There’s a lot you need to think about before you even begin to pack for an upcoming jaunt across the globe. When you’re backpacking, you will be getting by on what you can carry on your back. The key is not to overdo it. We spoke to many well-traveled explorers and tested everything from pen knives to portable phone chargers. Young people especially are traveling more and staying away longer, so what you decide to bring on your trip is an integral part of planning. These backpackers now represent 20% of international tourism, spending over $200 billion per year.
Below we have listed our top 12 backpacking essentials. Some of the items could be considered to be extras, but some are essentials. Important factors we looked at included how small the items are, weight, quality, and value for money. So, make sure you add these backpacking essentials to your list. Let’s jump in.
A slick modern looking pen knife, tightly packed with fantastic tools. Let’s say you are backpacking off the beaten track and have a tin of beans and you need to break into it – look no further than this tool. Also, has a flat head driver, bottle opener, 2D Phillips driver and a 1.4116 stainless steel spear-point knife blade. It doesn’t have scissors, unfortunately, but there’s not much else missing.
Earplugs can make all the difference if you’re on a flight beside a crying child or some pounding music across the street from a late-night bar when you’re in your hostel trying to sleep. These Moldex Pura Fit earplugs are made using an improved and softer foam for maximum comfort. You get 20 pairs of disposable plugs, each pair individually packed. The more substantial diameter and extra length provide higher levels of comfort and attenuation.
From Lifeventure the liner is very light with breathable material. It can be used in a sleeping bag to give extra warmth or use it on its own, depending on the conditions or your preferences. No matter what country or climate you are in, it keeps your body warm in cold weather or cools you down in hot weather. It’s also useful if you consider how some hostels may not be the most hygienic establishments. This backpacking essential is one of the most practical items on our list.
If you have difficulty sleeping on long bus or plane journeys, a good neck pillow comes in handy. With a soft velour cover and well-constructed memory foam, it won’t fall off. It has a luxurious feel and hugs your neck, making for comfortable head posture. The pillow adjusts to any head and neck movements and is viscoelastic and thermosensitive. Because of the memory foam composition, its easy to stuff it into any backpack, taking up less valuable space than you may think.
For those times you’re stuck in the wilderness, miles away from a power source, this portable phone charger is an essential gadget. Compatible with Android and Apple. Ultra-portable and lightweight with a quality build and feel. Only 12 cm long, it can comfortably fit into any backpack. It takes 2-3 hours to charge; then you’ll be able to recharge your phone in the middle of nowhere at least once.
Having your credit cards skimmed while you’re on the road can be a nightmare. Dealing with banks and credit card companies over identity theft is not something you want to sort out from some far-flung corner of the world, and if you don’t have a backup plan, can ruin your trip. Even bring it to an abrupt end. This Alpine Rivers Money belt has fabric that is layered with the latest RFID block material. It’s made from 210 denier nylon with reinforced stitching and durable zippers. It has many individual compartments, designed to hold cash, credit cards, passport, a phone, USB’s and even a clip for keys. At the back, there is also a large concealed pocket, giving you extra protection against pick-pockets.
Drylite towels have a permanent antibacterial treatment and won’t smell or transmit unwelcome bacteria after packing it into your backpack after a hard day at the beach or pool. The Sea to Summit Drylite Towel is lightweight and thin and absorbent. It only takes up to 2 hours for it to dry completely. Available in 5 sizes, made of 70% polyester, 30% nylon microfiber with a soft suede finish. Even though the towel is very thin, it does its job very well. It won’t take up much space in your backpack.
Packing Cubes can provide a lot of order in a jumbled, messy backpack, giving you a neat, compartmentalized setup. Being organized means easy access and less stress. eBag Packing Cubes come in a 3-piece set of different sizes. They come with corded zipper pulls making them easy to open or close and durable interior seams. We like the fact that these come with a top mesh panel, to be able to find items quickly. There are a lot of varieties of packing cubes to choose from on the market, but in general, they are all lightweight and easy to pack – that’s the whole point.
If you plan to go camping, trail running, mountain biking or just about anything in the outdoors, you’ve probably used a headlamp already. The Black Diamond Spot is durable and has strong brightness with a 300-lumen beam. The housing is touch-sensitive for quick brightness adjustments. A lot of lighting options are available on this headlamp like QuadPower LED and red LED for use around a camp. The IPX8 rating means it can also be used under 1 meter of water.
10. First Aid Kit
While backpacking, you’ll be able to find pharmacies or hospitals everywhere, but they won’t always have the medicines you are used to at home. If you’re in a small village, a deserted island or on a hike, having some necessary medical supplies is a good idea, just in case of an emergency. Pack a small First Aid Kit with band-aids and gauze, mosquito repellent, safety pins, thermometer, re-hydration powders, water purification tablets, antiseptic cream for cuts or scrapes, paracetamol tablets or some other kind of painkiller.
Designed to withstand everyday use and regular cleaning. Available in different sizes, the Vapur Eclipse Reusable bottle is a must for any outdoor addict. Almost entirely flat when it’s empty, it won’t take up much space in your backpack. You can roll it up to store it away. Fill it up with water; it can stand up on its own, just like any regular bottle.
12. Mini Sewing Kit
You may not think so, but when traveling long term, you’re going to tear something – from clothes to bags. Being able to sow a button back in on your favorite shirt is a nice luxury to have and provides some peace of mind. You can thank us later for reminding you to pack it!