What’s In Your Daypack?

That’s me and my daypack above, and my dog, which I don’t typically add to my daypack; unless of course your passing an owl in a slot canyon or walking through a grove of Cholla. I guess technically I shouldn’t say it’s MY pack, I married into it. I’m not sure why it’s been my favorite over the past 10 years. It’s a camelback but I never put the bladder in it, I’m not a fan of the outer strapping system and it’s not like it’s THAT comfortable…guess I’ve never really thought about getting a new one. I guess there’s just something to be said for well-worn gear?

But that’s not really the point of the post, the point is what’s IN the daypack. I take this pack with me every time I embark on a day hike with the kids, and when I say day hike I’m talking 3 miles max.

For the sake of ease there are several items that stay in the pack. At first glance it looks like a lot, but most of it you can fit in a small Pack-It Sac.

  1. Toilet paper – Snotty noses and bathroom breaks.
  2. Dog poop bags – For dog poop as well as bathroom break TP or used diapers.
  3. Diapers
  4. Bum wipes – Obviously for bums, also for hand wiping after holding a grasshopper and it spits up on you, etc…
  5. Knife – Because every pack needs a knife.
  6. Suckers – ‘Incentives’ for when your child is toooo tiiiiirrrreeed to go on.
  7. Small first aid kit10 Bandages, 2 Gauze Pads, 4 Alcohol Wipes, 2 Triple Antibiotic Ointments, 2 Sting Relief Towelletes, 2 Antimicrobial Towelettes, 1 small roll athletic tape.
  8. Bandana – Forgot a hair thing, forgot TP, need a tourniquet, babies bald head getting sunburned… always handy!
  9. Tweezers – Originally added so I could collect the Mutillids (Velvet Ants) Joe studied for his PhD, these have also come in handy far too many times for slivers in both children and dogs.
  10. Duct Tape – Take some off a your big roll and wrap some around a pencil or stick, comes in so handy it deserves a post all it’s own.
  11. Plastic vial – For catching and observing bug specimens.
  12. Trowel shovel – For digging catholes, or in our case it mostly gets used for just plain old fashion digging.
  13. Sunscreen

Then there are the items I always add to the pack prior to leaving the house:

  1. Snacks – Favorites include: granola bars, dried fruit, cheese, crackers.
  2. Water
  3. Jacket or long sleeve shirts – Important in all seasons for sun exposure of cold weather. Also, adult-size layers work well for bum changing blankets.
  4. Sun hats
  5. Camera – I don’t usually take my big SLR when it’s just me and the kids, not enough space/hands so I pack a small point and shoot. Ari ends up using it more than I do.

And depending on the ‘adventure’ these items might make it in as well:

  1. Magnifying lens
  2. Ergo Baby Carrier – Just incase I want to hike over a mile and know I’ll end up carrying Isaac.
  3. Binoculars
  4. Toy trucks – Particularly important when hiking to sand dunes.
  5. Small bug net

I try not to have much of a goal in mind as far as length, sometimes we only make it 500 feet, and that’s ok! Usually it’s because there were some pretty important distractions; a rock to climb, a bug to catch, birds to watch, ant hill to observe, a stick that looks like a gun, monsters that need to be taken care of… The primary goal is just being out, so go for quality over quantity and just enjoy playing in the dirt.

So, what’s in YOUR daypack? Did I miss anything?

14 Comments so far

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  1. Andree

    Kind of an odd one, but we keep a maxi-pad in the first aid kit. GREAT for larger ouchies that might bleed a lot (which hopefully won’t happen). The absorbency keeps things from looking like a scary mess!

    • Andree – Thats a good idea! I’m adding that to my kit right now in hopes that I never have to use it.

  2. I was just going to e-mail you and ask for some advice about this! Specifically, I want to know how you handle food for hiking and camping. I hate the mental preparation of that (well, I hate it even when I’m home…) and know you probably have it down to an art by now. I wish we could just survive on granola bars and water, you know?

    • Liz. I have a blog post in the works about this, I would love to hear your questions in advance so I can be sure to cover all my bases.

  3. Super helpful, even for singles. I don’t have kids (I’m not even married) but I love to get out and hike for a day. When Seth and I get out and get going we can cover some serious distance. I don’t know how many times I’ve wished i had a pair of tweezers, food, water, or a bandana. Great suggestions. This had inspired me to get a day pack and keep it locked and loaded. Photographing mule deer just got much safer. Thanks Beeze.

  4. P.s. I’m defiantly going to keep the toy trucks on my list. Never know when I’m going to find the random sand dune.

  5. C Wilson

    Headlamps. You never know when you might need one.

    Also, a laminated card with pictures of local animal tracks, plants, flowers, etc. My kids love looking stuff up and it’s small enough to not add noticeable weight.

    And I like to leave the empty water bottles in the pack in-between hikes. Makes them easier to find and easy to remember!

    Awesome posts, Lindsey. I love them.

    • Ohhh Chas, you don’t happen to have a digital copy of those anywhere do you? I’d love to make some.

  6. Beth

    I have a 9 month old and I always need an extra sippy cup in the pack because when she gets fussy I can make her a milk cup enroute

    • Beth – This is something I packed when my kids were small but forgot to mention, since I don’t currently have a baby. VERY important. Thanks!!

  7. First…just found your blog today, via The Campy Mom, and I love it! New fan :)

    I live in Western Colorado. On a recent “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” presentation, some local search and rescue people made a “Hug a Tree if you get lost” presentation to the kids. And they gave them each 2 things for camping/hiking to keep with them: A whistle, and a large orange garbage bag (although I’m not sure where you’d purchase that?). Both for if they get lost. The garbage bag is to tear a face hole at the bottom, then place over their entire head/body and wear as a poncho while they sit at the base of a tree waiting… protects from elements, and helps keep them warm at night.

    Cool, huh?

    I’ll be back! So nice to find you… :)

  8. I always wish I had a plastic Target bag for collecting trash (ours or stuff you find on the trail). Love your site — awesome advice!

    • Hollow Squirrel – Thanks for the compliment on the site. A plastic bag is a great addition, it’s multifunctional as well… Thanks!

  9. […] What’s in your daypack? (a list of things I bring on every outdoor outing) […]


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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