Backpackers Essentials: The Ultimate Backpacking Packing List

Your trip is booked, and you are excited. Only one issue, you don't have a backpacking packing list. Figuring out the must-haves for your trip is the first step to an enjoyable trip.

From a personal tent and sleeping bag to backpacking necessities such as a first aid kit, packing can surely be a challenge. For your first backpacking trip, having a good idea of which items to bring and which things to leave out is the direction to go. Imagine being a backpacker going on trips in different locations with a backpack over 50kg in weight. Definitely not the best idea.

Avoid the backache and have a fun time travelling with our ultimate backpacking checklist. Here are our top picks for your upcoming backpacking trip.

What to Bring on a Backpacking Trip? Backpacker Must Haves

Going on backpacking trips is a wonderful way to explore the world and enjoy quality time by yourself. Photo by Andrei Tanase on Pexels

Seasoned backpackers always optimise their bags by travelling light and using a step-by-step packing checklist before exploring the backcountry. There are many things to consider: the length of your trip, the weather at your destinations, the weight limits if you travel on an aeroplane and what activities you are going to do.

To avoid overpacking or travelling underprepared, you should invest time in planning your backpacking packing list carefully. One of the most time-efficient ways is to organise and categorise. You can manage better by sorting your essential backpacking gear into different categories. For example, you can list your essentials into these categories: travel documents, clothes, toiletries, electronics, food and so on.

Here is our take on the backpacking must-haves. Depending on your trip, you can add more items or remove items to simplify your packing list.

Travel Documents

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), about 60,000 travellers are turned back by immigration authorities annually. The main reason is inadequate or incorrect travel documents.

Based on your itinerary, you should double-check the regulations of the immigration authority at your planned destination beforehand. Generally, we suggest these travel documents for most trips. 

  • Passport: It is an excellent practice to keep photocopies of your passport and important documents with you on your trip, in case any get lost. Keeping digital versions on the cloud is highly recommended as well. Depending on where you want to visit, having a travel visa for specific countries or having a national ID card and driver's licence might be enough for travelling domestically.

Tips: Passport expiration is taken seriously in most countries. Be sure that your passport is valid.

A passport is an essential document for every passenger to have on international flights. Photo by steheap on

  • Travel itinerary: From flight tickets, car rental details and accommodation reservations, you can manage your travel plan easier with easy-access to these documents. On top of that, these documents might help you pass security checkpoints at airports easier. Keep your essential items and documents at hand. Make the best use of easy-to-access pockets to store your essentials, such as travel documents. 
  • Medical documents: For unexpected situations, you can surely handle things in a less stressful way if you have all the important information ready at your fingertips. For basic health information, you can list out your blood type, known allergies, emergency contacts and medical conditions that require extra attention.

Notes: With the COVID-19 pandemic, depending on your destination, you might need proof of vaccinations or test results. After the pandemic, depending on where you are heading, keeping face masks and hand sanitiser at hand is recommended. 

Comfortable and Practical Clothes

 Opt for comfortability and practicality when picking clothes for your packing list on your next backpacking trip. Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Layering is key when it comes to clothing for any backpacking essentials list. Keep in mind the weather conditions at your destination to select practical pieces of clothings.

Prioritising clothing items that are easy to dry, not prone to odours and can protect you from the burning sun or unwelcomed insects. You can categorise your backpacking must-haves into base layers, bottoms, mid layers, top layers and sleepwear. 

Remember that fabrics matter. For example, for base layers, opt for fabrics that can keep your skin dry, comfortable and easy to stay warm during hiking. Underwear made from synthetic materials such as polyester is quick-dry, comfortable and moisture-wicking.

Pack for special purposes, such as clothes for sleeping or a rain jacket for a rainy trail. For example, prepare a set of clothes for sleeping, which includes a comfortable T-shirt and bottoms reserved. Depending on the weather at your destination, adding a pair of socks to your sleepwear category can be handy.


Explore the backcountry with a comfortable backpack, whether it is a short weekend vacation or a month's worth of adventure. As one of your most essential travel items in the long run, be sure to invest in and pick out the best backpack for your needs.

Which features make a backpack perfect for adventures? Durability, easy-access pockets and comfortable shoulder straps. Depending on your travel style, find the perfect size and ideal weight for your next backpacking trip.

If you tend to carry heavy items such as a sleeping bag and a one-person tent, opt for a lightweight backpack and save more weight for a more enjoyable trip.


Good travel requires decent shoes, and as backpackers, we love to explore the world, so we do walk a lot. If you plan to spend a lot of time hiking and camping, we highly recommend bringing a good pair of camp shoes or hiking shoes. The last thing you want is your feet to get hurt in the middle of your trail.


