The 10 Essentials

Regardless of the distance or anticipated timeframe of your hike, make sure to always carry the 10 essentials with you!

Map and Signs



GPS system, map, compass

A GPS device is essential on the TCT. The TCT doesn’t have its own blazes (yet!), but even where the trail is marked, it is not always easy to follow. Backcountry sections will certainly put your navigation skills to the test, so make sure you have the TCT GPX file(s) for the section(s) you’re hiking downloaded on your phone and a power bank handy. Spend some time studying your route in advance so that if your navigational system fails, you have a rough sense of the map in your head.


Sun Protection


Sun Protection

sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, long-sleeved shirt and pants 

The Caucasus sun is strong, especially on summer days. In the mountains, the UV index is usually fairly high, so cover up, especially when hiking in open terrain. Clothing is the most effective means of limiting sun exposure, so get the right type of clothing so you don’t overheat! 


Warm Clothes



jacket, hat, gloves, rain gear, thermal underwear

Even on hot days, nights can cool off drastically, and you’ll want to be prepared. If you get caught in a rain (or hail or snow) storm, having warm, dry clothes is a must.





headlamp, flashlight, lantern, spare batteries

Notice we didn’t include “phone” on this list. Your phone is not solely a flashlight, and you’ll want to save your battery anyway. Make sure you have a headlamp or other light source. Even if you don’t plan on hiking at night, things happen, and you want to be prepared.


First-Aid Supplies


First-Aid Supplies

first aid kit

Whether you’re treating minor injuries, preventing insect bites, or managing foot discomfort, you’ll be happy to have at least a basic first aid kit. Your specific needs are unique, so we’re not going to tell you exactly what to include in your first aid kit. Take a look here to see a list of possible supplies.





lighter, matches, fire starters

Even though campfires aren’t encouraged, fire can be used in emergencies for warmth, cooking, and emergency signaling, so even if you’re carrying a stove to cook, make sure you also have the means of starting a fire with you. (Speaking of stoves, check out our Food and Fuel page to determine which type of stove to bring with you.) 

Don’t know how to build a fire? Don’t worry! Check out this short tutorial, and you’ll be building a fire in no time.




Repair Kit And Tools

duct tape, knife, patches, multitool

If you find yourself with a ripped sleeping pad or broken zipper halfway through your hike, you’ll be glad to have a repair kit so you can handle unforeseen gear mishaps on the go and be on your way again quickly. 


Nutritious Food



adequate amounts of nutrient-rich food

Know your body, and carry a little more food (but not too much more) than you think you might need until you can resupply. Again, prepare for emergencies and extra unforeseen days on the trail. Check out this page for hiking nutrition information and local meal and snack suggestions.


Water Bottle


water and water treatment supplies

Always carry more water than you think you might need. A lack of water is much more dire than a lack of food. Don’t rely on marked springs on the map to fill up, especially in the second half of the summer or autumn, since many are seasonal—always plan for the next spring to be dry.

Have sugar and salt to go along with your water. Especially on hot days, hikers run the risk of depleting their body’s salts when they’re sweating a lot and drinking a lot of water.

Because of livestock in the mountains, always treat your water before drinking, even near mountain springs. If you use a water filter, we recommend having one with a virus disinfectant component to take care of all bacteria and viruses.




Emergency Shelter

bivy, emergency blanket, tent

Thru-hikers and multi-day hikers will likely be carrying a tent and sleeping bag, but day hikers should also take precautions in case something unexpected happens and you’re forced to spend the night outside. In that case, you’ll be happy to have a small, lightweight bivy or emergency blanket with you.