The 10 Essentials, Upgraded: The Top Tools for Your Next Pacific Northwest Wilderness Trek

Hit the trail with these upgrades on the “10 Essentials”

This article appears in print in the June 2018 issue, as part of the "85 Best Outdoor Adventures" cover story. Click here to subscribe.

The 10 must-have things—also known as “The 10 Essentials” to pack for a trip into the woods—originated from our local outdoor experts The Mountaineers, first appearing in the third edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills in 1974. The list has evolved over time, but the general idea is the same: Don’t leave civilization without these. We’ve compiled these top-of-the-line essentials, because if you’re going to need them, why not have the best?

1. GPS. A satellite communicator with GPS navigation is an upgrade from the old map and compass standbys. The Garmin inReach Explorer ($449) satellite communicator allows you to send and receive text from literally anywhere and, when needed, triggers an SOS to search and rescue. You can share your location with family and friends while you’re out of cell range. Peace of mind shouldn’t be a luxury. Available at REI, South Lake Union, 222 Yale Ave. N; 206.223.1944;

2. Sun protection. Eye protection is critical, especially at higher elevations. The sporty Catamount sunglasses ($139) from Native Eyewear are comfortable while you’re in motion and hug your temples. You can change lenses for different light. Now that you have eye protection, protect your skin with Thinksport sunscreen ($13). It’s water resistant and absorbs quickly, so you can be on your way. Available at REI, South Lake Union, 222 Yale Ave. N; 206.223.1944;

3. Insulation. Even in midsummer, you can get stuck out on the trail as temperatures drop. Have another layer ready with the Patagonia Micro Puff ($249), the lightest, most packable insulated jacket you can stuff in a pocket. Filled with featherlight synthetic insulation, it offers amazing warmth for the weight—just over 7 ounces. Available at Patagonia, Belltown, 2100 First Ave.; 206.622.9700;

4. Illumination. Don’t be left in the dark. The Petzl Actik Core headlamp ($69) shines a light with 350 lumens. Even better, it’s rechargeable. Available at REI, South Lake Union, 222 Yale Ave. N; 206.223.1944;

5. First-aid supplies. Stuff happens on the trail. Be prepared with Adventure Medical Kits’ Ultralight and Watertight .7 kit ($29); it contains essentials for up to four days in the wilderness. Available at REI, South Lake Union, 222 Yale Ave. N; 206.223.1944;

6. Fire. The UCO Gear Behemoth Sweetfire match kit ($15) is eco-friendly, windproof and waterproof; it will burn for 15 minutes, time enough to get a blaze going. Available at REI, South Lake Union, 222 Yale Ave. N; 206.223.1944;

7. Repair kit and tools. Duct tape? Always. But a multitool is a good bet, too. Try the SwitchPlier 2.0 ($80) from Lynnwood company SOG Specialty Knives and Tools. Tools include pliers, screwdrivers, a knife and the all-important bottle opener. Available at

8. Nutrition. Extra food is a must; you’ll need lots of extra calories if you’re out longer than expected. Carry a few Zing bars ($25 for box of 12), created by Seattle nutritionists. We like the dark chocolate cherry almond. Available at area PCC stores, including View Ridge, 6514 40th Ave., Seattle; 206.526.7661;

9. Hydration. Water is crucial, which is why you need the Seattle-based Grayl Ultralight purifier bottle ($59). At 10.9 ounces, it won’t weigh you down and can scoop water out of a lake or stream and remove 99.9999 percent of viruses, bacteria and other things that can make you ill. Available at Fjällräven, Belltown, 1113 First Ave.; 206.204.7020,

10. Emergency shelter. The SOL Escape Pro Bivvy ($125) weighs just 8 ounces, but it will reflect 90 percent of your body’s heat back at you. You can fit a sleeping bag inside it, although it can be used on its own in a pinch. Available at REI, South Lake Union, 222 Yale Ave. N; 206.223.1944;


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