Day Packs: The Unsung Hero of Outdoor Gear

During a time when most deer hunting subjects have been beat to death let’s talk about something that gets little credit but can play a big purpose. This item benefits anyone with outdoor penchants. Whether hiking, birding, fishing or hunting. They are the Rodney Dangerfield’s of outdoor gear, gaining little respect.

For the majority of people fall means apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween. For bow hunters it means cooler weather and the whitetail deer annual breeding cycle called the rut. This is the time when bucks let their guard down and travel more during daylight hours. Savvy hunters know this is the best time to stay in the woods – from sunrise to sunset. That time is now.

Remaining vigilant from the first glimmer of light to the last wisps can be grueling, especially when having your backside perched in a stand or blind. To make it, extra equipment is necessary. During the early season most hunting takes place during morning and evening when essentials can be carried in a small waist pack (hunters don’t call them fanny packs).

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But all day sits require more. You should add extra gear to make your hunt more enjoyable and comfortable. This is where a good day pack is needed.

Packs come in a variety of sizes which are normally measured in cubic inches. Carrying a full day’s worth of essentials requires something in the 1,000 to 3,000 range. Choose one with a number of pockets and dedicate each one for a specific item. Then when the time comes and you need something you won’t have to fumble through the entire contents.

Another thing to consider is expandable storage for the last minute additions like extra clothing. It also provides extra space to store your coat when hiking in to your choice location.

A sturdy and comfortable strap design keeps the pack tight to your body leaving little room for movement. Make sure the pack has a horizontal chest strap as well. Trust me, your pack will take all kinds of abuse from weather, rocks, brush and anything else imaginable so choose one that is made from a tough, durable material.

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One of the best things is filling your pack with cool hunting gear. Critical accessories for all hunts include safety harness, knife, field dressing gloves, binoculars, small folding saw, rangefinder, rope, flashlight and toilet paper. Bathroom tissue serves a double purpose.

Naturally its primary use is when last night’s supper isn’t sitting so well but it’s also great to mark blood trails with. A word of advice: put your toilet paper in a zip lock baggie. It helps keep it dry because the last thing you want is when the moment of truth comes is to find out your once dry toilet paper is now a soggy glob.

But to make the event more enjoyable, all day sits require a few creature comforts. Spending the entire day in the woods can be fun, it will have lulls. When action is slow a small book or magazine is a good addition. I have one friend who takes his tablet with him. “It keeps me from getting drowsy and falling asleep,” he says.

If the weather turns cold or rainy staying warm and dry can be a challenge. With a good day pack their will be extra room for rain gear, additional clothes and even a few hand warmers. These chemical heat suppliers can do wonders when sitting in a stand all day. Putting a couple in your boots or pockets definitely help keep extremities warm keeping you in your stand longer.

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Several years back my young nephew Cole and I sat side-by-side in elevated tree stands. The morning temperature was 18 degrees compounded by a stiff north breeze. Although dressed in layers it was easy to notice Cole shivering after the morning’s first light. “Here, stuff a couple of these inside your coat and put several in your pockets,” I said, handing him several small hand warmers I had stowed in my pack. “Thanks Uncle John,” he mentioned a few minutes later. “That made a big difference. “ Without them his hunt would have been cut short. I still believe those hand warmers were responsible for him taking the biggest buck of his life which happened to saunter through about two hours later.

Most hunters leave the woods early due to being uncomfortable or hungry. All day sits require food, drink and a few creature comforts and a good day pack provides the extra space. A thermos of hot coffee or other warm drink can do wonders for the soul while helping lift your spirits during a day of inclement weather.

Hunters are especially mindful of essential items like guns, bows, knives, clothing and optics but a quality day pack plays an important role in keeping us safe and comfortable when spending an entire day in the glorious fall woods.

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John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.


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