Backpacking is quite simply a hike to a camping location; however, the activity is very popular with gap year students and adventurous travellers alike and is often considered one of the most exciting experiences of a lifetime. Depending on where you travel to and what you end up doing whilst you are there, packing the right gear to appropriately kit you out for a trip is vital in ensuring a successful stay wherever you go.
For a full range of backpacks, check out our Rucksack department.
How To Pack a Backpack
Make lists, lay out all the things you need in size and weight order and practice packing your bag more than once – it’s a boring process but you’re guaranteed to find the best way of packing after a few practices. Large, heavy object should be packed first near the bottom of your backpack. Pack valuables, electronics and books in waterproof containers/bags. Your bag is obviously going to get bashed about a bit and will go through all kinds of temperatures changes so be prepared for that – wrap up fragile things so they are well protected and keep bin liners tucked away and easy to get hold of in any heavy rain emergencies. Don’t pack rigid bags or boxes – soft bags are much easier to squash into different spaces in your pack.
Don’t take anything too valuable, sentimental or expensive.
You can easily pick up cheap alternatives of what you need at your destination.
Clothing – Pack light; you’ll need no more than 3 outfits. Two pairs of shorts, a light pair of trousers, two, maybe three T-shirts and a few pairs of underwear is sufficient. Live by the ‘Wash One, Wear One’ that most backpackers follow and you will have enough clothes to last you as long as you need. Also pack a thin rain jacket as an extra layer and protection on those wet days!
First Aid Kit – Painkillers, travel sickness pills, medical tweezers, plasters, bandages, antihistamines and cleaning pads are all essential items for your first aid kit and can help you out in any first aid emergency.
Toiletries – Hand sanitizer, a razor (plus extra blades), fragrance free shampoo, small cans of body spray, deodorant and fragrance free soap/shower gel are all you really need.
Shoes – One pair of hiking boots, and some cheap flip flops – that’s it!
Weather Protection – sunglasses, sunscreen and hat.
Random Bits and Pieces – Compass, guide book, torch, sewing kit, batteries, ear plugs, alarm clock, notepad and pen. All very basic items, but each will go a long way and don’t take up a lot of space in your already squashed backpack!
Best Backpacking Destinations
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Adriatic Coast, Croatia
Appalachian Trail, United States
Overall, you need to know leave space in your backpack. Packing light is essential and packing your bag only three quarters full is ideal for the start of your trip. This way, you can buy some things on your travels and still have enough space to pack them away.