If you’re anything like us, packing is the least enjoyable part of a backpacking adventure. From deciding what to take to squeezing it all in your bag, packing can be a daunting task even for the most experienced traveler. So to help make your packing experience quick, easy and effortless, we’ve put together a list of the top backpacking must-haves! 

A Backpack

This may seem like an obvious one at first but the type of backpack that you buy could make or break your trip! Make sure that you get a backpack that is designed for backpacking – don’t be afraid to spend a lot of money on a quality backpack. It will be well-worth it and could last you up to 20 years if you make the right purchase!

Backpack

Warm clothing

Even if it’s the summer time, you’ll need to make sure that you have at least a hoodie, a light jacket, socks, and a pair of jeans or sweatpants. Overnighting outside will make you cold pretty fast.

A protected map

A detailed map is always a good idea even if you are bringing a GPS, and make sure you protect it with plastic wrap or some kind element-proof covering. You never know when a paper copy of a map is going to be crucial and you don’t want to be lost somewhere without one.

Map book

Sun protection

Sunscreen, a hat, lip balm, it’s all important.  A sunburn can quickly become serious and infected and we all know how sunstroke can put a dampener on any adventure! Sun protection is a must.

Extra sources of light

 Even if you think two flashlights is enough, bring at least 3! You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’ve run out of batteries of lost your flashlight somewhere along the journey!

Power Bank 

A power bank is an absolute must-have when traveling! Whether you need to keep your laptop, phone or smart device charged – a powerful power bank could save you from many mishaps and potentially dangerous situations. Just make sure that you buy a power bank that will suit your needs!

First aid kit 

First aid kits are an absolute must when doing any sort of traveling, especially backpacking! Bring a complete and modern first aid kit with you so that you can have anything and everything that you’ll need in case of injury or illness.

First Aid Kit

Extra food and water

While you don’t want to make your backpack unbearably heavy, it is a good idea to pack some extra food and water in case of an emergency! Make sure that you are careful in rationing it out and be smart about the types of food you take along. Good quality backpacking often will give you lots of room for water bottles on the inside and outside of the bag.

Water purifier tools

While you are bringing as much water as possible with you, you should really consider the idea of water purifier tools such as tablets or a mechanical device. You will probably run out despite your best attempts and fresh water is going to be literally lifesaving. So, invest the money in something like a water purifier.

Communication devices

Whether it’s a cell phone, a satellite phone or a really good walkie talkie. You want to make sure that you have all of the proper communication devices ready to go.

Walkie Talkie

Toilet paper

You may not have heard this when you were looking at gear for backpacking in the past, but toilet paper is not a luxury – it’s essential! It doesn’t matter what gender you are, no one wants to be out in the woods to “empty the tanks”, and have to struggle to find the right kind of leaf to wipe with. Bring it. Try to budget approximately 4 squares per day, but when it doubt, bring two rolls!

Cash

Having a small amount of cash on you is always a great idea.  Even if you plan on going rugged, a few dollars on a soft drink or more toilet paper, perhaps, is always well-spent.  You will find lots of places to hold it, too.

Rope

Bungee cords or ropes are always a good idea when backpacking! They will help you tie things down, tie things up, secure things, fix things, you name it. If you would rather not depend on your rope tying skills, try old fashioned duct tape and/or gorilla glue or tape. This will help you get the same quality you’re looking for but it might be easy to travel with.

Rope

Space blanket

Even if you’re bringing the sleeping bag or the hammock, you need to bring a space blanket, too.  You might get caught in a tight spot, or you might need a little bit of extra insulation if you get wet. They’re compact and easy enough to load into your backpack. Trust me, you’ll be glad you brought it.

Hand sanitizer

While this could be considered a luxury item, you’ll want to think about it carefully as an essential. This is critical when touching food after a long day of trekking of exploring! You don’t want to end up catching a nasty bug from unclean surfaces. You can get small bottles so that packing it will be easier.

When you’re building a temporary home on your back, it’s hard to get it all right. It can be overwhelming and frustrating and could have you leaving some important things behind which is why we made this checklist! Our top tip is to get a backpack that is designed specifically for backpacking – this will put you on the right foot going forward! 

3 Comments

  1. Hi Meg and Paul, this go to list of things to take while backpacking has made my packing experience a lot less stressful. I like that you mention having cash as a lot of guides choose to avoid cash for cards as an anti theft protocol. However sometimes smaller more rural areas wouldn’t have card facilities available. This shows me you two are true travellers that experience more than the tourist attractions.

  2. A lightweight (microfibre) towel is probably the best investment I made into my backpack

  3. Seriously aren’t rope’s a bit much? haha – How about powerbanks? I mean we have cell phones, Ipads, navigation etc? A decent power bank is probably alot more helpful than a rope? no? :’)

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