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Jim's 10 Essentials



(For day hikes/climbs)

When I am backpacking I barely need to check to see if I have the "Ten Essentials". Taking too much instead of not enough is my usual problem. But on one-day hikes and one-day climbs here in the Pacific Northwest it seems to me there is a danger of leaving behind something that might prove critical later. I used to use the standard "Ten Essentials" list (I think it was developed by the Seattle Mountaineers), but I thought it wasn't detailed enough. As time went on my own ten essential list evolved.

I like to think of essentials in groups. For example, if I can jam a bunch of stuff in a zip-lock bag or a small stuff sack (see item 3 below), I do so and just leave it there for the next trip. That way it is easier to do inventory. I like to include the clothing and boots I will be wearing when I start the trip because they are an essential part of my resources if weather turns foul or we are out longer than expected. When you get done packing your pack for a day hike ask yourself this, "How comfortable would I be if I had to spend the night out up high in inclement weather?", and plan for at least a modicum of comfort.

La Lista

    1. Backpack and three 33 gallon trash bags (for emergency pack cover, ground sheet, clothing storage, etc.)

    2. The clothes I am wearing:
    Adequate foot wear and clothing for "ordinary" conditions.
    A wool or fleece sweater or shirt.
    If too warm I may have to take it off and pack it, but it is not part of the "Extra Clothing"

    3. In a plastic zip-lock bag I carry the following small items:

    1. Compass
    2. Mag lite and two extra AA cells
    3. Pocket Knife
    4. Matches wrapped in stretch tight cling plastic wrap
    5. Extra pair of sunglasses
       In a large clear plastic zip-lock bag I keep handy:
    1. a photocopy of a map and
    2. copies of guide book pages for the area I will be in.

       In a separate zip lock bag I carry

    1. first aid supplies,
    2. Sunscreen and
    3. sewing kit.

    4. Shelter: one of the following

    1. tent,
    2. bivy bag,
    3. 5 x 7 tarp or
    4. space blanket.

    5. Extra Clothing. Depends on weather expected, but no less than

    1. waterproof pants and jacket,
    2. polypro longs (top and bottom), and
    3. wool cap.

    6. Food for trip plus one extra day.

    7. Water bottles

    1. 1.5 L minimum capacity and
    2. Treatment tablets.
    3. In winter, stove and pot to melt snow for water.

    8. Sit pad or 3/4 length foam pad

    9. Personal items:

    1. Toilet paper, (emergency fire starter)
    2. Tooth brush
    3. Reading glasses, contact solution,
    4. Medications etc

    10. Nylon cord, various lengths.
       For setting up tarp, hanging food, tying gear on pack, etc.


Jim Morrison
Hansville, WA

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