Whenever I spend a long day outside involved in some physical activity, whether it’s running, tennis, triathlon or sports officiating, I put together a sports bag ahead of time containing things that I need for a long day far from home. Nothing is more frustrating than to need something and have to go to the store to get it or when I can’t go to the store at the moment.
So I decided to put together this guide to show examples of things you may find it helpful to bring. I won’t discuss a specific sport or activity too much unless it helps me make a point. Obviously if you are going to work out for only an hour at the gym down the street, you won’t need most of these items. Since I am listing what I would bring, you are free to modify, add to or ignore any of my suggestions.
One thing I like to have just in case is a first aid kit. I like the ones you can buy at the store, since they are compact, but you can make your own. Put in this kit whatever you need to deal with minor injuries that happen in the field. My kit includes bandages, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and sunscreen.
A long day of physical activity can dehydrate you and consume nutrients, so I like to bring some water and something to eat (as long as it won’t spoil when kept inside an athletic bag for several hours) to replenish during the day. It’s usually cheaper than buying something from a snack bar and probably better for you too.
Some places provide showers and locker rooms, which I take full advantage of. I would rather clean up and then drive home than wait until I got home. I like to pack some basic toiletries using small travel size bottles. It’s nice to have some plain empty travel size bottles ahead of time, so you can fill them up from home if you need to. Obviously you would bring a towel and some dry clothes, but I also bring a plastic bag to put dirty wet clothes in. If you have some of the latest tennis bags on the market, many of them have moisture liners that are great for this purpose so you would not need the plastic bag. You will likely also need to bring your own padlock.
It’s helpful with many activities to have some sort of a repair kit in your sports bag so that you can do repairs out in the field. A tennis player might want to bring some grip material while a bicyclist would need a tire repair kit in case of a flat. If you can store it in a compact container, a kit that provides what you need to do minor repairs in the field can be a lifesaver.
Several miscellaneous items can also be helpful. Zip lock bags are great for icing injuries or protecting devices like cell phones from getting wet. Speaking of cell phones, I like to bring the recharger that goes with it. You don’t want to have a dead phone when you need to make an emergency call. Keeping some money is also helpful if you lose your wallet or need to take public transit to get home.
Whether you have to play all day in a tennis tournament, drive 100 miles away to officiate a game or are going out for a long run along the beach, it’s critical to be prepared for not only the problems you expect, but also the ones you don’t expect. A little thought and planning will help you avoid a frustrating or even precarious situation.
Freelance writer Christopher Mohr enjoys writing about sports, especially tennis, electronics and athletic equipment. Before entering the world of writing he worked for several years in customer service and IT.