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Packing With the Pros: Day Hiking (Eric Dumerac)

August 6, 2016


Words and Images by Abby Cooper

Many hikers won’t think too much about what goes in their pack until something goes wrong on their adventure. Whether it’s a First Aid incident or an unexpected night out, your day pack should be fully loaded with items you’ll need if your day takes a turn for the worst (or to prevent that from happening in the first place). We called on IFMGA/ACMG Mountain Guide, Eric Dumerac, to show us how he packs his kit.


Photo by Abby Cooper

Photo by Abby Cooper

Eric Dumerac is one humble guy, with a lengthy list of accomplishments of first ascents and descents that span across the globe. You’d never know just how talented he is until you see him in action because of his approachable personality and caring attitude. Eric is a certified IFMGA/ACMG Mountain Guide, has his Canadian Avalanche Association Level II and is a member of the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance (Level II). From rock to ice to pow, Eric spends his year bouncing around the world but you can usually find him in Canmore or Squamish guiding with Mountain Skills Academy, his own guiding operation.


Photo by Abby Cooper

“I love what I do and my passion is to share that with others either as a professional or on my off time. I have been very fortunate to have such an exciting and fruitful career. The most important part of being a guide is to always be a great guide; this means to be technically sound, to be humble and to put your guests wellbeing above all else. That includes their safety, challenging them within their comfort zone, expanding their skill sets, providing them with extraordinary experiences in world-class terrain and making damned sure they’re loving it! When I’m guiding, my guests and I are a team and were on a mission to have a fun, to be safe and to have a memorable experience.”

– Eric Dumerac



Pack: Black Diamond Speed Zip

For a day hike, Eric prefers a 25-30L pack with a top-loading zipper. Like many day packs, the Black Diamond Speed Zip includes a bladder insert pocket and a whistle built into the chest clip. The Speed Zip’s simple, customizable design keeps it light and versatile for a number of purposes.

First Aid Kit 

Crafting your own first aid kit is the way to go, but purchasing an Adventure Medical UltaLight is a good place to start. A day kit should, at a minimum, include a few large compression bandages, wound closure strips, alcohol wipes, gloves, sugar tablets, triangular bandage tape and a variety of medications for allergic reactions and pain management.


The main purpose of a tarp is to act as an emergency bivy, complete with cord and holes for threading. The tarp can also shelter a small group from the rain in a pinch. Integral Designs makes an ultra light siltarp that packs down to almost nothing in your pack.

Custom Emergency Kit 

The worst-case scenario bag should have all the essentials for a long, unexpected day. Eric uses bike inner tubes as fire starters because they burn hot and fast even when wet. He also wraps his lighter very tightly in cellophane to keep it dry. The compact e+LITE by Petzl is an ideal emergency headlamp since it is so small, lightweight and has continuous or strobe options for red and white light. You’ll also find water treatment tablets and extra batteries for his radio and headlamp in his emergency kit. Keeping a few zip ties, wire and extra tape handy is also a good idea for gear repairs.

Sam Splint 

This first aid tool can split many injuries and weighs next to nothing. It is much more comfortable than any wood splint you could rig up, making it worth packing. Eric usually keeps two in his pack. The water bottle holder is an awesome place to store a Sam Splint.


A soft shell for wind that will breathe and repel light rain is the best “do it all” layer to own. Eric loves his Arc’teryx Atom SL Hoody, especially since it can squish down to nothing. Keeping a pair of light gloves in your pack is recommended, especially for those alpine winds or damp days.


While many people opt for water bladders, Eric prefers a wide-mouth Nalgene. The wide mouth is easy to clean and to fill up from a creek (it is also compatible with many water filtration systems). It won’t freeze as easily as a bladder and won’t puncture.

InReach Explorer

Eric doesn’t leave the parking lot without his InReach Explorer. Not only can you message and send out SOS signals, but it also has tracking, GPS, waypoints, trip stats and weather forecasts. This handy tool is well worth the investment because when you lose a cell signal it becomes your lifeline. Eric finds that the battery lasts much longer on the InReach Explorer compared to other satellite devices, and would highly recommend it to any backcountry user.

Suunto Compass

Bringing a mirrored compass isn’t only for orienteering, but that mirror can come in handy if there is something in your eye or for signalling a rescue. The Suunto Compass comes in a protective case and has an adjustable declination. A compass should be paired with a map of the region where you are headed.

Skeletool by Leatherman

The list of things a Leatherman can do to make your life easier in the backcountry is endless. From cutting up food to cutting rope for rescue, this piece of gear is beyond valuable. The Skeletool is light and has all the essentials you’ll need for winter or summer travel.

Hiking Poles 

Black Diamond makes an awesome trekking pole called the Carbon Z Pole. It collapses so that you can shove it inside your pack when you need your hands free for climbing. These tough trekking poles are Eric’s summer go-to.

Photo by Abby Cooper

Photo by Abby Cooper


Here are some more of Eric’s favourite items to bring along:

  • Whistle
  • Sunscreen (zinc-based is best, especially if you’ll be in the alpine)
  • Sunglasses (Eric is a big Oakley fan for their polycarbonate glass and general “toughness”)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Mosquito repellant (DEET based)
  • Bear Spray (this lives on Eric’s hip belt for easy access to protection from bears and cougars)

Photo by Abby Cooper


  • For a balanced bag, pack your bulky items on the bottom, with majority of the weight in the middle and the lighter stuff up top.
  • Most packs have a key clip – use it!
  • Ladies, have a few feminine hygiene products that permanently live in your pack, just in case. They can also be used for first aid.
  • Pack food that can be squished (wraps are great for this).
  • Burn your toilet paper. Keep a lighter with your TP, so you don’t forget. Let’s keep our forests clean.
  • Always keep energy boosts in your pack that are easily accessible in case you or a pal start to bonk out.


A lover of all things outdoors, Abby Cooper is a splitboarder, climber, hiker, adventurer, photographer and writer. She’s living life one adventure to the next with her dog by her side.

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.

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