- Can you respond positively to an accident or emergency?
- Can you safely spend a night (or more) outside?
First and foremost, this blog is not about outdoor survival, camping, hiking, and mountaineering. It is about living a simple life off the grid. But many of us who live off the grid, myself included, do so in an isolated area with few if any neighbors. Consequently, you have to know how to deal with the unexpected and make certain you always have the basics that are necessary for survival. For this reason, I just want to do a quick post on the Ten Essentials.
If you have read my post on the 100 Best Homestead Tools, then you know that you are not going to use all of those tools everyday. It is the same with the Ten Essentials. You may not always need every one of these things. However, these tools and equipment will undoubtedly keep you safe. Certain equipment deserves space on every homestead and in every backpack. This equipment is the Ten Essentials. So, let’s dive in.
Here is the classic Ten Essentials List:
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Extra clothing
- Headlamp or flashlight
- First Aid Supplies
- Extra food
But, the initial list has now evolved into something a bit more extensive.
The Ten Essential Systems:
- Navigation: Compass, GPS Device, Map, altimeter, extra batteries
- Headlamp: extra batteries
- Sun protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, protective clothing
- First aid kit
- Knife: and repair kit for equipment
- Fire: Matches, fire starters, tinder, lighter, stove
- Shelter: This can be a tent or a light weight bivy. Some sort of shelter should be carried at all time.
- Extra food: one day extra at least
- Extra water: or the means to purify water in the field
- Extra clothes: as needed for your local environment
Five things are essential for navigation in the backcountry: map, compass, GPS device, altimeter, and a personal locator beacon (PLB).
Headlamps have replaced flashlights altogether. Using a headlamp will free up your hands for doing many other things. Modern headlamps have highly efficient LED bulbs and use smaller batteries. Always carry extra batteries and consider carrying a back up headlamp.
3) Sun Protection
Sun protection is critical is you spend a lot of time outdoors and especially in the high country. Wear high quality sunglasses and sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF 30. Light weight sun protective clothing is even more effective than sunscreen. Proper sun protection will prevent sun burn, snow blindness, and other things such as skin cancer. Also, whenever possible, wear a hat.
4) First Aid Kit
Always carry a personal kit and know how to use it. I strongly recommend getting certified in first aid and getting certified as a first responder.
5) Knife and repair kit
Knifes are a universal backcountry tool and every person should have one. A multitool is also another indispensable addition. Other useful items are strong tape, wire, cable ties, webbing, and replacement parts for water filters, stove, crampons, etc.
Carry several means of starting a fire such as matches, lighters, calcium carbide and a sparking device. Also, carrying fire starters such as cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly or commercially prepared products. If you are in high altitude areas where wood is not available, carry a backpacking stove as a source of heat.
Some sort of emergency shelter is essential. It can save your life. This can be a small tent or a bivy sack. A person bivy sack weighs about one pound and can protect you from wind, rain, and snow.
8) Extra food
Unexpected things such as weather, injury, or faulty navigation can delay your return. Be prepared by carrying extra food. It should be things that store well and require no cooking such as dried fruit, nuts, jerky, and granola.
9) Extra water
Water is absolutely essential for survival. Carry at least one water bottle and the means of purifying more water as needed. While hydration bladders are popular because they easily store in your pack and have a convenient hose to drink out of, they are prone to leaking, freezing, and are difficult to keep clean. Stick with water bottles. I’ve had the same ones for many years.
10) Extra clothes
Extra clothes serve as a means to keep warm in the event you have to spend the night in your emergency shelter. Plan for the worse possible weather considering your geographical location.
This is only a guide
Remember, this list is only a guide to essential gear. Geographical location, potential weather, the length of the trip, and remoteness from potential help all needs to be factored into your plans. No guide can replace sound forethought and planning based on your experience. Each of the items on this list are discussed in more detail in the original publication.
For further reading on related topics, check out the following posts:The Importance of Learning Basic First Aid
Go off grid and live well,