Outside magazine claims that a reader wrote in to ask "What Gear Do I Need in My Daypack?" It’s answer shocked me, and reaffirmed why I don’t read Outside magazine.
Go look. OK, you don’t feel like giving Outside magazine the click? Fair enough. To adapt a phrase from Joan Jett, I hate myself for clicking them, too. I’ll just list some of the more egregiously ludicrous items:
- $50 underwear – Because adventures are born from overpriced undies.
- $140 sunglasses – They’ll save your life. OK, maybe not. Scratch that: Definitely not.
- Ultra-light quarter socks – Anything less than Darn Tough socks are foolish. These flimsy things will have holes in them inside of three months.
- $40 sandals – Oh, just cross the stream barefoot. You’ll be fine. (What’s that, Outside? "The Therm-a-Rest footbeds feel like they’re massaging your feet?")
Here are the fairly legit items:
- A handful of Kind bars – Everybody needs food. But you’re better off cranking out homemade batches of pemmican. Or just getting some nuts and dried fruit.
- A Bic lighter with duct tape wrapped around it – Better yet, wrap your duct tape around a Nalgene bottle. And skip the lighter -- get yourself some flint and learn how to use it.
Here are the only items I agree with, no strings attached:
- A decent day pack – Fairly obvious, right?
- A Petzl headland – Always a must.
- Sunscreen – Well, yeah.
Outside magazine, in its rush to load expensive items from its advertisers into its "What Gear Do I Need in My Daypack?" list, left out some potential life-savers.
- A high-quality fixed-blade knife – Too many uses to list.
- Tincture of iodine 2% – Good for disinfecting water and treating wounds.
- Something to cover your head – Hat, bandana, shemagh, whatever. All have multiple uses.
- At least a small first-aid kit.
- I already mentioned flint and a Nalgene bottle.
- Some knowledge – You can’t really put it in your pack. Learn before you go.
Look, this stuff is important. How many stories have you heard about people being unprepared when a "simple day hike" turns pear-shaped? You need warmth. You need shelter. You need calories. The items in your pack should give you a fighting chance to create some of these on the fly. Fifty-dollar underwear can’t do that; get caught unprepared, and your ass will be just as dead in it as someone wearing used Fruit of the Looms from a Goodwill store.
In a future post, I’ll break down everything in my pack for my own solution to the "What Gear Do I Need in My Daypack?" question.