View Full Version : How to Pack Everyday Stuff

Odd Man Out
07-20-2014, 21:44
I'm thinking back on this past week's hike to see if I might adjust my packing strategy. One thing I might work on are those everyday items you want to have at your fingertips. Things you use every day and don't always want to stop and take off your pack to get at. I'm looking for idea for what others do. What do you carry and how?

For me, I had two 20 oz Gatorade bottles of water secured to my pack straps with bungee cords. That worked well. For other things, I had my wallet in my back pocket as always. The other back pocket was for garbage I generated (until I could get to my main garbage bag in my pack). In my front pockets I had a small SAK with emergency whistle on a key ring, a pen, and a small cloth for cleaning my eye glasses. Then I had a relatively large fanny pack I wore in the front that held my pack "towel" (really a microfiber wash cloth), camera, cell phone, zip bag of trail mix, granola bar, and zip bag with maps/trail data pages. That worked pretty well, but getting the fanny pack on and off with the pack was a bit of a pain. I found the belt pouches that I got to go with the pack too small and the rode more to the side, rather than on the hips.

07-21-2014, 05:12
Have seen some "chest" packs with rudimentary harnesses. They can be put on before your backpack. The one I used was shaped and padded for carrying an SLR camera but the same idea might work with a shallow rectangular book shaped mini pack?

07-21-2014, 05:23
No need to carry a wallet, whistle, or towel.
Instead of a towel, try wearing a bandana. When you want to wipe sweat or something, just take it off, then put it back on.
One water bottle that's accessible is all you really need.
Maybe some snacks, if you eat while walking.
I have a mesh side pocket that I keep water in and my glasses and spoon (always should have THAT handy) and a few small things in the other side.

07-21-2014, 08:08
Ditto what Fiddlehead says. My "wallet" is a ziplock sandwich bag with a photo ID, credit card, and a few dollars and it stays on my person at all times, usually in my shirt pocket. I don't like hiking with stuff in pants pockets. A map, if needed, is in a ziplock in another shirt pocket, along with a small compass. A larger ziplock with guidebook and maps, reading material, etc. is in an outside pocket of the pack. So is my water bottle. Raingear is readily accessible on top of the pack, maybe with a jersey and a hat on cool days to put on quickly for breaks. Food (with spoon) is right under that--I always eat something when I stop for a break.

07-21-2014, 08:08
I'm a big fan of the Mystery Ranch chest pack. Has a decent amount of room & a water bottle holder (that I use for other things). I usually put trail mix, maps, camera/phone, Aquamira drops, smaller bottle of bug spray and maybe.

This is my first year using it. I thought it'd be hotter to wear than it is. And the clip system makes it was as easy to take off as a sternum strap.


07-21-2014, 08:39
Many packs have either d-rings, loops, straps, or even pouches (hip belt pouches, too!) for odds & ends.
I don't personally care for chest rigs or fanny packs, but some love the functionality.
I hike in cargo pants or cargo shorts - hate having stuff in my back pocket, but love having stuff like maps in my thigh pockets.

Agreed - no wallet - just a ziploc with some cash, CC, and ID. (when at a shoneys in town someone asked me if I was a hiker - I figured it was from the mud on my legs and feet and general appearance... they said "I recognized your 'wallet'" when I went to pay for my meal :-)

07-21-2014, 09:14
You will figure out what works for you. Seems you already have a good start.

Regarding the towel/bandanna. I use a bandanna. I like to have it readily accessible for wiping sweat, cleaning glasses, blowing nose when I get a cold. My solution is to grab one corner, then drape it over my right shoulder strap (down at the bottom, where the strap attaches to the pack). I pull the one corner into position, then center it. It ends up just draped over the bottom of the strap with equal amounts of bandanna on each side. Easy to grab and wipe, always know where it is. Occasionally while hiking I just make sure it is still hanging centered, so it doesn't fall off. Once in a great while a branch will catch it and pull it one way or the other, but I have never lost one. Been using this method for 30+ years now.

Odd Man Out
07-21-2014, 11:32
Thanks for the ideas.

My microfiber washcloth is basically the same as a bandana. I suppose I could keep tied to my pack or neck rather than in a fanny pack. I do like to have it handy.

I have found that for me shirt pockets are not very practical. Some shirts (t-shirts/henley) don't have them. Others are too small or hard to get to under the pack strap. It's too bad, as I use them when not hiking quite a lot. But I've broken more than one camera by keeping it my chest pocket. When I bend over or jump down from something, it falls out on the ground and it's toast.

The wallet is not a problem for me. As some have said, it's good to keep in on your person, so a pocket is the best option. I got a nylon minimal wallet and took out all but the essentials. I find that I subconsciously check my back pocket to make sure it is there probably 50 times a day. I don't realize I'm doing it unless it's not there and then I have a mini panic attack. So in my case, hiking without it would be more annoying than hiking with it. As I am limited to short hikes for the near future, it's unlikely I will be out on the trail long enough to get used to not having a wallet.

I can cut back on water, depending on the hike, but in central VA in July, 40 oz was definitely not too much. It's about 8 miles over Cove Mtn past the Dragon's tooth with few water resupply options. I was hiking slow with a bum knee so that took most of the day. I needed every bit of the 3.5 L I started out with in the morning. Next year I may do Pictured Rocks. With Lake Superior always near by, water is not such a problem (unless the lake is at the bottom of a 200' cliff).

07-21-2014, 13:07
One of the pieces I've added is the Ribz pack. It's a front pack and is easily accessible. I have to say that I didn't find it hot ( although I generally don't get hot ) and it didn't interfere with my arm movement ( considering that I'm a small woman it should have ). I've been using it along with a large day pack and find it convenient and my load more centered on me. ( I also use it as my bear bag ). There's just no way I can reach back for a water bottle.
Front packs seem to be like hammocks... you either like them or not.


07-21-2014, 13:16
As mentioned, it will depend on your hiking routine. I use a hydration bladder for water pretty much year round. I suppose subzero I wouldn't but otherwise yes. I am a big fan of the top lid for commonly needed items. I'll keep snacks, headlamp, sometimes hat and gloves, book maybe, knife, lighter, bug spray maybe up there. I use hip pouches for a snack, camera, and then a hat, gloves, fleece headband, neck gaiter if cold. I don't keep anything in clothes pockets except a ziplock for small trash. Things fall out of clothes pockets too easily, the body shifts around a lot while hiking and sitting on rocks and logs, the ground. Not all clothes have the same pockets as noted.

I use my phone as a camera but when I had both, the phone was buried in the pack turned off. The camera and maybe a candy bar or energy gel is all I need handy while walking in warm weather. As days get cooler, I'll move the hat, gloves, gaiter, and/or the headband into the hip pouch for temperature regulation. Towards evening I will move my headlamp to the hip pouch. I have a tendency to avoid stopping to fish it out of the top lid as I don't want to cool off right as the temperature is dropping. If it's handy, I am more inclined to put it on. Any other items I would only need while taking a break. If I am off trail, I would keep the map handier but generally it's not needed immediately. It comes out with the snack bag at most stops anyway.

I've cycled through several lightweight summer/early spring & fall packs and have decided that keeping the top lid and hip pouches on each pack retains consistency in routine and helps to keep better track of items. (Daypack is different though.)

I also keep a first aid/repair kit in a small stuff sack placed in a water bottle holder.

07-21-2014, 13:49
Only things I keep accessible: 1) water bottle 2) knife 3) food 4) map if necessary