What to Pack in Your Backpack
Going backpacking and don't know what to bring?
I can't tell you how many times I've packed for some random road trip and found that I've forgotten something completely crucial like that tube of toothpaste or a few extra pairs of underwear. I've created a little list for each weather condition you might be in and what to pack for them so you don't end up like me. These have all become kind of my go-tos and to this day I never really forget the essentials. Just store everything together in your backpacking backpack when you're not using it so its all there and ready for your next adventure.
- Passport and photo I.D (+ copies! highly recommend it) - Cash, credit cards, etc., depending on where you're going consider having someone send it in increments - Emergency numbers (written down) - Chargers, Chargers, Chargers. Check where you're going and the plugs you'll need! - Face wash, travel size - Toothbrush and toothpaste - Glasses/Contacts if applicable - Small soap bar or body wash (I prefer a bar since it takes up less space, and it never runs out on me) - Ibuprofen, band-aids, allergy meds, inhaler, etc. Basically you're own first aid kit, you know yourself better then anyone. - Underwear (1 pair at least for each day you're gone), (& bras for my ladies) - Sleeping bag (Amazon is your best friend) if applicable and tent. Tip for you: get a four season sleeping bag and tent, it IS worth the extra money - Pro tip for getting a backpack: North Face is a great option, I also love REI as well. It's worth the money, you will be putting your life, blood sweat and tears into this backpack. It is now your best friend. - A WARM coat, preferably with down feathers would be the ultimate goal (again, NorthFace or REI is a great option or Columbia) - Gloves/Mittens, I prefer warmer, sporty ones - Depending on the climate, you may need boots with traction (La Sportiva makes the best hiking boots in my opinion) and just make sure you're getting the right boot for the right climate, consider snow boots but also remember you can use crampons on your hiking shoes as well! * Crampons: A crampon is a traction device that is attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing. - Converse or booties to go out in if applicable - The best time to wear a striped sweater is allll the time. Okay but actually sweaters are great. I carried around 2 in my pack and just switched out between the two. Recommend: thermal long sleeve for the really cold areas, and you can put it underneath as an added layer - Beanies or ear wraps (I'm a beanie fan myself) - 1-2 scarfs, I know you want to bring more but you don't really neeeed more than 2 if they're heavy enough (recommend: bring 1 black and 1 lighter color, switching between those gave me options even with my 2 outfits) - Hand warmers (the kind that heat up, it was really nice to have in my pockets) - Wool socks. Just trust me. Bring a lot of socks too, like 8 pairs, you never know what could happen [sometimes they get wet...] - Water bottle, with purifier if you're in a sketchy water area - Hiking boots, just wanted to put this in here again, cause if you don't have them yet, you'll want them trust me CHANGED MY WORLD - Rain jacket and 1 warmer thermal jacket that can fit under you're overcoats (ex. the Patagonia quarter zips are a great option, I haven't been able to sell a kidney quite yet to afford this myself but its still in my sights people) - Granola bars (clif, luna, larabars, protein plus, etc. are all great options) - Other food to consider depending on where you're heading would be soup packets, freeze dried options or couscous, you need to think light and easy to make. You don't want to sit in the cold for too long trying to fiddle with your stove trust me. - Oatmeal, trail mix, nuts, etc. are also good options - Saw this one coming, a stove! Again, this depends on the length of your trip and how hard core ya want to be but its a great thing to consider! Jet boil is always a great way to go, but there'll be more info on stoves in another upcoming post if you need more details. Keep in mind with a stove you'll need a small pot and utensils. - Camping mug (highly recommend if you're doing the stove thing, its great to hold soup and you can make coffee in the morning) Get the clip handled one if you're considering this, that way it just clips to your backpack on the outside and you don't have to try and fit it in that monster pack of yours. I got some on Amazon for like $6, do it. - Money belt if you're going somewhere abroad, often people might try and take things from the outside of your pack so this is just an easy way to say fuck you I can strap my things to me like on midnight express and get away untouched. - 2 pairs of leggings, thermal if you're in a really cold climate, if its just rainy and not too bad go with normal sporty leggings. - 1-2 big T's to sleep in (my preference) and warm comfy sweats - 1 going out dress, or a cute top you can wear with leggings or bring 1 pair of jeans if you'd rather switch it up (I just wore leggings usually). - If you're traveling somewhere with outlets and electricity (you are blessed) then you may want to bring a straightener if your hair is as crazy as mine. While abroad though I just braided it a lot, no need to make the pack heavier if its not necessary so it depends on your preference. - Camera, depending on you're photographic abilities - Matches/Lighter - Head lamp and flashlights - Swiss army knife - Toilet paper & feminine products (tamps or pads ladies) - I always bring at least one book and/or my journal, just in case (you never know) - Earphones. I like to have the option to be able to block everything out for a minute if needed, and sometimes these moments may come up unexpectedly -If theres a lot of snow you're hiking in: hiking poles, snow axe, etc. Glaciers are a whole other deal, so a separate post will come for that if you're looking into getting serious on buying gear for that. - 1 bathing suit (hot springs am I right)
Spring is kind of a tricky one to pack for, it usually still has a little bit of the chilly weather but could also be warm enough to wear a tank top, so I usually bring a variety of the two.
