10 Items I Bring On Every Wilderness Adventure
What do you bring on your adventures? Many people have heard of the 10 Essentials, but most adventurers personalize this list based on their environment and abilities. I live in Minnesota’s Northwoods, and love to spend time in the woods at any time of the day or night and in almost any weather. Because I like to have spur-of-the-moment adventures, I tend to keep my essentials together in a backpack in my vehicle. This saves time and keeps me from forgetting anything important.
After you’ve read this list, let us know – what items are always in your adventure bag?
1) Food and water
Snacks and water or tea are extremely important items in my adventure backpack. I always bring a larger quantity than seems needed, and not just because I love to eat. Did you know that food and water are necessary for proper brain function and for staying warm? There have been times when I’ve been lost, dealing with surprising weather, cold, tired, confused, or injured. In most of these instances, my first step is to eat a snack and drink some water while I think about the situation. By the time I’m done fueling up and rehydrating, I’ve typically decided my next steps and am ready to go again.
2) Extra Layers
My dad always used to tell me that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.” Wintergreen clothing is a perfect example of awesome and versatile gear – I love bringing a Wintergreen anorak and wind-proof fleece beanie because both make a huge difference for warmth but they don’t take up much space in my bag. I’ve also discovered over the years that high-quality wool layers are well worth the investment because they keep me warm even if they get wet.
Have you ever tried to find your way through the woods on a moonless, cloudy night with no personal light source? I’ve been in this situation a couple of times, and it’s impressively difficult to move. Even if I know exactly where I need to go, in a few situations I’ve literally needed to crawl to get there safely. Don’t get yourself in a pickle – bring a headlamp, flashlight, or another light source.
More and more often, adventurers have begun relying on their phones as their only timekeeping device. This is fine, except when your phone dies. Knowing the time can be very important if you’re trying to get back before a deadline you set with your emergency contact, deciding how much daylight you have left for traveling, or trying to meet up with someone in the woods. I frequently rely on my wristwatch, especially in the winter cold when phone batteries don’t last very long.
5) Lip balm with sun protection
Lip balm fits in my pocket, prevents painful cracked lips, and can also be used as an emergency sunscreen for my nose and cheeks. It’s so small that there’s really no reason to not bring it along.
I’ve used bandanas as a handkerchief, towel for drying, dishcloth for cleaning, strainer for pre-filtering dirty water, clean surface to hold small parts for stove repair, impromptu bag, extra bandaging material, splint padding, neckerchief to protect from ticks, head covering, cooling compress, and so much more. I’ve never regretted bringing a bandana on a trip.
You can do a lot of things with just a knife, but I’ve found over the years that I end up using my multi-tool for the pliers, screwdriver, and the miniature sawblade as often as I use the knife blade.
8) Parachute cord or zip-ties
A person can solve a lot of problems with a few feet of parachute cord or a couple of zip-ties. I usually have one of these items in my back pocket. Most recently, I dealt with an icy zipper on a bag by adding a zip-tie loop to the zipper pull in order to get a better grip.
I have a pretty good internal sense of direction, so I don’t need to use my compass frequently. However, on the few occasions when I have needed it, I was completely disoriented and on the verge of wandering alone in the wrong direction. I also like to consult it regularly when I’m in a strange place, to confirm that the mental map I’m forming is correct. (If I’m wandering in completely foreign territory I also bring a physical map.)
10) Lighter or matches
When I’m on short adventures, I rarely start a fire. However, having a way to light a fire adds a level of safety that can be crucial for dealing with an emergency. Fires are good for both signaling and warmth. Of course, it’s important to build a fire responsibly – you should always be aware of the current fire risk in your area, and avoid leaving burn scars in a landscape.
What’s in your adventure pack? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page!
Saeward Schillaci is a professional writer and editor. She is the founder of Northwoods Editing, which specializes in helping businesses create quality written content. Currently, Saeward lives on an off-grid property near Isabella, MN with six other people, sixty-two sled dogs, ten chickens, two cats, and some wild star-nosed moles. In her spare time, she enjoys canoeing, climbing, creative writing, skiing, dog sledding, and playing with puppies.