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My rucksack has a small pocket on the hip belt, but I can’t think of anything useful to keep in it while day hiking. What types of things is such a pocket intended for? If there is no common purpose for such a pocket, what are some things I could keep in it that would be useful?

  • This is no broader than outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/18918/…, lets leave this open – Charlie Brumbaugh Sep 17 '18 at 14:37
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    @Andy I edited this to make it less broad, as there is currently debate going on among this site's users about how aggressive we should be in closing broad questions (your question already has 1 close vote). Your question is good, but some people are advocating for closing anything opinionated or broad. If you don't want those users to vote to close, try to be specific in your next question. And we hope you have more questions to come! Enjoy. – Loduwijk Sep 17 '18 at 16:09
  • Sorry this is not an answer but i find the idea of those pockets greater than their actual usefulness -- they're too dammed small. – Martin F Sep 21 '18 at 2:05
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I use my hip pockets mostly for holding snacks or other items that I want regular and immediate access to.

When I go out on a hike I pack both hip pockets full of granola bars and other goodies, then I don't have to stop on the trail when I want a quick snack.

I keep my keys in the hip pockets on the small mountain biking bag I carry every day, as well as a couple tools for making small adjustments on my bike while I'm riding. I'll also keep one or two food bars in there just in case of a snack attack. Other things you can keep in there can include:

  • pocket knife
  • compass
  • small headlamp/flashlight
  • extra batteries
  • small point and shoot camera
  • chapstick
  • hand sanitizer
  • pretty much any item you would normally keep in your pants pockets, but don't want to pack them full while hiking.

You're needs may vary depending on your activity, but the intent of the hip pockets is to keep the small items that you are going to want to be able to have quick access to without stopping and taking off your backpack.

  • I usually kept hankies in there or a small pack of wet wipes. – Willeke Sep 17 '18 at 20:15
  • @Willeke Hankies are so gross... Just blow it on the ground. Wet wipes would be handy though. – ShemSeger Sep 17 '18 at 22:30
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    My regular keys go in a zippered pocket of my pants. My spare keys get clipped (daypack)/sewn (overnight pack) deep into an interior pocket of my pack. I've got no use for my keys during a hike, but they're essential at the end of the hike, so I put them in the most secure spot available. – Mark Sep 17 '18 at 22:48
  • @Mark I only put my keys in the hip pocket of the bag I carry everyday (basically my man-purse). When Camping I usually lock all my keys into my vehicle, and carry only a door key clipped to the key keeper inside my bag. – ShemSeger Sep 18 '18 at 0:16
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It depends on the size of the pocket, so here are a few very different ideas for small things you might want to get at without stopping (for long):

Many I've seen would take a small phone or compact camera. I've used them to support the lens tripod mount when hiking with a SLR and long zoom lens, to reuce the load on my neck. Similarly a GPS (like an etrex) fits in there, though I carry mine on the shoulder strap for better signal and access. A compass is handy if you don't want to carry it round your neck.

When travel-backpacking (as opposed to wilderness hiking), this can be a good place to keep tickets, passports and money. Again the phone or source of music if you want one.

When moving fast (speed hiking or trail running) energy snacks can go in there for access on the go. Quick access to water would be needed too (Camelbak or bottle in a belt holster).

If you like to whittle, a folding knife can go in there.

Smokers may find them quite handy too (though hopefully not in the wilderness).

One unusual but very useful item: a mirror in the hip pocket of a child-carrying backpack to check if the child is awake.

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In my 2-3 days outings backpack (45L), I wasn't sure what to put in the hipbelt pocket. Then I noticed my 0.3 Adventure Medical Kit fits in there quite nicely. It's really just the basics like bandages, gauze, and plasters but those things can be dealt with a backpack on.

Before that I had a pocket chain-saw in that pocket but I stopped carrying it.

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Along with all the other answers, I would add toilet paper (in a waterproof bag obviously). Nice to keep it handy, when you need to go you don't want to have to unpack your entire bag to find it buried at the bottom.

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Stuff happens when least expected. You day hike could turn into an overnight stay quickly and unexectedly. Be prepare for that situation. Use that pocket to hold an emergency item such as, but not limited to, an extra lighter and/or tinder, space blanket, folding knife, hand sanitizer, water purification tablets, or anything else that would be helpful during an overnight stay.

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    Why would you keep those in the hip pocket and not in the main part opf the backpack though? – Chris H Sep 17 '18 at 15:29
  • @Chris H, No particular reason. If you just HAVE TO put something in a small pocket make it useful. – B540Glenn Sep 17 '18 at 15:54
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    @ChrisH it can be helpful to keep you emergency supplies separated from your daily use items so they are still there when the emergency happens. You should schedule regular inventories of emergency supplies. but it is real easy to lose long term stuff from the everyday section. – James Jenkins Sep 17 '18 at 16:01
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    I keep all my emergency stuff that I carry but hope I won't have to use in the bottom of my bag. It's there for "just-in-case", I don't need quick and immediate access to it on my hip belt. – ShemSeger Sep 17 '18 at 17:56
  • @JamesJenkins I would adapt my kayaking approach to emergency kit - a distinctive (dry-)bag with the gear and first aid kit inside, accessible but not too close to hand in case it gets raided. Closer to hand should be useful but not reserved stuff (IMO of course) – Chris H Sep 18 '18 at 11:53
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Keep condoms in that pocket. Seriously. Besides the obvious, a condom is useful if you need to keep your phone, keys (including electronic buttons), or anything else small, dry.

Instructions for use: put small item inside the condom & tie the loose end in a knot.

  • Or you could use resealable bags for your keys etc., but that's a nice example of something unexpected. – Chris H Sep 18 '18 at 6:31
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    "put small item inside the condom" - this made me giggle. :) sorry, couldn't help it. – T_Bacon Sep 18 '18 at 8:31
  • whatever happened to ziploc bags? – njzk2 Sep 23 '18 at 5:42
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My hip pocket is wide enough that it can handle a smartphone turned sideways. I store mine here inside one or more ziplock bags to keep it dry. Storing it here raises the risk of damaging the device if you fall the wrong way, but overall the convenience is worth it for quick photos or directions.

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