Day Pack Basics (My Bag)

As B and I prepare to go camping in the next few weeks (mostly next weekend we’ll go, depending on a few last minute Amazon purchases), we’ve roughly planned our day packs and camping bag (which will be left at the campsite) and stocked them. We have a few last minute items to grab, but the bulk of it is here and ready to go.

Which, honestly, is relieving.

We’re planning on spending two nights and three days at a time up on the Carter land. This is a water free, electricity free piece of property with no buildings, no lean-to’s, nothing but trees and rocks and dirt. We’ll have to haul in our own water, but that shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll park at the gate, and from there hike around the 20 acres to find our prime campsite location. I think it’ll be really fun. I’m excited to do some campfire cooking, and we’re both thrilled to be able to practice some bushcrafting techniques and survival skills. Of course, we’ll be using a tent though. It was, after all, a wedding present.

I wanted to take a moment and share some gear in our day packs. Some items have been omitted, but I’ll include them for the sake of showing what our packs will look like fully stocked. I haven’t weighed them, but I can almost guarantee mine is under 15 pounds. It doesn’t take much, honestly, to get out there. And I want a light pack, I mean I really want a light pack, due to the amount of water we’ll have to bring out there. Water may be heavier than you realize. A liter of water is about 2.2 pounds. That’s a Nalgene Bottle’s worth inside my bag. A gallon of water? 8.36 pounds. Not to mention the space water takes up in or on a bag. 

A general rule for pack weight:

Ladies, that pack should not be heavier than 1/4 or a quarter of your body weight. 

Gentlemen, that pack shouldn’t exceed 1/3 or a third of your body weight. That’s based on comfort, safety, and security.

By that logic, us chubby people can handle more weight. But I don’t need to or want to. I want to enjoy the hike, not feel like my shoulders and back and falling off. So personally, I recommend keeping a pack under 40 pounds. Want to carry more? Sure, go right ahead. Pack to suit your needs, your climate, your length of trip, yourself

I carry mostly basics. I can easily take out most of it and exchange it for other items. Just don’t take out what you might miss, and you’ll be just fine.

Bland advice, I know.
Before I start, I want to tell you a bit about my bag. It isn’t a bag branded for this sort of usage. It’s just a bag. A teal, polka dot bag.

I love this bag. No, I seriously love this bag. We’re talking obsessive, like Indiana Jones and his hat.

I got it with my first paycheck at my first job, about 7 years ago. I refuse to use another bag, which B found amusing, simply because this bag has been through everything with me. It was perfect for a trip to the riverside, a night over in the marsh, a fishing trip, or a trip to the city. I lived out of this bag for a week, when I was sleeping in the waiting room at John’s Hopkins in Baltimore after my father had spinal surgery. I lived out of this bag when I first flew to Texas, when I first traveled from Maryland to Tennessee on my own… It’s been overboard, dragged, dropped off a cliff, stepped on, and has never ripped, torn, or worn down. Plus, it’s easy to throw in the washer. 

So much bag love.

Anyway, here’s what is currently in it:

In the main part of the bag, I have a Ziploc bag in the bottom with a barrel liner bag inside it. These contractor bags are great for an emergency shelter, or a moisture barrier between your sleeping bag and the ground. Various uses in such a small item!

I have an old hat that belonged to my Army retired father in law, a Morakniv (which is a FANTASTIC knife for me), a good bit of Paracord, a red bag full of emergency goodies, and a pink zipper pencil case made into a toiletry kit. 

Not pictured: A 1 Liter red Nalgene Water bottle with nesting cup, and some granola bars.

Inside the red bag are all kinds of goodies!

I have an emergency poncho, an emergency blanket (which can serve a variety of purposes), a homemade first aid kit, some Sensi-wrap, a Paracord bracelet, a Light My Fire Ferro Rod, a blue cooling bandana, a regular bandana, and HAIR TIES. Ladies with long hair, DO NOT FORGET HAIR TIES!!!

I also keep some underwear, long socks, and short socks in that bag. Those bags were on clearance at Walmart, advertised as “dry bags”, but they’re actually not. Don’t rely just on dry bags to keep your items dry, use Ziploc bags as well. Regardless of their lack of complete waterproofness, they’ll buy me some time should my bag get wet, and they help with organization. I believe they would even hold water, but I need to test it.

Oh. If you’re scoffing at the money bandana, I have been for years, so don’t worry. It belonged to my father, of all people. He used to have this 70’s style purple bandana he wore to mow the lawn in the summer. We used to tease him about it, and as a joke, we bought him the money one at a flea market. He loved it, and wore it constantly, as if to spite us. Now, I wear both bandanas proudly. 

If you’re also wondering what’s inside the toiletry bag, it’s basically toiletries. Baby powder, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, toothbrush, face wash, a hand towel, toilet paper, and tampons. Ladies, let’s not forget to prepare for mother nature! Tampons also serve purposes in emergencies, as they will hold water (eh, don’t really do that unless absolutely necessary) and make great fire tinder. Fluff em up and light em up!

In one of the side pockets on my bag I carry a bright orange bag full of fire materials, other than my lighter or striker. This bag is for emergencies. Inside of it is a waterproof container full of matches (with a striker), a puck of Zippo brand cedar tinder, a tin of small orange flammable pucks (Dave Canterbury sold and approved haha) inside a bag that can also be used for tinder, and a bag of homemade Vaseline soaked cotton balls. We took 60 cotton balls, kneaded Vaseline into them, and wrapped two at a time in tin foil. We each carry 15 packets, which will start 15 fires. Those packets work beautifully with strikers, all the way up to lighters. They should only be for emergencies.

In the other side pocket is a knife sharpener, some sunscreen (notice the ridiculous SPF 100 because B hates the sun, and the sun hates him), and a cheap, run of the mill Wal-Mart headlamp.

My front pocket consists of a small flashlight, an old folding Buck brand Knife, a pair of small binoculars, and my good ole red Spork. 

Last but not least, in the inner pocket, is a Bic lighter and a longer flashlight. I just really, really don’t want to lose these. 
Things will change, and things will be added. It all depends on the trip. Where we’ll be, we’ll bring our own clean water. There’s no streams or ponds, so no need for purification tabs (although we have them). 

I may post Brandon’s bag tomorrow. It’s definitely more tactical, and put together. And heavier.
Any ideas? Any advice? Let me know!