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Top Ten Wilderness & Wealth Essentials

You might have heard of the “Ten Essentials” for the outdoors. These are the items you should always have with you when you’re off on an adventure in case the proverbial cow patty hits the fan.




Extra Clothing


First Aid Kit




Extra Food

While the classic list is still a good one, a more flexible and modern list has emerged in recent years. We’ve created a mash-up of what’s found in the current Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills and what we consider the top ten wealth essentials.


1. Navigation

GPS is everywhere now and most phones will still allow you to use it while in airplane mode. However, when your battery dies, you’ll be glad you packed a map and compass (and know how to use them).

2. Sun Protection

Beyond sunglasses and sunscreen, consider light-colored long-sleeve items to keep you cool on hot days. A Buff is cheap, versatile, and keeps the sun off. Cancer is bad!

3. Insulation

Extra clothes for the coldest possible seasonal temperatures you’ll encounter. Avoid cotton at all costs. When it is wet, it will not keep you warm. As they say in the outdoor industry, “Cotton kills.”

4. Illumination

A small LED headlamp will let you make it back to civilization or make camp when the sun goes down. It can also be used as a signaling device.

5. First Aid Supplies

Carry a basic kit for cuts, abrasions, pain relief, blisters, etc. I would include bug spray as well in the warmer months.

6. Fire

A basic BIC lighter will do the trick. You can carry waterproof matches as an alternative.

7. Repair Kit/Tools

Multitool/knife, zip ties, duct tape. I’m partial to the Leatherman brand of multitools and my Wave is still going strong after 12 years.

8. Nutrition

An extra day of food. Keep this simple and calorie rich. Think dehydrated foods, bars (a perfect time to indulge in a Snickers), nuts, jerky, hard candy, and so on. Bonus points for items that have a long shelf life. These are your emergency items, not delicacies.

9. Hydration

Extra two liters or water purification if you’ll be in an area with water sources, Aquamira drops or a small filter don’t add much weight and will keep you worry free.

10. Emergency Shelter

Carry something light that can be used as shelter or for extra warmth. Possible options include a Mylar space blankettarp, or bivy. In a pinch, a large contractor trash bag will work too. A space blanket came in handy on a mountain bike ride in Moab that went wrong.


1. Goal Setting

Know where you’re trying to go. Are you aiming to pay off student loans? Build up an emergency fund to avoid panicking about money? Buy a house? Travel more? Retire early?

Once you have that concrete goal, work backwards to determine the steps involved to get there.

2. Knowledge

Don’t get burned by the same mistakes that others have made. There is a wealth of information on investing, real estate, and personal finance in general. Some of it is good. Some of it is not.

Run away from anything promising a way to get rich quick. Rome wasn’t built in a day. True wealth isn’t either.

3. Insurance

Insurance is your backup for when fate throws a curveball. Life, health, disability, car, home/rental, umbrella – all are appropriate at various points on your journey. Don’t derail your path because you think “that can’t possibly happen to me.”

4. Budget Tracking

If you’ve figured out where you want to go, you also need to know where you are. Otherwise you’re traveling blind and will never get to your desired outcome. Track the ins and outs of your financial life.

5. Support

No one said this would be easy. What’s your biggest money mistake? Have you learned from it? You will fare better with a support network to pick you up when things aren’t going your way. If you’re in a relationship, make sure your partner is on-board.

6. Income

If you want to hit your goals, you’ll need enough income to cover your expenses and have funds left over for the goal. It’s as simple as that. No magic formula. The larger your income, the sooner you’ll be there.

Are you maximizing your potential to generate income? If you consistently find yourself deep into yet another Netflix binge, you are a prime candidate for a second job. What special talents or skills do you have that your friends and family are always asking for help with? Photography? A spare room? A knack for computers? Baking? Pet sitting?

The rise of the sharing economy has made it easier than ever to earn income on the side.

7. Tools

It has never been easier to monitor and optimize your wealth. From automating your savings in high-yield savings accounts, to free tax prep and filing, to free investing and trading, to free credit reports and score updates, the benefits to you are huge compared to how fee-laden finance has historically been.

It is also easy to be hacked. Use two factor authentication as a starting point and a different password for each financial login.

8. Health

Health care costs are escalating faster than just about any other expense category out there. Keeping your costs low is important for building wealth.

Eat healthy, which doesn’t mean shopping at Whole Foods. There are plenty of clean, simple ways to eat. Lots of veggies and fruit, with some protein thrown in as well. Your body will thank you and so will your budget.

Staying healthy also involves exercise. Go outside! Take a walk, dust off your bike, see some nature. How neat is that? Be proactive to stay out of the doctor’s office for anything but regular check-ups. Benjamin Franklin knew this concept centuries ago when he said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

9. Liquidity

A rainy day or emergency fund is crucial to covering life’s unexpected expenses. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Having a few months worth of expenses on hand is an important step in building wealth. Some of the largest investors in the world were caught between a rock and a hard place during the Great Recession because too many of their assets were locked up in illiquid investments and they had to take deep discounts on the value of those investments before they could find a buyer to meet their planned expenses.

10. Optimization

Death and taxes. It’s logical to try and avoid those, but they come for us all. Optimizing your finances can help shield you from paying more than you need to. We’re not talking about the Wesley Snipes approach or that of the billionaire class.

These items aren’t exclusive for sallying forth in the outdoors. They can be stored in your car for emergencies and form a starting point for a bug out bag.

Life is wild. As the Boy Scouts say, “be prepared.”

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