day pack contents

11:01 a.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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hi i am after advice on what would be an ideal day pack contents IE something for when  a person is going out for a day and doesn't want  to go overboard with gear just bring some survival /emergency gear on top of what food and water you would have already

11:48 a.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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Hi John.  That is a really subjective thing and varies greatly from one person to the next.  It also depends on what exactly you may be doing and the weather conditions.  I personally always carry an emergency/survival kit (as you mentioned) on any trip I go on.  Other than that my pack contents for a day trip just consist of food, water, camera gear and possibly extra clothing depending on the weather.  On occasion I will throw in my stove for a day trip if I want to make hot chocolate or something while on the trail but other than that I keep it pretty basic.  

12:21 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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you might find this article helpful:



5:11 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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leadbelly2550 said:

you might find this article helpful:



   +1 Great article    smiley.gif

5:13 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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Jason is right...what SHOULD go in a day-pack is different for everyone and just about every hike. I am sure I am in the minority on this matter...but I tend to bring very little. I have a very small 1st Aid/Repair/Emergency kit I bring with me anytime I go into the uses the bag from the .5 Adventure Medical Kit....which is about the size of a sandwich size zip-lock bag and easily fits into a pocket somewhere on my person. In it I have a few things I can patch a hole in my gear or my person with...get rid of a little pain...and start a fire. In addition to the small kit I also bring water-purification drops...a tiny pocket knife...water bottle(s)...rain gear. I am sure this is not adequate for a lot of folks...but I have a lot of confidence that it would get me through a night safely if a day-trip was to turn South.

6:54 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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Depends on where you are going, but I usually carry (in summer) I freeze my water bottles over night and wrap them in a light sweater to insulate them from melting too fast. I usually carry 1-3 liters of frozen water for a 1-5 hour day hike, frozen because they stay cold no matter how hot it may be. I carry lots of high energy snacks enough to last for however long I plan to be out. If it will fit I carry my Big Agnes air pad to have a comfortable thing to sit on when I stop to take breaks, also I carry either a lighter or matches just in case, so if it gets colder at high altitudes or begins to snow or something and I need to I can build a fire to stay warm. Rain wear or something warm to put on like the sweater I mentioned to wrap my frozen bottles in. Even maybe dry socks or my sandals for river crossings if they are along the route.

I usually go a little over prepared. I like being comfortable and I would rather have something and not need it than to need it and not have it. I use my backpack as a day pack which is lightweight by Golite instead of having a second little pack. I try to go as light as possible depending on how long I am going to be outdoors.

9:52 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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Absolutely the 10 Essentials

Plus even if you just going for a short hike leave a Trip plan with a Friend or Family member

10:43 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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As I said...I am probably on the lighter side of things when it comes to the "ten essentials"...but that's because I believe what you bring depends on who you are and where you're going...for me the ten essentials are a guide...which is why I like number 11 more than the others...and use it to decide what I should bring. For example...there are trails that are so well maintained...or that I know so well...that navigation tools are not necessary at all (it is really difficult to get lost on a gravel road...particularly one I have memorized)...though I do incidentally bring a compass with me everywhere since it is integrated into my phone. Sun protection in heavy tree cover is another "essential" that sometimes doesn't seem all that necessary to me...though my summer clothing is specifically intended to keep UV damage at bay (since clothing doesn't wash off) like navigation I probably have this even when I do not intend to. In the summer my rain-gear (poncho) can serve as both an additional layer and an emergency shelter if need a separate emergency shelter seems redundant to me in most cases (since I'm just trying to stay dry and warm...not comfortable). Generally speaking a head-lamp or flashlight is a good idea (though a lighter can serve in a pinch)...but truthfully I only find head-lamps and flashlights truly necessary for traveling at night...and I would more likely than not try to avoid night travel if I was lost and make my way back to familiar ground with the first morning light. Food is certainly something I would not consider a necessity (nor a lot of other folks)...since I (and others) occasionally fast for religious and health reasons...and being hungry is uncomfortable not dangerous...but I do like to bring a little candy for a nice energy and morale boost. This brings me to 1st aid + fire + repair + hydration...these I do consider necessities for any trip into the woods or back-country....and all but the water bottles fit into my pockets so I still have them if I get separated from my pack (which can easily happen in rivers and lakes).

