The daypack is the most used bag a traveler will have. This is the bag that travels not only on the long journeys but on the short ones as well. Daypacks carry just about everything a traveler will need to access during the course of a day of exploring, it is the place to keep the gear that is used regularly and needs to be perpetually at hand. The daypack is like a giant pocket.
My daypack is full of my daily use supplies, the things I use regularly as I travel and collect content to blog about. The daypacks I use vary between 15 and 26 liters in size. I recommend getting a high quality daypack as the zippers on the cheaper models are prone to premature breakage (advice which I don’t usually follow myself, and know the consequences of first hand). I recommend Lowe Alpine bags, but my current daypack is a Chinese no name that I picked up for $12. It does the job for now, but I question its long term endurance. If you have the cash, dumping it into a high quality, water resistant, lockable daypack could prove worth it in the long run.
Whatever bag I’m using as a daypack I always keep it packed up and ready to go. I like the idea of being able to jump out of bed in the morning, snatch up my bag, and walk out the door. Screwing around in a hotel room debating over what gear you’re going to need or not need for a day out is a real buzzkill when you’re excited to just get out in the streets to check out a new place. I’m comfortable making two or three day trips solely on the contents of my daypack.
I don’t move gear between my bags, each thing has its place. What’s in my daypack stays in my daypack, it does not migrate to other bags or to other places in my room. My daypack has the items that I used each day when outsite exploring a place, my rucksack contains the gear that I use in my room. In this way I always know where all of my gear is at all times, and I don’t end up 25 km out of a town to discover that I left something that I want to use in a backpack that is locked up inside my hotel.
The crap that I fill my daypack with
Notebook with destination information
Headlamp/ flashlight (flashlight travel tip)
Compass (compass travel tip)
Extra t-shirt, underwear, socks
Spoon and/ or fork
Digital voice recorder
Sunglasses video camera
Pens and pencils
Waterproof float bag for electronics
Extra camera battery
Being prepared saves money
It would be a real pain in the ass to carry around all of the gear that you need to be prepared for a day traveling around a village or city in your hands. It is unbelievably awkward just carrying around a jacket in your hands — let alone a water bottle, food, a camera etc . . . and everyone learns before the age of 9 that pockets are not good places to store a lunch. The choice is thus put forth: carry a small bag full of what you need and want for the day or go unprepared. Going unprepared means relying on your surroundings for sustenance: i.e. you need to buy everything you need and want each time you need or want something.
Being prepared is convenient
Having what you need with you as you travel around a place is, simply put, convenient. If you need to go find a restaurant or food stall every time you’re hungry you’re going to find yourself blowing huge amounts of time that could otherwise be spent checking out a new place. Having to find a quicky mart to buy a bottle of water every time you’re thirsty is going to delay whatever plans you have. If you need to duck for cover and wait for every little rain shower to pass because you’re not carrying rain gear you may miss out on experiencing something more interesting. Traveling so light that you’re left unprepared is a hassle. Having a daypack filled with daily essentials is an excellent way to strip down the work of travel and allow for a more refined, full experience each day out on the road.