10 Essentials

The 10 Essentials should be carried on every trip, no matter how short or how familiar. Packing these items will help to ensure your survival if you should become lost or injured. Please remember that you must know how to use these items before you find yourself in an emergency situation.

Every hike. Every time.

Extra water and food

Bring more food and water than you need for your trip. This will ensure you have reserves should something unforeseen happen. Food helps to keep spirits high and provides energy required to stay warm. Water fends off dehydration in both warm and cold environments.

Additional Clothing

The BC outdoors are unpredictable. It is not uncommon to find snow at higher elevations in late summer and freak snowstorms in August are not unheard of. Additional clothing will keep you warm should you need to spend an unplanned night out or if you get caught by weather.

Thermal blanket and plastic bag

A thermal blanket and plastic bag can provide shelter from the elements or can be used to keep an injured person warm. Combined with a little ingenuity, these items can be fashioned into a make-shift tent or bivy shelter.

First-aid Kit

A first-aid kit, combined with training is invaluable. Nobody heads out expecting to get injured but it does happen and there is no excuse for not being equipped to treat yourself or someone else.

Headlamp with spare batteries.

Carry a good quality LED headlamp. Headlamps allow you to hike handsfree and the LED versions weigh very little and run for a very long time on one set of batteries. That said, always carry spare batteries.


Your voice won’t last long if you plan to yell for help. Whistles are much easier to use for sustained periods and have far better reach than your best yell. Backcountry travellers also recognize whistle blasts as a common distress call so you’ll increase your chance of attracting help.

Waterproof matches or suitable fire starter

Being able to start a fire is very important in a survival situation. Fire serves to boost morale and provides the obvious benefit of heat and light. Ensure you have a reliable means of starting a fire in all weather conditions. Please remember you still have a responsibility to use fire safely. In dry conditions, fire must only be used if necessary and with the utmost of caution. Being lost is not an excuse for starting a forest fire.


Carry a charged cell phone, satellite phone or an FRS Radio. As technology advances, all backcountry travellers are well advised to leverage tools that can increase their safety. While good to have, it is important to note that none of these technological tools are guaranteed to work. Further, just because you’ve managed to call for help doesn’t mean your rescue will be immediate. You may still be faced with a prolonged wait due to any number of factors, such as your location or the weather.

Map and Compass

Learn to use a map and a compass and carry them with you. A GPS is an excellent tool but should always be accompanied by a map and compass.

Knife or Multi-tool

Cut rope, saw branches to make tinder for your fire – the list goes on. Carry a good knife or multi-tool as an indispensable item should you ever find yourself lost.