How to Pack a Day Pack

3 mins

A lot can be accomplished on a day trip. There are a myriad of benefits that day trips bring, like not having to lug around a tent or suffer through a dodgy-dehy in the evening. But what exactly do you need to pack for a day hike, and how do you travel fast & light, without sacrificing safety? Here's what to bring on a day trip.

What Day Pack Do I Need?

A hydration pack doesn't quite cut it when you're heading into the mountains, so you'll need a day pack.

What size do I need?

Around 30L is the perfect size for a day trip. The Harper 30L is a great option, and if you want something larger the Torlesse 35L has you sorted. For winter and alpine, a larger pack can be useful so there's more space to carry snow and ice equipment, and more layers. This is where the Huka 40L and the Pursuit 40L come in.

What does it need to have?

That one's totally up to you, however, actually enjoying your trip is important. So for comfort a hip belt, chest belt and pockets that make water easily accessible are no brainers. You may want to consider other additions like snack pockets, somewhere to pop your poles, axe loops, built in whistle etc. 

What Do I Pack?

Let's break it down into categories.

Health & Safety

  • PLB - Did you know you can hire these from all Macpac stores? Read more here.
  • First Aid Kit - Make one yourself or buy a pre-made version.
  • Emergency Shelter - Emergency bag, bothy bag, fly or lightweight tent.
  • Whistle


  • Insulated Jacket -This could be down or synthetic, but something that packs down small.
  • Rain Jacket
  • Thermal Top & Leggings
  • Beanie & Gloves
  • Spare Base/Mid Layer - Like a polarfleece.

Food & Water

  • Water - For day trips where water is available you won't need to carry too much. For Day trips with no water, you'll want to consider around 2.5-3L - especially if it's hot.
  • Snacks - High energy foods like nuts, granola bars, bliss balls are great.
  • Lunch
  • Non-Essentials - Fun snacks like choccy and sweets (although some might consider this essential), electrolytes, and if you feel fancy, a jetboil, gas & mugs. There's nothing quite like a brew with a view.

Sun protection

  • SPF
  • Cap
  • Sunnies
  • SPF Lipbalm

Other Bits & Pieces

  • Loo Paper
  • Sitting Mat (optional)
  • Poles (Optional)
  • Tissues (optional)

How to Pack a Day Pack

Same as you'll pack an overnight pack, it's all about balance and convenience.

Pack heavier items, that you don't need easy access to, at the bottom of your pack. For extra balance, try to pack them as close to your back as possible.

Lighter items that you might need to access should be at the top, like a rain jacket.

As always, pack everything into a single, large dry bag, or multiple smaller ones. This will protect your gear from any unexpected (or expected) precip.

Snacks, sunblock, and other small items can live in the pockets on the outside of you pack, but if it starts to drizzle pop them in the pack liner too so you don't get soggy sammys.

Here’s a few things we’ve learned over the past four and a bit decades of globetrotting.
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Macpac ambassador Caro Ryan breaks down her approach to layering for hiking.
10 mins