10 Items of Gear Every Outdoors-Person Needs to Own

Let's look at 10 items every outdoors enthusiast needs to own—no matter what adventure activities get you stoked.

What outdoor activity excites you? Ski-touring? Stand-up paddleboarding? Canoe-tripping? Whatever turns your crank (cycling?), there’s specialized equipment for each—from skis specific to snow conditions, to flat- and moving-water canoes, to backpacking and car-camping tents.

But what about the general stuff? The gear you should have in your Rubbermaid tub for just about any outdoor sport. Items that you can use on a hike, a cycle-tour, a backcountry ski trip?

Let’s look at there standards here. No brands; just staple items.

Assuming you already have appropriate outerwear, footwear, luggage (backpacks/duffelbags) and a sleep system/tent covered, here are 10 more items every outdoors-person should own:


Not the app on your phone, a high-end GPS receiver or a cheapo keychain accessory. We’re talking about a quality oil-filled baseplate or optical compass. You need to be able set and follow a bearing (and the reciprocal), read a heading on a map and understand the basic handling techniques for an accurate reading. This is survival 101. Accept no substitutes.

Canister Stove

There are a lot of ways to boil water in the back-forty. Stick stoves, campfires, white-gas stoves or even gigantic car-camping multi-burner units. But for most uses, a canister stove is the best pick of all. They’re small, relatively inexpensive, fuel is easy to come by and they boil water in just a few minutes. (OK, we’ll cheat here and say you also need at least one camping pot, too.)

Lightweight Hatchet

A hatchet is a vital outdoors-person’s tool. We’ve heard arguments that it is the number-one survival tool—more important even than matches, as a hatchet can help you build shelter, gather firewood, clean fish/game… it’s pretty much a do-all. But you can’t wade through woods with a five-pound hunk of steel in your pack. Look for one that weighs a pound or less yet is still strong and can hold a sharp edge. Now you’re talking! 

Fire Steel

Admittedly, a fire steel is a polarizing item. Some campers think they’re superfluous, some, like us, say they’re essential. What we like is that they’re tough (nearly indestructible), long-lasting (often 1,000 strikes or more) and they can ignite just about any tinder with ease. While matches make good day-to-day use, having a fire steel in your pack means always—no matter what accidents may befall you—having a way to make a spark. 

Insulated Drink Container

Just about everybody has a water bottle these days (as well we all should—waste less!). But outdoor adventurers need to add some insulation to the mix. Why? Simple—they keep you water refreshing and cool in summer, and hot and revitalizing in winter. Perhaps most important of all—insulated bottles prevent your water from freezing solid during outdoor pursuits in winter, making them a necessity for skiers and snowshoers.


For car-camping, a headlamp is handy—think hands-free cooking and grabbing cool Instagram shots. For hiking and backpacking, it’s an absolute must for safety and survival. Even if you’re trekking well within daylight hours, well, stuff happens. And headlamps can help you negotiate the tricky after-dark trails, or signal help if things go really sideways. We always keep one in our packs. So should you.

Three-Fold Dry Bag

It’s not just for paddlers. Every camper, hiker, bicycler—you name it—can find a use for a dry bag. At a medium size—10 litres is good all-purpose—they can protect valuables and electronics from sudden rainstorms, or double as bear-bags for campers. Larger ones are great canoe bags or backpack liners. Smaller ones suit cyclists for simple phone or wallet storage. If you’re like us, you’ll end up with a collection of them.

Water Filter

Do yourself a favour. Google “symptoms of chronic giardiasis.” Yeah, you’re not going to want to catch that—and drinking unfiltered backcountry water is a good way to let the bug into your system. (And other nasties too.) While it’s true that frigid mountain streams and offshore deep lakes often don’t require filtration, why risk it? Grab a filter and stay safe.

Camping Tarp 

As mentioned—we assume you have a tent. But do you have a tarp? We don’t mean the rain fly that comes with your four-person dome. We mean a three-metre by three-metre (good all-purpose size) waterproof, packable camping tarp. Set it up to block the wind. Keep your camp kitchen dry. Add an extra layer of protection atop your tent (we all know how rain flies can fail). Tarps are tops! 

First-Aid Kit

Hopefully, you’ll never need this. Likely, you will. At least the simple stuff—a Band-Aid, disinfectant, a bit of gauze. The wilderness is a slippery, sharp and rugged place. Grab the wrong branch, step on the wrong stone—you’ll see some red stuff. It’s usually not a big deal. Unless you’re travelling without a first-aid kit. Then a simple cut can be a massive problem. So solve it before it happens—whether self-made or pre-fab, stuff a personal first-aid kit in your hiking pack every time. 

How Did You Fare With This List?

Anything missing? Well, we have a surprise for you. All of those items—and A LOT more—were included in Live the Adventure Club Gear Boxes over the past year.

In fact, every single LTA Club Gear Box contained between 6 and 10 amazing and essential items to get you prepped and ready for adventure in the great outdoors.


Plus—we provide the motivation and inspiration to get outdoors and use your gear.


We challenge you with series of tasks. Then reward you for your efforts—prizes like tents, GPS watches, footwear, vehicle accessories and so much more.

This is what current members said about the Winter 2017 Gear Box on Facebook:

Will you be onboard for the next box?

We’d love to have you join our community… CLICK HERE to learn more and Live the Adventure with Explore Magazine!

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