Whether you are backpacking in a forest close to home or heading out on a global adventure there are some pieces of kit you should always have with you. Most backpacking adventures are problem-free, but when something happens you need to be prepared. Having those backpacking essentials with you on your travels will help you deal with practical situations and keep you safe. Here’s a list of backpacking essentials for your travels.
Staying hydrated is vital when traveling and especially when hiking or doing other activities. Water in some countries is unclean and carries a risk of enteric disease. Having a supply of clean water, either bottled or filtered is essential. Water bottles with a filter will ensure that the water you get from a tap is clean. This also saves the environment by minimizing the use of plastic bottles. It also saves you money when you are on the move. Some water bottles pack flat which saves space when packing.
Think about packing a lightweight set of cutleries such as a Spork which doubles as a spoon and fork. Many countries are eradicating single-use plastic including disposable cutlery so having a reusable fork to hand helps you eat cheaply on the move.
A flashlight is always useful when backpacking; especially on campsites or in hostels where the electricity may be intermittent. A head torch is really helpful where you need to keep your hands free such as visiting a bathroom with no light or when walking at night.
The sun can be deceptive, especially at altitude and near the coast. Make sure you pack a sun hat or cap that protects your face, neck, and shoulders during the heat of the day. This helps avoid sunstroke and sunburn.
Kindles are great for storing a variety of reading material when you are on the move. They hold travel guides, magazines and a range of books. This makes your pack significantly lighter than taking print books on a trip. Kindles can be used on planes and trains and the batteries last around 15 hours before needing a recharge.
Swiss Army Knife
One of the most practical items a backpacker can have is a Swiss Army Knife. These come with a variety of functions from a screwdriver to a bottle opener, a nail file, and a good knife. As they are very compact these knives are easy to carry around and use for a variety of practical scenarios. A Swiss Army Knife comes in a basic range to those with more complex tools so you have a choice for your backpacking trip. Always place the knife into your checked baggage to avoid it being confiscated in airports and transportation hubs.
It can be hard to stay organized when backpacking as your items get moved around your pack. A packing cube will keep essentials in one place so they are simple to find in a hurry. These travel essentials come in a variety of sizes so you can use them for clothing as well as the kit. Use them for a sewing kit, power recharger, first aid kit and other items that can get lost within a large backpack. You will be able to find them when you need these things fast.
Phone And Power Bank
With the digital age, a functioning cell phone is vital. You can check travel arrangements, check-in online, and even pay for things now. Make sure your account covers travel overseas so you don’t get charged premium rates. Never travel without your power bank and make sure it is fully charged. You then have an emergency supply of energy should the battery on your phone go flat on a long journey. These power banks are practical to have if you are hiking someplace where there is no electricity or there are no charging points
If you are traveling overseas you will need a travel adapter among your collection of backpacking essentials. These are easy to find but do ensure they are multi-use for several continents. Make sure you also have the correct cables to charge your phone, camera and other electrical items. Most travel adaptors are very compact for packing.
First Aid Kit
A personal first aid kit is vital for backpackers. Make sure you have mild painkillers, travel sickness pills, and rehydration salts. You should also carry antiseptic cream, band-aid plasters, and a bandage. Many who hike have also taken a blister pack just in case they end up with sores on their feet. If you have any prescription medication you must ensure you have sufficient supplies for your travels. You will also need a letter from your doctor as some countries will not permit you to carry medication without it- and in some cases, you can even be arrested.
Multi-Use Waterproof Bag
These are lightweight but waterproof and are perfect for storing items such as documents or a camera if you get caught out in wet conditions. They useful for kayaking and boating too and can double up as a shopping bag. Most are in 10-liter sizes and are another useful item to think about for your travel essentials kit.
A waterproof bag to keep your shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, cosmetics, and other toiletries together will avoid spillages and ensure you have all your essentials to hand. If you are staying somewhere with a shared shower this will help you stay organized with all your toiletries in one place. To avoid vacation size single-use plastic you can buy reusable containers to decant your favorite toiletries into for traveling.
Inevitably, there will be rainy days on your travels and a lightweight raincoat is another backpacking essential. Some models pack really compact so they can be pulled from a bag in an instant. A lightweight umbrella is also useful as it keeps your backpack dry and can double as a sunshade.
You must keep your bags securely locked when backpacking. This is obviously to prevent someone from removing a few items from your baggage. However, locks also stop something being placed in your bag that you then unwittingly carry with you- and are potentially used as a decoy for narcotics or similar. When you buy a lock, make sure it is a strong one and that it has a combination code that you set. This will deter any would-be thief and keep your bag safe. It also helps you file a successful insurance claim if the bag does get stolen.
Notebook And Pen
Many writers carry a notebook and pen to record what they see and think about the places seen. Take one with you to make a note of the food you ate, addresses, or even start a travel diary. Backpacking is full of surprises and can get really busy. By taking the time to write what you see and experience will help you remember the experience.
Camera Memory Cards
By the time you take a few videos and get excited over your first elephant in the wild, you could run short of space on your camera card. If you are a keen photographer and shoot RAW pictures you need lots of memory. These cards can also get lost or corrupted so always take a spare. This will ensure you can take as many photos and videos as you like without the worry of the memory card filling up.
Some hotels and hostels have bright lights outside making it hard to sleep. Getting some rest on planes or trains can be difficult for the same reason. Use an eyeshade so you black out the light which helps you to sleep. Earplugs are useful in hostels and planes where the noise can be disturbing. When you are travelling it is vital to rest to avoid jet lag and fatigue.
Cleaning Clothes Kit
Backpackers travel light which means taking the minimal amount of clothing. This means that you will need to wash some items of clothing during your travels. Most usually take a travel plug for the sink and have a piece of string to use as a line. Two suckers will secure this to bathroom tiling. Some backpackers also use a soap bar to wash through their clothes. These items don’t weigh much but help keep your clothing to a minimum when on the road.
A pair of walking sandals will serve you well on a busy sightseeing day. They are stronger than a traditional strappy sandal and are perfect for light walks and sightseeing. These shoes are tough enough to walk around backstreets and are smart enough for relaxing in the evening. Many brands are waterproof so they are perfect for swimming where there could be rocks. These shoes are made from synthetic material and clean up in the washing machine. As a travel essential, I never travel without my walking sandals.