THE GREAT OUTDOORS...
"NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST"
Mother Nature should be enjoyed, respected and even slightly feared. Not being properly prepared for even a day outdoors can prove to be fatal so it's important to carry just a few things in case you need them.
First, a daypack needs to be easy, comfortable, and light or simply put...people won't carry them. There are a lot of choices out there, but keep an eye out for Bartact...they are moving into tact gear now and if they make bags as good as they make seat covers and trail gear...they should be awesome!
Now that you have a pack...here are a few "must haves" the can keep you safe and alive.
WATER/FOOD- a hydration bladder is easiest for a water source but any water clean water will work. Also, high energy snacks, like bars or trail mixes are easy to carry and go a long way.
NAVIGATION- a tool to keep your bearings can mean the difference of going home or getting lost. Hand held navigation systems are awesome, a bit costly though, but a great tool if you can swing it. Nothing beats a good old fashion compass and map! You do need to know how to read it however. (REI offers classes to learn, I even think you can YouTube it).
FIRST AID- a simple first aid kit IS A MUST. Different terrain will offer different risks, so pack your first aid kit accordingly.
FIRE- from the beginning of man having the ability to start a fire is a key source of survival. Light, signaling for help, keeping warm, keeping animals away, and cooking food are some of the huge benefits to fire, so starting one is important. It's way easier to carry a source to start a fire than to use some crazy but cool ancient survival methods. A ferrocerium rod and metal striker is cheap and a simple way to give you the spark you need.
COMMUNICATION- a cell is important. Use it sparingly to make your battery life last. Signals aren't alway easy to come by out there though so a cheap HAM radio can go a long way. (Keep in mind you do need a license to operate one in any other situation than an emergency, but they aren't to difficult to get).
It's always smart to pack something like a mirror or shiny piece of metal to try and make yourself visible incase of an emergency, don't forget a basic pencil and note pad is something that could turn out to be a life saver. It's important to leave notes to lead people to you if you're lost.
550 PARACORD- believe it or not, paracord has proved itself over and over again to be super useful in a survival situation. Personally, I restring my boots with it as well as throwing some in a pack.
JACKET- a light weight jacket to keep the wind off and hypothermia away will keep you alive in the cold weather. A water proof shell will usually do the trick. Keep it light as possible, remember you have to carry it.
KNIFE- having a GOOD quality of knife will do all kinds of things. It doesn't have to be super expensive, just quality. I personally rarely will be without one. Definitely something simple that everyone should keep with them. Keep it handy though, clip it to a pocket. The more accessible it is the better off you are.
Lastly, Make sure you water proof everything!! Zip lock baggies will do the trick just fine if your bag isn't water proof and water tight.
So, there you have it folks...the basics. Most importantly is for you to do your homework, know where you're going and plan appropriately.