Few things are as exciting and thrilling as traveling independently and exploring the world with a backpack. Because a backpack contains all the life’s necessities, knowing how to pack properly is crucial. Whether it’s your first time camping in the backcountry or you’re a seasoned backpacker, it’s always useful to have a detailed checklist to go through before you go.
From essentials to extras, we’re listing all the gear a backpacker needs to bring when heading on an exciting backpacking trip.
A high-quality backpack to carry your essentials
First things first, you’ll need to get a durable backpack to store all the life’s necessities. A high-quality backpack can last you a long time, so it pays to pay a bit more the first time. Your backpack should be comfortable and adjustable, and its features and compartments should fit the purpose, so keep that in mind when choosing between a daypack and backpack. 40L packs are suitable for shorter trips while longer trips will require 60L ones.
Light and waterproof tent and sleeping bag
Whether you’re embarking on a multi-day hike or going for a short camping trip, a high-quality camping shelter is a must. It will protect you from outside elements while also keeping you safe when out in the wild. When selecting a backpacking tent and a sleeping bag, think in terms of weight, durability, and interior space. Ideally, your tent and sleeping bag will take up little space while also being high-quality, waterproof, and easy to set up.
Quality shoes and clothes
The climate and weather conditions will largely dictate the type of clothing you’ll need. Check the weather forecast and plan your outfits accordingly, but plan for changing weather as well (and always bring extra clothes!). Here are some essential backpacking footwear and clothing items:
- Light and comfortable hiking boots or trail-running shoes
- Hiking socks (merino wool is a great choice)
- Waterproof, lightweight, and breathable rain jacket
- A down jacket
- T-shirts and long sleeve shirts
- Durable, versatile, and weather-resistant hiking pants
- Moisture-wicking underwear
First aid kit and emergency items
Safety should always come first, especially when you’re spending time out in the wilderness. There will likely be no accidents on your backpacking trip, but a first aid kit will come in handy in case of minor injuries. Lighter/matches and fire starters can be useful in case of emergency, and so can whistles. Remember to leave two itineraries – give one to a friend and leave one under your car seat. Should you get lost or can’t contact anyone, others will know where to look for you.
A reliable automatic knife
To be able to keep your backpack light and practical, you want to go for multipurpose tools. One such tool is an automatic knife. Whether you need to cut a rope, tighten a screw, or slice some cheese, a rigid and durable OTF knife can be your best friend when out in the wild. A multipurpose tool like this can save you a lot of time, effort, and frustration since doing certain tasks can be downright impossible without it.
Food, water, and kitchen supplies
Since you’ll be on the move a lot, you’ll need to bring foods that are easy to prepare. Dehydrated, quick-cook foods can be quite practical as they just need to be boiled which can be done by using an all-in-one stove system. You’ll also need bowls, cups, pots, and utensils such as sporks. As for the water, it might be best to invest in a quality water filtration system. Things like pumps, gravity filters, and emergency straws can come in handy for water purification in the areas where there’s a higher chance of animal or human waste.
Personal hygiene items
When heading for an outdoor adventure, you’ll also need to bring some personal hygiene items. These include:
- Toothbrush and paste
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Body wipes
- Menstrual/urinary products
- A sunscreen with a high SPF
- Lip balm with SPF
- Bug spray
Using smartphones with hiking apps can be a great way to navigate the wild, and so can using watches and other handheld devices that act as GPS receivers. However, many backpackers would agree that nothing beats the good old paper map and a compass. Field guides and guidebooks can come in handy as well, but you should always make sure you know your route and where exactly you are on the trail at any given time.
Aside from a smartphone and other GPS receiving devices, some backpackers will also include their laptops on their backpacking must-have checklist, especially digital nomads. For those who don’t need to work on the road, a Kindle or an iPad will suffice – they’re great for reading, watching movies, and staying connected. Cameras can also come in handy on backpacking trips, and the same goes for earphones. To keep your phone and other electronics fully charged, make sure to bring a power bank. Portable chargers are a backpacking must-have, and they can sometimes be real lifesavers.
Knowing how to pack efficiently is an essential skill when heading for a camping adventure. You want to keep your backpack light and organized, but you don’t want to leave out any important items. Having this list on hand while packing for a trip will ensure you bring everything you need for a safe, carefree outdoor adventure.