11:01 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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Probably gonna borrow that frozen water bottle trick from ya, Gary. My least favorite part of warm-weather hiking is being stuck with lukewarm water to drink. Not a solution for a multi-day hike, but hey - some cold water's a heck of a lot better than none.

I do a lot of day hiking around here - for as little backcountry as there is in IL, there sure are a lot of day hiking opportunities.

Like most mentioned, though, most of it boils down to how far you'll be hiking, how long you're be out, and where you're going.

The ten essentials are going to cover your bases are far as safety goes.

After you've those, you're adding items for your personal comfort. 

Factor in rest time. Always nice to have a pad or place to sit. 

As of late, I've been packing my ENO hammock with. If the ground's wet or snow-covered, it's a guaranteed dry place to sit. I like it better than a pad and it never touches the ground, gets wet, or gets dirty. In nicer weather, you won't find a better place to lay back and nap. If you're going above treeline, forget I mentioned this.

While you're taking a breather or taking a seat, it's a good time for a snack. No need for meals and a cookset. Individually-wrapped snacks are more than enough. Pick 'em up at a gas station along the way. Can even buy a couple liters of water, while you're there (if ya forget 'em).

And like Jason said - bring a camera. Ain't nothing worse than seeing something picture-perfect and not being able to get it on film. 

All in all? Boils down to how much you need to feel comfortable and safe. 

3:01 a.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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Probably gonna borrow that frozen water bottle trick from ya, Gary. My least favorite part of warm-weather hiking is being stuck with lukewarm water to drink. Not a solution for a multi-day hike, but hey - some cold water's a heck of a lot better than none.

Filling a camelbak full of Ice with some water to fill the spaces works really well for cold water on shorter day hikes.

8:08 a.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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In the high country around Jackson Hole like where I will be back to this summer, there is always snow to add to the cold water as well. I also like to add Gatorade or Tang powders to my water and with added snow later in the day its becomes a Gatorade slurpee.

I agree about the luke warm water effect from when I used to hike in the Tucson area and Grand Canyon where even spring and fall temperatures can reduce the coldest water to untasty when it gets warm!

Nalgene bottles used to be the choice because even when completely full they would expand but not break when frozen, I now use recycled store water bottles fill 90% full before being frozen.

I also always carry a DSLR and my binoculars. This summer I will have  new lenses to capture as much as I can in the 3 months I plan to do nothing but hike,bike and camp around the valley and mountains of Jackson Hole. 

9:14 a.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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thanks guys thats great !

11:38 a.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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That's a bunch of great insight.  john261 - you're in good hands with this bunch.

I have to say, thanks for asking the question.  I think so often people don't ask questions like this, when they really should.  We all started somewhere.  But being in the wilderness, even for just a few short hours, can change on you quickly and being prepared with a few basics can make all the difference.  Until you're 100% comfortable with something wilderness related, I'd say you should keep asking.  I keep asking and I've been doing this since I was 6.

I'd like to leave you with a thought in response to your question.  Joseph Renow made a great point to remember that #11 (Common Sense) is likely the most important item on the list.  I agree.  Lots of others mentioned that they use the 10 essential list as a guide.  I agree.  But there's a reason why Common Sense and using the list as a guide are possible.  It's a familiarity thing.  Joseph's points about not bringing food (for example) only work because he's had enough experience to know that in a pinch he really doesn't need a food source on his back... that a little starvation will be OK.  For me, I tend to get a little hyperglycemic, so it's unwise to not bring food in my case.  Probably the most important reason is that I start to lose my crisp decision-making abilities when the low blood sugar kicks in.  Man, there's a recipe for disaster in the backcountry.  So, what works for him is a poor decision for me.

