28 December 2016

The 10 essentials

If you do a search on the 10 essentials you will get more articles on the subject than you could read in a life time. The articles for the most part list the same items.

The Original List :

Sunglasses and sunscreen
Extra clothing
First-aid supplies
Extra food

Then down at the bottom of the article they will list other items to carry. It might be listed as nice items to take or something like that.
Then there is;

The Essential System :

Navigation (map & compass)
Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
Insulation (extra clothing)
Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
First-aid supplies
Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
Repair kit and tools
Nutrition (extra food)
Hydration (extra water)
Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)

Which are different words for the same 10 items.

Now if you did that same search but looked at the images tab you will see that folks carry far more than the 10 essentials when they are talking about just the 10 essentials. I don't think a Hatchet and a 8 inch fix blade knife is part of the list. But let’s face it, we just like gear!

So how is my post about the 10 essentials going to be any different than the other 10 thousand other articles out there on the subject?

Mission or activity dictates the gear. I want you to think about the 10 essentials in three parts. 1) System base list 2) Level and 3) Time

Let’s just start with the "Mission or Activity dictates the gear". If you are going out to get a 1 hour mountain bike or road ride, do you need the same gear for 5 hour ride?

Do you need the same gear for a 1 hour hike as you need for a 4 hour day hike?

The answer to both of those questions is Mission or activity dictates the gear. Using the parts 1) System base list  2) Level  and 3) Time

System Base List:

I like the system base list concept because it allows you to be able to adjust the list based on your mission or activity.

You pick and choose items for a essential category. Let’s take the essential category of fire. As a system it let's you take waterproof matches or if you like a mini lighter or maybe a fire kit that has a few matches, a striker and a fuel tab.

Remember mission or activity dictates the gear! If you are on a 1 hour bicycle ride on your local park trails or on the road then you don't need any items for fire. You should leave this essential category out of things to carry. Only carry what you need.

I have given it a lot of thought and I do not understand why either list has sun protection on it. I guess since moutaineers made the 10 essentials list back in the 1930s it was more of a concern. I thought at first that this would be better applied under first aid or should not be on the list at all. Then it hit me! It should be renamed as just protection. In this essential category it would cover sun protection but would also cover insect protection and chafing protection.

It might be a day where the sun is not out but the insects are bad or its black fly season. You would not need sun screen you would need insect repellent. So my system based list is going to change from sun protection to just protection. I guess I could have come up with a better name, but that's what I am going with for now.


This is more of a military concept for mission essential equipment.  I believe we can adopt this same concept for any of your outdoor pursuits.

Level 1. This is the clothes and equipment worn by the individual. Examples of these items are your hat, jacket, belt, socks and boots. It would also include items from our essential list such as fire essential category (Carrying a lighter in your pocket). You might also carry the navigation essentials on you and not in your pack.

Level  2. This would be items that you would need for your short term activities. By short term I mean from 1 hour to a full day but your are not staying overnight. Examples would be that the items need from the system base list would be carried in a day pack.

Level 3. This would be items that you would need for long term. By long term I mean that you would be staying overnight or multiple days. Examples would be that you would carry these items in a backpack or panniers

In the scope of this post you would only be concerned with level 1 & 2.

When I was in the infantry we would carry our ruck (backpack) on the approach and then we would drop or cache our ruck before moving forward to the objective. I carried a small pack that was called a buttpack. This small pack might have some food, a poncho and some other items that I would need. But one day I got cut off from my main pack for 3 days. I learned from that point to have the items on me that I would need to survive. 

You might not get cut off from your main pack like I did but the point is to have the essentials on you.


I added time because your essentials will need to change with the amount of time that your mission or activity takes.  This will mostly effect nutrition and hydration.  The longer you are out the more food and water you need to take. Example, on a 1 hour bike ride you might only need to carry one water bottle with you. If you are to ride 5-7 hours then you might need two water bottles or a hydration system and energy bars.  You also might need some cash to stop at a store to purchase more water and food.

I did not want to add pictures to this post because I did not want folks to get wrapped up on the gear in the pictures. I want people to think about the essentials and what you need to have with you to have an successful and safe outing.

I will do a follow on post on the system base list concept and what the  gear would look like for level 1 and level 2 set up.

11 December 2016

Doyles River Loop, Shenandoah National Park

Jones Run Trail
A trip to Shenandoah National Park was well overdue and this was to be a daddy and daughter hike. For one reason or another we have not been able to make the trip. This past October we made it out for a day to catch the fall colors. We might have missed the peak by a couple of days but this trip did not disappoint . 

Are plan was to do the Doyles River Loop. Which is a 6.5 mile loop with about 1400ft of elevation change. You can make a long circuit hike which will put you at almost 8 miles. The trails in Shenandoah National Park are well maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and my map and guide one this hike was their guidebook Circuit Hikes in Shenandoah National Park 13th edition 1990. The level of detail that the guidebook provides is all I needed to navigate the trail. 

We parked at the trailhead of the Jones River Trail. During the fall color season you want to get to your trailhead by 9:30 or you will find yourself dealing with a full parking lot. The above picture is Jones River Trail just before you get to your first water crossing.

Old growth Tulip Popular
Following the Jones River Trail I was surprised to find old growth Tuip Populars. They are massive and tower the forest floor. We took our lunch just up the trail from where the Jones River and Doyles River Trail meet. 

Doyle River Trail
In the background is Cedar Mountain Elv 3330. This is on Doyles River Trail  about halfway up from Jones River Trail . On both trails you will find a couple of waterfalls and on Jones River you will find a couple of pools to enjoy in the summer time. 

It always seems that I learn about the history of a place after I have been there than to know about it before I go. This hike was no different. The picture below is Browns Gap Road. Construction of the road started in 1805 and was known as Browns Turnpike. During the Civil War this was an important route and was used by Stonewall Jackson to get his troops across the Blue Ridge on many occasions. 

Browns Gap Road goes all the way across the park. I enjoyed this part of the hike so much that I want to go back to hike this road across the park. It is amazing to me that a road that is 216 years old is in such great shape. 

I called it the Rhubarb Highway on our hike because it ran down the side of the trail forever. 

Browns Gap Road

I don't know if it was because I had not hiked it the park for so long or that it was a daddy and me day hike or what. But this hike was one of the most enjoyable that I had been on.