A short jaunt in the woods or desert or mountains can quickly turn tragic, especially if we are not prepared. There are key items we all should carry in our day pack. As an added bonus, if we have them, we also have a basic Grab-N-Go bag! i include links.
20 Things You Should Have In Your Day Pack-- making it a basic Grab-n-Go bag
In Their Day Pack
(which also makes it a
basic Grab-n-Go bag!)
Whether it’s just a short jaunt in the woods or a longer
day-hike, these are things everyone should carry in
their day pack.
Over-confidence is the bane of many a day-trippers
The pack should be tailored to your locale.
With these items, your day pack can also serve as a
basic Grab-n-Go bag in an emergency.
If you leave it in your vehicle, you have it wherever
Pack choice is personal. I have learned when you go
cheap, you get cheap. After researching and using
others, I settled on an Osprey Stratos 24. The nice
part is it pushes away from your back and has mesh
to help avoid that back sweat soaking. Note I don’t
have stuff hanging all over the outside which can get
caught up on things. It comes with a rain cover.
The equivalent of 4 full 500ml
More if in hot weather.
Mine is in the green canteen and
I put a water bottle in one of the
side, outside mesh pockets.
Lifestraw or a bottle of purification tablets.
Click on images below for links.
Fire is your friend in a survival situation. I know we’d all like to
use that bow and stick, but for emergencies, a lighter is much
The plasma lighter on the left is also a flashlight and
Stormproof matches in a waterproof container.
Click on images below.
Lighters and Matches
Since I list a rechargeable lighter on the previous page, power becomes
an issue. I’ve become a fan of solar, which allows a renewable power
source from nature.
The small solar power bank on the left is light. You can hang it on the
outside of your pack to charge. It will charge your phone and your
The more powerful one on the right is heavier. It’s attacked by velcro to
my Jeep dashboard.
PS: Don’t forget the cables for phone and lighter!
I carry several power bars.
Other, more varied
edibles, depending on the
This is personal, but have
something to eat. You
could put emergency
rations in but they tend to
I have the emergency sleeping bag below in my day pack
and in all our cars. It’s inexpensive, light and small.
550/parachute cord. The latter is useful in many, many
Click on images.
Shelter and Rope
I always have the one on the left on my belt along with
the single battery flashlight. It gets used every day.
The flashlight is linked next.
Besides the light on plasma lighter, I carry a headlamp.
In case you misjudged your hike or there is a delay, a
headlamp can help you get back to the trail head after dark.
The one on the left is rechargeable and in my bike bag.
The headlamp in the middle is battery powered and in my day
I also carry the small single battery flashlight in my Leatherman
Click on images.
There are plenty of prepared ones you can buy.
Below on the left is the one I have in my day pack.
I tend to personalize and add things, but at least have a
basic one. Mine is actually a 9, supplemented, so
consider the one on the right which is more complete.
Click on image for link.
First Aid Kit
I recommend adding a quick-clot bandage to your day
pack with a splint, and an Israeli combat bandage. I can
verify the Quik-Clot works. I carry a Quik Clot bandage
in my day pack, on my bike and in our cars.
The one on the right contains more (tourniquet, chest
seal, medical scissors) perhaps for your GnG bag and
Appropriate for time of year and environment.
I always carry an extra pair of dry socks in a ziplock
Pants and long sleeve shirts of a material that dries
A wool cap for colder environs— most heat escapes
through the head.
A boonie hat for warmer— keep the sun off, protects
Not just for weather but to protect your hands.
In the field and on deployments, I always wore gloves.
The ones on the left are very light and touchscreen.
They provide some protection but little warmth.
The ones on the right are touchscreen and provide
A survival knife with sharpener. This knife also has a
A Signal mirror.
I have both in my day pack.
. Click on images.
Knife, Whistle, Signal
You can’t count on the GPS on your phone.
Have a physical map of the area you will be hiking in.
If you haven’t bought one, download the contour map for
your area for free, then print it out, or order the map sheets.
