This article was inspired by a story I read last week in the news. A young wife was out hiking in the wood and got lost because the trail markers were missing after recent storms. Thankfully she was found safe the next day and was only 50 yards off the trail.
She was found because had left her hiking plan with her husband who called the authorities after she did not return home in the evening. There was no word if she had the 10 essentials of hiking with her.
The 10 essentials of hiking are the 10 pieces of gear you should have with you to help you in a survival situation.
If you are a beginning female hiker or camper, here are the items that should be in your survival kit.
The Core 10 Essentials
I have read that most people are slightly dehydrated all of the time. I believe this is because of our poor diets. But that’s a discussion for another article.
This guide is intended for the beginner, and thus I don’t want you to worry about filtering water.
Instead, carry more of it.
Water weight adds up (2 pounds per liter).
If that means you need to take an easier trail or cover a shorter distance as you build up your skills, then so be it.
But keeping hydrated is fundamental to survival.
To be candid, most list of survival items say “navigation gear” and not GPS.
And when you’re in a group of outdoorsmen, they will then argue about GPS vs compasses.
But to keep your life simple, invest in a quality GPS.
Your smartphone is a capable GPS, even if you don’t have a signal. A dedicated GPS can provide communication to the outside world, even if you don’t have a cell signal.
Make sure you’re prepared for the weather. Rain is what is most likely to sneak up on you.
Keep a rain suit in your survival backpack. A quality rain suit does not cost much. And the rain suits are not heavy.
Because the jackets don’t breath well, a tip I learned from another hiker, is that you can use them as a mid-tier for cooler weather.
Something To Eat
You might be thinking, “how do I forage for food when I’m stuck.”
A beginner should not plan to forage for food.
I would rather you carry food with you. And don’t be limited to meal replacement bars unless you already like eating them. I personally don’t like them, so I don’t carry them anymore.
Put in food that you want to eat.
I believe the best survival food is tuna in olive oil. The tuna is nutritious and lasts a long time. You can use the olive oil in the packet for a candle if necessary.
Knives are cool and in the hands of a skilled person, a wonderful tool.
But knives are like compasses, you must be trained in how to use them properly.
You will not need a knife if you are properly prepared.
You are more likely going to need to open a package of food than anything else.
Always bring a First-Aid kit with you. You can buy a pre-made kit or assemble it at home.
A few Band-Aids, ointments, and alcohol swabs are often enough.
While, as a beginner hiker, you should plan to keep your trips during daylight, if something happens and you’re stuck out at night, you will want light.
Headlamps are inexpensive and easy to use. I carry an ultralight but as a beginner, you might want to opt for the most lumens you can get, in particular, if you are only walking a few miles.
When on a day hike, you don’t want to carry a tent. And as a beginner, you may not know how to assemble a survival shelter.
You can purchase a survival poncho instead. A survival poncho is lined with mylar like a survival blanket. And mylar does such a good job of reflecting infra-red, it will keep you warm.
With a survival poncho, all you need to do is find a place to sit and wait.
Lighters, Waterproof Matches, And Fire Cubes
Making a fire with a bow drill is cool but hard. In a survival situation, you want to make it easy to build a fire.
Carry at least a lighter, waterproof matches, and fire cubes. A fire cube is a firestarter from a company like Duraflame.
A year ago, I would have said to bring cotton balls dipped in Vaseline. The cotton ball technique works but is messy.
Nothing ruins an outdoor adventure like dealing with bugs. Ticks are also everywhere and can carry dangerous diseases like Lyme. Thus you want to make sure to keep yourself bug-free by applying insect repellent.
I also recommend wearing clothing that has the repellent built-in. Just search for “insect repellent clothing.”
Additional Essentials For Women
As a woman, there are additional items you want to consider carrying.
The first is feminine hygiene items. Even if it’s not a survival situation but your period starts while out on the trail, you want to be prepared. And if you find yourself lost, the last thing you want to be worried about is dealing with your period.
While earlier, I said as a beginner, I don’t think you need a knife, as a woman, you should consider carrying one for personal protection.
I would carry it visibly such as a neck knife.
Whether you choose to carry additional protection items such as a firearm, that is a personal choice. But make sure you are trained and abide by all local laws.
How To Carry Survival Essentials
The simplest way to carry your survival essentials is in a backpack.
The backpack does not need to be one you would use for an overnight hiking trip aka backpacking.
I have often used my laptop bag when I’m not traveling for work. In particular, a 17-inch laptop bag is huge but lightweight.
However, as my wife will attest, it’s not very cute. This is why, when we go on trips, she picks out the bag.
You can also buy a daypack. The primary difference is that a laptop bag has space for a laptop to keep it secured. And a daypack will often have a spot for a hydration bag.
Daypacks may come in nylon (most common) or leather.
However, you choose to carry your survival items, the most important step is to make sure you have them.
The next step is to take time and learn how to use them. If you are interested in learning more whether it’s building a fire, purifying water, or even foraging for your own food, check out the resources we have assembled at Camping Forge.