Day Trips: Essentials for your Bag

Want a day bag that Mary Poppins would covet? That Boy Scouts would look at with wonder? That Marines would see and say, “Semper Fi! That person is prepared!”

Of course you do. Because you want to meet Mary Poppins and everyone knows that she only appears for two reasons: 1. terrible children (and we all know you don’t have any of those) and 2. spectacular bags that are well-stocked.

What Is a Day Bag?

I’m glad you asked, grasshopper.

It’s more than a purse/man purse. It’s not all your crap thrown into a random bag for sightseeing. It’s most certainly NOT a fannypack.

A day bag is everything you need for that day’s adventures, be they big or small. Picnic blanket? Hat? Ankle wrap? Yes to them all…and more. And no, your bag won’t be (too) heavy.

The Holy Trinity

Backpack, camera bag, purse.
You expected something a bit more religious, didn’t you?

Why three? You may not need three, it depends on your activities, but this is my blog and my ideas, and so I can write about three if I want to! and BTW, I have four: a waterproof bag for rafting, the beach, innertubing, etc. Of wait, five: a beach bag that’s mesh so sand doesn’t follow me home. I may have a day-bag addiction.

  • Backpack – for hiking. It’s balanced, which is great. But it’s hot, so I don’t care to carry it when not hiking. Plus accessing the camera is a pain.
  • Camera Bag – you only need this if you carry a DSLR. If you don’t know what a DSLR is, then you don’t use one so you can skip this part. I prefer for the bag to be messenger style, slung across my torso, because I can access my camera easily. Be forewarned: chiropractors and physical therapists don’t like this bag. Depending upon the weight of your camera and lenses, this can be burdensome on a single shoulder–so switch and stretch.
  • Purse – let’s be clear that isn’t a fashionable purse; it’s a functional purse where pockets are your friend. Museum day? Don’t need a camera. People watching? You might like to bring a book to enjoy, too. Dinner? Just the essentials.

Take a look at the “store” below for the bags I use. I may not be James Bond and now everyone is rushing to buy my BMW, but let’s just say that I should work for Consumer Reports. Are the bags pretty? No. Fabulous? Way beyond.

The Health & Beauty Aisle Fits in a 4×7 Bag

Each bag gets its own “First Aid” kit. To me, First Aid includes a barrette, don’t assume you can skim to the next paragraph because you know what a traditional First Aid kit entails.

For starters, you may wonder why each bag needs one. Sure, it costs a bit more, but in the flurry of changing bags it’s enough to remember your wallet, phone, book, and glasses. This is like having a phone in every room (for those people who still use landlines).

I don’t recommend ziplocks–they’ll rip all too soon. Spend a few dollars on a plastic or mesh baggie (see the store below). Clear is key–you want to find that hand sanitizer ASAP when you’re forced to use a Port-a-Potty.

Travel size containers become your friend. Sunscreen, bugspray, hand lotion, headache medicine (all that sun), tummy medicine (all that new food), chapstick, eye drops (climates can do funny things), nail file (I would take one to deserted island), and the aforementioned hand sanitizer.

A pause for an editorial (within a piece that is essentially already an editorial). I think folks use hand sanitizer too much today. Some germ contact is needed to build an immune system. But if you’re at the fair and you pet the alpaca because you’ve never seen one before, then for the love of all that is holy, use sanitizer. I’m not saying alpacas are dirty, but I’m not saying that they’re clean either. Just sanitize to your heart’s delight. And BEFORE you eat the elephant ear/funnel cake, please.

If you’re clumsy like I am, bring along an ankle wrap for good measure.
If you’re sweaty like I am, bring along a bandana to wipe away all your glory.
These are making me sound very attractive, aren’t they?

The hiking bag gets more. Bandaids for blisters; a glo-in-the-dark thingy in case the hike, umm, goes longer than planned; tissues in case nature has to become your toilet.

For Scrapbookers (and bloggers)

A half-size clipboard helps you remember the facts learned, jokes told, and senses enticed. It could be days or weeks (nay months?) before you produce your masterpiece, and this will jog your memory.

My Two Favorite Things

Croakies. Yes, that’s the real name. They hook on your glasses so you can drop them around your neck. Consider this scenario: hat on, camera at your eye. Oops, hit your glasses. Where do I put my glasses? With Croakies, simply drop them around your neck. Oh, happy day!

Portable phone charger. My brother told me about this gizmo–and remember he gave me a tire inflating gizmo that is better in theory than reality–so I was skeptical about its need. I cannot convey how much I love this gadget. I’m out and about and my phone is low on juice? Connect it to the thingamajig and suddenly there’s power. Everyone breathe a sigh of relief. Then charge the whooziwhatzit up at night and repeat as needed. And “as needed” has been more than expected. Taking videos, uploading to twitter in random locales–these take a lot of power from the phone. So a full battery in the morning does not guarantee it’ll last all day.

What Now?

Go shopping! And how convenient, there’s an online store right here in this blog. Why, it has all of the items discussed (minus toiletries), how clever.

Seriously. Go shopping. Here. I get kickbacks from if you do. And to keep things on the up-and-up, read my disclosure policy.

BTW, I know that $13 for a bandana is absurd, but it’s all I could find for the visual. So go to the Dollar Store…


What’s your favorite item in your day bag?

2 Responses

I used to do a lot of day hikes in the days before ubiquitous cell phones. I was often hiking when I wouldn’t see anyone, and it made me feel better to have some emergency supplies. Along with normal first aid supplies, this was my emergency kit:

* Duct tape: anything from splints, to shelter, to building a canoe. Just ask the Mythbusters

* Solar blanket: shelter, rain protection, makes a great reflector for impromptu photo sessions

* Leatherman: multi tool used for just about everything, including starting fires when used in conjuction with…

* Magnesium fire starter: block of magnesium with flint rod I’ve had for 20 years. Managed to start a huge campfire with it.

* Dryer lint: lightweight and amazingly good for catching sparks from above. Note to self… time to clean the dryer vent

* Chain-style camp saw: Mostly had this since it was cool, but I had it for making splints

* Iodine tablets: Water purification

When I started mountain biking, I added the following

* Spare inner tubes

* Bike pump with CO2 cartridges

* Bike multi tool with built in tire levers

Of that whole pack, the only things I ever had to use were the duct tape and the bike supplies. The whole pack weighed probably 3 pounds, plus any water I carried. The only downside was that it was hard to carry a backpack style camera bag.

And why hasn’t someone made a camera bag that can be converte between backpack and messenger style? Whoever comes up wit that will make a mint.

Josh – that is impressive! And I agree about the camera bag. Plus, it needs weight distribution when in messenger style.

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