James Kim and the 10 essentials

Searchers believe they are nearing missing CNET editor

Ten days without much food, two days on his own trying to get help for his wife and kids (who have been rescued.) He’s probably half-crazed by now from hunger, exposure to the elements, and fear. Let’s hope they find him soon and alive.

Backpackers call them the ten essentials, things you should always have. I carry mine in a backpack in the trunk of my car for hikes, or if the car is disabled, or whatever.

They include a compass, headlamp, emergency food and water, extra clothes, a knife, first aid kit, cigarette lighters, space blanket, and most importantly, a whistle. Put the whistle on a string so you can wear it around your neck.

The sound of a whistle is unmistakable and travels long distances, much further than yelling can. Three blasts on a whistle is the universal back country distress signal. Any rescue team that hears it will immediately head towards it.

Did James Kim have a whistle? I don’t know. But rescues are made easier if the person does have one. Toss the ten essentials in your trunk, check the headlamp batteries every so often, and hope you never have to use it.

And if you’re lost or trying to find help, stay on the road or trail, it will eventually lead you somewhere, shortcuts will probably just get you lost.


Google Maps apparently recommends the route they took, a route which is tricky most any time and mostly impassable in winter. Yikes.

Friends have set up a website,

  • Bruce

    This comment on the 10 essentials is a breath of fresh air! I was looking at some comments elsewhere, and found very little of value. In the news reports, lost people are considered heroic whether they live or die. In the blogs, it is all about blame, and the lost are idiots. Neither view helps others avoid similar problems.

    Winter travel does suggest some cautions. One’s car should carry some blankets or sleeping bag. I read about 1 fellow who was stranded for the night in the midwest somewhere, and froze all of his toes during the night. I carried around a space blanket for years in my backpack, until I finally had to use it. It was very inadaquate, and I can’t recommend one. Instead, now I always carry around at least 1 large plastic garbage bag (per person) in my pack and of box of them in the car. A space blanket is useless in the wind, so for backcountry hiking a plastic bag will hold in heat much better, and you can put a head hole in it and use it as a poncho.

    I have been stuck in my car several times, the longest for 5 days. In each case I was safe and relativly comfortable. I recommend 1 more thing. Bring something to read, as it will help your mental health while you are waiting for conditions to improve.

  • I’ve re-checked my ten essentials, and added more stuff. A much larger space blanket/tarp, better headlamp, more clothes, etc.

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