Ten Essentials
Back in 1906 a group of men and women in Seattle organized a hiking and climbing group called the Mountaineers. This group's love of the outdoors eventually developed into an annual Climbing Course that would introduce participants into the wilderness activities of the group. To facilitate the course it was soon determined that each participant must carry certain essential equipment.  The Mountaineers created the Ten Essentials to always be carried into the wilderness and published the list in their book "Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills".  Since that time the Ten Essentials have been adopted by countless groups including the Boy Scouts.

The Scout Basic Essentials are covered on page 264 of the current Boy Scout Handbook (12th Edition). They are:
  1. Pocketknife
  2. First-Aid Kit
  3. Extra Clothing
  4. Rain Gear
  5. Water Bottle
  6. Flashlight
  7. Trail food
  8. Matches & Fire starter
  9. Sun Protection
  10. Map and Compass
The Ten Essentials should be with you at all times when on Scouting adventures away from civilization. It might just save your life.  

There are a few more options that you should consider making part of your essentials: 
  • A whistle
  • Bug Repellent
  • Duct Tape (wrap some around your water bottle)
  • Emergency blanket or shelter
  • Large Trashbags


Want more info or guidance?  Mom and Dad asking questions?  Here's the list again in a little more depth:

Pocketknife
A knife is among the most important of tools you can carry and it's even better when you have a multi-tool.  You don't need a huge blade and most experts will tell you that a 2.5 inch blade is about the right size.  Having a multi-tool means that you'll have extra blades should one break.  It also has all those nifty other tools to help you out of situations.

First-Aid Kit
According to the Boy Scout Handbook the personal first-aid kit should consist of the following items:
6 adhesive bandages, 2 sterile 3 x 3 inch gauze pads, Small roll of adhesive tape, 3 x 6 inch piece of moleskin, small bar of soap or bottle of hand sanitizing gel, small antibiotic ointment (Neosporin), small scissors, disposable non-latex gloves, CPR breathing barrier, Pencil and paper.
In addition, it's a good idea to have antiseptic towelettes, butterfly closures, and tweezers.

Extra Clothing
Think insulation. When you're on the hike that energy you're expending is probably going to help warm you up, but what happens when you stop? Take extra clothes to help you insulate against the cold. Another couple of ideas of insulating items are the emergency space blankets (those silver ones), big trash bags, and a stocking cap.

Rain Gear
A large trash bag will work if that's your only option but a poncho or actual rain gear is far better. If you have a choice get the real rain gear consisting of a coat and rain pants.  It'll keep you drier than the other options and is recommended by the Troop.  Wet and Cold out in the woods just plain sucks.  

Water
The human body is made up of 3/4 water and it's not going to do well if you don't provide an ample and continuous supply of water.  You need extra and should carry water with you at all times.  You should also consider having some way to purify water as well.  There are several options including iodine tablets or purifying pump. Another option on the market is the Life Straw. It can turn any puddle into something that can help you survive.

Flashlight
This doesn't need to be a 6D Cell Maglight. Think something like a Mini-Mag Light from the hardware store.  Even better is a headlamp so you can keep both hands free. Oh, and did you remember extra batteries?

Trail Food
Let's face it, Scouts could eat all day and still not have enough. The extra food part of the Ten Essentials means carrying something other than what you already planned to carry and eat.  Trail Mix or energy bars are good ideas. The extra food is in case you have expended all your planned stores and might be just enough to provide a little comfort and warmth if you're in a bad situation.

Matches, Fire Starter
Fire can be the great equalizer. Many survivalists will tell you that fire is the single best thing to improve spirits. It'll help you warm up, signal rescuers, and give you a way to warm up whatever food you have. Wooden matches are your best friend and the specialty weather proof ones are even better.  Make sure the matches and firestarter are in a waterproof container.  Another good idea is to carry a candle.

Sun Protection
Being charred to a crisp by the sun makes everything else even more miserable. Make sure you have suncreen in your essentials. It's also good to have lip balm too. Don't forget a wide brimmed hat to provide more protection.

Map and Compass
You should know where you're going.  This is where the map and compass come in. Maps are readily available for almost every environment you'll ever go into.  In fact, the USGS even has their topology maps online for you to look at and print!  Here's the link: http://www.usgs.gov/pubprod/.  The most important thing in a situation where you're going to need your map and compass is to evaluate what you should do. If you know where you are or the way to go then do so with extreme caution.  If there is any doubt then STOP!!  S-Stay Calm, T-Think, O-Observe, P-Plan.