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  1. #1

    Default Has any of the "10 essentials" actually every saved your butt?

    The story of the family that died in Yosemite got me to thinking about what could they have done different or even if they had the so-called 10 essentials. I got to wondering if anyone has ever been saved by one of the items. Of course the list varies depending on who is doing the talking. I can't think of anytime where I went "Without this I would have been a goner". Carrying water and proper clothing for me is a given and not on my 10 list, but I would wager that most back-country deaths are from unprepared day hikers and not over-nighters and LDH's. I dont have data to back that up. just past stories. Anyways, any of the 10 gotten you out of a jam?

    https://www.nps.gov/articles/10essentials.htm
    " 6 bucks and my left nut says we're not going to be landing in Chicago" Del Griffith

  2. #2
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    I would say that I would have been in big trouble without rain gear and warm insulation many times but I’m sure that’s true for almost all backpackers.

    The ten essentials are kind of a given for backpacking but often neglected on day hikes. I think many day hikes should only be undertaken with a plan to be out overnight in an emergency. It depends on the situation. On Monday, I solo day hiked a part of SNP that gets little traffic. I took my sleeping bag, an emergency blanket, etc in case I got injured and had to stay out overnight. But I’m doing another day hike this weekend that’s super popular (old rag) and very likely to get help if needed, but then again I never like being at the mercy of others.

  3. #3

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    One of the 10 Essentials is HYDRATION. If you are hiking in 107 degree heat, 2 adults, a baby, and a dog, I would think MORE THAN 85OZ would be carried! Hell, I would have probably carried more than that if it was JUST me hiking that!

    The parents are idiots and the child and dog paid the price. Absolutely unforgiveable in my book! Yeah, their family also lost loved ones but this was DUMB DECISION MAKING by ADULTS!
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  4. #4

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    One of the things that keeps me from being a true "ultralight" backpacker is that I bring things like long underwear, a hat and gloves, and a parka even when I am backpacking in the summer, as well as having enough water to get past the next water source.

    Being out in the woods teaches you that your abilities are greater than you expected, but there are some limits that are just hardcoded into being an upright hairless mammal.

  5. #5

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    Over the last 2 years, I've done over 70 day hikes in the Whites, in all seasons, usually on Mondays. But I do have the luxury of picking nice days to hike on. I carry a sub-set of the 10 essentials, depending on season, location, duration and level of difficulty.

    Map - sometimes, GPS - always, compass - never.
    Sunscreen, sunglass, hat - only in winter.
    Food and water, duh, at least a little. Finding water in the Whites is rarely a problem.
    extra and worn clothing - season and weather dependent
    First aid, never. If I need any, I'll need more then a band aid. Although I should carry Benadryl in case of bee sting.
    Fire, only if I have something good to smoke
    Knife, usually.
    Emergency shelter, never.

    Has any of this saved my butt? Maybe not saved, but certainty helped in keeping me from needing to be saved.

    The basic list of 10 is still a good staring point for beginners who don't have the experience yet to fine tune the items depending on where and when. I cringe when I see people heading up a trail in the afternoon with just a bottle of water in their hands and dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. Just have to pray they don't go far. Amazing more people don't die around here.
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  6. #6

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    1. Having a paper map helped me get off the trail once when I twisted my ankle badly. I ended up walking 16 miles on it instead of the 30 I would have walked on it to get to the next road crossing following guthook/farout. I can say that I have experienced being disoriented without either GPS, map or compass. I didn't panic and retracing my steps to the last place I knew where I was. Pushing on without knowing where your going is stupid and likely to get you dead. Retracing though requires you to pay attention to the landmarks, not listening to a podcast.

    3. I've been in the mountains when the temperature dropped 40 degrees and it started to hail. Hypothermia was a real possibility. I had rain pants and fleece that saved my butt. On another occasion I started a hike in 60 degree temps and failed to put on more clothes as it started to sprinkle and temps dropped to the high 20's. I didn't want to stop walking and almost waited to long to find shelter. I started shivering and finally stopped and bundled up in my fleece and poncho. I fell asleep under a tree for three hours, woke up in the dark.

    Definitely know what the risks are and prepare accordingly.

    7. A little duct tape, a couple of zip ties, some glue will get you to the next road crossing. I've had to hike 3 days on a blown out shoe that I kept together with duct tape and some shoe goo. I guess I could have gone barefoot so having having repair supplies didn't save my bacon, just saved me a tender foot.

