What’s your 11th Essential? Seasoned Scout leader has a suggestion to share

Roger Tate wearing tarp
Roger Tate (right) shows off what he calls his "11th Essential."

If you only have room in your backpack for 10 items, make it the Ten Essentials.

But let’s say your pack still has some space to spare. What’s the next must-include item to put in there?

For one seasoned Scouter from Texas, it’s simple: a 5-by-7-foot nylon tarp. It’s lightweight, has “a dozen or more uses” and has saved the day more than once.

So what’s your 11th Essential? What’s that item you won’t leave the trailhead without?

Share it in the comments below!

The Ten Essentials

Packing can be intimidating, whether the trip is a weeklong backpacking adventure or a weekend of car camping.

The Ten Essentials make it easier. Also known as the Scout Outdoor Essentials, the list is a starting point for every Scouting outing.

Need a refresher on the Ten Essentials? You can’t do better than this Boys’ Life magazine explainer.

The 11th Essential

Roger Tate says he’s often mistaken for an Eagle Scout. On troop trips, his Scouting skills are legendary, and he always seems to have everything neatly organized.

Tate has been a volunteer since 2004, serving in more than a half-dozen Scouting roles. He’s part of a Scouting family that includes an Eagle Scout son, a daughter who was a Venturing crew president and a wife who has served on Philmont staff.

All that Scouting experience came in handy during Tate’s 2017 Philmont trek with Troop 379 of Arlington, Texas.

Also handy: that 11th Essential. The blue tarp, Tate says, served as a:

  • Trail picnic blanket
  • Clean place to empty out his pack
  • Pack rain cover
  • Poncho
  • Doormat for his tent
  • Cover for wet logs he wanted to sit on

“And best of all,” Tate says, “a napping spot.”

Tate says his favorite use for the tarp is when taking down camp during backpacking trips.

“I spread it out beside my pack and start emptying out my tent, dropping gear onto the tarp,” he says. “Once the tent is empty and rolled up and on the tarp, I begin packing my pack.”

The tarp’s bright hue provides color contrast, which keeps Tate from losing any gear in the grass or forgetting to pack anything.

“Once the tarp is clear, I fold it and stuff it into the outside pocket, ready for its next use, he says. “It comes out at every stop as a place to sit out of the dirt.”

Your 11th Essential

Now it’s your turn. Share what you won’t leave home without in the comments.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.