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Article: Outdoor Pack Essentials with Paulina Dao

Outdoor adventure essentials

Outdoor Pack Essentials with Paulina Dao

Hey #stashersquad, meet Paulina Dao! She’s a weekend warrior and climber based here in the the San Francisco Bay Area, and part of the Bay Area Climbers Coalition team. Today’s she’s sharing the must-have items she carries with her on every adventure. Connect with her at @paulinadao

Now that spring is officially in full swing, getting out for some fresh air has been a regular thing. The trails beneath my feet change, but everything that I take with me, more or less, stays the same. Here’s a peek into what I’m always lugging around with me, rain or shine.


The Topo Designs Mountain Pack is perfect for trail to town with equal parts style and utility. There are ample pockets for snacks and water.

Trail map

My most recent hike was at Portola Redwoods State Park. It’s always important to carry a map so you don’t get yourself into any sticky situations.


I actually don’t use a tripod very often, but every now and then it comes in handy for group photos or solo hikes. Either way, I’ll usually take this along because it’s some good training weight.

Watercolors, brushes + pad

If there’s some downtime on the hike, I like breaking out my watercolors and trying to paint the scene. They’re generally not very good, but it’s very fun. The paper I have is postcard sized, so I’ll send them off to friends. This addition to my pack was inspired by my friend Nikki at Drawn to High Places.

Snacks in my stasher bags

A girl’s gotta eat! I am one hangry person. I don’t have many go tos, just fresh fruit and whatever is available at Costco. In this case, it’s Innofoods Coconut Clusters with Organic Super Seeds and gummy bears (not pictured) and apples (not pictured). I’m trying really hard to stop using single use plastics, and my stasher bags are the perfect solution.

outdoor adventures with stasher bag

Rain jacket

Rain jackets are super versatile. They block out wind in a pinch, and protect your butt if your seating area is a little questionable. I also use them to pad my camera if my camera is inside my pack.

First aid kit

This is a must carry, at all times, no matter what. You just never know what’s going to happen. My kit has a mix of pain relievers, bandaids, insect repellant, anti-itch cream and more.


I’ve been caught hiking out by cell phone light one too many times. I always have a headlamp in my pack. Bonus: if I stumble into cool caves or mine shafts or large, hollow trees, it’s awesome to have.

backpacking must-haves

Camera (not pictured)

Canon 5D Mark II or Sony RX 100 or iPhone X is what I usually have on me. I am a photographer and I enjoy documenting my adventures for myself and friends.

Camera clip (not pictured)

The Peak Design Capture Camera Clip is a lifesaver when it comes to lugging around cameras. Your DSLR just slides into a clip on your shoulder, and is easily accessible. No more keeping a camera from swinging and banging around.

Water bladder (not pictured)

I rock the Camelbak 3L bladder. Dehydration is never a problem for me when I hike. I generally bring too much water, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.