In the 1930s, the Mountaineers, a Seattle-based hiking, climbing, and conservation organization, came up with a list of 10 essential items that no climber should be without.
Map. A map not only tells you where you are and how far you have to go, it can help you find campsites, water, and an emergency exit route in case of an accident.
Compass. A compass can help you find your way through unfamiliar terrain—especially in bad weather where you can't see the landmarks.
Water and a way to purify it. Without enough water, your body's muscles and organs simply can't perform as well: You'll be susceptible to hypothermia and altitude sickness. not to mention the abject misery of raging thirst.
Extra Food. Any number of things could keep you out longer than expected: a lengthy detour, getting lost, an injury, difficult terrain. A few ounces of extra food will help keep up energy and morale.
Rain Gear and extra clothing. Because the weatherman is not always right. Especially above treeline, bring along extra layers. Two rules: Avoid cotton (it keeps moisture close to your skin), and always carry a hat.
Firestarter and matches. The warmth of a fire and a hot drink can help prevent an encounter with hypothermia. And fires are a great way to signal for help if you get lost.
First aid kit. Prepackaged first aid kits for hikers are available at outfitters. Double your effectiveness with knowledge: Take a basic first aid class with the American Red Cross or a Wilderness First Aid class, offered by many hiking organizations.
Army knife or multi-purpose tool. These enable you to cut strips of cloth into bandages, remove splinters, fix broken eyeglasses, and perform a whole host of repairs on malfunctioning gear—not to mention cut cheese and open cans.
Flashlight and extra bulbs. For finding your way in the dark and signaling for help.
Sun screen and sun glasses. Especially above treeline when there is a skin-scorching combination of sun and snow, you'll need sunglasses to prevent snowblindness, and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.Taken from http://www.gorp.com/hiking-guide/travel-ta-hiking-wilderness-skills-sidwcmdev_058018.html
Contrast that with the ten essentials from the "Northwest Woodsman" website:
The Woodsman's 10 Essentials
1. Pack - A good pack is not only important for carrying your gear but for protecting your
outfit from limbs, rocks, brush, or anything else you put it through. Bushwhacking through
wild country requires a tough pack.
2. Shelter - A 9' x 12' tarp is the perfect size for the solo wanderer and is very adaptable
to many uses. It is important that you know a few different ways to rig a tarp to match the
weather or terrain. A ground tarp and bug net for the front in summer makes life a little
3. Axe - It’s the most important tool in the woods along with your fire starter. In the
warmer months a smaller axe will work just fine for all your camp chores. When the
temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall it’s time for the full size axe and bucksaw.
4. Fire Starter - Fire is the heart of the camp, from cooking, to warmth, to light, it is
essential to life in the woods. Always carry a couple of ways to start a fire with you; one
on your person and one in the pack for back up. After the tarp is set up the fire will be
made one step away from the front.
5. Bedding - When temperatures are above freezing a wool blanket is my choice for
bedding. It is soft, warm, and naturally wicks moisture. Sleeping, sitting by the fire, or
just lounging under a tree, there nothing more practical then a wool blanket in the woods.
When temperature start to drop, then a good warm sleeping bag is added. If you bring a
foam pad, it only needs to be long enough to keep your shoulders and hips off the ground.
6. Knife - A sturdy, functional, lightweight knife that fits well in your hand and holds an
edge is of the utmost importance. A blade made with high carbon steel with a full tang is
7. Cooking Pot – If I only had room for one cooking item it would be a pot. Boiling water
will be what you will need most and everything else can be roasted. A frying pan is a nice
addition for frying fish or baking bread. A cup, leather gloves, fork & spoon can all be
stored inside the pot.
8. Compass - The best compass is the one that you actually use. I find it interesting how
a man will circle when in new terrain and can’t get a visual on a fixed landmark. Staying
on a true bearing and keeping track of your time and distance will greatly reduce your
chances of ever getting lost. A current map of the area you are traveling in is always
9. Rope – 50 feet of ¼ inch rope is perfect for lashing poles, rigging your tarp, lining your
canoe, Etc. A good rope is invaluable on the trail or in camp.
10. First Aid Kit (for body and gear) – Keeping yourself healthy and avoiding infection
is important, along with keeping your gear in tip top shape. Tape, gauze, iodine, butterfly
stitches, & twisters are some of the basic medical supplies. For your gear, a sharpening
stone, sewing kit, 550 cord, and a multi tool will cover most of your needs. A useful multi
tool for the woods should have pliers, file, saw, knife, and an awl.
Throw in your extra clothing, such as an extra pair of wool socks, heavy wool shirt, wool hat, long underwear, and a
rain coat. Also basic food staples like oatmeal, pasta, rice, coffee, bannock mix or whatever you find easy to
prepare over an open fire. One pot meals are always the easiest and best way to cook when you are out by
yourself. A 22 rifle and/or a small fishing kit will keep you in a fresh supply of meat when seasons are open. With
this basic outfit the lone woodsman can travel with ease and in comfort.