Every camper and hiker should have a daypack but knowing where to start and what to include in yours can be a challenge. To help you out, we’ve outlined out 11 Must-Haves in your daypack that should be definitely be in yours the next time you venture out. Ideally, you want to build your daypack and keep everything you pack dedicated to the pack itself. This will allow you to keep you pack constantly stocked and you won’t need to repurpose items between your campsite and what goes in your bag.
As a daypack, you aren’t going to need a monstrous pack. Something around 2,000 cu. in. will do the job nicely. Comfort is key so do your research. We suggest looking at daypacks with multiple compartments that are functional. This way everything has a place and you don’t have to dig through the main compartment searching blindly in an attempt to find the one thing you are looking for. Somehow what you need always ends up on the bottom of the pack.
Knife or Multitool
This should be near the top of your list in terms of importance. A quality multitool serves a number of roles when hiking from quick repairs to equipment to more serious survival situations. We like to pack a dedicated knife and a separate multitool. They take up a limited amount of space and a quality knife can cut circles around a traditional multitool blade.
If you plan on cooking food at your destination, or for emergency purposes, a quality lighter is an absolute must. We might be biased when it comes to quality lighters and their importance when outdoors, especially our Windproof Lighters, but keeping one in your daypack for emergency purposes alone is more than enough reason to pack one. Then you factor in the ability to cook a hot meal for yourself at the end of a long hike, you’ll never leave home without it.
Basic First Aid/Emergency Kit
Again, this one is a no-brainer but having the correct items in your kit is key. We like to cover everything from bumps and bruises to more serious medical situations like splints and medication. Ant-itch creme or spray from poison ivy or bug bites/stings is something that many hikers forget to pack but they are probably the most needed. You can buy pre-made first aid and emergency kits but try making your own. You’ll save a few bucks and you’ll know exactly what’s in it if you happen to need it. Make sure to include basic items such as bandages, tape, dressing, ointments, medications, a small splint, instant ice packs, and safety pins amongst a host of other items.
Sometimes it takes longer to get back to camp than you planned. Don’t get caught after dark without proper illumination. A headlamp will free your hands without sacrificing brightness. There are headlamps on the market that are pushing 500 lumens+ so pick your poison. If your headlamp takes batteries, you guessed it, pack extras. If it’s rechargeable, make sure it has a full charge before heading out.
Beyond the first you think about when hearing baby wipes, they actually serve a multitude of purposes. Foremost of which is wet cloth to freshen yourself up. It works twofold by cleaning your skin and the dampness helps cool you down as the residue evaporates.
One of the most unpacked items on our list is also one of the most needed. Simply put, there are bugs in nature. Some of which sting and bite. Don’t spend your day on the trail swatting mosquitoes and nursing bites.
Food and Water
Pack food that has a long shelf life. Energy bars, beef jerky, and nuts are great options. Bring at least a liter of water. Try filling the bottle half-way, freeze it overnight, and fill the rest with water when you head out for cold water all day.
Weather is fickle and can change on a dime. You don’t want to be walking back to camp or your vehicle soaking wet and cold. Get a rain jacket that is packable and lightweight. Depending on the time of year you are camping or hiking, you probably won’t need one with a ton of insulation but plan accordingly if you are out in colder weather.
Sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen are obvious items here. One item that is often forgotten is chapstick. The mix of dry air and sunshine is a lip-killer. Plus, it works great for an emergency fire starter. The oils in the chapstick allow it to burn low and for an extended period of time. Win, win.
Know where you are going. If hiking in a state or national park, the trailhead will normally have a map and trail guide for your convenience. There are also mobile apps that work well for tracking your progress and location via GPS. Our advice is to take a paper map with you, even if you plan on using your smartphone. If you run into spotty service, or no service at all, having an actual map/trail guide will save the day.
Multifunctional Watch or Armband