several hours away or longer.

Remember to:

Leave with a fresh, fully charged cell phone battery.

Carry extra, charged batteries with you, such as an external cell phone battery/charger.

Keep batteries warm for extra-long use.

Instruct everyone in your party on how to use your phone.

Be prepared to give complete information about the nature of the emergency when placing a call for help.  You may only be able to make one call.

Send a text message to your in town contact or 911 (if available in your area) even if you do not have service.  The message will most likely send when you get even a small area of service.

Unless instructed otherwise by 911 or a Search and Rescue official, Keep your cell phone on.  The searchers may be able to track your phone.

Be sure you know:

Your location, including the trail head and nearest city, destination or way points.

Your cell phone number.

How your cell phone works.

How to increase your signal strength, to include: pointing your antenna up, finding a clearing, gaining elevation, and turning your body - you may be blocking the signal.

Cell phones should NEVER replace preparedness.