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  1. #1
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    Default The Essential Ten

    I was reading the sad post about the hiker who died on the AT in January. Someone said that after certain near death experiences he/she has learned to never hike without the essential ten. A newbie might find it important to know the content of "the essential ten." So has a newbie, hopeful future thru hiker, I ask you. What are the ten essentials?

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    Google is your friend. Good question and good stuff to know.

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    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
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    What time of year and where you are going makes a difference in the top ten essentials. For instance in most list you see a compass is listed first but if your on the AT I would consider a compass nice to have but not essential. REI has a couple of list posted on their web site.
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    See, I think a compass is essential even on an AT hike. Get off on a side trail and get lost, or get socked in on a long open bald and lose the trail in the snow, or need to cut cross country to a nearby road -- all of these require a compass. (I've done all of these and more.) I wear a tiny compass on my watch band.
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    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    See, I think a compass is essential even on an AT hike. Get off on a side trail and get lost, or get socked in on a long open bald and lose the trail in the snow, or need to cut cross country to a nearby road -- all of these require a compass. (I've done all of these and more.) I wear a tiny compass on my watch band.
    agreed, i got lost in the snow on a cloudy day in the Grayson Highlands. Compass and map got me back on track.
    when your backpacking you should already have the essentials. i think the danger is when you don't plan to spend night and that changes.
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

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    I know there is an essential list out there. But I agree, it's all about the season, and being prepared for a change in plan. I make sure I am prepared to sleep in the woods every time I hike. If you look at it that way, as a survival test, look on google, you could come up with your own list.

  7. #7
    Registered User Tuckahoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayak karl View Post
    agreed, i got lost in the snow on a cloudy day in the Grayson Highlands. Compass and map got me back on track.
    when your backpacking you should already have the essentials. i think the danger is when you don't plan to spend night and that changes.
    I think that too many people think, "well it's just the AT." With the end result being that they choose to leave things behind. Many of the so called essentials are not things you need everyday at every moment, but that which is needed when you get into trouble.

    How often do we hear of people in trouble or lost, and once found it's learned they were just yards from parking lots, trail heads, etc.
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  8. #8
    Registered User FarmerChef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuckahoe64 View Post
    I think that too many people think, "well it's just the AT." With the end result being that they choose to leave things behind. Many of the so called essentials are not things you need everyday at every moment, but that which is needed when you get into trouble.

    How often do we hear of people in trouble or lost, and once found it's learned they were just yards from parking lots, trail heads, etc.
    +1 The ten essentials isn't about preparing for where you're going to be, though that's counter-intuitive. It's about the 10 minimum things you need to survive (key word, "survive") any given situation. The idea is that if I were hiking the whites in the dead of winter I could use my brain and my 10 essentials to survive the night and find help or wait for it. Or if my car stalls out in the middle of the desert I have what I need to wait for help or to signal Cody Lundin.

    That said, most of us don't go hiking to "survive." We go to have fun! So we pack more than the 10 essentials, like, say, multiple layers of progressively warmer clothing in the winter, rain gear, food and water, etc., still keeping the 10 essentials in our pack.

    As Rocket Jones put it, Google is our friend. There's lots of lists of the essential 10, 5, 3 and 1. But having the 10 essentials and not knowing what to do with them is just as much of a death or injury sentence in the proper conditions, imo.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

  9. #9
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    The essential is planning and preparing

    It covers everything from the mental aspects to the gear to getting a physical. The idea one can just jump on a trail like this without forethought is foolish and sometimes dangerous to the person and to the trail. Bad things can still happen, though, with the best of planning. But they can be severely limited by taking the time to prepare. Feel free to hop on over to my hiking blog for great blogs on preparing, covering a wide range of topics too numerous to mention here.







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  10. #10
    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    See, I think a compass is essential even on an AT hike. Get off on a side trail and get lost, or get socked in on a long open bald and lose the trail in the snow, or need to cut cross country to a nearby road -- all of these require a compass. (I've done all of these and more.) I wear a tiny compass on my watch band.
    You guys are right of course and I always have a compass with me. I was trying to make a point that the "list" you commonly see are not good for every situation and I chose the wrong example.
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    KK is right that when backpacking, you probably have all the essentials already, and that it's us clueless daytrippers and weekenders that have to watch out.

    From that perspective, I don't so much see things in terms of the list of ten as in general categories of question: Can I deal with... ?

    Can I deal with cold/ too much water (getting wet)?
    These two questions go hand in hand, and mean: firestarter (Vaseline-soaked cotton), and some way to light it (matches, lighter, firesteel, ...) and warm clothing and raingear and some sort of contingency shelter.

    Can I deal with heat/ too little water (getting thirsty)?
    Extra water, or some sort of treatment method, or both.

    Can I deal with going astray?
    Map and compass. GPS turns up with a dead battery just when you need it most.

    Can I deal with bugs?
    DEET and headnet in some seasons.

    Can I deal with too much sun?
    Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat.

    Can I deal with too little sun?
    Headlamp and spare batteries.

    Can I deal with dents and dings?
    First aid kit, and essential meds. (The first aid kit may be as simple as sterile gauze, antibiotic ointment, and duck tape. For me, the essential meds to carry are ibuprofen, diphenhydramine, bismuth subsalicylate, famotidine, and possibly loperamide. ) Multitool and repair kit including at least duck tape, a needle, and heavy thread or dental floss. One or more bandanas.

    Can I deal with needing to eat?
    Extra food.

    Can I deal with the consequences of eating?
    TP and trowel and hand sanitizer.

    Can I deal with folks looking for me?
    Whistle. (My firesteel has a whistle in the handle, so it's dual purpose anyway.) Mirror. (The sighting mirror on my compass does nicely.) Smart-ass phone. Maybe a PLB (for instance, if I'm planning to go off trail).

    To that I add the normal gubbins that I'll need when I get back to town: driver's license, some cash, health insurance and prescription cards, credit card, car keys, ...

    And I pretty much don't step off at the trailhead without this stuff, even for a day trip. Because I've used everything I mention on one day trip or another.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  12. #12

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    Plans
    Warmth
    Water
    Food
    Direction
    Medication
    Communication
    Sanitation
    Protection
    Invention

  13. #13
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    1) Good judgment

    1) tends to take care of knowing what should be 2) through 10)


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    Registered User Coosa's Avatar
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    Money for the helicopter rescue is Number Eleven, IIRC.


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    It seems to me from the posts here than many of you learned good judgment by making a few mistakes. I will be doing my thru after I retire. I hope to avoid many mistakes by learning from the forum members here and at the hammock forum. I thank you for your great responses. I am learning a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Wanna Bs View Post
    It seems to me from the posts here than many of you learned good judgment by making a few mistakes. I will be doing my thru after I retire. I hope to avoid many mistakes by learning from the forum members here and at the hammock forum. I thank you for your great responses. I am learning a lot.
    Excellent observation. Mistakes are inevitable and do provide an education. A critical part of good judgment is to know what mistakes you cannot afford to make, given the environment.

    There is always more to learn. I had much hiking and mountain experience before finding whiteblaze, but truth be told, what I know about thru hiking and the AT has come from research and from living vicariously through my son and other thru-hikers. Hopefully, my thru will come when I retire, also.

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