If you tend to walk a lot, invest in a few good pairs of socks as well. Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels

Aside from shoes and hiking boots, bringing in a pair of quick-drying, durable and comfortable flip flops is ideal for any backpacking trip to the beachside, rainy destinations or easy use at hostels.

Hygiene Products

Regarding camping or trekking hygiene, items such as dental care, biodegradable soap and unscented hand sanitiser or baby wipes are the must-haves. Using baby wipes is an easy and hassle-free way to clean yourself without needing access to a water source.

Avoid using scented products as they might attract wild animals to your spot. All of your toiletries should be organised in a small, handy toiletry bag. Good qualities to look for are pockets, practicality and durability.

Navigation Smartphones can be an effective travel tool for directions, booking accommodations and so on. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

Smartphones are a beneficial tool for travel. From getting directions to finding like-minded travellers on your trip and translating foreign texts instantly, smartphones can be used for many things. Be sure to bring a portable power bank with you, just in case.

Cameras might be essential backpacking gear if you are a blogger or a backpacker with a love for photography. Keep your tech safe and pack your devices in an appropriate backpack.

While we are at electronics, check out the valuable apps that you might need before your backpacking trip and download the ones you need. Love to read for entertainment? Travel with an e-reader for reading like Kindle or get a tablet for all more usages.

Food Related

Having access to water sources on the go will be beneficial for your health. Every backpacker should have a water bottle on the ultimate backpacking list. Trust us, bringing a water bottle can save you money and reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic left behind.

Love yourself and love mother nature as well. Opt for eco-friendly products that are easily reusable and convenient. With responsible travel continuing to rise, you can easily find yourself a reusable water bottle and travel cutlery set for your next trip. 

Perfect for backcountry trips, bring your own bear canister to keep your food safe from unwanted visitors such as bears, rodents and curious raccoons. A bear canister is also useful for items such as scented toiletries and trash.

Don’t forget the cooking gear as well. Eating and cooking in the wild is a refreshing and breathtaking experience. A full and happy belly allows you to enjoy the beautiful scenery to its fullest.

Special Items

 Having bandaids and medicines with you on your backpacking trip is better for unexpected situations and incidents. Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Pexels

Adventures are fun. The excitement as we go to explore new places and try out new experiences is priceless. However, every backpacker knows that unwanted incidents such as unexpected fever, sudden food poisoning or scrapes and insect bites are inevitable.

Always be prepared, especially if you travel solo. Before your trip, you should make sure that your first aid kit is stocked with band-aids, pain relievers, cold medicines and other over-the-counter medicines.

For your backpacking trips, taking a compass, a physical map, or a portable GPS is helpful in navigating your way at campsites or in-between hiking trails.

Towels, towels, towels. This is also essential stuff to bring. Travel with a piece of mind and get yourself a proper towel. Easy to dry, come in space-saving sizes and light, there is a wide range of travel towels for you to choose from.

Depending on the trip, consider bringing a sleeping bag if you plan to sleep in a tent. A sleeping bag can give you the comfort and recharge your battery for an exciting trip.

Speaking of a good night's sleep, you can’t leave out the sleeping pads. It’s best to use a sleeping bag and pad together. The pad provides additional insulation by separating you from the ground below. Sleeping bag for comfort, and sleeping pads for extra warm.

Items For Comfort

Every backpacker has a unique list of items for comfort. This includes everything that can enhance your travel experiences. From your favourite travel pillow to a pair of inseparable earplugs, keep refining your own list of items for comfort as you travel more and know your travel needs better.

For example, if you are a nature lover and enjoy yourself at a national park, then mosquitos tend to be an annoying problem. Stay itch-free and mosquito-proof on your camping trip with a mosquito net and bug repellents.

Other items for comfort might include: an anti-nausea band, travel blankets or sleeping mask. Customise your list and add only the essentials to your backpacking packing list.

Backpacking Packing Tips

 Packing is an important skill to have as your trip, and your health will be affected by a poorly packed backpack. IG: @_____od

Now we are clear on what to bring. The question is how to pack them efficiently. There are many rules regarding packing. For example, you can have a strategy for distributing weights in different zones within your backpack.

As frequent wanderers, there are some must-know packing tips that we learned over the years. Pack for your backpacking trip in a way that makes the experience better and not worse. Continue reading for our top picks on how to pack smarter and lighter.

Accessibility Is A Key Factor To Consider 

Depending on the activities that you enjoy doing, you will need to access different items in certain order. For example, if you are going to camp overnight, a backpacking packing list including a sleeping bag, a one person tent and personal hygiene products should be planned in advance with a packing order based on what you will need to set up first.

