Hiker’s Essentials I have seen several articles lately that list the "Ten Essentials" that every hiker should carry. Interestingly enough, these lists don't all agree. Here is my list of essential equipment, created on the fly by comparing several of the published lists. · Water  · Appropriate clothing (considering current weather; potential weather; trail conditions) · First Aid kit  · Good boots · Rain Gear  · Pocket Knife · Compass; map  · Sun Protection · Whistle (or other means of communication) · Trail Food · Survival items (If you get separated from the group and lost; you could spend an unplanned night on the trail. Things such as flash light, matches, trail food, and extra clothing could be the difference between disaster and just an interesting trail story) Whether or not you carry each of these items every trip depends on a lot of factors. Hiking a seldom used trail in the national forest is much different than a trail in Hot Springs Village. A recent incident, however, demonstrated that even an "easy" trail can cause trouble for an experienced hiker. Smart hikers plan for two basic contingencies. First, that anyone can fall and get hurt at any time; and, second, that you may get separated from the group and have to fend for yourself. It may not be necessary for every member of a hike to have a map of the trail, but everyone should be aware of the basic route and be able to choose the correct turn if we become separated and came to an un-marked intersection. Survival gear is the most un-likely to be needed, but the most important when it is needed. Most of us just keep our pack pre- loaded with the basics and therefore don't have to think about it. (back)