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Since 1968, your Colorado Springs outdoor store.


Colorado is blessed by a multitude of natural wonders. It is frequently this draw that encourages us to take to the mountains and valleys to see these wonders. Unfortunately, and sometimes tragically, we forget that there is a darker side to nature that should encourage us to be prepared for the worst as we seek the best. Part of this preparation is mental in knowing what we are looking for and how to find it. The critical part is physical: we must bring along those things that will help assure our safety as we venture into nature. What to bring along can be determined by the extent of the adventure, the climate anticipated and the distance from potential help. We should NOT carry the leisurely, casual attitudes of walking in one of our downtown parks into the wilderness. Instead, we must take along those items which can mean the difference between life and death, or a very just unpleasant experience. The list of items that we should consider are referred to as the Ten Essentials. That is what we will call them as we explore the possibilities but they really are just a Survival Kit.

There are numerous lists of Ten Essentials and some have evolved over the years as experience and technology have progressed. For the purposes of this review, we will be following the Mountaineers suggestions as outlined in the book Freedom of the Hills. This list is a systems approach to the Ten Essentials, because these days an essential item may be more than a single item, but rather a system of items. It can be modified or extended based on time, circumstances or personal needs but it should not be reduced. The list includes, in no priority order:

1.   Navigation

2.   Sun Protection

3.   Insulation

4.   Illumination

5.   First Aid Supplies

6.   Ability to Start a Fire

7.   Repair Kit

8.   Nutrition

9.   Hydration

10. Emergency Shelter

The Ten Essentials should be considered dynamic in nature and changed as needed. The insulation for a short summer hike may not be sufficient for a longer winter hike in the mountains. If batteries are used, they should be changed periodically. An energy bar is not particularly edible after its expiration date. Check for expiration dates in the first aid kit and emergency hydration tablets.

In subsequent articles, we will review each of the Ten Essentials and discuss alternatives, modifications and considerations. We look forward to discussing situations and solutions to make your time in the mountains more enjoyable and safe.

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