Three Points of the Compass at the 'Three Brethren' cairns, Minch Moor. What is required during the days hike is all immediately to hand in my chest pouch

Gear talk: the ‘day bag’

Bags and pouches of small stuff carried on longer hikes

Bags and pouches of small stuff carried on longer hikes. My day bag from a recent hike is shown top right

This is a final glance at the various small bags and pouches that Three Points of the Compass uses to keep gear organised while on trail. I prefer to compartmentalise my gear to keep it both easy to find and to hand, waterproofed and protected and enable a ‘role call’ when packing prior to setting out. This ensures nothing is left behind or mislaid within the pack. My various pouches and bags may be an excess on what many feel necessary but it works for me. Previously we have looked at my hydration, ditty bag, hygiene, first aid kit and electronics carried. There is one more to look at, this is my ‘day bag’.

The usual 'pack explosion' at the end of a days hiking. Keeping gear comparmentalised ensures items can be found when reuqired and nothing gets lost

The usual ‘pack explosion’ at the end of a days hiking. Keeping gear compartmentalised ensures items can be found when required and nothing gets lost

I find it a bit of a faff to keep taking a pack off during a hike to access things that are required from within its depths. Prior to setting off, I ensure anything I am likely to require is outside of the main pack. This will vary from hike to hike and day to day but may include items such as map, camera, phone, trail-mix and snacks, lunch, notebook and pen, sunglasses, monocular, headnet, gloves, buff, hat, waterproofs etc.

Chest pouch being used to carry items required to hand on the South West Coast Path. Hat and waterproofs are stuffed into the packs stretchy rear pocket

Chest pouch being used to carry items required to hand on a murky day on the South West Coast Path. Hat and waterproofs are loosely stuffed into the packs stretchy rear pocket

Trail mix- keep it to hand, not packed away

Trail mix- keep it to hand, not packed away

Hats, gloves and waterproofs will usually be in an outer pack pocket or rear expandable pocket on my larger, multi-day, Mariposa pack.

Other items will be more to hand and can usually be accessed without halting. A midday meal or afternoon snacks will usually be in a dedicated day bag in a side pocket. So a ‘day bag’ could very well be ‘two day bags’.

Zipped Z Packs chest pouch in use on a wet day on the 630 mile South West Coast Path

Zipped Z Packs chest pouch in use on a wet day on the 630 mile South West Coast Path

In the images above, hanging from my packs shoulders straps in front of me is a chest pouch from Z Packs. It is also shown being worn on the Pennine Way on the main header image above. Their ‘multi pack‘ can be worn or carried in a number of configurations but I like to wear it lower, more or less in front of my stomach. The one shown is constructed from Dyneema® Composite Fabric, or DCF.

Cuben chest pouch is strong and lightweight but will eventually leak following prolonged use

Cuben chest pouch is strong and lightweight but will eventually leak following prolonged use. The one in the image had seen almost three thousand trail miles and was nigh on wore out. The green padded mini pouch inside was for the camera to slide into

Though immensely strong and very light, this material doesn’t handle abrasion particularly well and after 2500 miles was leaking badly when it rained so after another 500 miles, and keeping fragile items doubly protected within, I replaced it with an identical multi pack, now made of Gridstop Fabric, this has HDPE threads with diagonal woven ripstop. It has a waterproof urethane coating on the inside but any maps or guide book being used during the day are also double protected in a ziplock. If it is likely to be wet any camera or phone being carried is likewise double protected.

Gridstop chest pouch in use on the Cleveland Way

Gridstop chest pouch in use on the Cleveland Way

My set up for day hikes is frequently different as I seldom carry a chest pouch on these. Instead my day bag comprises a lightweight roll top bag carried in my day pack’s side pocket. Some typical contents are shown below on a recent mid-morning halt on the Saxon Shore Way.

Contents of Day Bag- Saxon Shore Way, 2020

Day Bag on the Saxon Shore Way, summer 2020- roll top DCF bag from Wild Sky Gear holds a ziplock rubbish bag, Outdoor Research sunsleeves, a couple of protein bars, peanuts and a monopod for the camera being held

At other times of the year or in different locations the contents may vary considerably and the roll top day bag may be larger. From May onwards in the north of England and Scotland I include a headnet, in shoulder months I would likely have hat and gloves in here. If I expect to pass a shop or cafe where I hope to buy a snack or mug of tea, I’ll transfer my small zipper wallet from my ditty bag to my day bag. Some other items are carried elsewhere. My compass is usually in a hip belt pocket, as are chapstick, sunscreen, possibly Smidge, and in this Covid-19 year, a face mask. A headtorch may also reside in my hip belt pocket but is more likely packed away in my electronics bag and I then rely on a small ‘thumb’ torch clipped to my shoulder strap or chest pouch.

Hiking in Scotland- keep a head net to hand. Mine is kept in my Day Bag

Hiking in Scotland- keep a head net to hand. Mine is kept in my Day Bag

None of this is rocket science. It is just the way I keep things to hand, meaning I don’t have to open my pack up when it is raining, that I have given a little thought to what I might encounter during the day- sun, bugs, cold, something to buy… and have prepared appropriately. I faff less, have to stop less, and cover miles quicker with less need to halt. Works for me.

Approaching Tyndrum on the West Highland Way- Z Packs Multi Pack in use

Approaching Tyndrum on the West Highland Way- Z Packs Multi Pack in use, worn low. A map pokes from the top

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