The Bare Essentials – Stretching the Daypack for Solo Traveling

Whether it’s a routine TDY or your first experience using that hard-earned leave to backpack across new territory, there’s no denying the importance of your daypack. Consolidating your entire packing list into one portable bag makes your life easier while on the go, no matter how much that fourth pair of jeans is begging to be brought along. Better yet, keeping a consistent packing list means there’s less of a chance of forgetting or misplacing important items or documents. Lets take a look at what I never step foot in an airport without.

The Backpack

There’s a lot that goes into picking a backpack. My personal favorite that I’ve owned was an Osprey 40l framed backpack that’s been with me across five continents, but any good hiking or military daypack will get the job done. Just remember – you generally get what you pay for with backpacks. I spent about $150 on the pack, which seems outrageous for a backpack until you consider that it probably has more miles on it than many people’s cars. No matter what you pick, trust your gut (and reviews) over your wallet and there’s a good chance you’ll have made a buy-it-for-life purchase.

A Smaller Collapsible Backpack

No, this isn’t Inception. A small nylon backpack should be part of every packing list. It takes up negative room if you wind up having to use it, and parachute-nylon packs run about $20 at most for something that could be a lifesaver if the airport deems your carry on too heavy (or if you wind up doing too much shopping out there – not every base’s PX is like Ramstein’s!).

Concealable Travel Wallet

I’ve advocated for travel wallets before on account of being a victim of pickpocketed in the past, and here it’s no exception. An under-the-clothes travel wallet keeps your most important documents and an emergency supply of cash out of sight and attached directly to your body.


This is where the packing list differs depending on where you’re going. If you’re on business, you’re probably going to have to check a bag with a suit or uniform in it. Unfortunately unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean that all of your clothing should go in checked luggage. A small set of casual clothes and an extra change of underwear will without-a-doubt turn the inevitable travel delay into a more comfortable experience.

If you’re on pleasure, breezing through checkpoints and public transit without lugging a suitcase around feels great. To do so, you’re going to need to get creative with your clothes packing. Instead of packing individual outfits, pack clothing that can be dressed up or down and multiple functions. You don’t need to pack for every scenario – every hotel has a laundry service or facility in case of a wardrobe emergency.


The last space saving measure of note. Bringing your toiletries as carry-on automatically limits the amount of space they can take to 1.5oz bottles. Take this a step further and ensure that everything you need fits into a 1-gallon plastic freezer bag. Not only will you save space on what’s essential; you’ll make the TSA checkpoint easier on yourself in the meantime.

There are a million different tips and tricks that come along with saving space, something every service member will undoubtedly learn as part of fitting three wall-lockers worth of stuff into one duffle bag. Use all of them, be mindful of weight limits for carryon, and don’t be scared to bring less rather than more on your next trip. Travelling becomes significantly less stressful with a properly packed day-pack no matter the mission.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Garrett Ferrara

Garrett is a writer, perpetual student, and seven-year Army veteran. Currently studying Anthropology and Writing & Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida, he's hoping to stretch the G.I. Bill all the way to a PhD. Bilbo Baggins is his favorite literary character; a character that traveled, fought battles, and finally settled into a simple life. He's looking forward to squaring away that last phase.
Garrett Ferrara

Latest posts by Garrett Ferrara (see all)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *