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Photo by Gail Gilbert

What’s in my Daypack?

I’ve had a few requests to see what type of daypack I carry on my hikes and what I put in it. I haven’t cleaned mine out for a year or so, so let’s discover together what I have in there.

Photo by Gail Gilbert

Pack:  I have several packs but this Osprey Manta 36 is what I have been using for day hikes, although I have been carrying a fanny pack on shorter hikes. I had a similar pack before this Osprey that I just plain wore out. The pack has an integrated 100 liter hydration reservoir and the hip belt is more like a backpack type belt, allowing me to adjust the pack so the weight rides on my hip bones instead of my back. It has a mesh back panel and this helps ventilate and wick the sweat off of my back when I am hiking. I like the pocket configurations, with the side pockets on the belt where I can put some things within easy reach and there are nice organization pockets and dividers inside.

The Outside of My Osprey Manta 26 Pack

The Back of My Osprey Manta 26 Pack


My pack also has ways that I can easily attach what I call modules such as my fishing gear, dog gear or snowshoes. If I am hiking a short distance between lakes, I can even put my fishing pole in one of the areas without unrigging it.

Snowshoes in my Pack (Photo by Gail Gilbert)

Fishing Pole in my Pack (Photo by Gail Gilbert)


Most of my hiking buddies use a different brand and type of daypack. This is really an individual choice that I think you need to touch, feel and try on to get the right one for you.

Photo by Gail Gilbert



You may not realize it but daypacks, just like backpacks, come in different sizes, weights and organization options. Some are made to fit a hydration bladder and some have bigger outside pockets to accommodate carrying your water in bottles. If you are new to getting a daypack, I highly recommend that you go into a store such as REI that can assist you with getting a pack that fits your torso and needs.

Stuff: I carry alot of stuff, too much. I took everything out on the floor so you can see.

Osprey 3 Liter Hydration Reservoir (Photo Courtesy Osprey)

Water: My Osprey came with a 3 Liter hydration reservoir, which is about 100 ounces but I don’t always fill it completely up, depending on how hot it is and how much I think I will drink. It has a magnetic connection on the chest strap that makes it easy to get a drink when I need it and without stopping. I also bring a backup water purification of iodine tablets. Sometimes I carry my Lifestraw.

Raingear: I always have my raingear at the bottom of the pack. They are really lightweight rainpants and a rainjacket. They serve the obvious purpose to keep me dry when it is raining but they can also act as a second layer when it is cold and windy or I get stuck out later into the night than anticipated. I cram them into a compression sack.

Headlamp: I carry a headlamp with spare batteries, plus spares for my GPS and backup lighting source of a mini flashlight.

Head and face protection:

Hat: I always wear a hat but it depends on the weather. The wider brim hat has a chin strap so works better for windy weather or the sun blazing off of snow.

Sunglasses: I always have my Julbo sunglasses with me and wear them when it is sunny or the sun reflecting off of things. They also have a strap to secure them to my head or let them hang on my neck when not wearing. Mine have some wrap around eye protection on the side of the lens.

I also keep lightweight fleece gloves, buff and a fleece headband that covers my ears in my pack. The buff has a million uses, including making it into a beanie hat and neck protection from wind or sun. I like to wear my ballcap if it is going to stay on my head, so the fleece headband provides a bit of warmth for my ears on cold mornings.

Photo by Gail Gilbert



Mosquito stuff: If I am expecting mosquitos, I will spray down at the car before hitting the trail. I keep a larger sized spray can that goes in the bear box while I am hiking. I carry a small squirt bug spray in my pack and also carry a mosquito net that goes over my head in my pack.

Sunscreen: I always wear sunscreen on my face, neck and back of my neck. I put it on before I leave the house. But I am not so good about the rest of my exposed parts. I carry a small tube of of sunscreen that comes in handy when I strip down a layer when things get warm, and sometimes I remember to put it on. I also carry a lip balm with sunscreen in it in my pocket and a spare in my pack.

Food: Food is important to me because I like to eat. I keep my lunch and snacks in a drawstring pouch. I also carry some extra stuff like peanut butter and KIND Bars in case I get stuck out and need an unplanned meal. I have no idea why I have so many shotbloks in my goodie bag but on challenging hikes, I try and take some of these mid morning and afternoon.

If it is a really hot day, I may bring a bottle of Gatorade type drink to replenish electrolytes, sodium and potassium. Speaking of food, I almost always eat a banana before starting out because I think it is a very good way of getting some of that potassium in my system.

I bring different things for lunch depending on my mood and what is in the fridge. It may be a peanut butter and honey sandwich or cheese, smoked salmon and crackers. I also bring a fruit like an apple, tangerines or orange. I have been known to bring some sugar snap peas if I have them or sliced cucumbers from the garden in the summer. I almost always have a KIND Bar or something like that. My current favorite new finds are Nii and Tahoe Bars.

