If you asked me 2 years ago what was in my day pack I would have chuckled. I typically pulled my gear together just prior to the trip. The process wasn't a particularly efficient solution but it worked for me. Occasionally, I'd find myself with too much gear or worse than that I'd forget something. Ultimately, day hikes are just not that critical so it was never really a problem. Now that we have a 2 year old and a 2 month old around the house, I have significantly less free time. I've noticed that this keeps me from getting ready for my longer trips until the dead last minute which can be a little stressful. I'm an analytical guy so after noticing that getting ready for trips was beginning to be no fun I changed the process. The biggest improvement? Keeping my base gear in a pack and ready to go. Simple & effective. So now the big question... What's in there, Don?
I keep the day pack loaded with the essentials to get through an unintended overnight.That strategy is more of an outcome of having the core prepared for packing for bigger trips but its a nice benefit. In short, there's minimal shelter, limited food, water treatment, first aid, fire starting capabilities and a few personal conveniences.
This is what I carry - revel in the brilliance
- Food - In this case, ramen with the spice pack replaced by miso, a block of dark chocolate, a pack of instant grits and some Starbucks instant coffee.
- Wet Wipes - Becoming a dad has taught me the wonders of these.
- Cook kit - My go-to kit is the Trapper mug paired with a Caldera Cone system (more detail on that below) & a few ounces of Heet fuel.
- Utensils - Ti spoon & free chopsticks because its just not proper to eat ramen with a spoon. ;) They're resting on a neoprene sunglasses case I use to protect my phone when its in the pack.
- Shelter - MLD tarp packs small and light. Perfect shelter from unexpected rain showers.
- Essentials - Mini compass, mini whistle & eLite headlamp.
- Stakes - To stake things.
- Water treatment - Aquamira Frontier Pro & rolled up 1L Platypus.
- Miscellaneous - MSR towel & 50ft of reflective line stored in my rock bag.
- First Aid - more detail on that below.
- Miscellaneous conveniences - more detail on that below
Trail Designs Caldera Cone & Trapper mug
My first aid kit is pretty simple and I assembled it myself. I keep it in a snack sized ziplock bag. Most commercially available systems are expensive and seem to have either too much or too little. Example: blister treatment. Most of the items in the photo are self explanatory. Let me know if you are interested in a little more detail.
I keep a few conveniences / essentials in a Granite Gear silnyl envelope. From left to right: firestarter packets, Rite In The Rain notebook, pencil (because pens always seem to dry up), mirror, suntan lotion & Dr. Bronners in mini-droppers, the greatest knife on earth & toothbrush / toothpaste.
Most important of all is to remember that there's no right or wrong answer. I had a lot of help putting the photos for this post together from Kate. When I asked her what her essential gear list looked like I got a radically different answer (see photo below). Ultimately, its all about priorities and experience.
So now the question is... What do you carry in your pack?
Kate and her essentials - Its a very princess themed pack but I'm still proud. She's chosing UL princesses at least!