  7. #7
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    Exclamation Not "life or death," but severe discomfort

    I completely mis-estimated the time it would take me to complete a day hike in the Franconia Area, and ended up walking for three hours in pitch dark on a moonless night. Even WITH a flashlight I lost the trail; without one I would probably have spent a sleepless night on the trail, kicking myself for not bringing one.

    After hiking in 90F heat, stopped at the shelter just as night was falling. As my body & the air rapidly cooled, I found myself shivering all over; and all my clothing was designed to keep me cool. I had to use my rain poncho to maintain enough heat to not shiver. Since then I always carry a nylon wind breaker and a wool shirt, even on hot days.


    Rain protection, hydration, and a map -- I carry these even for a hike of a couple hours.

  8. #8

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    Ditto on rain gear being critical gear for me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanatuk View Post
    1. Having a paper map helped me get off the trail once when I twisted my ankle badly. I ended up walking 16 miles on it instead of the 30 I would have walked on it to get to the next road crossing following guthook/farout. I can say that I have experienced being disoriented without either GPS, map or compass. I didn't panic and retracing my steps to the last place I knew where I was. Pushing on without knowing where your going is stupid and likely to get you dead. Retracing though requires you to pay attention to the landmarks, not listening to a podcast.

    Map and compass a big yes for me as well. Trail disappeared - I explored a bit from my last confident location in a variety of directions - once going a bit far, and I quickly realized that it's not too long before the woods starts to look the same in every direction! Knowing roughly where you are and what boundaries are nearby helps a lot. For instance even if you don't know precisely where you are on the trail, to know that you will hit a road eventually by going, say, due east, is a big help.

  10. #10
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    Didn't I hear the family died of hyper-thermia, not hypo-thermia (so something like a rain jacket doesn't help... You need a way to get in the shade and a source of water
    As for the 10 Essentials, I just tell people they need to go out with the idea that you are going to get hurt and stuck out in the woods overnight so you need what ever you need to survive overnight in the woods. After all, if you're someplace like in the Smokies just after a rain, things like matches in the 19 Essentials isn't going to do you any good

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Time Zone View Post
    Map and compass a big yes for me as well. Trail disappeared - I explored a bit from my last confident location in a variety of directions - once going a bit far, and I quickly realized that it's not too long before the woods starts to look the same in every direction! Knowing roughly where you are and what boundaries are nearby helps a lot. For instance even if you don't know precisely where you are on the trail, to know that you will hit a road eventually by going, say, due east, is a big help.

    It always hits me hard when I read about someone who perished because they got lost when out in the field and it turns out they were only a few miles from a road.

  12. #12
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    I see the 10 essentials as over-hyped, over-sold and over-valued while not being an entirely bad idea.

    - I have certainly been helped out of a jam if not saved on multiple occasions by my map, compass, raingear, extra clothing, and shelter (including a closed cell foam pad which should be on every winter essential list and is part of the 10 essentials, for some reason).
    - I have never, in almost 60 years of outdoor activities in all kinds of conditions been saved by fire starter or extra food. Fire starter and extra food has helped me be more comfortable and happy, but never saved me.

    - I did help a man off the South Sister in Oregon years ago with some food. He was exhausted, panicked, and vomiting up all the sugar drinks, nuts and jerky he was eating to get energy back. I gave him a Hammer Gel, something his stomach could handle, and a short time later he was able to "self rescue". In this case, it wasn't "extra food" it was "the right food" that was critical.

    - I consider a closed cell foam pad more essential for safety in the winter than some of the other "essentials".
    - I would also suggest that reliable electronic communication should be added to any modern list. If not to save your sorry back-side, it certainly would save a lot of rescuers a lot of stress, time, money and personal safety.

    In the end, I edit what I take, including the 10 essentials, on every trip depending on conditions, length, etc. I absolutely do NOT consider all ten essentials essential on every trip.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  13. #13

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    So while the OP's question concerns "saving your butt" it should be pointed out that at the link presented it is stated
    The 10 Essentials are a collection of first aid and emergency items that can help you in the event of minor injuries, sudden weather changes, or unexpected delays.
    For instance, consider extra food. It can be be a few weeks before you die of starvation. Staying properly fueled throughout the day though is a good idea because when you bonk for lack of calories you make bad decisions. Many times it is a series of poorly considered choices that leads to the worst outcomes. Not fueling your body and not insulating your body sufficiently that's two can make hypothermia a worse case.

