Getting all geared up for an epic backpacking trip is an exciting place to be in. But it’s also a treacherous one. Leave some essential item out of your backpack and you could find yourself lost and stranded without that special something to help make your trip all that more easier.
Putting together all your essential items needn’t be difficult though. So the next time you find yourself preparing for a trip and need to make some final checks before departure day, run through this list to see if you’re ready to avoid those irritating travel hiccups.
Goes without saying, a backpacker is going to need a sturdy, reliable option when it comes to the most crucial piece of all their kit; the backpack itself. Going for something between 40 and 60 litres is usually what’s recommended, anything larger than that becomes a pain to carry. Also make sure you go for something front-loading, it makes packing faster and easier.
Shorts are another option but lightweight trousers are a safe bet in case you need to gain access to certain tourist spots (especially in Southeast Asian temples for example) where the requirements are that your ankles are covered. Lightweight trousers, preferably waterproof, are always a decent and comfortable option for most destination spots.
Sandals/Light Hiking Shoes
Sandals or flip-flops will get you along just fine in most tropical places but if you plan to do more walking (or go somewhere less humid) it’s useful to bring a pair of light hiking shoes that are also suitable for urban exploration too. Your best bet is to wear these while you travel to avoid taking up precious packing space.
Sun protection is absolutely crucial for a backpacker prone on spending a lot of time outdoors. A hat or some kind of cap is a good item to bring, but these can often be picked up on-route easy enough and don’t need to be too technically specific.
Sunglasses on the other hand should be of good quality to protect from penetrating UV rates and comfortable enough to remain active in. Oakley sunglasses are a firm backpacker favourite and continue to be a popular choice on the road all over the world.
A light micro-fibre towel is a very handy useful item to bring with you and can be used in most scenarios from bathroom showering to keeping you warm and dry in the midst of humidity or a storm. A towel can also be adapted for use as a pillow to help you find greater comfort on heavy journeys.
Sleeping Bag Liner
Great for keeping bugs at bay and also a good safe-guard for extra warmth. Use these in hostels to avoid bugs getting to you and also in extreme air-conditioning (as many hostels in Asia seem to be in favour of).
You can get most of what you’d need in emergencies on the road but it’s always a good idea to pack some tylenol or imodium with you on your first leg, just in case you need it during transport layovers or the misfortune of getting sick after your first meal.
Critical for staying in touch with back home, planning or even working, a lightweight laptop is a great tool for backpackers looking to get more out of a journey. Good models obviously include Apple’s Air series but Dell and HP also have good models too.
There’s the option of packing a smartphone but sometimes its a better bet – especially if you already have a laptop and a wi-fi enabled eReader – to go for an inexpensive unlocked phone that you can buy local SIM cards for.
A lot of backpackers are vying for tablets these days as they drop in cost but an e-Reader is just as efficient and great for travel. Light and easily packable, models like the Kindle or Kobo are great for pulling books out on the go and helping to break down long journeys.
Backpacking packing essentials don’t really need to be any more overcomplicated than this. Throw in a few extra T-shirts and a sweater here and there and that’ll about set you up for any particular circumstance you might find yourself coming across.