The Everyday Bag

jansport-backpackI have done so much reading on go bags, get home bags, bug out bags, all sorts of bags that everyone needs to have “at the ready” all the time. And while I like the idea of a bag for every scenario, for me the bottom line is to have a bag that I will actually use, on a daily basis. I don’t need 10 different bags laying around the house, I have just two.

In this article I am going to discuss my main bag, which I call my everyday bag. It’s a bag that I carry with me every day and it has everyday items in it. This is not some crazy expensive tactical backpack. I actually use the bag pictured, a regular JanSport backpack with just two pockets. This bag is never so full that it’s popping at the seams, and the items in it tend to change based on my plans for the day. If I’m going to a football game, I put towels in it in case the benches are dirty. If I’m going out for the entire day, I put extra food in it. This bag is a versatile daily bag that always contains the basics, yet has plenty of room for the required extras that are determined based on the activities of the day.

So what are the basic items that are always in the bag? This list (in no particular order) is tailored to me and my family, change it up as needed for yours.
1. First aid kit – I never leave the house without a basic first aid kit. I carry a kit that I put together myself with my family in mind.
2. Water & snacks – carrying water and snacks ensures that I can sustain myself and anyone with me in an emergency situation until I am able to find other means of getting food. I carry high protein, high calorie snacks to ensure they are filling enough.
3. Emergency blankets – emergency blankets are super cheap, very compact, and extremely versatile.
4. Hand sanitizer – a small bottle can go a long way. I prefer Purell Advanced, as it is 70% alcohol, but cheap ones from the dollar store will work too.
5. Antibacterial wipes – two travel sized packs, used for cleaning surfaces and hands/faces.
6. Multitool – a good multitool has a variety of items on it, is small, and can be used for many different things.
7. 550 Paracord – I have 50 feet in of 550 paracord in my bag, which doesn’t take up much room and can be used for a multitude of things.
8. Cash – I always have my wallet, but I also keep a little cash (in $1’s and $5’s) stashed in my bag, just in case someone manages to take off with my wallet.
9. Ziploc bags – I carry several Ziploc bags on a daily basis, of varying sizes from snack size up to gallon size. These fold up small and are great when something needs to be kept safe from water, you have some trash and there’s no trash can in sight, and they have many other purposes.
10. Flashlight – a small one, just in case I need it.
11. Deck of playing cards – if I get stuck somewhere, I want to be able to keep myself occupied.
12. Fully charged battery – to charge my cell phone if it dies. The one I use is the New Trent external battery, which I have found works great, though I know there are tons of different options out there when it comes to external batteries. Just make sure the battery has been tested at home and is fully charged.

That may seem like quite a few things to carry around all the time, but most of the items are small and don’t take up much space, leaving plenty of room in my everyday bag to add what I need for any particular situation.

Here are some of the items I tend to add on an as-needed basis:
1. A good pair of shoes – if I’m going somewhere and need to be dressed up, I like to have a good pair of shoes to change into in case the need arises.
2. Towels – for the pool, the park, etc.
3. Extra food & water – if I’m going to be out all day and think it may needed.
4. Paper & crayons – if I think my son may need to be kept occupied for longer than can be managed with just a deck of cards.

While it’s great to have bags prepared to all situations, if the bag you have for daily use isn’t something you will actually grab on your way out the door, it’s useless. My bag, even when filled with extra items, is never very heavy and it’s comfortable for me to carry. Be selective in the bag you choose, both for comfort and for what you like. If you get a big, bulky bag, you may end up leaving it at home most of the time, which completely defeats the purpose of having an everyday back in the first place. My bag can double as my get home bag if I need it to, which makes it ideal for daily use.

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