Whether you’re on a road trip with friends or venturing into a foreign city on an eight-hour layover, there are some essential items you always want in your daypack. Here’s a starter list that should keep you clean, dry, and fueled no matter where you go.
Kletterwerks Flip Pack ($200)
Yes, this daypack is pricey, but that’s because the outer is made from 1,000-denier Cordura fabric that will take an absolute beating. It’s designed to look like a 1970s climbing pack but features modern amenities like a 15-inch laptop sleeve. At 22 liters, it has just enough capacity for a day’s worth of gear.
Adventure Medical Kits Adventure First Aid 1.0 ($14)
This first-aid kit is affordable and covers all the minor medical issues you might encounter, from headaches to allergic reactions to cuts. Plus, the carrying case has room for any extra medicines you need to pack along.
Cotopaxi Agua Water Bottle ($25)
You’ll save space with this double-walled vacuum-insulated water bottle that doubles as a thermos for coffee. The powder-coated exterior makes the bottle more durable than a normal metal canteen, and the lid is simple and bomber, so it won’t spill inside your bag.
GoMacro Bars Sunny Uplift ($35 for 12)
If you’re stuck on an airplane or just want to avoid fast food on the road, these bars, which include natural, whole ingredients like oats and cranberries, will keep you going with 200 calories and 39 grams of carbohydrates. And they’re delicious.
Tapatio Individual Hot Sauce Packets ($25 for 500)
A couple of these packets always live in my bag because they add lots of flavor to anything from a box of french fries to a gas station turkey sandwich. I’m not a big fan of single-use packets, but they take up less room than a bottle and won’t leak.
Patagonia Houdini Jacket ($100)
The Houdini jacket folds down to the size of an apple and weighs a measly 3.6 ounces. It has saved my butt on many occasions when the weather turned. Throw it over a T-shirt or midlayer to add an easy 10 to 15 degrees of warmth, cut the wind, and keep you dry in a light rain.
Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, 2-Ounce Bottle ($3.20)
This one product acts as body soap, shampoo, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, and even toothpaste. Brushing your teeth with the stuff is awful, but your dentist and your travel mates will thank you.
SmartWool Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks ($21)
I always carry an extra pair of these merino socks. The wool keeps your foot temperature regulated when it’s hot or cold and cuts the stink if you need to wear them for a couple days straight.
Master & Dynamic ME05 Headphones ($200)
You can go with regular iPhone headphones, but the extra cost for these is worth it for the premium sound. The highs are significantly crisper, and the bass is headier with the custom drivers. The cord is tangle resistant. They’re also supremely comfortable, thanks to swappable silicone eartips.
Hand Sanitizer, Toilet Paper, and 2 Ziploc Bags (Approximately $2)
If you’re traveling in a foreign country where upset stomachs are an issue, this setup is a must. I squeeze a couple ounces of sanitizer into a bag, fold 10 or so feet of toilet paper into another, and keep both in my pack at all times in case of gastric emergency and limited bathroom options.