For anyone spending the summer outside on the baseball/softball/soccer fields, at swim meets, track meets, volleyball games, or making beach or camping trips, the summer sports Go-Bag is the clothed and fearless equivalent of a Naked and Afraid survival tool: You don’t think you need it until you NEED it.
Last weekend, at my daughter’s Memorial Day softball tournament, as some of us parents were chatting over a glass of wine, sprawled across the cheap hotel room beds, my friend Beth busted out her baseball/softball Go-Bag.
Beth is a mother of four children – one baseball player who’s now in college, and three softball players who are still living at home – and a veteran sports spectator. Over the years she has amassed a wealth of wisdom about what one might need at the field/court/pool and since her son also has cystic fibrosis, she’s accustomed to being prepared for all manner of surprises and crises while far from home. Her Go-Bag is nothing short of amazing (just like her).
I am on the opposite end of the spectrum of preparedness. After four years of tournament baseball and six years of other outdoor sports, we finally purchased a pair of portable bleacher chairs last spring. In other words, I’m woefully unprepared. I try to compensate by being an enthusiastic, supportive fan, but I’d like to be more prepared, so I asked Beth to let me borrow her Go-Bag so that I could look more closely at the contents and share them with you.
#1 The Go-Bag Backpack
First and foremost, the Go-Bag starts with a sturdy, well-made backpack with thoughtfully-placed pockets of every shape and size. This is the exact backpack pictured. (Ogio definitely makes the best bags.) Beth uses the very topmost pocket to store a spare set of sunglasses and the laptop pocket in the back for a clipboard, coloring book, and zip ties. (The zip ties, she said, came in handy recently when someone needed the face mask on their helmet fixed and tape wasn’t doing the trick.)
Sunscreen is a must, of course, and sprays are an easy, fast way to reload yourself and the players during and in between games.
#3 Bug Repellent
Being outside at dusk means mosquitos and other pests, so Beth keeps a bottle of bug spray on hand for times like these. “Dryer sheets“, says Beth, “also keep bugs and bees away, so you can rub them on your cheeks and neck, or even hang them inside your bleacher umbrella to ward them off.” On the occasion you can’t stop bugs from biting and bees from stinging – or for kids (and adults) with grass or other allergies – anti-itch gel is a welcomed relief.
#4 First-Aid Kit
A first-aid kit is another must for the Go-Bag, as well as an assortment of over-the-counter medications like allergy medication, analgesics, and antacids. Beth stores most of these items inside clear plastic travel pouches so that she can see what’s inside.
#5 Toilet Paper and Seat Covers
Unfortunately, not all field and sport facilities are clean and sanitary. Most recently, the women’s restroom at my daughter’s softball game didn’t have doors on the stalls, like a prison, even though the field, snack shop, and stands were immaculate. You just never know what you’re going to come across. For bathroom emergencies, Beth keeps travel toilet paper and toilet seat covers in her Go-Bag.
#6 Miscellaneous Treasure Pouch
Also in the Go-Bag is a medium-sized, miscellaneous treasure pouch containing a manicure kit, retractable tape measure (“you never know when the coaches will need to measure between the bases”), safety pins, assorted carabiners, myolyte electrolyte tablets, extra band-aids, a sewing kit, dryer sheets, hand sanitizer, binder clips, gum, paper soap sheets, laundry soap sheets, bubbles for bored younger siblings, a hair brush and hair elastics (cleverly attached with a carabiner), extra uniform-coordinated hair bows, and my personal favorite, Tajin (because, why not?)
#7 Plastic Bags
Small, clear trash bags are also handy Go-Bag items for those times when the park trash cans are full and Beth likes to have a couple of ziplock bags inside for any number of things including “ice for an injury, a lost tooth, leftover pizza, wet or stinky socks”, and more.
Extra travel pouches are useful for those items you use often and need to get at quickly, such as hand sanitizer and pens.
#8 Phone Charger and Flashlight
My husband and I have to divide and conquer on the weekends, so we’re constantly calling and texting one another, eating up precious battery life in the process. Beth keeps a portable phone charger and USB cord, as well as a small flashlight in a pocket of the bag.
A mother who takes a ton of pictures of her kids is a woman after my own heart; especially if she can take fabulous shots of them in action. Beth is a great photographer and thanks to her gorgeous (and enviable) Nikon telephoto lens and years of trial and error, Beth knows how to get a great action shot or team photo in just about any light.
#10 Hot/Cold Weather Accessories
The spring and early summer in California can be mercurial when it comes to the weather. It can be 100 degrees and scorching or windy, damp, and cold after the sun sets so sharing the Go-Bag pocket with her camera are a spare set of baseball socks, a pair of gloves, a bleacher umbrella, and hand warmers which are useful for chilly athletes and fans alike. Beth also keeps an old clothe diaper in the Go-Bag for cleaning dirty bleachers and spills or for wiping down wet bats and balls.
#11 Baby Wipes
In the same pocket as the first-aid kit and miscellaneous treasure pouch, Beth keeps a small box of baby wipes, which are good for almost everything.
#12 Eye Care
For eyeglass or contact wearers, baseball fields can be a stinging, dusty nightmare. Having eye drops and other eye care products in the Go-Bag can be the difference between watching the game and just listening to it.
#13 Hydration Helpers
For Beth’s son, hydration is not just for good sports performance – it’s critical for his health. But no matter how healthy they may be, staying hydrated is important for all our young athletes. Beth always keeps sodium tablets or salt packets, as well as an assortment electrolyte drink tablets to help every feel and perform their best. (A spare set of plastic utensils is useful, too.)
#14 Rain Gear
California may be dry as a bone, but Beth and her husband went to college at Notre Dame, so they’re no strangers to inclimate weather. If you’re in rainy weather locations or seasons, Beth suggestions adding Frogg Toggs rain gear or a rain poncho to your Go-Bag.
#15 My Additions
A few items I’ll be adding to my Go-Bag to suit my own particular neuroses are a tube of aquaphor, a mini portable bluetooth speaker, and a $20 bill safety pinned to the inside of a pocket because I’m always forgetting to bring cash with me.
What would your #15 be?
Good luck putting your summer sports Go-Bag together! And if you have additional must-haves for your Go-Bag, please share them!