Organise your necessary items in order of what you will need first. For example, if there is a chance of rain at your destination, pack your rain jackets last so you can get them out quickly. 

Flat Layout

Seeing all of your travel items at once can make it easier to visualise and make decisions. Even if you decide to pack at the last minute, it is still possible to fit all of your necessities into your bags in an organised and logical way.

You can use this type of layout to sort your essential backpacking items in order of weight. Organise better and divide your weight load within your backpack logically for a smoother experience on your hiking trips.

Pick Multi-purpose Items

 A good poncho is lightweight, reusable and can be used for more than one purpose. IG: @gypseetravel

Your clothes can be used for more than one purpose. By picking your clothes carefully and prioritising multi-purpose clothes, you can save more space and be more prepared for more situations.

For example, on backpacking trips, convertible pants should be considered in your backpacking checklist instead of a bulky and heavy pair of jeans. Functional and easy to dry, convertible pants are definitely not the most fashionable item but they are quite handy.

Another great example of multi-task clothing is a poncho. Instead of packing a rain jacket, you can replace it with a poncho, which is great as both an umbrella and a rain cover for your backpack.

Good Backpack For a Backpacking Trip

 A well-planned backpacking packing list will ensure that you have all the essential items on your trip. Photo by Kamaji Ogino on Pexels

The name said it all, for a great backpacking trip, you need a good-quality backpack for less-hassle travel and more fun. With that being said, choosing the right backpack can be confusing at times.

But trust us, having the right backpack that is reliable and practical will save you a lot of time with much less headache on the road. After all, it is worth the trouble to properly look for and invest in a good backpack that can accompany you for trips and trips to come.

  • For volume: Based on factors such as your travel habits, season, location and trip duration, you can choose a 35L backpack for short trips or a 55L for hiking and international trips. These sizes can fit everything on your backpacking essentials list.
  • For comfortability: Take into consideration the long walking hours and opt for backpacks with extra-comfy padding, and support for your back and shoulders. Lightweight yet strong and resilient backpacks are great picks.
  • For the material: Think about strength, durability and resistance to wear and tear. Some level of water resistance is undoubtedly better. On the road, the last thing you want is your backpack to be soaked under unexpected rain.
  • For practicality: Features such as flexible shoulder straps, easy-to-access pockets and a spacious main compartment should be at the top of your list. Good backpacks to look for should also be breathable and well-ventilated. Having bottle pockets is undoubtedly a bonus. 

A laptop is among the high backpacking necessities if you want to get some work done in natural scenery. For fellow digital nomads, prioritise backpacks with a padded sleeve to properly secure your laptop on the go.

From hiking trips to international flights, explore cabin-sized backpacking options and choose one that you would love to take on exciting new trips. If you love to explore the wild, we recommend CabinZero Military or CabinZero ADV lineups.


The right backpack bag can make or break your entire journey.

Shop now

1. What should I pack for a 4-day backpacking trip?

For an overnight trip, your backpacking packing list should include the backpacking essentials such as a lightweight tent, an insulated air sleeping pad, safety gear such as a first aid kit and a reusable water bottle.

For camp utensils and backpacking cooking gear, pack items that can lay completely flat and collapsible to save space. Food storage bags such as odour-proof bags or reusable silicone bags should be considered as well.

For clothing, be sure to include clothes that can be layered. Qualities to look for are comfortability, moisture-wicking and lightweight. Depending on the weather forecast,  remember to bring your rain jacket.

2. What should I pack for backpacking? 

Comfortable footwear for backpacking trips are highly recommended. Good-quality hiking shoes can protect your feet well and make your travel experience more enjoyable.

Clothes that are easy to layer and made from breathable fabrics are good ideas. Plan your hiking or camping clothes based on layers such as base layers, middle layers and top layers.

3. Is a 40L backpack enough for three days?

If you are not an over-packer, a 40L backpack is definitely spacious enough for a trip from 3 to 4 days. This size can hold a sleeping bag, a small tent and extra clothing for layering. Plus, a 40L backpack can also be used for air travel as carry-on luggage.

4. How Many Clothes Should I Pack For A Week?

For 7-day backpacking trips, you can bring two short-sleeve T-shirts for base layers. Consider bringing one or two pairs of durable pants with weather taken into consideration. For footwear, two pairs of socks and hiking shoes are recommended.


Be Ready With This Backpacking Packing List

Are you ready to hit the road? We hope that our comprehensive backpacking packing list and useful tips give you a good idea on how to maximise the available space. Pack well and have fun on your adventures.

Chau Dao

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.