- Passport & I.D, all the usual stuff - Cash, credit cards, etc. - Emergency numbers (written down) - Chargers, camera, etc. - Head lamp, flashlight - Face wash, travel size - Travel towel - Matches, lighter - Toothbrush and paste - Glasses/Contacts if applicable - Small soap bar or body wash - Ibuprofen, band-aids, allergy meds, inhaler, etc. All the stuff you think you'll need in an emergency. - Underwear, & bras for you ladies (consider mostly sports bras) etc. - Sleeping bag if applicable, & a tent (Four season tents and sleeping bags are what I recommend) - Sleepwear (a large Tee is perfect for me, and simple) and a pair of sweat pants or whatever it is you feel you'd sleep in thats comfortable and warm. Again, depends on the climate, bring sleeping shorts if you think it'll be warmer - Heavy jacket- I tend to use my green (army-type) jacket because it's not too heavy but still keeps me warm as a layer and in the spring, LAYERS are your best friend. - 2-3 t-shirts or airy long sleeves, & a lightweight jacket. For me a lightweight jacket would be a comfy sweatshirt type of thing with a zip that way I can add on something over or take it off if it gets too warm - 2 scarfs, 1 lightweight, 1 heavier - Rain jacket, sometimes in other parts of the world Spring means rainy seasons, so be prepared and do the research beforehand - Rain boots/booties/hiking boots (depending on how extreme your trip is, and the location) I recommend hiking boots no matter what just because these are the comfortable option that can handle most seasons, and La Sportiva is the brand I use which is always a great option - sandals (depending on weather) or comfy toms/flats. You all will probably laugh at me but I am obsessed with Chacos, I wore them for most of my time hiking in Germany, and Italy I walked in them practically everyday. They are comfortable and easy on your feet, but remember to break them in if you're going to be backpacking in them! - Running shoes (depending on your preference, Hiking boots are usually my go to instead though) - Bathing suit (2 or so) - 1 pair of jeans (tip: if you're trying to also wear them out and its not going to be too cold, bring a ripped pair/high waisted) - 2 pairs of warm or sporty leggings - 1 dress or romper, that you can wear with either the light jacket or bring a cardigan (may want to wear this outfit with booties) - Day pack: with essential snacks, protein bar, water, small backpack, etc. - If you'll be backpacking large portions at a time, consider getting a stove and making food along the way. More to come on buying a stove and all that goes into it. Utensils, and a pot would also go into this as well. - Camping mug that clips onto your bag, trust me on this. - If you like coffee as much as me, get a pour over coffee net or if you're real extreme a camping French press type thing, REI has come up with some cool ones that also act as a mug so it's all about preference, take your time and look at your options. Check out Amazon for some cheaper deals. - Book, journal, earphones, etc. For your personal moments, we all have and need them so just consider what you may need to keep some comfort along the way. - Toilet paper, feminine products, etc.
Summer can be a bit tricky as well, depending on where you are in the world, for example, some countries would look at you strange if you wore a bathing suit, so at one point my friends and I decided to just swim in our flowy elephant pants. It's of course a personal decision to be culturally sensitive while in a new place, but I figured I would give you as many tips for this as possible. Not trying to start you on a mental and philasophical search through yourself to find whether you're going to travel respecting the culture or anything but its definitely something to consider. You may end up getting more respect and compassion in return.