    Proper amount of food, insulation, raingear, illumination, shelter, navigation tools all are checkmarks yes for any winter trip I've taken. I do have all my fingers and toes still. Same thing for full raingear in spring and fall and even summer. I have no qualms stepping out a full blown rainstorm knowing I have shelter and dry insulation. A person would be hypothermic quite quickly in such a situation without rain gear.

    It was a long time ago, before LEDs I think the paleontologists call it the Incandescent Ages, when a backup flashlight kept a hiking buddy and I from having to sleep in Mahoosic Notch on a wintry night. Good shelter and insulation finished the save once we got out. Illumination can be critical to ending the day at a good campsite vs in some brush on the side of a hill where there isn't any water available. Or getting you to your vehicle instead of spending the night outside unplanned.
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  14. #14

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    Of course, the 10 essentials list is meant for the newbie hiker who doesn't yet have a clue. It provides a starting point to work from. If they have at least most of these items, they have less chance of getting into trouble then if they had none of them. Those of us with experience know what we can and can't get away with and adjust accordingly.
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  15. #15
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    I've always considered the "10 Essentials" to be a reminder for day hiking, rather than for backpackers...and a starting point, at that. It should be edited for place & time of year, etc.
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Of course, the 10 essentials list is meant for the newbie hiker who doesn't yet have a clue. It provides a starting point to work from. If they have at least most of these items, they have less chance of getting into trouble then if they had none of them. Those of us with experience know what we can and can't get away with and adjust accordingly.
    Ha ha! As a newbie hiker, I didn’t pay attention to lists. I backpacked for over a year, never carrying a shelter and sleeping only at shelters, before finally buying a tent. At various times I’ve hiked without food, without water, without lights, without maps, and without many other necessities. That’s how I learned my limits and what is essential for me. No way am I carrying a shelter and a bunch of other stuff for a summer day hike in the SE.

    I’ll concede that I’m older and wiser and try to be a little more cautious these days depending on the circumstances.

  17. #17

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    Traffic Jam's post reminds me of my first "night mission" as a scout in the Army. We were at Ft Irwin, CA and I thought since is was the desert it never got cold. So we set off just before dark and walked forever to get to our location for the night. I was burning up, but I chose not to carry any cold weather gear because I didn't want to hump a heavy ruck all night, I didnt even carry a poncho liner. Needless to say I froze all night in the desert, and no one was sympathetic. I was told some lessons aren't taught in a class room or something to that affect. Over the next 20 years I got cold a lot, but never froze like that.
    " 6 bucks and my left nut says we're not going to be landing in Chicago" Del Griffith

  18. #18

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    I have had more than one night were the space blanket saved my butt from not sleeping or others from not sleeping. Times when the ability to get a fire going warmed and dried me and my partner. Would I have survived with out them, I'm guessing yes but I was glad for them at them at the time.
    I always say the most important piece of equipent is located between your ears, I'm sure that, that piece has prevented a lot of pain and misery and is now working much better than it was 30 years ago.

  19. #19
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    I carry 9 of the 10 categories on every backpacking trip.

    - I'd argue sun protection isn't necessary in the Eastern U.S. as pretty much all of the hiking trails are in forests.
    - Map/GPS are useful in wilderness areas but not needed on the AT or other heavily travelled trails where guide book is really all you need.
    - For backpacking I'd also say trekking poles are an essential as they've saved me from injury countless times.
    - I still carry fire starter (cigarette lighter and a few cotton balls covered in vaseline) but I've never used them. Generally the times I've wanted a fire are also the same times when everything is soaking wet and it just isn't worth the effort. Keeping your sleeping bag and warm clothes dry is far more important IMO.
    - For day hikes I only carry food, water, rain gear, and car key/cell phone. But then again I've hiked a lot and I know about how far I can go in the amount of time I have. A few times I've carried a head lamp when I knew there would be night hiking involved.
    - For any hike I'd argue durable, properly fitting footwear is an essential perhaps more than any other item. The most common cause I see of people having to end a hike early is because of footwear issues.
    It's all good in the woods.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by slowdive View Post
    ........ Carrying water and proper clothing for me is a given and not on my 10 list, but I would wager that most back-country deaths are from unprepared day hikers and not over-nighters and LDH's. ...........
    What constitutes an unprepared day hiker? Someone not carrying the 10 essentials would be my answer. The odds are you will never need them for survival right up until the time when you do. I've driven over 500,000 miles without an accident where I needed a seat belt but I still wear one all the time. Past performance doesn't predict future performance as they say in the financial realm.
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