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Boy Scout Troop 68
(Farmington, Connecticut)
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The Ten Essentials

The Ten Essentials

Knowing the Ten Essentials is good. Carrying the Ten Essentials is better.

Updated Ten Essential "Systems"

  1. Navigation
  2. Sun protection
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter

Classic Ten Essentials

  1. Map
  2. Compass
  3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
  4. Extra clothing
  5. Headlamp/flashlight
  6. First-aid supplies
  7. Firestarter
  8. Matches
  9. Knife
  10. Extra food

The original Ten Essentials list was assembled in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based organization for climbers and outdoor adventurers. The group's updated "systems" approach made its debut in the seventh edition of its seminal text on climbing and outdoor exploration, Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (The Mountaineers Books, 2003).

Why create such a list? The book's editors explain: "The purpose of this list has always been to answer 2 basic questions: First, can you respond positively to an accident or emergency? Second, can you safely spend a night—or more—out?"

Packing these items whenever you step into the backcountry, even on day hikes, is a good habit to acquire. True, on a routine trip you may use only a few of them. Yet you'll probably never fully appreciate the value of the Ten Essentials (or the wisdom that went into building the list) until you really need one of them.

Icon File Name Comment  
Back Packing Day Hike Food.pdf Hiking Food  
hiking equipment list.pdf Hiking Equipment List  
trip-plan-hiking.doc Hiking Plan  

Bring a Trail Snack

It is always a good idea to have a Trail Snack.  Pack in a zip lock bag to keep it dry.
Good Choices include:
    Power Bars 
    Dried Fruit
    Beef Jerky
    A candy Bar
Remember we are a nut free troop so your snack should not contain nuts of any sort.  Power bars may contain trace amounts but should not be a peanut butter power bar or something similar. 


Cairns are carefully placed piles of rocks built by trail crews to mark trails and guide hikers.  Most are small, a foot or less in height, but a few are built taller so as to protrude through a layer of snow.

Adding to Cairns:
  • detracts from the natural landscape
  • causes soil erosion and plant loss
  • misleads hikers
Do not add to or build cairns or other rock objects.
Leave the mountain and the the rocks as you find them.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations. Leave No Trace information helps public land visitors understand and practice minimum impact skills and ethics.

The Leave No Trace program is a combination of science and common sense for enjoying the outdoors responsibly. The message is framed under seven principles:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Remember the Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics, not rules.  The difference between rules and ethics is:

Rules are what you follow when someone is watching.
Ethics are what you follow when no one is watching!

Hiking Merit Badge

  1. Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while hiking, including hypothermia, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, dehydration, sunburn, sprained ankle, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, hyperventilation, and altitude sickness.
  2. Explain and, where possible, show the points of good hiking practices. including the principles of Leave No Trace, hiking safety in the daytime and at night, courtesy to others, choice of footwear, and proper care of feet and footwear.
  3. Explain how hiking is an aerobic activity. Develop a plan for conditioning yourself for 10-mile hikes, and describe how you will increase your fitness for longer hikes.
  4. Make a written plan for a 10-mile hike, including map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.
  5. Take five hikes, each on a different day, and each of at least ten continuous miles. Prepare a hike plan for each hike.*
  6. Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day following a hike plan you have prepared.*
  7. After each of the hikes (or during each hike if on one continuous "trek") in requirements 5 and 6, write a short report of your experience. Give dates and descriptions of routes covered, the weather, and interesting things you saw. Share this report with your merit badge counselor.

*The hikes in requirements 5 and 6 can be used in fulfilling Second Class (2a) and First Class (3) rank requirements, but only if Hiking merit badge requirements 1, 2, 3, and 4 have been completed to the satisfaction of your counselor. The hikes of requirements 5 and 6 cannot be used to fulfill requirements of other merit badges.

Icon File Name Comment  
Hiking.doc Hiking Merit Badge Worksheet  

Hike Safety

This video for Tenderfoot Requirement 5 (Explain the rules of safe hiking, both on the highway and cross-country, during the day and at night. Explain what to do if you are lost.) has good information for all hikers.

A Good Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb is to count on 30 minutes per mile plus 30 minutes per 1000 feet of elevation gain.