The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

The number of backpackers worldwide has been steadily increasing over the past years. Estimates suggest that backpackers now account for 10% of all European tourism. A study also shows that young people are spending less time in major cities and are exploring more remote destinations.

If you’re planning to do the same and explore the road that’s less travelled, then you’ll need to prepare for your holiday using the ultimate backpacking checklist. Having a checklist to follow ensures that you have everything that you’ll need to make your trip as smooth and comfortable as possible. Moreover, you get to save money while you’re on the road as you already have everything inside your rucksack.

Contrary to what most people think, expert backpackers don’t rely on just a Stanley knife, a tent, a sleeping bag, and three shirts when they’re on the road. Seasoned travellers actually take a lot of items with them, especially if they’re going to be away for months. For your safety, survival, and comfort, here is the ultimate list of backpacking essentials.


It’s fun to get lost once in a while when you’re in a different city – most of the time, that’s how you discover the most interesting people, places, and food. But it’s another story when you’re off the beaten path. To avoid getting lost, pack a map with a protective case, a compass, and a GPS. This way, you’ll always know how to find your way back even if you get lost in even the most remote areas.


Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay

Sun Protection

Don’t let a nasty sunburn get in the way of your travels. For maximum sun protection pack sunscreen (with SPF 30 at the very least), sunglasses and lip balm.

First Aid Supplies

A well-stocked first aid kit is definitely one of those things that you need when backpacking. You may find that first aid supplies are thin on the ground when travelling in developing countries, so it’s always good to have the things you need if you get injured while on a hike. You can buy a pre-packaged kit from most chemists, but you can also build your own kit. You’ll need:

  • Medications – Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for fever, headache, and pain relief; Aspirin for heart attack prevention; Loperamide for diarrhea; Diphenhydramine for allergic reactions; Cetirizine for relief from seasonal allergies
  • Wounds – Bandages, antibiotic, disposable gloves, roll gloves, Leukotape, benzoin tincture
  • Tools – tweezers, scissors, hand sanitiser.

Camping Tent

Image by Chulmin Park from Pixabay

Fire, Repair Kit, Emergency Shelter

To save money, most backpackers don’t choose to stay in hotels or hostels. Instead, they head to camping grounds or the woods and set up a tent. However, you’ll need more than a tent and a sleeping bag when you’re roughing it. If you plan to go camping, bring the following:

  • Matches, lighter, emergency fire starter
  • Waterproof container
  • Stanley knife or multi-tool, duct tape
  • Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow or stuffable pillow case
  • Food
  • Drinking water
  • Stove and fuel
  • Cooking set, utensils, dishes, cups
  • Backup water treatment and water filter
  • Packable lantern
  • Clothing, rain gear
  • Footwear (trainers, hiking boots).

Camera and notebook

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Other Essentials

While you should take care to bring only the essentials on a backpacking trip, this doesn’t mean that you have to be completely Spartan when you pack. You should certainly bring a few items to document your journey, a communication device, and some cash.

  • Camera
  • Memory cards
  • Binoculars
  • Permits, guidebook
  • Journal and pen
  • A credit card and a small amount of cash
  • Toiletry kit
  • Mobile phone; 2-way radios; satellite communicator.

Once you’ve got everything, pack your rucksack the right way starting with the items that you only need to use when you’re in the camp, such as your sleeping bag and fuel. The next to go in should be frequent use items, such as your map, sunscreen, and camera. The pockets of your bag should contain your rain gear, water filter and pack cover as you need to keep these items handy.

Backpacking can be a wonderful experience if you’re well-prepared for it. Take the essentials, add a few things to make you comfortable, like a lightweight microfiber towel or a well-insulated tumbler, and don’t forget to bring along a serious sense of adventure.

Author Bio:

Now working as a writer, Jackie Edwards started her career in the hospitality and travel industry, but after becoming a mom refocused and decided to spend more time with her family. When she’s not writing, she volunteers for a number of local mental health charities and also has a menagerie of pets to look after.

Top image by khamkhor from Pixabay

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