You’ve wanted to try backpacking ever since you first heard of it — the very idea sounds so exciting and compelling. Now, you’ve finally made up your mind to do it. You’ve decided on the route and figured out exactly what you want to see. All that’s left is to start packing your backpack.

Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds — you have to pack everything you need but make sure it all fits in one backpack. To help you figure out how to do that, we’ve compiled a list of basic backpacking essentials you certainly should bring along with you.

Absolute Must-Haves

1. Passport

It goes without saying that a passport is essential for every international traveler. Without it, your backpacking trip won’t last very long, unless you’re planning to stay within the borders of your own country. Make sure to pack it somewhere safe and don’t lose sight of it during your trip!

2. Travel Insurance

Even if you don’t end up needing your travel insurance, you should follow the “better safe than sorry” policy. Insurance will, at the very least, give you a peace of mind. And in case something does happen to you, you won’t have to pay thousands of dollars for medical assistance. Your insurance policy will cover your needs!

Essential Clothes

1. T-Shirts

Five to six T-shirts should serve you well on your backpacking trip — especially if you bring a mix of long and short-sleeved ones. In case your traveling takes you to a colder climate, remember to pack a thermal shirt to wear under a sweater or a jacket. That should be enough to keep you warm even if you spend long hours walking outside.

2. Shorts or Trousers

It’s a good idea to pack several pairs of trousers for your trip, preferably in darker or neutral colors. Choose some light and comfortable ones, like leggings, but also consider jeans for a more formal look. 


Your backpacking might take you to hotter climates, so make sure to pack a pair or two of shorts. Convertible pants are also an excellent choice, as they can be both short and long, yet they take up less space!

3. Socks

Five to six pairs of socks will likely be enough for your trip, unless you are planning to go for long hikes. In that case, a few extra pairs of trekking socks might be in order, but if you don’t have any, your regular ones will serve.

4. Underwear

Comfortable underwear is crucial for a good trip, so make sure to pack seven pairs — one for each day of the week. Even if you find yourself a pair or two short, you can always buy some on the road. Still, you’ll likely feel better if you bring enough from home.

5. Sunglasses

A good pair of sunglasses will go a long way towards protecting your eyes, so make sure to bring one along. If you can, invest in high-quality sunglasses, as their effect is noticeably better. But if not, any glasses will do.

Essential Shoes

1. Flip-Flops or Sandals

If you’re backpacking through hot regions, flip-flops and sandals will be your best friends. But you’ll have use of them even in colder areas — for instance, when you’re staying at your accommodations. Instead of wearing your outdoor shoes or going barefoot, slip them on and you can comfortably go about your day.

2. Sneakers

Most of the time during your backpacking trip, you’ll be wearing your sneakers. Thus, you need to make sure they are comfortable, lightweight, and usable both when it’s hot and when it’s rainy.

3. Walking Shoes

If you expect to do a lot of hiking during your trip, a pair of walking shoes might be a good idea. Otherwise, sneakers should be good enough to see you through its entirety.

Essential Electronics

1. Mobile Phone

When it comes to electronics, nothing is as essential as your mobile phone. Aside from helping you stay in touch with your family and friends back home, your smartphone can serve as GPS, e-reader, camera, and so much more. Just make sure that it’s unlocked, allowing you to insert different SIM cards and communicate at a lower price.

2. Power Bank

You won’t always have access to a socket where you can plug in your charger, so it’s best to be prepared. A high-quality power bank will be able to charge your phone several times before needing to be recharged. In addition, it can charge your laptop and other electronics, ensuring you don’t lose power even during long stays in nature.

3. Flashlight

Although your phone comes with a built-in flashlight, it’s better to bring a separate one just to stay on the safe side. That way, even if your phone’s battery dies, you’ll still have light during your night treks. Head torches might be an even better idea — they are hands-free, making it highly unlikely for them to slip through your fingers and break.

Essential Toiletries

1. Medication

Though you can buy medication in pharmacies across the world, it’s always safer to bring a few essentials from home. Pack any personal medication you use regularly, as well as painkillers, anti-diarrhea medicine, cough drops, and antihistamine. If you still have enough space, you can add some band-aids and bandages to your makeshift first-aid kit.

2. Microfiber Towel

Microfiber towels may not be as good as regular towels, but they are quite lightweight and pack small. In addition, they’ll come in handy if you’re visiting beaches or staying in motels. But make sure to wash and dry them regularly if you want them to remain usable during the entire trip!

3. Toothpaste and Toothbrush

To avoid worrying about buying some toothpaste and a toothbrush as soon as you embark on your journey, pack them beforehand. You can choose smaller ones, as they’ll take up less space in your backpack.

4. Sunscreen

Even if you won’t be visiting beaches every day, a sunscreen with a high SPF is a must-have. It will protect your skin during long hikes in the sun, so make sure you apply generously and restock it whenever you run out.

Final Thoughts

Once you have the essentials we’ve mentioned here, you’re ready for your trip. If there’s still more room in your backpack, you can include some additional items, such as a Kindle or clothes for nicer occasions. But remember not to pack more than you have to. A heavy backpack will slow down your movements, and you can buy most non-essential items wherever you are in the world.