You’re not always hiking and backpacking, as much as you wish you were. What’s in the day bag – your day bag – the one that gets you from home to work to the trail, or from kids to soccer to weekend getaway, that makes it easy to move from here to there. Here’s another in our series from SBM contributors that answers the question. So what’s in your day bag?


Tell us about your survival kit 


Whether hiking, camping, or climbing at the crag or in the alpine, the 10 essentials I’ve listed below always make their way into the appropriate day bag for the adventure. For this reason, I keep the bulk of them (minus some obvious larger, more fluid items) in a single plastic bag that gets tossed from one pack to another depending on the activity.The more obvious items that aren’t included in the little grab bag are my Camelbak with 1.5 – 3L of water, my dog’s bowl with food and treats and of course the Green Trails Maps, which I switch out depending on where we’re headed. I’ll pick up new knives here and there or add sunscreen and toiletries if I’m feeling like spoiling myself with some comforts but most of the time I’m confident with just tossing this bag in a pack pocket.

What are your 10 essentials?

  1. Pocket knife- as light and sharp as possible. Right now that’s the ultralight 27 gram stainless steel pocket knife from Baledeo
  2. Black Diamond headlamp with an extra three AAA batteries
  3. A Bic Lighter- because you never know
  4. Climbers tape- great as make-shift bandages for minor cuts and even more severe lacerations. This stuff also burns really well and seconds as my fire-starter
  5. First Aid Kit- contents (antiseptic, alcohol, bandages, painkillers and allergy medicine) loose in a plastic bag with the addition of Chlorine Dioxide Tablets in the event I need to decontaminate some drinking water
  6. A Green Trails Map and Compass – If you live in Washington, don’t take off into the mountains without the Green Trails Map of the area. It can get you to the trail, keep you on it, and teach you to identify the landmarks around you and your position. I have a stack of them, and I’ll often pick a trail or peak off one of them at random to explore. A great way to study an area before heading out. For a compass I have the Silva Ranger. On most outings I find the compass to be more of a toy than a necessity but I’d also never want to get lost without one.
  7. Survival Blanket- 50 uses
  8. A bandanna- probably more than 50 uses
  9. Cell Phone- It’s incredible some of the places you can get cell phone reception these days. To leave your cell phone at home would be irresponsible in most cases. Granted, you should keep your texting, tweeting and Facebooking to a minimum (not at all) but why find yourself injured and cut off from the world in a place where you could easily use full-bars to call help just because of your nostalgia for what could be considered wilderness before cell phones.
  10. All things dog- I take my black lab/healer mix Ruca with me everywhere, so I have a little go bag for her too. Silverfoot has an awesome collapsible dog bowl that I’ve been using for years. I fill it with food and some treats. The waterproof material also holds water so I add a ration for her to my Camelbak. I also throw in some climber’s balm for her paws. On rockier trails her pads will dry, crack and get chewed up pretty fast and we’ve found that the balm moistens them up and gives her some minor relief.



What are the most frequently used items in your day bag?

The maps are indispensable and I find myself looking over them at home just as much as I use them in the hills. I love knowing where I am and being able to identify the peaks and bodies of water around me. Not only is this essential for navigation in the mountains but it’s also extremely enjoyable to learn as much as possible about an area and cultivate ideas for other adventures.

If you could add one more thing what would it be?

I just realized that I need to add some cordelette to this kit. I have plenty in my climbing bag, but it rarely makes its way into my day pack. Being such a versatile and ultralight tool, there is no reason a good cord should be left behind. 

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