This brings me to my point about familiarity.  The 10 (11) Essential list is built to make sure you have the basics covered.  If you're familiarity and experience tell you that extra food isn't needed for a day hike, then alter the list accordingly (and so on).  If you don't have the experience to know the answer for certain, make sure to use the list in full.  As was noted: better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.  That said, familiarity starts at home.  If you bring the biggest and most complete first aid kit, but don't know what the contents are or how to use them... it's worthless.  For my Scouts, I have them start their first aid kit with band aids and that's it.  When they can show additional skills, they can add more to it.  Get educated.  REI offers all kinds of free classes every month.  The Mountaineers have many outstanding classes.  There are lots of alpine clubs that have classes.  Get to them and learn why all these details matter!

I can't help thinking about a trip I made in Late September last year.  I had just finished a day of peak bagging and was headed down the last 2 miles of trail when I came across a couple that was headed up the trail.  Their new REI jackets and blue jeans sparkled fresh from the rack.  They looked and smelled brand new.  They asked if they were on the right trail to get to a particular peak.  They were in the right place if they had about 5 hours for the round trip.  It was about an hour from getting dark, and they had no water, no visible flashlights, and no backpacks.  I was glad they were getting out there, but I was marginally concerned for their safety as late September near Mt Rainier is pretty chilly and definitely wet... especially in blue jeans.  I pulled out my map and showed them were they were and hinted at how long it would take me to do that trip.  I think they were getting my message.  I left them with the map... but jeez that was not wise.  It's easy to think you can make the trip by just saying you'll do it.  But getting out there with no gear is a real risk, and their common sense was sputtering on empty - I suspect due to a lack of familiarity.  Please plan ahead.

12:10 p.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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This convo can obviously vary greatly... Being a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) I pretty much always carry a pretty expansive First Aid Kit. When I am out for day hikes, that is when I am expecting to run into the highest number of unprepared, unfit hikers. This is probably the single best time to have Aspirin with you. I'm not going to get into the details of medicinal legality... My point is that this is when you're going to eventually run into people that might, or NEED help. To me, I try to be vigilant about supporting our outdoor community, helping others, and keeping people from playing video games (just kidding about the video games, I'm just terrible at them)!

I don't tend to be too weight concerned when day hiking either, however I just wanted to throw in yet another perspective!

12:23 p.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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The list of ten (or 11) is great, but all of this depends on where you are hiking and how.  If I were on a solo dayhike in rural Alaska I would take VERY different stuff than when I hike around our cabin in the Sierra foothills with my wife. 


And since we hike in unusual places, we rarely meet other hikers...

12:34 p.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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Good point Sean.  I always carry extra band-aids and antibiotic ointment in my FA kit.  I have lost count of the number of times I have came to the aid of others on the trail who needed first aid.  Luckily, it has never been anything major, mostly just cuts and bruises.  I certainly don't mind and sometimes it offers up an opportunity to educate someone for their future trips.  I always tread lightly on that one.

I have seen a lot of accidents happen when people are taking shortcuts on switchbacks.  In high traffic areas I think there should be warning signs telling people to stay on the designated trail instead of making shortcut trails between switchbacks that tear up the slope stabilization nets and create future erosion problems.

1:05 p.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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I always carry the 10 essentials. A good rule of thumb is to ask the question, "Could I survive the night with what I have in my pack?". That doesn't mean taking a sleeping bag and dinner. It does mean, if you are injured, break an ankle, etc. it may be the next day before you are rescued. Bring enough to survive. This will vary between winter and summer, desert or coastal rainforest.

2:27 p.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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That's great I'm overwhelmed with the response I have been hiking for a few years but what's great about trail space you get qualified peoples opinions on all things outdoors

2:43 p.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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If you want to go the bushcraft route on the essentials:

Friend of mine I met on the trail last fall's of this approach. 

Personally, I find the bushcraft guys rely on staying put to survive, while the hikers rely on the ability to continue moving. So long as you can "stay found," I'd say do whatever works best for ya.

Trying to create a "Venn Diagram" compromise between my friend's approach and my own. He wants to do more long-distance hiking, and I want to improve my skill sets.

