If you've ever wound up with aching shoulders from an overstuffed bag after a day on the town, or realized midway through that you'd left an essential item back at your hotel, you know the importance of a well-curated day pack. Give yourself some peace of mind with our picks for a fun and functional city outing.
Pack It Up, Pack It In
If you're going to be on your feet all day, the last thing you need is a bulky bag to weigh you down. This little number is big enough to hold the essentials, but thanks to its nylon build and its minimalist profile, you'll barely know you have it on. And the brick-red color stands out in a crowd, so even if you get separated from your party, you'll be easy to spot. Stash a water bottle in the side pocket for easy access, and you're good to go.
The Street Nylon Zip Backpack in Small, $38, everlane.com.
Drink It Up
Speaking of which: By this point, we’re all well aware of the damage that plastic water bottles do to our environment, not to mention the cost incurred every time you buy a new one. (A few dollars here and there may not seem like much, but those expenses can really add up.) Enter: S'well's stainless-steel reusable bottle. Its triple-walled insulation keeps beverages cold for 24 hours at a time, and with myriad colors and patterns to choose from, there’s something for even the fussiest person on your list. Plus, the company supports charitable organizations such as UNICEF USA, American Forests, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, so you can feel even better about your purchase.
S'well bottles, from $25, swellbottle.com.
Jot It Down
Taking notes on an iPhone is all well and good, but for those connoisseurs of cafe culture, nothing beats pen and paper. This slim journal cover, handcrafted in Spain from beautifully soft leather, will hold a scribbler’s favorite Moleskine or Field Notes notebook, with a facing pocket for tickets, receipts, or memorabilia. It's a bit of a splurge, so you'll appreciate it every time you use it.
Personalized Zipped Journal Cover, $63,aseismanos.com. (Notebook sold separately. Budget Travel readers receive 15% off with coupon code TRAVEL15.)
Prepare for the Worst
Things happen on the go, but you'll be ready for blisters, cuts, or chafing thighs when you carry your supplies in a pouch clearly marked for the purpose. This one is hand-sewn to order, with a natural cotton duck canvas exterior and a red-vinyl interior for easy cleanup. We like the large version, which has room to hold chargers and battery packs as well as Band-Aids and ointments.
Red Cross Medicine Pouch, Tomato Pin, $12-22, etsy.com. (Order by Dec. 12 for Christmas delivery.)
Point, Shoot, Print
Sure, smartphone cameras are super-convenient and their photo quality is improving all the time, but anyone who’s used an old-school Polaroid (*sob* RIP) knows there’s something to be said for instant gratification. Ideal for kids as well as the young at heart, this 10-megapixel camera immediately prints out shots on 2x3-inch adhesive-backed paper so shutterbugs can admire their handiwork in real time.
Kodak Printomatic instant-print camera, $70,amazon.com. (Film sold separately.)
Courtesy C+A Global
Turn It Up
It's not always a great idea to block out ambient noise when wandering around a strange city, but when you're exploring via audio tour, you definitely want to catch every word. With 22 hours of battery life, plus a rapid-charge feature that provides four hours of juice with just ten minutes of charging, these on-ear headphones will take you from breakfast to after-dinner drinks with no problem. They do take up a bit of space, but they fold up for a smaller footprint and connect via Bluetooth for a hassle-free wireless experience. And even though they’re noise-isolating, they do allow some street sounds to filter through, so you can be immersed in your experience and still be aware of your surroundings.
Hesh 3 Wireless headphones, $130; skullcandy.com.
Now that we've got you covered for a weekend away, it's time to consider what you might carry when you're on the ground. Whether you're getting to know a new location or running around your hometown, these day-pack essentials will help you get around in comfort and style.