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What to Pack for Your Backpacking Trip

2012 May 8
Bachelor frog packing

Oh bachelor frog…

You’ve bought your ticket, got your guidebook, and now you’re ready to pack your bags. You look around at all the things you use on a daily basis, look at your backpack, and begin freaking out because you have NO IDEA how to fit it all in.

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as it seems. On all of my trips, whether they’ve been a couple weeks or months, hot or cold, beach or mountains, I’ve packed more or less the same stuff.

Here’s my list.

The Bag: Arguably the most important thing next to your flights and passport, getting a good bag is key. I recommend one somewhere between 50-70 liters in volume. It should have plenty of pockets and fit comfortably on you when fully loaded. There are people who travel with smaller bags (30-45L) but I personally find it too constricting. On the other hand, those with 80-90L bags look like they’re off to Everest base camp, not a backpacking trip. Keeping it in the 50-70L range will give you good mobility while also giving you ample space. And whatever you do, don’t skimp out on quality. Saving a few bucks on a cheaper bag and having it break in the middle of a trip is not worth it.

Electronics: Most backpackers these days have a cadre of electronics, these are mine.

  • iPhone 4: perfect replacement for a laptop. Takes care of Skype, emails, and news. iPhones can also be unlocked to use local SIM cards
  •  iPod Shuffle: low-profile, portable, and it just works
  • Kindle: I do a lot of reading on the road and the Kindle is small, light, and holds thousands of books
  • DSLR (D40 with one lens, either 35mm fixed or my 10-24mm): Although larger than point and shoots, DSLRs offer much higher picture quality and control
  • Related chargers
Clothes: The wardrobe below has handled just about every sort of climate and activity.
  • 7 pairs of boxers
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 2 dress shirts
  • 1 pair of jeans – while microwick fibers or whatever may dry quicker, they look pretty lame and aren’t as comfortable as a well worn pair of jeans
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of swim trunks
  • 1 windproof fleece
  • (depending on where I go) 1 waterproof hard shell
  • 1 quick dry towel
Randoms: Things that don’t fall into the two categories above.
  • Guidebook – always worth it’s weight in gold
  • Combination lock – perfect for lockers
  • Headlamp – way better than a flashlight
  • Ibuprofen and traveler’s diarrhea medicine – the two essentials
  • Ziplock bags –  you never know when you need them but you always end up using them

Other than toiletries (which differs for every person) and the obvious wallet/passport, the list above pretty much covers it.

See anything else that I missed? Comment below!

One Response leave one →
  1. June 16, 2012

    Maybe it’s because I am a girl, but I can’t imagine going for a week with only one pair of pants, LOL.

    That said, I do tend to pack a few more clothes than I typically need, mostly because in the mountains you can’t guarantee an opportunity to dry anything, and I hate being damp for days on end. If I am going somewhere that is unlikely to involve snow, hail, and rain all in the same day, then I pack lighter.

    My backpack is a 90L, although I never pack it full. The primary reason for this is because I usually have to sherpa not only MY gear but gear for my kids as well. When it’s just me, using the many compression straps keeps it from being ridiculously over-sized for a mere weekend.

    Mind you, we also carry cooking gear, food, bear bags, and a lot of other stuff you don’t need if you aren’t traveling in remote areas.

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