Many parks have been affected by winter weather and storms. Please check for alerts before heading out.
Heated restrooms, picnic shelters, attentive staff and hookup campsites aside, you’ll still need a few safety items when you take to our trails!
You may have heard the term “Ten Essentials” or “10Es” in outdoor communities and been left scratching your head. But there’s nothing mysterious about them; they’re basic items to help keep you safe, healthy and comfortable during and after your outdoor adventure.
The Ten Essentials consist of 20+ bits and pieces but grouping them up allows you to organize them in your mind and pack. They are:
In winter, you may only need a travel-sized tube of sunscreen.
While snowshoeing, you’ll want wrap-around sunglasses with dark lenses. Sunburns from snow, including corneal burns, are the worst! Sun reflects sun off snow, giving you an exponentially increased UV dose – and in surprising places, like the insides of your nostrils!
Most sporting goods and big box stores sell first-aid kits. They include:
Add to your kit as needed. Also, extra water will help you clean cuts in the field.
You could throw a few things in a baggie and call it good:
If your shoe’s sole peels away or a rodent gnaws a hole in your tent, a solid repair kit can save your gear – and your vacation!
Pro tip: if you’re flying to your vacation, put the knife in your checked bag.
You can carry:
Hand and footwarmers will also keep you warm, but not as warm as an impromptu fire.
An emergency shelter is the piece of survival gear you hope you’ll never have to use, but if you do, it could save your life.
A shelter can be:
Don’t skimp on yourself. Bring more calories than you think you’ll need, especially in wintertime!
And bring food you like! When it’s cold and you’re exercising, you’ll ignore the grub you find gross.
A good rule in Washington’s shoulder season is one liter (32 oz) per person for every four miles hiked or cycled. In summer, you’ll need more.
If you’ll be on a river, stream or lake, you could carry filters, drops or tablets and fill up along the way. (Just be careful at the water’s edge.)
These days, most navigation is as easy as putting an app on your phone and knowing how to read it.
If you’re venturing farther out, a map, compass and knowledge of their use can substitute for a failed GPS or dead phone battery.
Maybe you hiked or rode farther than you intended, or you were having so much fun you lost track of time.
Your clothing picks will depend on the season, but this is the Northwest, where weather can change on a dime.
Standard outdoor wardrobes include:
We recommend bringing an extra pair of wool or synthetic socks. Gloves or mittens and a hat are important accessories.
Nobody starts an outdoor adventure planning to get lost, injured, sunburned, chilled, dehydrated, hungry or huddled under a blanket all night. But if plans go awry, the 10 Essentials will keep you safe (if not comfortable), proud of your new life skills and ready to hit the trail again!
Originally published November 28, 2023