Nice as being UL is, if you bust an ankle and need to hunker-down, those lightweight trail runners and cuben fiber pack aren't going to be of much use. That realization made me pay closer attention to things like this.

8:05 p.m. on February 7, 2014 (EST)
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The majority of the ten essentials can be packed real small, and weigh next to nothing. I see little to no reason to not have them on you, regardless of your familiarity of the trail, area, condition, etc... I keep all of them, along with some others in a small dry bag and just throw that along with food, clothing dependent on the trip in my bag.

6:51 a.m. on February 8, 2014 (EST)
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If I am going for a day hike my daypack always has the esseentials, plus a few other random items depending on the season. Basically I bring all of my normal backpacking stuff minus the sleeping bags/quilts, hammock, spare clothes and food bag. All of my other items pretty much are always the same and takes up very little space.

Small first aid/repait kit, map and compass, camelbak or water bottles, steripen or sawyer squeeze, headamp, iphone 5, tarp, rain gear, snack type foods, then season specific items such as bug repellant, head net, warm layers , traction aids etc.

5:12 a.m. on February 9, 2014 (EST)
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at the moment my daysack is a  alpkit gourdon 20 £22.50 which is brilliant . in  it at the moment i put a powerplus panther wind up /solar torch a stock first aid kit 25meters of paracord an amk emergency blanket . a 750 mil nalgene hdpe sports bottle a neoprene  light my fire sit mat (which being neoprene can also insulate my water bottle /drinks keeping it cool or hot or wrapped around my camera to protect it against bumps etc a swiss army knife ( the one with the wood saw).i will stop at the local store for food and chocolate etc.  as well in my pack is a OS active map (the waterproof one ) a compass whistle and a garmin etrex 10 and attached to my pack is some ranger beads ( god i love those things ) . i do intend on getting for emergency bivi is a FURTECH BLIZZARD  SLEEPING BAG 350G TOG RATING 9 £28.99 PACKED IN ITS VACUUM SEALED BAG. i cant remember anything else

10:23 p.m. on February 9, 2014 (EST)
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the ten essentials are a given. they are my pack staples. then I will have about three sandwiches, some warm layers and a camera.

7:44 a.m. on February 15, 2014 (EST)
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The majority of my packing depends on where I am going, and what the conditions will be (with a little overcompensation for likely incorrect forecasts!)

Appropriate waterproofs, extra insulation, gloves, hat, navigation, etc are always a given.

What I do always take with me, regardless of the hike is a small organizer I have assembled with some key essentials. I think its a good habit to always keep something like this in your pack that way you never forget it.


  • small blister kit with a variety of bandages and antiseptic wipes, as well as some moleskin and a small roll of bandage tape.
  • a larger role of bandage
  • waterproof matches
  • leatherman multi-tool
  • spork
  • compass
  • emergency blanket
  • a set of long laces (can be used on boots or for tying numerous other things)
  • a headlamp and small handheld flashlight with spare batteries for both
  • a microfibre towel which can be used for many things including first aid if necessary

I tried to buy things that are of good quality but also light and compact, as well as the OR backcountry case which is well though out but very lightweight. I also make a note of any items I may have used such as bandages and make sure to always keep things stocked.


3:22 p.m. on February 15, 2014 (EST)
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I carry the same one TJ.  Very similar contents as well.



6:30 p.m. on February 15, 2014 (EST)
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Looks even better in red!

11:52 a.m. on February 27, 2014 (EST)
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I usually carry the 10 essentials, plus a bunch of other stuff. I tend to bring more than I'll need, but I like to be prepared, and I hate needing something and not having it.

Some extras that I often bring...

- more than 1 fire starting device (fire steel, matches, bic lighter),

- binoculars,

- extra snacks,

- ducts tape,

- first aid kit for my dog,

- blanket and a tarp.

I tend to over pack, and I don't use every item on every trip, but I (or someone in my party) has benefitted from the extra junk I throw in my pack.

January 19, 2020
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