Backpacking Essentials List
The first thing you need to remember when you are planning a Backpacking trip is that you will be living out of your back pack for the duration of your trip. This essentially means that you will have to ensure you pack light but at the same time, pack all the essentials you will need for your trip.
The art of backpacking is the ‘packing’ and ensuring you have everything you need and not taking all those items you think you ‘could need’ but are not sure about! It is very easy to ‘Over’ pack and I am sure that if you have been on a normal holiday where you take a suitcase, you find that you always pack much more items than you actually need. The big difference is, on those types of holidays you can afford to ‘Over’ pack simply because you have the space in your suitcase and also the only time you will really need to carry your suitcase is at the airport.
However, when you are backpacking, you do not have this space and you will be carrying your backpack much further and for longer periods of time! If you get your packing right, your travel will be much more pleasant, easier and enjoyable. Get it wrong and your travel will be a complete nightmare!
What To Pack When Backpacking
Although you need to ensure you reduce the amount of clothing and accessories you pack for your trip, there are several items that you will need to have in your backpack that will make your backpacking trip much more pleasant but will also help reduce the weight of your backpack which is a key factor in packing your backpack.
Every individual persons backpack will contain different items that are personal to them and that are essential items they will require. However, there are also other essential items that you should always include or at least consider packing before travel.
Clothing: Pack lightweight clothing and try not to pack too much! Remember, you can always wash your clothes and if you really need to, you can purchase cheap items such as underwear and T-shirts in the places you are visiting.
T-Shirts: Just a few and if possible, try to pack one or two that are moisture wicking, this will prove valuable when you are sweating in hot climates and have a rucksack on your back. Have at least one polo shirt in your rucksack as these look smarter than a normal T-shirt if you need to dress smart at any time. They are also good if you are walking and need to keep the sun off your neck as you can turn up the collar.
Long Sleeved Shirt: Always ensure you have a long sleeved shirt in your pack as they can be very handy for all types of occasions. They are both casual and smart and can be worn for everyday wear or out to a function. They are also really handy when you need protection from the sun or insects and are obviously another layer if the temperature turns a little cooler.
Micro Fleece or Ultra Lightweight Jacket: You have to be prepared for all types of weather and although you may be travelling to a place where you think the weather will be warm, you just never know what may happen. Storms, rain and wind are all common in many of the tropical countries and if you haven’t packed a lightweight fleece of jacket, you will soon wish you had! They will also come in very useful when you are on a plane or ferry where the temperature can drop considerably. If you have a lightweight wind and rain proof jacket, pack it.
Obviously, you will have a good sense of what the weather will be like in the places you are visiting and you should be able to use common sense as to what type of jacket you should pack in terms of thickness and quality. If you are visiting typically hot countries pack a good quality micro fleece and if you are visiting cooler climates, ensure you have a good quality jacket that will keep you warm.
Trousers And Pants: Once again, common sense should prevail and the last thing you want to take with you are trousers or pants that will be heavy to carry around in your rucksack. Obviously jeans are probably one of the heaviest types of pants you could pack and if you can avoid taking them, do so! Try to pack trousers or pants that dry quickly and that will dry overnight if you need to wash them.
Obviously footwear is determined on where you are going, what terrain you will be walking on and what weather conditions you will experience. However, it is very easy to pack several different types of footwear but you should only really take two pairs at the most and some would say only take one pair and that is the pair you will be wearing on a daily basis! If you take two pairs, the best policy is to wear your main pairs for travelling and then pack a pair of very lightweight shoes that can be easily packed away without taking up too much space or creating additional weight. A second pair of footwear such as flipflops or light canvas slip on shoes are idea for the times when you may need them in the shower or sea and are lightweight and easy to pack.
Females: Remember if you are visiting certain countries that have different cultures and beliefs, you should always respect them. Many countries do not like to see naked flesh on women and having something packed in your bag such as a wrap-around skirt or sarong will be useful for these types of places.
Cardigan: A nice lightweight cardigan is always a good item of clothing to pack for many reasons. It protects you from the sun, provides you with an extra layer of warmth if needed and can help cover any naked exposed upper body flesh if you are visiting religious monuments or buildings that require you to be covered.
Leggings: Lightweight leggings are very handy as they are quick drying if you need to wash them and they too can be used for several different types of protection from the sun, cold and insects. They can also help cover up any exposed flesh if needed in certain countries.
Bacterial Hand Gel And Hand Wipes
When you are backpacking, you will find yourself in places that do not have washing facilities and being able to wash your hands is essential in foreign countries, especially just before you eat. This may sound daft but remember, you are travelling to countries whose sanitary facilities may not be as modern as you are used to!
A Lightweight Sleeping Bag
If you are backpacking, you probably will not be staying in 4 & 5 star hotels and the chances are you will either be staying in budget accommodation, hostels, camping and in some extremes, simply sleeping under the stars. If this is the case, some of the surfaces that you will need to sleep on may not be the most inviting and in some cases may not be the warmest, especially during the night! Having a lightweight sleeping back in your backpack means that you will always have something clean and warm to sleep in no matter where you are. A lightweight sleeping bag is also very handy if you encounter any long delays and need to spend the night at the airport, ferry port or train station.
EN 13537: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EN_13537
Basic First Aid Kit
Having basic First Aid in your backpack is essential. Packing the basics such as plasters, antiseptics creams, dressing and bandages will be very useful for any minor accidents you may incur on your travel. You should also ensure that you have treatments for stomach upsets, diarrhoea and general aches and pains. If you are travelling to third world countries where the sanitation is poor and the water is questionable, you should ensure you pack sterilising tablets and also water purification tablets.
Ensure that your backpack is secure. One of the biggest errors people make is that they presume their backpack will be safe because it is on their person. However, you must always remember that in foreign countries that are poor in comparison with your homeland, there will always be thieves waiting for the next vulnerable victim. Many of these thieves work in organised gangs and are looking for easy targets who will be easy to pick pocket. Don’t make their job easy and ensure your backpack is secure with padlocks.
Obviously it depends where you are planning on travelling to o but if you intend visiting countries South East Asia & Africa, then a mosquito net is a very handy piece of kit to have in your backpack. There are several different types of mosquito net available bell shaped, box shaped, wedge, ridge, free-standing net and each one has advantages and disadvantages but which one you pack should be determined on personal preference and where you will be sleeping.
Money belts are an essential item if you are backpacking as the allow you to carry your valuables on your person discretely. They come in a range of styles such ones that you wear around your waist as a belt, over your shoulders like a holster or ones that you wear around your neck. They are an inexpensive item to buy but will prove invaluable on your travels.
A torch is one of those items that people overlook or forget to pack but they are something that you end up using on many different occasions whilst you are backpacking. Arriving late at night, going to the toilet in the night, needing to look for items in your room, tent or backpack or walking home in the dark are all times when a torch is useful. Whether you pack a normal hand held torch or a head torch, ensure you pack one.
Other Items To Consider For Backpacking
Pegless Washing Line
Inflatable Travel Pillow
Waterproof Ziplock Bags
Travel Plug Adapter
Although the list above are items that you need to pack when you set of on your travels, just remember that one of the main Backpacking essentials you should never forget take with you and use is your common sense!