Travel Tips

Ultimate Backpacking Packing List [2023]: 61+ Essential Items!

Ultimate Backpacking Packing List [2023]: 61+ Essential Items!
Grace Reveley
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Grace is a freelance travel and snowboard writer who is on a mission to travel to as many countries as possible. She is currently traveling Europe in her self-converted campervan. She loves snowboarding so is always chasing the winters, spending half the year in the mountains and the other half, by the sea.

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Backpacking is an amazing way to travel the world, meet new people and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whether you're heading to Europe for a month or taking on South East Asia for a year, you need to pack the essentials!

Packing a backpack can be stressful. With limited space in your backpack, you need to make sure you're only taking what you need. When it comes to backpacking, there are certain items you just have to bring. Keep on reading for the ultimate backpacking packing checklist that will guarantee the trip of a lifetime.

Backpacking packing for traveling
Photo by Micheal Clark from Unsplash

Packing essentials: Start off right!

Heading off on a solo adventure or a trip with your mates is exciting and daunting. There are lots of things to remember before you jet off.

Organizing your backpack is the best way to start getting ready to travel. Packing in advance will help you feel prepared to take on new adventures. The list will vary depending on the length of your trip. But there are some essentials that should be taken on any backpacking adventure. 

Selecting the right backpack is the first step toward successful packing. Some great reliable brands for backpacks like Osprey and Patagonia will never disappoint.

Let's dive into the ultimate packing list with this easy-to-follow checklist.

Don't leave these items off your Backpacking packing list!

Clothes and Footwear

These are the core essentials for your trip. You can't go to a full moon party without a good outfit or head to the beach without a bikini. It's all about packing smart. Select clothes you can mix and match, and you'll keep your backpack light and your style on point. 

You need to think about the activities you'll be doing while backpacking. This will determine what shoes and clothes you bring. Having a little extra space in your backpack means you can bring goodies back from your adventures for friends and family too!

Think weather. Are you backpacking in cold or warm climates? No one needs thermals in Thailand!

This backpacking list is suitable for all types of adventures, so cross out the items that don't suit your adventure: 

  • Underwear
  • Swimwear
  • A variety of socks
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Trousers
  • Dresses
  • Coverups
  • Sleepwear
  • A day backpack or bumbag
  • Thermal layers 
  • Hiking boots
  • Flipflops
  • Smart sandals/shoes
  • Trainers
  • A light waterproof coat
  • Hats and gloves or a cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Comfortable travel pants
  • Travel towel

Health and Beauty

Now you have the clothes under wraps. The next thing to consider is what essential items you need to stay healthy. And look cute, obvs. A great way to organize your toiletries is through packing cubes. These flexible bags help you pack your belongings away neatly. Who doesn't want an organized backpack?

A great tip is buying mini versions of your favorite at-home products if you're going on a short trip. Or, if going further away, buy reusable bottles to fill before you go, and you can top them up throughout your trip. It means that you don't have to lug around large bottles in your backpack. More room for snacks!

Things you'll need to pack for travel
Image by Nicola Styles from Unsplash

Let's dive into some of the essential backpacking supplies you need to bring on your backpacking trip:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shower gel
  • Moisturizers
  • Face wipes
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Medication
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • After sun
  • Mosquito spray
  • SPF lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Face mask
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hairbrush
  • Makeup
  • Tissues


This area of packing depends on how much you need while backpacking. But the general rule of thumb is that less is more. Take the essentials but remember you're away to travel and make memories. Backpacking is a time to switch off and soak in the moment. 

These are essential backpacking gear if you need to have technology on the go:

  • Travel adapter
  • Phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Powerbank
  • Headphones
  • Portable speaker
  • Disposable camera
  • Kindle 
Packing for travel essentials
Image by Anete Lusina from Unsplash

Extra items:

Make sure you pack these extra items on your trip. They may not be backpacking necessities, but without some of these, you won't get further than airport security…

  • Passport
  • Boarding passes
  • Hostel confirmations
  • Visa documents
  • Backpacking itinerary
  • Travel journal
  • Driver's license
  • Travel Insurance Policy
  • Cash and Credit cards
  • Books
  • Sewing kit
  • Mini travel first aid kit
  • Emergency contact information
  • Luggage locks and spare locks for hostels

Keep all your important documents together in a plastic sleeve or document pouch so they're safe and easy to find. No hunting around your neatly packed bag for that one pesky paper.

What Should you not Bring backpacking?

Now that the backpacking necessities have been covered, it's time to look at the things you should simply leave at home.

It's easy to overpack when going backpacking. But considering the limited space of a backpack, it's essential you only bring what you need. And remember that carrying a large bag on your back all day can take its toll. You'll regret packing that extra pair of shoes!

There are a few things that need to be left at home when backpacking:

Extra clothes

You think you may need them, but you don't. When you get out there, you end up wearing the same pair of shorts over and over again. Try to bring thinner layers and things that fold small and don't crease. 


Make sure you don't bring anything of value with you when backpacking. You don't want to be carrying around expensive jewelry or sentimental items. They are best kept safe at home! 


Dried snacks, sweets, and anything that doesn't melt is a great idea to bring in your backpack. It's good to have a little emergency snack stash. But perishable food items are a big no-no. And they'll probably be confiscated at customs anyway.

Heavy Items

To minimize the weight, you'll be carrying while backpacking, leave behind heavy, bulky items. Not only will they take up loads of room, but they will also weigh you down! No heavy sweaters, boots, or that 500-page novel you've been meaning to read. 

Shoes to pack
Photo by Jakob Ownes from Unsplash

Should I pack in advance for Backpacking?

Start preparing for your backpacking trip 1 month in advance. This gives you plenty of time to finalize your itinerary and begin the packing process.

It means you have time to buy the right backpack and ensure everything fits in. You can organize any last-minute backpacking supplies and most importantly, you can enjoy getting excited about your trip. 

Backpacking FAQ's

What to pack for a 3 Day Backpacking trip?

You will need:

  • 3 outfits
  • Sleepwear
  • Toiletries
  • Phone and charger
  • Book/magazines
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • Travel documents
  • Passport
  • Small bag 

What to pack for a 7-day backpacking trip?

For a 7-day backpacking trip, you will need:

  • 7 outfits
  • Shoes
  • Toiletries
  • Sleepwear
  • Entertainment
  • Passport
  • Travel documents
  • Phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Medium-sized backpack to hold it in

What Should I Pack for a Backpacking trip to Europe?

Backpacking in Europe has many similarities to other destinations. But the weather and adventures you will be doing can vary. No matter where you're traveling, make sure you check the airline's baggage allowance to ensure your backpack fits their requirements. 

Pack Your Bags & Get Ready to Go!

Now that your packing is sorted, it's time to let the plans unravel. Speaking of travel plans, give Pilot a try to help you plan your next amazing adventure!

Pilot is your brand-new travel planner that helps you discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere. Make the planning experience more fun by collaborating with your travel buddies!

Pilot makes it fun and easy to share and relive your favorite travel memories with many useful features! 

Did we mention that it's completely free? Try it out now!


Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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