Updated on June 17th, 2019
If you are a backpacking newbie, you might want to check this list before you start packing. Even some experienced backpackers should take a look, to make sure they are completely prepared. Some of the things from the list are obvious, while others might never come to your mind.
1. A Travel Backpack
Duh, when going on a backpacking trip you are going to need a backpack. But, have you ever thought about which one to buy? The size of the backpack depends on the length of your trip, as well as on your height. And do not forget to check what additional features the backpack has. You should look for a lockable backpack, with many pockets, and with a detachable daypack. With a lockable backpack, you will feel much safer, and many different pockets will help you stay organized, while a detachable daypack is handy for a daily use.
2. A Travel Towel
The regular towel will most likely take up half of your backpack. But, with a travel towel that will not be the case. This travel essential is lightweight, compact, and made of a highly absorbent material which dries quickly, too. You may even find one with anti-bacterial protection, so there will be no more unpleasant odors from your backpack. If you’re looking for a fast drying towel, microfiber towel can be the best option for your traveling.
3. A First Aid Kit
You can either buy a pre-made first aid kit, or you can put together your own supplies, tailored to your specific needs. Some of the items you do not want to forget to pack are prescription medications, diarrhea relief, rehydration sachets, paracetamol, anti-histamines, antiseptic cream or spray, sticky plasters, tweezers, sterile gauze bandages and adhesive tape. You can see a more detailed guide on first aid essentials here.
4. A Hand Sanitizer and Antibacterial Wipes
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You will not be able to wash your hands with a soap and warm running water every time, so you will definitely need some adequate alternatives for cleaning your hands. Travelers are likely to get ill due to poor hand hygiene. And a pack of wet wipes will come in handy for freshening up or cleaning your shoes, too.
5. A Mosquito Net and Mosquito Repellent (as Well as a Bite Relief)
When traveling on a budget, you cannot expect that your accommodation will have mosquito nets. Wearing a mosquito net is particularly essential when traveling to countries with a risk of tropical disease or if you are camping outdoors. You can find the one that is lightweight and compact, so it will not take up too much space in your backpack. Another item you should consider is a mosquito repellent. It will protect you from insect bites. And make sure you also pack a bite relief to help you with those itchy bites.
6. A Sleeping Bag and an air mattress
A sleeping bag and sleeping liner are essential for travelers who are going to sleep outdoors or in colder climates. When choosing a sleeping bag, pay attention to the season rating. Sleeping liners are usually made of cotton, poly-cotton or silk (silk is the lightest and takes up the least space, but it is also the most expensive of these three).
On the other hand, an air bed is an essential when backpacking and camping outdoors or staying in a hostel with sub-par hygiene standards. Inflatable beds are a quick and easy way to set up a sleeping area of your own and know that you’re the only person who has laid their head on the surface. Choosing the best air mattress for longer trips, again, depends on a range of factors – from how much you can pack to the size of space you’ll sleep in and whether you have access to power.
If there is one area where you shouldn’t try to save, it’s your sleeping arrangements. Read the reviews of the airbeds from people in similar circumstances and go with a reliable brand. If you have the space and access to power, we’d recommend the Sound Asleep Dream Series.
7. A Sleeping Mask or Ear Plugs
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A sleeping mask or earplugs are the simplest way to block out the unwanted noise. And not only they are effective, but they are affordable, too. You can find a good pair of earplugs even for a dollar and sleeping masks can be found at very reasonable prices, too.
8. A Travel Clothes Line (and a Travel Soap or Detergent)
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If you do not want to wear too many clothes with you, you should think about washing the clothes during the trip. But, you will not have laundry facilities everywhere you go, so you might have to hand wash your clothes. You will need either a multi-purpose soap or a travel detergent. And do not forget to pack a travel clothes line. It will not take up much place in your backpack, and you will need it to hang your wet clothes. REI.com has a great guide on backpacking clothes – you can see it here.
9. A Plug Adapter and Power Bank
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If you are traveling abroad, you should look for a worldwide plug adapter. This adapter will work in more than 150 countries. But, if you are traveling around your own country or visiting just a couple of countries in the neighborhood, you can simply pack a plug adapter you are using at home. And do not forget to pack a power bank. You will need to charge your phone while you are on the go.
10. Packing Cubes and Zip Lock Bags
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Packing cubes and zip lock bags will definitely make more order and space in your backpack. You can use packing cubes to separate and organize different items and to keep your clothes neatly rolled during the trip, while zip bags will keep your travel documents and electronic devices safe from dirt and water.