I have a separate slideshare (linked at end) about free
downloadable maps, how to read them and other pertinent
I remember running to the top of Monadnock in my younger
Map and Compass
There are several topo map Apps you can get. I’ve used a
number over the years but the best one I’ve found is
Gaia. The basic app is free and then there are two levels
of membership. The premium, which is discounted 20%
via my affiliate link, is $32 for a year but for the number
and types of maps you get, it is definitely worth it. One
useful thing to using any map app is to download the map
tiles you want to use beforehand (when you’re out in the
wilds with no signal) and you learn how to use the app.
They also send interesting email updates on various
outdoor activities that are very informative from outdoor
I carry an over-sized waterproof rain jacket in my day
pack. It packs very tightly in a stuff sack.
Also, make sure you have a waterproof cover for your
pack (one should come with it).
Sun screen and bug juice can keep an enjoyable hike
from turning into a miserable trek.
Rain Jacket, Sun Screen
and Bug Juice
I usually have my wallet on a day hike, but I also carry
$20 in cash a Ziplock bag. I also put cleaning wipes in
there just in case.
Money, ID, Medical Info,
and Cleaning Wipes
I carry a SpotX 2 Way Satellite
I’ve gone many places where there is no
cell phone coverage.
There are places all over the country,
including in the Smoky Mountains, with
no cell coverage. I view this as a
potentially life-saving investment.
It is very light and I recharge it every
Sunday as part of my routine.
Make sure you carry a recharging cable
so you can hook it to the small solar if
Also peace of mind as my family can get
hold of me any time and I can update
them on my progress.
The contents of my day pack
from top left
Knife with whistle/sharpener;
canteen; rain jacket; (Ziplok
extra batteries for headlamp,
water purifying tablets,
waterproof match cases, small
roll duct tape, magnesium fire
starter, 550 cord);
dog leash; solar battery pack,
cables, (Ziplok money, medical
tape, biowipes, sun screen);
Ziplok (gloves and watch cap);
Ziplok (extra socks); bug juice;
SpotX with case; plasma
fire starter; survival straw;
Ultralight Waterproof Medical
Kit 9, stuff with extra stuff;
The compass and mirror are tied off in the front left pocket of the
day pack. I carry several power bars in the outside right mesh
I carry a water bottle in the outside left mesh pocket in addition to
the canteen inside. Israeli bandage in First Aid kit.
My cell phone is in my thigh pocket of my pants that Velcro’s shut.
My leatherman and flashlight on my belt.
I clip my Jeep key off to the ring on my pants (always clip you car
key somewhere; do not leave loose in your pocket).
Hiking boots is personal. I’ve found REI to be very useful in
choosing gear. I’ve been a member since before they had
physical stores. The people working there can recommend what
you should have.
I cover useful APPs in another slideshow, but I have several good
locator ones. Also map apps. I’ve recently begun using the GAIA
map App and find it to be the most complete. If you are going out
of cell phone range have you map tiles preloaded.
Emergency sleeping bag
First Aid Kit/QuikClot
Watch cap/boonie hat
I hope you find this useful.
Certain environments will, of course, require you to
adjust what you carry.
I’m a big fan of checklists, because it sucks to be a
couple of miles from the trail head and realize you
Also, as an added benefit, you now have a basic
More Free Information
I constantly update free, downloadable
slideshows like this on my web site for
preparation and survival and other topics.
I also have YouTube Survival videos. HERE
Also, I conduct Area Study workshops for
those interested in properly preparing for
their specific circumstances.
The guide on the left is the complete preparation and
survival guide. The one on the right is a pocket-size
manual with just the survival portion. Useful in your Grab-
n-Go bag, car and kitchen drawer.
New York Times bestselling author, is a graduate of West
Point and former Green Beret. He’s had over 80 books
published, including the #1 bestselling series Green Berets,
Time Patrol, Area 51, and Atlantis. He’s sold over 5 million
books. He was born in the Bronx and has traveled the world.
He’s lived on an island off the east coast, an island off the
west coast, in the Rocky Mountains, the Smoky Mountains
and other places, including time in East Asia studying martial
He was an instructor and course developer/writer for years
at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School which trains
Green Berets and also runs the SERE school:
Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape.