Hiking with ages 4 and 8 is an easier gig than hiking with toddlers, but you still need more than a granola bar. Scratches and scrapes, bug bites, rain, and even a hailstorm all have followed my resolutions to “get the girls out for an afternoon.”

So, for hiking any distance whatsoever with cubs, my daypack contains the following.

DH, who just appeared over my shoulder, says that it looks like a Y2K list. He’s cute. This is not my Y2K list. I know this is not my Y2K list because it doesn’t contain an appendix of projected caloric burn rates. Or ammo.

  • Water
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper (full roll, always)
  • Matches
  • Butane lighter
  • Headlamp
  • Small sunblock
  • Small bug spray
  • Foil blanket
  • Hiking first aid kit (contents below)
  • Rain poncho (a big trashbag works)
  • Whistles (each person carries one)
  • Flashlights (each person carries one)
  • Chapstick
  • Kleenex
  • Bandanna
  • Snacks (triple the quantity that any reasonable human child would need)
  • Sunhat
  • Fleece layer

For hiking first aid, the prefab kits are better than nothing if you’re just stopping at the big box store on your way to the mountain. But mostly those are just gauze and bandages in a cute little case for $14.99. Here’s what I like, nested in multiple Ziploc bags:

  • Tweezers
  • Eyedrops
  • Gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Band-Aids, ever so many, in the fanciest designs I can find
  • Bug bite stick

For meaningful adult hiking I’d add coach’s tape, moleskin, my knee brace, candles, and a full kit of heavy weather gear. If something goes badly wrong at altitude, you could be spending the night in snow. In July. But we’re never that far from the car with the girls.

This year, we splurged and bought each girl her own tiny Camelback, in a color engagingly named “Purple Cactus Flower.” The investment has already paid off: they tote their own water, and they drink more of it. And they don’t chew on Mama’s Camelback nozzle. That alone is worth every penny.

What’s in your daypack?