16 Daypack Essentials to Keep Your Adventure Going



Carry These 16 Daypack Essentials to Always be Prepared

I’m a self proclaimed gear enthusiast. This means I’m overly joyous about gear and all the details that make it great! This is good news for you, because I’ve done all the leg work in research! And trust me, these daypack essentials were born out of necessity.

Anytime Shelby and I head out for an adventure there are 16 Daypack Essentials I always bring. How did we arrive on this list? Well, trial and error to be honest.

There have been countless days where we’ve found ourselves in a situation where we wish we were more prepared. Every trip there was always something we didn’t think to bring. After a while, I grew tired of these inefficiencies and took it upon myself to record the things we wish we had. And over time this very list of daypack essentials was born.

If you don’t own a daypack, check out our post on these 3 Incredibly Ultralight Daypacks.

Already own a daypack? Then let’s move on and get it packed with these 16 daypack essentials.


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1. Water

We always carry at least 1 reusable bottle of water. Our favorite being a 40z insulated stainless steel water bottle. If you want something reliable with a kickass warranty we recommend a Hydroflask.


If you want something a little smaller and nearly indestructible look no further than a 32oz Nalgene water bottle.

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s reusable! Stay hydrated and save the planet from plastic waste.

If insulated containers are your thing, we feel you! Check out our top 3 insulated containers that we bring and use constantly during all our travels!

2. Extra Clothing


Check the weather before you go. It’s always a good habit to bring some extra layers should the weather take a turn.

This can be a rain coat, fleece, puff jacket, or even a complete change of clothes.

If you want something super light and packs down small we highly recommend a synthetic puff jacket. They nearly wind proof and stay warm even when wet.

A great value is the REI Co-op Revelcloud II Jacket pictured above and packed below.


It’s lightweight (less than 13oz), warm, blocks wind, repels rain,  and packs into its own pocket. What else could you ask for? They also have the REI Co-op Revelcloud II Jacket for Women.

3. Sun Protection

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Spending a day in the sun can zap not only your energy, but also your skin. We always pack the following to protect us from that beautifully bright star:

Featured hat shown above is one of my favorite hiking hats, the Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat. Breathable, lightweight, and great sun coverage for those hikes where you’re out all day in the sun.

4. Eating Utensils

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Carrying a set of reusable utensils will keep you from using 1 time use plastic knives, forks, and spoons. It will also save you from those moments where utensils just aren’t available!

Often times we’ll drive late Friday nights after work to get near a destination we want to be the next morning. By the time we get to our motel businesses are closed and Shelby is reaching for some sort of canned food we brought along. There have been multiple occasions where we didn’t have utensils with us and nowhere open to grab some.

You can imagine the combined frustration of a late canned food dinner and no utensils to eat with.

But not anymore! I’m personally a huge fan of titanium sporks. The Snow Peak Titanium Spork (pictured above) is possibly the most liked Ti Spork on the market for backpackers, daytrippers, and those trying to reduce their environmental impact.

It has a generously sized spoon with functional fork tines and the texture of the spork is easy on the mouth, unlike others with rough edges.

5. Drinking Straws


This one isn’t an essential for everyone but we’ve been guilty on too many occasions where we order drinks with plastic straws.

If we’re made aware of simple solutions to reduce our environmental impact, we try to adapt them. In this case we’re talking about reusable straws.

A very affordable 4 pack of stainless steel straws with colored, silicone tips is the Klean Kanteen 8mm Stainless Steel Straw set. Perfect for knowing “whose is who” and they’re even dishwasher safe!

We own solid piece stainless steel straws and have added telescopic stainless steel travel straws to our daypack. No more one and done straws for us.

6. High Protein/Fat Snacks

healthy high protein snacks

Nothing can ruin a daytrip faster than hunger pains. For those in a situation where food is not easily unattainable it’s best you have at least a couple snacks to suppress your appetite and get you back on track with your adventure. We always carry at least 2 of the following snacks:

  • Protein Bars
  • Almonds
  • Beef Jerky
  • Kipper Snacks

7. Hand Sanitizer

Speaking of food, let’s not get sick! If we’re doing a day trip we’re probably touching a lot surfaces hosting all kinds of germs we don’t want anywhere near our hands while we’re eating and drinking.

Carrying a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer will quickly and efficiently remove germs before you refuel and hydrate.

8. Handkerchief

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Need to wipe down your face, hands, or maybe blow your nose? This is an old school item that should most definitely make a come back. A good ol’ fashion handkerchief.

