Everyone starts as a novice and that’s okay. This guide will help you cultivate a minimalist lifestyle and travel the world with just your pack anywhere in the world. Experience comes with time, so just have fun with it. Keep reading to learn the essentials to start backpacking in 2018!
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We suggest a 60 liter backpack or larger, typically this size will give you enough space for your essentials and to splurge for souvenirs. Your main pack is the most important item on your list. Aligning your activities in accordance to your pack will give you more room for essentials; realistically if your pack can carry about one week worth of clothes then you can go backpacking indefinitely when planned strategically. Knowing you’ve made the right purchase will keep you satisfied during and after you trip.
You’ll be carrying your pack the majority of the time. Finding a pack that doesn’t constantly irritate you is a must. You’ll think back to this moment and pat yourself on the back for choosing the right pack.
Features that help quickly to unpack and repack after your well needed rest at your hotel or hostel, that’s built for land, sea, and air travel are key factors. Look for packs that provide small compartments and divided sections, easy access through sealable side zippers, and tech capable of relieving stress on your spine and shoulders when traveling distant.
My grandmother advised never to let sweat dry on your back, because you’ll be prone to getting ill. You’ll constantly be walking and carrying your pack. A pack that doesn’t drench your back when walking in heat or humidity is a must.
Packs are considered an investment, mainly because you will be living out your pack during the majority of your travel. It is important to find a long lasting pack that can withstand most environments.
Well designed, perfect for backpacking, suitable for any type of travel, comfortable, and practically indestructible. The Osprey Farpoint comes with a lifetime warranty and a secondary pack used for short treks or recon in nearby towns.
Female specific backpack, stowaway back panel making it perfect fit for checked in luggage, large internal storage, and also comes with a secondary pack. Female specific packs are important long-term, as it will help fit your back more comfortably.
If you’re staying at a hotel or hostel it’s a good time to leave your main pack in your room to explore. While strolling or trekking nearby, it will get irritating if you have to carry your whole 70L pack. We recommend finding a day pack for your specific needs, though the packs recommended already include one. If you happen to be in Europe, something a bit more elegant is preferred for exploring small towns and cities; if you’re in South America or South East Asia, a pack that’s durable and waterproof is more preferred for trekking or hiking near by provinces; if you plan to document your adventures with a couple cameras and drone, then there are specific day bags for those. Doing your research will help big picture goal.
Day Pack Considerations
If you plan on bringing heavy camera gear, going on difficult treks, or exploring other nearby towns, then finding the right pack will make your trip more enjoyable.
Day packs made with materials like polyester and nylon are lightweight and can withstand casual wear when you stay in each area for multiple days.
For many this is not an issue, but for most they like to look good while exploring the tourist attractions, beautiful beaches, busy cities, or towns full of culture. Finding a day pack that combines purpose with a brilliantly stylish look is a challenge.
From the eXomesh slashguard, a flexible, stainless steel wire mesh built into the bag’s fabric to Carrysafe slashguard backpack straps with cut-resistant Dyneema webbing, this also features a detachable front pocket with a removable shoulder strap, turning the front pocket into a small cross body bag. The padded sleeve will cushion a 15 inch laptop comfortably and a RFID-safe pocket to help protect sensitive personal data stored on RFID micro-chips; “EW” to identity theft.
This is very dependable day pack designed with anti-theft technology keeping your valuables safe at all times. This bag is very spacious made with eXomesh anti-slash material, anti- theft anchor lock, and interlocking zip pullers. RFID-safe blocking material built into a pocket in the main compartment helps protect IDs and credit cards from hacker scanning.
This bag can be easily stored and made with high quality water and tear resistant nylon material, perfect for trekking and strolling around nearby towns. Stress points are reinforced with bar tacking for increased longevity. Stuff the bag into its own pocket for storage, and unzip it when you reach your destination.
Essentials for your main pack
Bringing a hammock is an excellent choice when backpacking. You will be inspired to camp in nature, and it will come in handy if your hotel or hostel suddenly cancels on you.
This hammock is lightweight, durable, and comes with reversible mosquito net. This is heavy duty enough to share with your travel buddy.
Bringing a sleeping bag is a must, camping during a backpacking trip is very common and highly recommended. You can never be too sure when you’re sleeping in uncomfortable or questionable hostels or in case of an emergency where you have to sleep elsewhere.
Lightweight and convenient for living out your pack. It’s a mummy style sleeping bag that can tackle all the seasons, and includes a lifetime warranty.
Sleeping on the ground is a bit difficult and sometimes hostels have stiff bed surfaces. Bringing a sleeping pad is highly recommended for maximum comfort after your traveling adventures.
Compact and lightweight this sleeping pad is designed for 5-10 blows to inflate, durable made to last, waterproof, and feels like you’re sleeping on clouds.
