The Ten Essentials

From a study by the late Jim McPherson, Ph.D.,
Presented in 1994 during a Sierra Club Service Outing Leader Seminar

(This page lifted from HERE.)


Many lists of essential wilderness items have been published. The selection is largely a matter of opinion.

Dr. Jim McPherson researched this issue as he would a scientific study, and presented his findings at a service trip staff seminar in 1994. He also distributed the lists on small note pads that he had printed to be sent to trip participants. This spirit of his information sharing is embodied in this page, and dedicated in his memory.

The Ten Essentials

  1. Extra food
  2. Compass
  3. Flashlight and extra batteries
  4. Matches, and candle or fire-starter
  5. First aid kit
  6. Map
  7. Water, and filter or purification tablets
  8. Jacket/extra clothing
  9. Sunglasses
  10. Knife

From: Jim McPherson
Compiled in 1994 from various sources.

These are essentials, but many other items are worth having in wilderness areas. My favorite is a sheet of thin plastic about 6' by 8'. In a rainstorm or for unexpected overnight stays, this light sheet will protect you from wind, rain and ground moisture. It fits easily into a day pack, and only weighs a few ounces. Twenty feet of parachute cord is so useful for the weight that I strongly recommend it.