This is what I would bring for a longer dayhike in the mountains, in summer. Not including my normal food for the day and the water in the bottle, it’s all together only around 1,5 kg. Not too much to carry on your back, even if you are conscious about the weight you want to carry. Besides that, there are plenty of ways of making this setup even much lighter.
I’m by no means an expert but here are some more ideas about each of the 10 essentials:
1. Navigation– it is good to have an idea about where you are going; not only as a picture in your head, but a bit more reliable. It’s not only about avoiding getting lost, but as well about finding an alternative way, in case you want to make a short cut or change your plans. The optimum is a map with anything between 1:20.000 to 1:100.000 as a scale to reality. It’s not enough to just own a map, you should also stadily have a look at it and not wait till you are actually lost to get it out of your pack. It’s even fun to look at it, see what are the names of mountains or lakes you walk past and see what’s behind that forest you are walking through. The same is valid for your compass. Use it and get used to it and you might never even come in the situation where you are seriously lost.
Personally, I use my phone for navigation quite a lot. I draw trails into maps at home and upload them to wikiloc.com. I have offline maps for all places I go hiking in and track myself with the phone’s GPS. I really do trust that system, but still I try to not walk around looking at the trail on the phone and rather search for the next trail marker ahead of me. Technology is really useful, but as opposed to a phone a paper map will never run out of battery.
2. Sun Protection– This one should be quite obvious. As nice as it is to get a tan, the sun can be destructive and it’s wiese to protect your eyes, your skin and your head. Dark lenses are especially important when walking or skiing on snow. Becoming snow blind is painful and annoying.
|Me, using textbook sun protection and a sunproof shirt on a 35ºC portuguese summer afternoon.|
3. Insulation– It’s easy to get warm and sweaty while excercising. When you take a break it’s always a good idea to have an extra layer of clothing at hand, especially when it’s windy or overall cold. Even in temperatures around -10ºC I can still comfortably walk uphill in only a fleece, but once I take a rest, putting on my down jacket is mandatory.
|Even on the warmest days I bring an extra sweater in my pack (and yes, there’s an empty can of tuna dangeling from my backpack).|
4. Illumination– As I mentioned before you need to adapt the light sources you bring to when and where you are going. In wintertime in Sweden I bring plenty of candles, extra batteries for my headlamp and even another light I can put on the table. That way I try to adapt to the 16 hours+ of darkness, which need to be spend one way or another. In summer I don’t bring any light source at all, or just a tiny headlamp to use inside huts that have at times very few windows.
|Getting light into a hut in Norway.|
5. First-Aid supplies– In your first aid bag you should have medicine you are familiar with and other supplies that you will probably use. There is no need in buying a first-aid kit at a gas station and bringing surgical scissors and other stuff you don’t even know how to use, on your hike. Make your own kit instead. Fill it with pain killers you know work on you, pills against diarrhea, maybe antihistamines, tape, band-aids and blister band-aids. Think what you would want to use to take care of a wound and get it at a farmacy. Bring something to clean sores and a tiny tube of cortisone or antibiotical cream. In the end, what you should bring, depends mostly on your destination.
|Participating in a wilderness First-aid course is a good way to learn about dealing with injuries and accidents. It’s also fun to wrap up one of your friends like this.|
6. Fire– The least you can bring in order to make a fire, are of course matches or a lighter. If you even plan on making a camp fire, a knife to make feather sticks and tinder ist very helpful. In an emergency situation there are countless objects that can help you make a warming fire. From tampons, to batteries, wet toiletpaper or potato chips. You might have more burnable or easily inflammable things with you, than you might think.
|My first try on making fire with steel wool and a phone battery- it worked!|
7. Repair kit and knife– This, again, depends a lot on your activities and where you are going. I always bring a knife, which I even use to prepare food. Usually it’s my Mora knife, which is useful and cheap. besides that I have duct tape, which I wrap around my water bottle, so I don’t have to bring a whole roll of it. It’s awesome for repairs of all kind. Some thin rope and a sewing kit is also always a good idea on a longer trip and has hardly any weight.
|Can you discover the duct tape bottle amonst all our stuff?|
8. Nutrition– Food should not be underestimated when it comes to lifting you mood. I always bring at least a müsli bar or some crackers on a trail. For longer trips I usually pack for one day more than I plan being out there. That way I’m more flexible and I don’t have to spend a day on an unvoluntary diet if I get stuck in bad weather and have to spend an extra night somewhere.
Food for a whole day, including 3 meals and snacks, doesn’t have to weigh more than 500gr, dehydrated food is the key to going light.
|Eating outdoors can be a real pleasure. Taking in the view and waiting for the water to boil.|
9. Hydration– I go by a simple rule: I bring a bit more to drink than I plan on needing. Going thirsty and looking for a water source is no fun at all… When you’re in the cold try to melt snow instead of eating it, you will lose a lot of body heat and energy that way. Try to be informed if water is good to drink, or if having a filter, or other means to clean your water, are necessary. I usually have some Catadyn micropur pills in my first aid kit, which I use whenever I’m in doubt.
|The colour of this source in Iceland was not promising… It’s supposed to be a water especially good for your health though. Cheers!|
10. Shelter– A shelter can be anything between a feather light space blanket, that fits in your pocket, or your tent. Finding shelter from wind and rain doesn’t have to imply an emergency, but is a simple commodity to have a moment of rest, look on your map or have a quick snack.
|Looks like I’m member of a weird cult, but I’m actually just trying to ice fish without freezing myself into pieces. Here I’m sitting in a windsack from Hilleberg, which can be used as a bivaque bag for up to 3 persons, or just as a wind protection.|