- Sunscreen - Toiletries (bath + hair products) Pro-tip for hair: in hot weather my hair goes insane so I brought coconut oil to tame it down a bit - Deodorant and lots of it - Lotion/face products (tip: tea tree oil products may feel refreshing in the heat) - Hair bands and maybe headbands to tame the crazy if you're like me - Passport + tickets, photo I.D and copies, etc. - Emergency contact info written down - Wallet, cash, etc. and money belts are always a consideration when in other countries - Chargers, camera stuff, etc. - Tent and sleeping bag, yoga mat, etc. if applicable. (Note: previously I've recommended the four season tents and sleeping bags, there should be air out capabilities for summer so really look at your options!) - Hammock, especially in beach-y areas might be a fun option for ya - Water bottle/CamelBak (tip: my CamelBak was a life saver in countries like Vietnam, India, and Ghana where it was so hot I could've died) - Day pack (smaller backpack) with snacks: protein bars, trail mix, pretzels, etc. - Again recommending the stove option, pot and utensils (look into foods you'll want for this as well) - Sunglasses/glasses/contact stuff if applicable - Bathing suits (2-3), (If in a culturally sensitive area: bring 2-3 elephant pants/flowy hippie pants and wear those with a light t-shirt that WON'T be see through, also consider one pieces and shorts depending on the area) - Underwear & bras for you ladies -4 t-shirts that are light and flowy (you might sweat through a few, so bring airy ones, and consider the neckline) - light leggings, maybe go with workout, airy ones! (2-3 pairs) - 1 pair of jeans - 2 pairs of shorts, if in a culturally sensitive area consider capris (I know, not my fav choice either) - Light jacket - 1 rain jacket - hiking boots, running shoes, depending on preference - Sandals, and Chacos are a great option for summer hiking! Find the right shoe and break it in at least a few months in advance so you're not getting blisters everywhere on your travels - I also really loved converse to walk around in towns with, but some people also used Toms (flats) so its up to you - 1 dress, long & flow-y dress for culturally sensitive idea (like hippie style) because its versatile! I bunched it up in a corner to keep myself cool when I went out at night. It was perfect. - 1 light scarf (especially if in certain countries where you still need to cover your head, even if its hot out) Ex. Morocco, certain areas we wanted to be culturally aware and during prayer hours we kept it over our heads - 1-2 hats if you like having them, 1 baseball cap & 1 sun hat or floppy hat for beach areas - 2 tank tops, flow-y and 1 cardigan (for culturally sensitive areas, ex. Italy certain areas you need your shoulders covered) -Book, journal, earphones, etc. whatever you need for that me time thats so crucial - Wet ones, toilet paper, I also bring refreshing face wipes for the heat - Bug spray - Medical pills (malaria, etc. depending on area) - Medical supplies, emergency kit
Fall. My favorite season, in all my basic-ness. I think of fall as the crisp air, not too chilly but still boot weather so I'll give you the basic necessities for this typical Europe-like weather. - Toiletries: travel face wash, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, etc. - Face products, makeup whatever it may be you need - Passport, photo I.D, tickets, etc. (and printed copies) - Money Belt - Chargers, camera stuff - Toilet paper, wet ones, etc. (feminine products like tamps and pads for us ladies) - Deodorant - Wallet, cash, etc. (depending on where you are you may want just one or the other, and in installments) - Tent and sleeping bag, yoga mat, etc. if applicable (four season recommended!) - Water bottle/CamelBak, water filter may be needed depending - FOOD & day pack (small back pack, whatever you really prefer), granola bars, oatmeal, etc. - Stove and pot, utensils are recommended for long trips (and the food for it would be soup packs, dried options where you just add water) - Sunglasses/glasses/contacts if applicable - 1 bathing suit (hot springs) - Underwear (and bras ladies, recommend mainly sports bras and 1 or 2 regular) - 3 light flow-y tshirts/tops (layers layers layers) - 1 tank top - 1-2 sweaters - 1 heavy jacket (used my army green jacket a lot in this weather type, but if you think it'll be pretty cold, bring one with down feathers) - 1 rain jacket - 1 pair of jeans - 2 pairs of leggings - 1 pair of booties (that are comfy!) - 2 scarfs (1 light, 1 heavy) - Hiking boots/running shoes depending on preference - Rain boots or water-proof shoes, depending where you are - Medical supplies (bandaids, Iboprofen, etc.) - Book, journal, earphones, etc. whatever you need for your me-time that is necessary - 1 long sleeve flowy shirt (1-2 thermal long sleeve if colder where you're going) - 1 small purse - Beanies (2-3) are life. - 1 cardigan - PJs (again, big Tees are my go-to with some sweats) - Socks, 2-3 short pairs, and 2-3 wool/longer socks - Flashlight/headlamp - Matches/lighter - Travel towel - Sanitary needs - Chapstick - Extra batteries, etc.