The Ten Essentials

(should carry in addition to the State required equipment)

Medical - ID/medical tag, first aid kit, medications, insect repellant


In addition to the usual first aid kit contents, identification with pertinent medical information is good to have along. That information should include your next-of-kin's phone number, allergies, major diseases such as diabetes or hypertension, etc. Some people even carry an "ABC Kit" (Airway, Breathing, Circulation), an emergency kit stored in an accessible location (not in the bottom of your pack) that includes gloves, a pressure bandage, a mouth protector (for CPR), instructions on pressure points and rescue breathing, a Ziploc bag for biohazard materials, an accident report form, etc. Seconds may count in emergency situations.

Shelter - raingear, garbage bags, reflective pocket size emergency blanket, bivy sack, tarp, tent, rope. Good to carry in your life jacket in case you are separated from your boat.


Shelter from the elements might range anywhere from garbage bags to rain gear to a tent depending on a day trip or overnight outing.

Fire - matches, lighter, sparker/tinder, , stove/fuel


Many recommend having three ways to start a fire.

Hydration - water container,  a purification method.

The importance of staying hydrated cannot be emphasized enough both for the enjoyment of an outing and for survival in the event of an accident or emergency. Usual recommendation during summer season is one quart of water per person per hour. In early season carrying a thermos with hot/warm drink can make a big difference in rewarming after an accidental fall overboard.

Communication - safety plan/float plan, whistle, pen/pencil and paper, signal mirror, safety flares, cellular phone, VHF Radio, satellite tracking system (SPOT), satellite phone, personal locator beacon (PLB). Your whistle, signal mirror, flares and SPOT, PLB, communication devices are best carried on your life jacket in case you and your boat are separated.

This group contains items that may allow you to, more quickly, get found if lost or rescued if injured. Simply leaving a safety plan/float plan with a loved-one will allow Search and Rescue to find you or your group faster.

Navigation
- map, compass, light, altimeter, GPS
Map and compass skills are mandatory. Other items such as a GPS can be a great addition.

Satellite maps can provide additional information for planning camp and stops.

Nutrition - extra food, fishing kit


An extra day of food is always a good idea. In a survival situation lasting days, some advocate a fishing kit small enough to fit inside a pill container.

Carrying some energy bars in your life jacket (so that's why kayaking/canoeing life jackets have those great pockets!)

Insulation - jacket, hat, gloves, footwear, foam pad.


Proper clothing for the anticipated temperature range is necessary and for most river and lake activities they should be in a dry bag.

Sun Protection - sunscreen, sunglasses, wide-brimmed hat and spares.


Protection from ultraviolet rays is needed for the prevention of debilitating sunburn, skin cancer and snow/glare blindness. Sunburn may also make one susceptible to thermo regulation problems as well.

Tools - knife, repair kit, wristwatch, bandana
This group includes miscellaneous items for cutting, repairing gear, and the multipurpose bandana (get the largest size to use as a support for broken arms or dislocated shoulder injuries). The listed items may change depending upon your vessel. Invaluable in most kits are quick setting epoxy or plastic filler for holes along with ultra heavy durt/waterproof duct tape.

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