If you look at your list of backpacking equipment, it breaks down into relatively few items grouped by activity: There are shelter items which will range from a tent to a simple tarp or hammock. Sleeping items may include a sleeping bag or quilt, bag liner  and a pad of some sort, either inflatable or otherwise.  For cooking you will include a stove, fuel, cooking pot, a cup and a spoon and a food bag. Finally, clothing will be customized to suit the season.

The list of individual items, however, gets longer when you start to consider all of the small items you bring along.

Why do we have these things?  Typically it is because at some time in our experience, we have wished we had X-object, and it wasn’t there.

Good example: Try doing anything without duct tape!

This is where the ditty bag comes in. I use a nylon zip top bag (in my case a medium Outdoor Research product) with all items inside in clear zip locks. For tiny zip lock bags to hold small items (such as pills or AAA batteries), I go to the craft section of my local dollar store. The bag then goes with me into my tent at night.

The items I carry break out into three categories: Hygiene and health, repair and miscellaneous.

  1. Hygiene and Health
  • Small first aid kit containg antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, alcohol pads, anti-diarrhea, antacid, sunscreen, sting relief, moleskin, band aids, surgical tape (I wrap some around a small dowel to avoid the whole roll), small wound dressing pad and steri-strips.
  • Toothbrush and paste. I have tried to make dried paste dots many times, but haven’t mastered it, so I use a small travel tube. Folklore says to saw the handle off your toothbrush if you are a weight weenie.
  • Toilet paper. Pull the tube out of a half-used roll, then flatten.
  • Wet wipes (separately zip-locked and in the same bag as the toilet paper along with the antibiotic ointment)
  • Water purifying tabs
  • Liquid soap (in a small drop bottle)
  • Ear plugs. For others – I snore.

Ditty bag 2

  1. Repair
  • Patch kit for pad & a few squares of nylon
  • Crazy glue
  • Tenacious tape
  • Cord locks
  • Pencil (a 4.5 cm stump with eraser)
  • Paper

I also roll 6 or so metres of duct tape onto one of my hiking poles.

Ditty bag 3

  1. Miscellaneous
  • Compass. Mine has a mirror so I can see how terrible I look after a week out.
  • Headlamp
  • Spare batteries (I try to use the same batteries for all lighting)
  • Small lighter (in addition to the one in my cook kit)
  • Windproof matches
  • Small knife (Leatherman Style). I look for scissors on a knife.
  • 10 metres of 2.5mm paracord
  • Sil nylon throw bag (for hanging food)
  • Pencil flare gun with flares
  • Money and I.D
  • Book / glasses

Ditty bag 4

Total weight:  869 gms


Your ditty bag will include some of the same items and, no doubt, items that you come up with yourself. For some great ideas, look at the many videos on YouTube by searching “ditty bag”.


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