GEAR SHOP: Roundup

A Fresh Take on
the Ten Essentials

It’s summer time! Are you ready to hit the trail? If you are, then you’ve probably already got your Ten Essentials loaded in your backpack. It’s always recommended that you keep these all-important items in your pack for any hike—from dayhikes to long-distance treks. They can help you deal with a variety of contingencies on trail, from minor injuries to sudden storms. They can even help you weather an unplanned overnight outdoors. Here’s our fresh take on the traditional Ten Essentials with our picks for 10 awesome items that are practical for everyday hiking as well as dealing with the unexpected on trail. 

1. NAVIGATION: Halfmile PCT App

At the top of the Essentials list is the ability to know where you are—and how to get where you want to go. This typically means carrying a map and compass and/or a GPS device. But sometimes, you just want to know how far it is to the next trail junction, water source or resupply location. That’s when the Halfmile PCT App becomes your new best friend. Just open up the app anywhere on the PCT and it will pinpoint your exact location and provide you with a list of waypoints both north and south of your location. This includes water sources, campsites, junctions, roads and more. Better yet, it will tell you how much elevation variance you have between points, so you know how much work you’ll have to do to reach that next drink, campsite or ice cream break. FREE!

2. LIGHTING: Petzl Bindi Headlamp

Carrying a light source is a no-brainer. It can help you navigate a trail if you stay out later than the daylight, cook dinner in the dark, do some evening reading and, if necessary, help you signal for help. There are countless portable lighting options to choose from, but we like Petzl’s new, rechargeable Bindi Headlamp. It weighs only 1.2 ounces (great for ultralighters) yet packs 200 lumens of lighting power! It provides five lighting modes, including an emergency strobe and red night vision. One full charge provides 3 hours of lighting time on standard mode, and a colored charge indicator displays how much juice it has left. Plus, the adjustable band lets you wear it on your head, or around your neck for more versatility. $60

3. SUN PRO: Montbell Sun Block Umbrella

Protection from the heat and UV rays of the sun is an absolute essential—even in Oregon. Despite being known as “the green tunnel,” Oregon has plenty of exposed stretches of trail thru dry forests, along high ridges, and across wide lava fields, all of which can be sweltering under the summer sun. The obvious choices for sun protection are sunscreen, sunglasses and a wide-brim hat. You can also go for full coverage with long sleeves and pants. But for refreshing shade on demand, Montbell’s ultralight Sun Block Umbrella can be a real godsend. It features a reflective exterior and dark interior for maximizing the shading/cooling effect. Plus, it weighs just 6 ounces and folds up super-small, so won’t bog you down or take up too much room in your pack. $45

4. FIRST AID: Green Goo

Every hiker should carry at least a minimal first aid kit to help deal with minor injuries and skin irritations on trail. The most commonly used items are bandages and foot repair items (e.g., moleskin). A few extra things like antiseptic wipes, pain relievers and tweezers can also come in handy. Recently, we also added some Green Goo First Aid Salve to our kit. This all-natural ointment relieves sunburns, bug bites and poison ivy, and helps treat cuts, scrapes, chapped lips, blisters and chafing. It’s combination of organic olive oil, sunflower oil, sage and St. John’s wort, with lavender and rosemary essential oils are safe to use on adults, kids and pets. They also offer Green Goo Foot Care, for treating cracked heels, blisters and more yucky foot stuff. $10–$15

5. REPAIR: Gear Aid Tenacious Tape

The old standard used to suggest that hikers carry a pocket knife in cases of need. Then that was upgraded to a pocket tool (e.g., Leatherman), for more versatile use. But neither of those will repair a ripped jacket or punctured sleeping pad. Now, the official suggestion is that hikers carry a small repair kit. For efficiency’s sake, this is often a strip of duct tape (usually wrapped around a trekking pole). We suggest upping the ante and carrying some Tenacious Tape. These weatherproof, super-adhesive patches are good for repairing everything from boots to tents to backpacks. Plus, it doesn’t leave sticky goo like duct tape, and after 24 hours you can even throw it in the washer and dryer. Carry a few small and large patches for both minor repairs and big blowouts. $3–$10

6. FIRE: Dryer Lint

The ability to start a fire is an important aspect of wilderness travel. It can help you cook your food, stay warm or signal for help. Carrying one of the basic fire-starting tools is a must: waterproof matches, a lighter or a flint. But if it’s wet outside, you may need a little more help with getting that fire going. That’s where carrying some fire starter can come in handy. And one of the best fire starters you can get is absolutely free: dryer lint! It weighs practically nothing, can be compressed very small and burns very easily. Carry a baggie of it with you and use it by itself or, with just a few household items, make your own long-burning lint fire starters. Check out this video for making some easy DIY fire starters. FREE!

7. SHELTER: SOL Escape Pro Bivvy

Being able to take shelter outdoors if a sudden need arises—freak weather event, an unplanned overnight, injury that requires assistance, etc.—can be a lifesaver. When you’re backpacking, you’re likely to have a tent or other shelter (e.g., tarp) in your pack, so likely have this covered. If you’re dayhiking however, you’re probably not going to carry a tent or heavy shelter in your pack. This is where the SOL Escape Pro Bivvy is so handy. Bundled, it’s about the size of a 1-liter bottle and weighs just 8.5 ounces. It features a wind- and weather-repellent exterior and a heat-reflective interior to keep you warm and dry. It also has taped seams and a cinchable hood for keeping warmth in and cold out. Stash one in your daypack for those just-in-case scenarios. $125

8. FOOD: MSR PocketRocket 2 Kit

Food is definitely an essential to outdoor travel. After all, you need to stay fueled up to propel yourself down the trail, up hills and around mountains. Lacking the proper amount of nutrition can result in bonking, so it’s good to carry enough food for your trip, plus a little extra. And being able to prepare hot food and drinks can warm both the belly and the soul. For that, the PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit is ideal for backpacking, dayhiking and winter adventures. This tiny, ultralight kit features a 0.75-liter pot, 0.5-liter bowl, strainer lid, pot handle and the ultra-efficient Pocket Rocket 2 stove. All together, the whole kit weighs just 9.9 ounces. You can even nest a fuel can inside! With this, the ability to prepare good, hot food on trail doesn’t have to weigh you down. $80

9. WATER: Sawyer Filter Bottle

Water is life. So it makes sense that water would be an Essential to outdoor roaming and recreation. Actually, let’s make that clean water. Unfortunately, many of our backcountry water sources are contaminated with bacteria that can cause some … uncomfortable (to say the least) … results. That is why it’s recommended that hikers always purify or filter their water for safe, clean drinking and cooking. One of the methods that we like for doing just that is the new Sawyer Select Filter Bottle. These lightweight silicone bottles feature a foam membrane that removes contaminants, while improving taste and eliminating odor. They’re topped with an additional fiber filter at the top for removing bacteria, protozoa, cysts, chemicals, pesticides and sediment. $60

10. INSULATION: Patagonia Micro Puff Vest

Mountain weather can be extremely fickle. A warm, sunny day can quickly change cool off to rain, thunderstorms or snow. And overnight, even in summer, temps can plummet in high elevations. That’s why—even if the forecast suggests otherwise—you should always carry a piece of insulation wear on trail. In our recent warm wear roundup, we featured some of our favorite selections, including the Patagonia Micro Puff Vest. Its synthetic, featherweight PlumaFill insulation keeps the core heat in, while the Pertex Quantum wind- and water-resistant shell keeps the elements out. When it’s time to pack away, the vest stuffs neatly into one of its zippered hand pockets. Plus, the elasticized arm holes and waistband help keep heat from escaping. $200

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