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What’s In My Day Pack?

by Lisa

The hope for spring is in the air. I’ve seen a few snow drops, and the rainstorms are starting to beat out snowstorms. This time of year gets me in the mood to get hiking. I’m just waiting for the first sunny 50℉ day where I don’t have to bundle up. I’ve been going through my gear while waiting for that day to appear. I thought I’d share with you some of the gear I bring along on every day hike.

All of my youth camping and hiking experiences came from my time in Girl Guides.  I came to live by the official motto of all Scouting organisations: “Be Prepared.”

​I really love my day pack and highly recommend having a comfortable pack for your hikes. I found mine at an REI Garage Sale a few years back and snatched it up as quick as can be. It’s an REI Venturi Pack. It fits 30L of gear which I find is just right for everything I might need to stuff into it. The best thing about it is the floating back, giving me extra space between my back and the pack. No lumpy gear against my back and less sweat too!

Before packing my bag I always do a bit of research. Some of the things I consider are:

  • Weather forecast
  • Trail conditions (Trip reports are great for this!)
  • Remoteness of hike
  • Mileage planned
  • Hike partners

Assuming everything’s looking good for our hike, then I’ll work through my Ten Essentials.

1) Navigation – Having a physical map is really an invaluable tool. My collection of maps is slowly growing to encompass more and more of Washington. If I can’t get a proper fold-out map, then I might take a photocopy from a hiking guide.

2) Sun protection – Sunscreen, sunglasses and lip balm come along on every hike. I also have a bandana I like to wear, plus a wide-brim hat for the sunnier days.

3) Insulation – I live in the Pacific Northwest. Weather can change quickly. Extra layers are a necessity. I bring two extra layers: a lightweight down jacket, and a lightweight raincoat. These always get stuffed into small bags to help keep things organized.

4) Illumination – I keep a small flashlight in my pack all year. If the hike is longer or trail conditions are questionable then I will throw in my headlamp as well.

5) First-aid supplies – I’ve perfected my first aid kit to carry what I might need in an emergency. This always gets thrown in.

6) Fire – My emergency fire supplies are thanks to AceCamp products. I have a fire starter and flame sticks to help get a fire going. When hiking in the winter I will also bring along a small collapsible duff-fed stove.

7) Tools – I have a small multi-tool that stays in my bag at all times. On longer hikes I’ll throw in a pocket knife as well.

8) Nutrition – Food for a regular day hike will usually include a hard-boiled egg, an apple, granola bar, trail mix, cheese and bread. I always throw an energy bar in as extra food as it’s hearty enough to keep you going for miles.

9) Hydration – My water bladder holds 2 liters and in summer months I’ll pack along a bottle of Gatorade. I bring a compact water filter along as well.

10) Emergency shelter – This is one area of the Ten Essentials that I have neglected. I have a space blanket in a larger first-aid kit which comes on group hikes but I’ve never brought along anything more substantial.

While this is just my list of basics, there are a variety Ten Essentials out there. Have a look at this comprehensive Guide to Building a Survival Kit for a few more ideas and alternatives.

There are a few extra items beyond the Ten Essentials that can be nice to have. For most of my hikes, that includes a trowel with TP and a foam seat cushion. For added luxury I’ve got a lightweight stowaway ground cloth.

I try to do a few hikes in the shoulder season which means I have a good chance of getting into the snow. Trail crampons and gaiters get added to the pile.

Finally I bring a real camera along with me on most hikes. ​I bought an Olympus Tough camera a few years back. It’s durable, compact, and waterproof.

All in all it’s really not that much gear, especially when I compare it with what comes along for backpacking trips. It’s my belief that it’s worth adding a pound or two. You’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re set for most any situation the trail will throw at you.

So, what are some essentials in your daypack? Do you carry the Ten Essentials on every trip or do you have some variations?

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