Always nice to travel with a trusty neck pillow during your flight or car rides, and can be very useful for when your’re camping out.
This air pillow is comfortable, durable, and high quality. The pillow weighs 2.75 oz (78g) lighter than a can of soda, you can fit or attach this to your pack for convenience. I would always have one in my pack for hostels and travel.
We recommend having at least 3 padlocks on your person at all times, to better secure your pack when you’re on the move. Use for lockers, extra just in case of emergencies, or if your companions need one.
The 100% zinc alloy body on this travel lock is tough enough to survive even the roughest trips. Baggage handling can be hard on your luggage. With Forge travel locks you can rest easy knowing that your luggage lock can withstand the worst treatment that the airport can dish out, and Forge even offers a lifetime warranty.
One of the best support items you’ll have within your arsenal when traveling. This will come in handy if you’re camping, for anti-theft, or if you need to attach something on your pack for quick access.
The black diamond screw gates are reliable and heavy duty. I would recommend using this for your hammock, hanging your pack on something sturdy, or securing your pack in cases theft. It can hold 5600 lbs when it’s screwed on, the body is made of aluminum and the wire gate is made of metal. This product is a life saver and very dependable in many situations.
Mesh Bag or Dry Bag
Having a laundry bag is a must. When backpacking there is no escapes from sweating up a storm. Have a mesh or dry bag to keep your laundry organized and separate from your clean attire.
A high-quality reusable polyester mesh bag features ultra-strong 550 paracord drawstring. Lightweight polyester has a natural resistance to moisture, mesh design allows ample air flow and keeps essential items and clothing organized.
Its unique compression allows air to be pushed out to compress, but water can’t get in because of the waterproof, air permeable eVent fabric base. It’s seams double stitched, and tape sealed takes durable to a whole new level.
For your nightly routine, staying organized after a long day of backpacking is a must. Having your toiletries in one bag will save you time, and avoid an unnecessary search within your pack.
This bag is made of high quality waterproof oxford fabric. Durable, washable, and attached with a sturdy hanging hook for convenience. There are 3 elastic bags side-by-side, another main breathable mesh bag, and a transparent waterproof bag all compact and leaves plenty of space for your pack.
Flipflop aka Show Slippers
A must when you’re staying at a hostel or hotel. You’ll never guess how dirty the bathroom floors until you get the infamous shower fungus.
These slippers are a must when backpacking. It’s ultra lightweight, store conveniently, and improves your blood circulation. The sole design is made of high quality EVA material, wear resistant, and improved grip capabilities.
Purifying Water Device
The most common way to purify water is by boiling it, but as a backpacker you’re always on the MOVE. We recommend having a purifying capable water bottle or a purifying tool for obvious reasons. When backpacking you’ll want to keep your travel footprint to a minimum, having this type of device with you at all times will benefit you and the environment you’re exploring.
Very useful if you’re unsure about your hostels drinking water or need to quickly purify some stream water on the move. SteriPen claims to destroy over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. It has been lab tested by a third party review, and if used properly it makes questionable stream water safe to drink.
A cheaper alternative, the LifeStraw Go Filter water bottle, it has a 2-stage activated carbon filter that leaves zero aftertaste, removes 99.99% of waterborne protozoan, and parasites. But we recommend having both purifiers, if either one is lost or broken.
First Aid Kit
Red cross provides valuable knowledge on how you can build your own first aid kit, but if you haven’t had any experience in such we recommend buying a preassembled first aid kit. You’ll find that each sterile item within the kit will have an expiration date printed on it. They range from 3-5 years, so we would recommend replacing the kit with a new one at a minimum of every 3 years. Most preassembled first aid kits differ from sizes and specific items within it.
Intelligently organized with all essential first aid items for the most common emergency situations. Includes a comprehensive 18-page first aid guide to help you correctly administer first aid in a wide range of emergency situations.
This particular kit is perfect for backpacking when the unexpected happen, it contains the majority of items you’ll need for a safe trip. Made of 174 pieces every thing you need is included, from first aid to survival tools. Compact and durable, made with high quality EVA and nylon material with waterproof and shock resistant.
Whether you’re camping, trekking, or staying at a hostel, your headlamp will be your main source of light during night time. It’s always recommended to have more than one source of light.
Full immersion waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, different colored night vision modes, built for all types of weather. Dependable and durable it’s the perfect backpacking headlamp that last.
This is a must have when backpacking and traveling the world in general. There are different types of outlets internationally and being prepared will save you time and absent of stress running around looking for one.
Compatible countries include UK, EU, US, AUS, and fully tested in 160 Countries. This is a must purchase before leaving for you trip abroad, with it durability it can last you years before purchasing another. Made of high-quality PC fireproof material, resistant to high temperatures up to 800℃.
