Looking at taking a trip out for the day then you probably need a bag. Let’s call it a day bag, for obvious reasons. But what should you look to take with you? This is short list of personal preferences I would look to pack on any trip.
Every adventure will come with its own unique set of issues to contend with. Hills, trees or trails all have a different verity of potential problems not to mention trying to take in to account the seasons. Trying to prepare for every eventuality will require you to strap a caravan to your back every time you want to set foot out of the house. Let’s take a look at some of the basics I would look to carry on a daily basis — lightweight versatile bits of kit that could get you out of the poop in any environment. I’ll try not to go too in-depth with each item and just skim over the highlights; I have a tendency to chops on a bit when I get excited.
- A Bag – not hand, not man, nor carrier but a rucksack bag.
- Foil blanket – Yep, the ones that make you look like a jacket potato when your teeth are chattering.
- First aid kit – unless you are a paramedic then this shouldn’t be any bigger than a wallet.
- Water bottle – No need to be a camel, a single litre is more than enough.
- Food – Egg muffins and hummus or pie and chocolate, I don’t care, but count those calories
- Whistle – Using your fingers won’t cut it if you snap your wrist.
- Head torch – Yes with batteries and in working order, you won’t know unless you test it.
- Knife – Simple single sided sharp knife, leave the Rambo shit at home.
- Navigation – Map and compass, GPS if you must.
- Phone – Not to be confused with navigation. See, it’s a separate item on the list.
The most important item is your bag, it’s true to say that there are other items that are far more life preserving but unless you have bloody big pockets you are going to need a place to put them all. My bag is the first item ill select when packing for an adventure, and there is a whole list of things to consider but let’s keep it simple.
Size does matter, don’t believe what they say. Too big and you’ll end up carrying stuff for the sake of it, too small and you’ll find yourself having to empty and repack every time you want something out of it. For an everyday out and about bag 15 to 20l is more than enough. I’ve no real interest in reviewing bags or forcing my preferences on you here, a bag is a bag, and as long as it has two shoulder straps your off to a good start.
Having a sternum strap is a massive advantage though. A Sturman strap is the short strap that links both shoulder straps together across the chest. It’s a non-load bearing but does serve to keep your shoulder straps in place when your bag is loaded. As for waist straps, they are not necessary, unless you plan on running and then they can be a huge help. A waist strap not only helps keep your load secure and tight to your centre of gravity, a small tweak that will make a colossal difference over long distances, but it also helps distribute the load through your hips instead of it all just hanging off your back. Don’t get me started on bags, ill chew your ear off all day. A simple rucksack will do, let’s get packing.
“Why do I have to carry a space blanket?” Yer, it’s a fair point, it does seem a little OTT but hang in there. We are looking at standard bits of kit that can be used for a variety of purposes, and a space blanket not only fits the criteria but it’s also super lightweight, inexpensive and can provide the single most important commodity in a survival situation, insulation! Forget water and food; shelter is king if things go tits up. We are not packing for the apocalypse here, but these things are crazy useful in the hands of a human with a good understanding of basic thermal dynamics and survival skills. All their insulating properties should be fairly obvious, stuffing it up your jumper, as a scarf or ground sheet but the survival applications are huge if you have the imagination to see them. Water catcher, fishing lour, signal sheet, sling, even a bag roll to replace your lost or bust up rucksack, the list goes on. Let’s not be selfish here either, if you stumble across someone in a bad way this could be their ticket to a decent recovery too. It’s probably an item you will carry for years and never use but trust me for all the weight in them you’re better off having one and not needing it rather than the alternative.
First aid kits come in a verity of sets, but for the most part, there are broken down into Personal and Leader. A Leader kit will be much larger and contain equipment for administering first aid to others. A personal, the kind normally specified on race kit lists, is for general maintenance on yourself. Customize its contents to suit you. I like to have some top end fabric tape, its like medical gaffa-tape and fixes anything from blisters to pumping wounds, it’s a bastard to get off but does the job. I have tweezers, tick removers and a decent amount of antiseptic cream with a few sachets of burn cream for good measure. A triangle bandage, the Swiss army knife of any first aid kit, a few water purification tablets, spare batteries and a long roll bandage for sprains. Another nice little addition iv made is a couple of packs of hand warmers, again because with the right skill set they have a multitude of uses. As far as I’m concerned first aid should be on the national curriculum and taught to all school kids but sadly I’m not the prime minister yet, so we are left to secure our training, Nice one parliament! There are two basic types of first aid training, emergency first aid, that teaches you to stabilise a situation and get help. The second is first aid at work, where you become the help. Either of these will give you a good understanding of the basics, and most employers are more than happy to have staff trained so, ask the boss for some support to get on a course; I promise you the most important kit you will ever carry is in your head so get learning.
Hydrate! No other single action will affect your level of output than not taking on enough water. It’s easy to forget even when it’s lashing it down with rain you need to drink. A camel back or bladder is great if you are going on a long walk and opportunity’s to refill are scares. I find low-level trips and woodland walks are trickiest to secure a decent supply of fresh water. There are just way more animals and farming going on. Up high in the hills, you stand a better chance of finding a clear flow. Don’t real on finding any some; it’s always best to plan. For an average day out a decent water bottle is more than enough. I like my glass water bottle; it just tastes better. I know what your thinking, SNOB. Yep. I’m partial to a nice Sig bottle too, but for me, glass is best, even better with a nice Napoleon cover, oooo I’m getting thirsty thinking about it. A golden tip here is, clean your water carrying device, whatever you chose, clean it. Every time you’re home. Getting the shits can ruin your day at the best of times. Getting the shits outdoors will ruin everyone else’s day too. No one wants to see you squat down venting demons.
Calories are a tricky one to judge and are very personal. What I can advise, it’s better to go over the top. Ok so you may not burn off 5000 calories on your average day out but the food is great for moral, and after all, we want to enjoy our time out as much as we can so scrap the diet, and pack the cheese. All of the cheese. Salted nuts are a good snack too, not only do they help with your hydration levels but they are calorie heavy as well. Whatever you decide just make sure to bring all the rubbish away with you, and yes that means apple cores and banana peels. I will slap anyone that pipes up with the “but its biodegradable” bullshit. How many banana trees have you seen growing in the UK? Well then for the love of my sanity put it in your bag. If it doesn’t grow there don’t plant it!
…To be continued.
If you are looking to explore more of the world around you then head over to ROOTS, we host events and have a great network of outdoor professionals, who are keen to share there experience with people looking to engage with the world around them in a safe and responsible way.
Patience – Logic – Strength