Gives you a basic Grab-n-Go bag.

Whether it’s just a short jaunt in the woods or a longer day-hike, these are things everyone should carry in their day pack. Over-confidence is the bane of many a day-tripper’s journey. The pack should be tailored to your locale. Try to get items that have multiple uses, rather than just one.

Pack choice is personal. I have learned when you go cheap, you get cheap. After researching and using others, I settled on an Osprey Stratos 24. The nice part is it pushes away from your back and has mesh to help avoid that sweat soaking. Note I don’t have stuff hanging all over the outside. It comes with a rain cover. 

I’ve played with this a while in a variety of situations and this is what I ended up with. I’ve got the free slideshow with images of the items mentioned and links later on, but here’s the list.

  1. The equivalent of 4 full 500ml water bottles. More if in hot weather.
  2. Water Purification. Lifestraw or a bottle of purification tablets.
  3. Fire is your friend in a survival situation. I know we’d all like to use that bow and stick, but for emergencies, a lighter is much easier. A plasma lighter is also a flashlight and rechargeable. Stormproof matches in a waterproof container.
  4. Power. Since I list a rechargeable lighter, power becomes an issue. I’ve become a fan of solar, which allows a renewable power source from nature. A small solar power bank is light and in my day pack. You can hang it on the outside of your pack to charge. It will charge your phone and your lighter/flashlight. PS: Don’t forget the cables for phone and lighter!
  5. Food. I carry several power bars. Other, more varied edibles, depending on the walk. This is personal, but have something to eat.
  6. I have an emergency sleeping bag in my day pack and in all our cars. It’s inexpensive, light and small.
  7. 550/parachute cord. Useful in many, many ways.
  8. Leatherman multitool. It gets used every day and I carry it in a sheath on my belt
  9. Besides the light on the plasma lighter, I carry a headlamp. In case you misjudged your hike or there is a delay, a headlamp can help you get back to the trail head after dark.
  10. First Aid Kit. There are plenty of prepared ones you can buy. I tend to personalize and add things, but at least have a basic one.
  11. I recommend adding a quick-clot bandage to your day pack with a splint, and an Israeli combat bandage. I can verify the Quik-Clot works. I carry a Quik Clot bandage in my day pack, on my bike and in our cars.
  12. Hat appropriate for time of year and environment. A wool watch cap for colder environs— most heat escapes through the head. A boonie hat for warmer— keep the sun off, protects your head. I always carry an extra pair of dry socks in a ziplock bag. Pants and long sleeve shirts of a material that dries quickly.
  13. Gloves. Not just for weather but to protect your hands. In the field and on deployments, I always wore gloves.
  14. A survival knife with sharpener. This knife also has a whistle.
  15. A Signal mirror.
  16. You can’t count on the GPS on your phone. Have a physical map of the area you will be hiking in. If you haven’t bought one, download the contour map for your area for free, then print it out, or order the map sheets. I have a separate slideshare about free downloadable maps, how to read them and other pertinent information.
  17. I carry an over-sized waterproof rain jacket in my day pack. It packs very tightly. Also, make sure you have a waterproof cover for your pack (one should come with it).
  18. Sun screen and bug juice can keep an enjoyable hike from turning into a miserable trek.
  19. I usually have my wallet on a day hike, but I also carry $20 in cash a Ziplock bag. I also put biowipes in there just in case.
  20. I carry a SpotX 2 Way Satellite messenging system. I’ve gone many places where there is no cell phone coverage. There are places all over the country, including in the Smoky Mountains, with no cell coverage. I view this as a potentially life-saving investment. Also peace of mind as my family can get hold of me any time and I can update them on my progress.

The contents of my day pack from top left Knife with whistle/sharpener; canteen; rain jacket; (Ziplok extra batteries for headlamp, water purifying tablets, waterproof match cases, small roll duct tape, magnesium fire starter, 550 cord); dog leash; solar battery pack, cables, (Ziplok money, medical tape, biowipes, sun screen); Ziplok (gloves and watch cap); Ziplok (extra socks); bug juice; SpotX with case; plasma ligher/flashlight; headlamp; survival bag; fire starter; survival straw; Quikclot bandage; Ultralight Waterproof Medical Kit 9, stuff with extra stuff; splint.

The compass and mirror are tied off in the front left pocket of the day pack. I carry several power bars in the outside right mesh pocket. I carry a water bottle in the outside left mesh pocket in addition to the canteen inside. Israeli bandage in First Aid kit. My cell phone is in my thigh pocket of my pants. My Leatherman and flashlight on my belt. I clip my Jeep key off to the ring on my pants (always clip you car key somewhere; do not leave loose in your pocket). Hiking boots is personal. I’ve found REI to be very useful in choosing gear. I’ve been a member since before they had physical stores. I cover useful APPs in another slideshow, but I have several good locator ones. Also map apps. I’ve recently begun using the GAIA map App and find it to be the most complete. If you are going out of cell phone range have your map tiles preloaded.

I hope you find this useful. Certain environments will, of course, require you to adjust what you carry. I’m a big fan of checklists, because it sucks to be a couple of miles from the trail head and realize you forgot something. Also, as an added benefit, you now have a basic Grab-n-Go Bag!

Here is the free slideshow that has links to most of the gear.