First Night Out: The Ten Essentials

Outdoor experts have refined the list of key safety and survival tools into these 10 categories. Don't leave home without them.
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Outdoor experts have refined the list of key safety and survival tools into these 10 categories. Don't leave home without them.

ONE

Navigation

Stay on track with a topographical map and compass. A GPS is a great additional tool, but always pack extra batteries, and carry the map and compass as backup.

TWO

Extra food

Stash a few spare trail bars or other shelf-stable snacks in your pack in case you’re stuck out longer than you planned.

THREE

Sun protection

Get shades with UVA/UVB protection, a hat, and broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

FOUR

Firestarter

Carry waterproof matches and/or an extra lighter, plus emergency tinder (dryer lint or petroleum jelly-dipped cotton balls work well).

FIVE

First-aid kit

Pack the following for a two-person weekend trip: 4 sterile gauze pads, 5 adhesive bandages, moleskin/blister treatment, first-aid tape, 6 ibuprofen tablets, 2 antibiotic ointment packets, 3 antimicrobial hand wipes, 2 safety pins.

SIX

Insulation

Pack extra layers, including a hat and gloves if conditions warrant. For most backpacking trips, you’ll need a fleece midlayer or a down or synthetic puffy, and a waterproof shell.



SEVEN

Headlamp

Hands-free illumination is a must for camp tasks, reading, and night bathroom trips (pack extra batteries).

EIGHT

Repair kit

Pack a multitool and duct tape (wrap several yards around your water bottle or trekking pole for easy storage).

NINE

Water

Take bottles and/or a bladder, plus a treatment method.

TEN

Emergency shelter

Pack a space blanket or bivy (if you don’t have a tent).