Collapsible Mess Kit
Light weight and compact you won’t have to worry about bringing your whole kitchen with you on your trip. Convenient and versatile, it can withstand extreme temperatures and easily storable in most pockets.
The collapsible bowl and cup set are made of food grade silicone, nontoxic, and BPA free material.Heat-resistant up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and dishwasher safe.
On the move you’ll need something that is absorbent and dries almost immediately. A quick drying light weight microfiber towel is a must have while traveling abroad. There are plenty of choices for this type of material.
We recommend the Active roots in particular because they help out the Elephant Sanctuary in Laos, an incredible organization that heals, cares for and protects these amazing creatures. The microfiber material is antibacterial and odorless. It’s absorbent, lightweight, quick-drying. It’s awesome because it doesn’t take much room and feels like silk.
Security Belt/ Pack (secure important items)
Backpacking anywhere around the world is one of the most liberating experiences. Knowing how to keep your valuables safe and secure will keep your mind at ease. We recommend purchasing something that will keep your Identification card, passport, money, and debit or credit cards safe from theft.
Modern street wear fashion inspired, its two zippered compartments make it easy for you to stay organized while you travel. Easy to conceal, it’s secure against both RFID scanning and conventional pick pocketing. You can hide it under any shirt even when it’s full of your personal items.
Unlike a typical belt with a hidden zipper pouch on the reverse side, this belt has a 33% wider storage pocket. It’s easy to access without removing the belt: just twist it, unzip the secret pouch, and get what you need. The fray-proof nylon material of the belt strap itself is tough and water-resistant, and you can also use it as a tourniquet in an emergency or use it to strap down something important.
Essentials for you day pack
It’s always nice to have an umbrella for the heat, rain, or any unexpected weather changes. You’ll want something durable and compact.
Ultra protective is also a huge advantage for Fidus umbrella. The special sun blocking layer could block 95% UV ray in the heating sun to provide a cooling shade for you under the umbrella and better protect your skin. While in the rain, this little umbrella with large coverage could keep you dry and safe.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall | Tropical Storm
We recommend having a rain coat in your pack it will save you the hassle of finding one when it is too late and pouring heavily.
Made with high quality environment friendly thicker EVA. It has an extra room at the upper back for your pack, ultralight, and keeps you dry from heavy rain fall.
A Travel Friendly Laptop
We recommend bringing a travel friendly laptop under 14 inches. Something light weight and durable. There should be internet connection available, unless you travel in more remote and provincial areas. In case of emergencies laptops can easily track down your phone, may it be stolen or misplaced.
If you’re planning on sharing your adventures with your family or documenting most of your trip for social media, then something like the MacBook Pro may be the perfect fit for videographers and photographers.
This laptop is practically indestructible and will last many seasons. If you’re not a tablet or kindle person this type of 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop is. I bring this everywhere and love sketching on the go.
Having a portable battery source during your backpacking trip will be crucial; especially if you’re traveling with all your tech gear. Find a slim easily store, durable, and with high mAh to ensure long lasting battery source.
The RAVPower battery packs are known for its durability, up to 9 days of reliable power on a single recharge, an insane 26800 mAh that can charge three devices simultaneously.
Unless you’re already familiar with DSLR big body type cameras, we suggest bringing a point and shoot camera on your first backpacking trip for it’s lightweight body, and so you don’t miss “Kodak” moments.
We recommend the Lumix ZS200, because it goes head to head with professional DLSR cameras with a fraction of their size. This point and shoot is easily storable, light weight, and very durable. With 4k video, 20.1 MP, and 15x zoom this camera is versatile, with so much creative potential.
Overall dependable and must have when you’re traveling. This GoPro shoots at 4k at 60 fps, waterproof up to 33ft (10m) without casing, easily stored, and with one click record button function for quick snaps or videos.
Books are too heavy for you pack; if you love to read the kindle is a perfect fit. Kindle’s are durable, connect to Wifi, and you can download a library of digital books. Kindles come in different sizes, making them useful when trekking, reading in a coffee shop, and waiting to board you flight or train.
Durable and easily stored, this kindle comes with 300 ppi resolution display, adjustable light, no screen glare, and the battery charge lasts weeks. If you’re a prime member you’ll have unlimited access at your finger tip. Kindle Paperwhite also includes cellular connectivity to access new books from most countries in the world, without Wifi.
Wireless Ear Buds
On the move you’ll want some sort of entertainment or to block out annoying noises around you and free of annoying cords. Just take them out and they’re ready to use with all your devices. Put them in your ears and they connect instantly. Speak into them and your voice sounds clear. Dual beam-forming microphones filter out background noise when you make calls.
That’s our guide, now you’re ready to go on your first backpacking trip! we hope you’ve enjoyed and our guide helped you setup your first gear.
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Sending you good vibes on your first backpacking trip! -JSJ
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