Map, compass and GPS: I pretty much carry all 3. My GPS is an older one, a Garmin 60CSx. I also wear a Fitbit, currently a Charge 2. I like to download our hikes, look at the stats and pull them up when contemplating hikes. I use MapSource, an old Garmin program that is no longer supported. I also use BaseCamp and download my hikes to Garmin Connect. I usually preload a previous track and maps for the hike and may throw a few waypoints in for reference. I don’t really plan a route in to a hike but may shoot my waypoints periodically when heading cross country. I carry a topog map in a waterproof case and if I am in an area that I don’t know the route in perfectly, I will also make a copy of that area off of my GPS Program with waypoints and keep it in my pocket.

Communication: Someone in our hiking group always has their phone with them but we never count on it working most of the places where we go. Sometimes we get on top of a high spot and can get out.

Identification: I carry a small billfold with my Park Pass, a copy of my driver’s license in it, a copy of my insurance card, $20 and a couple of business cards.

Toilet paper: I have a system where I use two ziplock bags with the plan of putting the used TP in one of them to bring out with me. I also have a bandana attached to my pack that can serve many purposes, including backup TP.


Glasses: If I am going to look at detailed information on my GPS, I need my glasses and carry them in a hard case so they don’t get squished. Sometimes I pretend like I don’t need them.




Fire starter: I carry a cigarette lighter, waterproof matches and a package of Clean Flame’s Rapid Fire starter.


First Aid Kit: I have a first aid kit that I have put together myself. It is probably more than most folks carry but it is the firefighter in me I guess. The items that get used the most are bandaids, neosporin, moleskin and little multipurpose tool. I have some extra items in my first aid kit that most folks probably wouldn’t need or carry but I like having it just in case. I am a big fan of Vetrap. It is just an all purpose thing and sort of like a lightweight ace bandage that sticks to itself. A couple of packages of Purrell hand sanitizer are also tossed in.








Pen: I bring a felt tip pen wrapped with duct tape and Tear-Aid wrapped around it. I used to have a pencil in here but don’t know what happened to it. Duct tape is amazing stuff and I have used it for many things. A few years back, we ran across a guy on a hike that had his soles separate from his boots, so I taped him up to make it out. Turns out he bought the boots on EBay and never tried them out before going on his hike. Not the most brilliant move but glad to help a little. I like this Tear-Aid and have used it camping or backpacking but not on day hikes but I carry it.

Camera: I carry a small point & shoot camera in a case with an extra battery and flash card. I am currently using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 but am daydreaming about getting a new camera.

Extra stuff: I carry a Sol Bivvy, which is a really lightweight shelter kind of like a sleeping bag, that is lined with reflective material. I also carry a really lightweight yellow tarp. I have a loud whistle that can be used in an emergency to try and signal my location. I have a little thermometer attached to my pack. When I wonder what the temperature is, now I know!

I carry some fun things like my anemometer. I’m kind of a weather nut and sometimes that wind can howl in places we go. We have stood up on high spots and pondered how fast that wind is moving, so now I know. I also have a Finger Pulse Oximeter that measures my blood oxygen saturation level. I know that one will sound weird to most folks but it is fun for me.

Depending on the time of the year, I may carry my microspikes or a Nanopuff on the back of my pack. When we stop for lunch, it can get a bit cool and I can put my puff on or layer it under my shell for extra warmth. I keep it in a compression sack attached to the back of my pack which make it easier for me to get to it without having to dig in the pack.

I usually also carry a large garbage bag, which can be used as a seat on wet ground while using my pack as a pillow or back rest.

Hope this helped some and please remember that I carry way more than most people I know. Happy hiking!!

Photo by Keith Sauer

If you plan on hiking, your should at least carry what are known as the Ten Essentials. I have included a link at the end from REI on these Ten Essentials, along with other items to consider.

Updated Ten Essential “Systems”

  1. Navigation (map and compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter

Here are a few other add-ons to consider:

Insect repellent: Your most effective options are: lotion or spray repellents containing DEET or picaridin, and/or clothing that has been treated with permethrin.

Whistle: For summoning help, it will outlast your vocal cords.

Ice axe: For crossing snow fields.

Personal locator beacon (PLB): A PLB can help search-and-rescue workers find you in an emergency.

Communication device: Two-way radios, a cell phone or a satellite telephone can add a measure of safety in many situations.

Signaling device: As noted earlier, some compasses come with sighting mirrors. If yours does not, consider taking a small mirror to signal rescuers in an emergency.

Knowledge: Having items in your pack has no value unless you understand how to use them. As one search-and-rescue leader told us, “People talk about the Ten Essentials, but the most important essential is between your ears.”


REI Ten Essentials

Osprey Manta 36

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