When it’s hot outside, get it wet and wrap it around your forehead. These things have a ton of uses! When you’re done with the day just toss it in the laundry or wash it in the sink. Good as new!

9. Plastic Zip Lock Bags

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These help organize your pack and serve other purposes like placing used utensils, straws, or handkerchiefs after they’ve been soiled. They also keep contents dry should your daypack get wet.

We like to pack a few zip lock bags inside a zip lock bag just to have some extras for unforeseen circumstances.

10. Medicine, Pain Killers, & Feminine Products

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Be sure to pack a days worth of personal medications, pain killers (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.), allergy relief, and (if applicable) any feminine products you made need.

Can’t count how many times I’ve heard “I’m out of tampons” or how many times I’ve wished I had acid reducer while we’re out hiking or exploring a new town.

We now carry a little of everything for the “Just in case.”

11. First Aid Kit

adventure-medical-kits-ultralight-watertight-.5 daypack essentials

A simple first aid kit including a few sizes of bandages & band aids, antiseptic wipes, antibiotics ointment packets, moleskin, and tweezers will do wonders for cuts, scrapes, and minor injuries.

We personally carry the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight & Watertight .5 first aid kit. The theme for this post is lightweight, since we are talking about day trips here.

12. Light Source + Spare Batteries

black-diamond-spot-325-headlampI normally carry a AA or AAA battery operated flashlight on my person. I’ll often also carry one in our daypack, along with a AA or AAA battery operated headlamp.

Sometimes your daytrips turn to night and a light source with some extra batteries go a long way! We choose lights that use commonly found batteries so we’re never caught in the dark.

The Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp uses 3 commonly found AAA batteries and boasts 325 lumens which is more than enough for any dark excursion.

13. Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool


The Leatherman Wave Plus Multi Tool is essentially your one and done tool that will quickly resolve just about any sticky situation.

There are a multitude of situations where a pocket knife or multi-tool comes in handy. From opening packages, cutting fruit, removing a splinter, to cutting a car’s seat belt in an emergency.

A multi-tool with pliers, flat head, and Philips screw driver, scissors, and can opener can tackle most random tasks you might face during a daytrip.

14. Butane Lighter

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Even if you don’t smoke, a lighter can come in handy.

We’ve used lighters for a multitude of reasons:

  • To melt the ends of rope and paracord
  • Ignite stoves and BBQs
  • Burn loose threads on shirts and pants
  • Open beer bottles (leverage trick)
  • As a light source in a pinch

Surely any friend or stranger who smokes will appreciate the light when they don’t have theirs.

15. Notebook & Pen


Phones can take notes, but not when they’re dead! Also, there’s something special about scribbling down directions, a story, or fun memory on paper while you’re out and about.

Instead of texting it into a virtual space and getting sucked into a social app shortly after.


This is also a great solution for those few places that don’t allow phones or the use of phones.

While a normal pen and pocket notebook will suffice, a Fisher Space Pen Stowaway and  Rite in the Rain Mini Notebooks will work in the most adverse conditions. (I told you I’m a gear enthusiast!)

16. Small Battery Bank


Even though we prefer to disconnect while we’re exploring the world around us, it’s not a bad idea to carry some extra juice. Mainly in case your phone does die and you haven’t the slightest clue of how to get home.

With 2 of us it’s pretty rare that both of our phones are dead, but should that ever happen we like to have a small battery bank that can bring a phone to a full charge.

The shock resistant and nearly waterproof Outdoor Tech Kodiak Mini 2.0 Power Bank is worth a gander if your daytrips involve a lot of adventure!

Be Ultimately Prepared for Any Day Trip with these Daypack Essentials!

Make these items daypack essentials and you’ll be shocked at how many times you save the day for yourself and all those around you. Time and time again we laugh in situations where we were once left out to dry.

Once you’re prepared for all the situations you were once lost in you can now rejoice and enjoy even more so the moments you create while fully prepared.

It took us years to wise up and actually take action after multiple incidents of frustration and inconvenience. Now you have an invaluable list to keep the good vibes going all day long.

Looking for something more intensive than a daypack? For all those considering long term travel, or for those who are on the go frequently, check out these top 3 travel backpacks for minimalist travelers. Convenient packs that we use and love for both quick weekend trips and even longer 1-2 week trips.

Do you carry any or all the things on this list? Did we miss anything you think should absolutely be on this list? We’d love to know in a comment below!

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About the Author

Nathan Bernal is the co-founder, editor, and author of We Who Roam. As a life long adventure and gear enthusiast Nathan combines fun and expertise when out exploring the natural world. He's here to share his knowledge and inspire the adventurer in you.

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