The Backpacking Checklist for Travellers

Regardless of whether you’re be going on a year long trip to Cambodia or on a weekend hike up a trail, this backpacking checklist is here to make sure you leave nothing but your worries behind.

You don’t have to bring EVERYTHING on this list, just pick and choose the things you want to bring. Though, if I were you, I wouldn’t skimp out on any of the safety equipment or medical stuff.

If you’d like a printable version of this list, click here.

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Safety equipment

First aid supplies; medication

  • A First-Aid kit is a must — Accidents happen no matter how much we try to avoid them.
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Allergy medication
  • Prescription medication and possible alternatives.
  • Multivitamins — I usually only bring these if I’m going for a few days.
  • Aloe Vera gel for sunburns — I once went to a desert and got a massive sunburn all along my back. I didn’t have any relief for several hours before I went and bought some aloe cream. Best thing I ever did.

  • Eyedrops — Extremely useful for dusty and windy days.
  • Get your vaccinations up to date.
  • Motion sickness pills for long winding trips are LIFESAVERS. — I use Tums even though they’re technically Antacids usually used for heartburn or gas. Works like a charm for me.
  • Hot/cold compress
  • Thermal blankets — These often get overlooked because, well, they’re blankets.

  • Rash and insect bite creams — I grew up being told to just put rubbing alcohol on insect bites and it works pretty well.

Food and water

Clothing

Cold weather

  • Lightweight jacket that’s water resistant/proof — I’ve biked in -40°C with not much more than just a lightweight (yet highly effective) jacket to keep my core perfectly warm. Some may be fairly expensive but, trust me, a great one is worth the price.
  • Gloves
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Balaclava for those days that make you feel like your face is being eaten by a zombie — I’ve found that face masks work just as well as balaclavas in some circumstances too.
  • Toque — I know a guy that pronounces it “Toe-Kwa”.
  • Raingear
  • Merino wool socks are must haves if you’re going anywhere cold and/or damp. — Merino wool retains heat extremely well even when it’s wet so you’ll have no issues keep your toes warm with a good pair of socks. It’s also pretty breathable so you can even wear them if you’re going to warm places.
  • Thermal underwear

  • Scarf
  • Polarized sunglasses — To help keep your eyes healthy especially when there’s lots of glare.

Warm weather

  • Rash/heat guards (interchangeable based on who you talk to) are super handy. — They help keep you nice and cool while also protecting your skin from the elements.
    • They’re often used for swimming out in large bodies of water like an ocean because there’s a lot of stuff that can give you a rash out there. They also help heat escape faster away from your body so they’re often used for long hikes. They’re also perfect for exercising. I often feel much colder wearing one as opposed to being shirtless.

  • Moisture wicking underwear
  • Arm sleeves — If you’re using a normal T-shirt and the sun comes beaming down, you’ll want these handy.
  • Hat
  • Polarized sunglasses — To help keep your eyes healthy especially when there’s lots of glare.
  • Windbreaker/raincoat

  • Running socks/wicking socks add a bit of support to your feet while helping to keep them cool. — I tend to wear running socks more because they generally have soles with more grip.

Footwear

  • Hiking boots provide great ankle support in case you start trippin’ on really rough terrain. — Honestly, I often buy boots in the women’s department because they tend to look better than the men’s stuff.

  • Hiking shoes if you dislike wearing boots.
  • Running shoes are what I wear the most when I’m out and about. — Mostly, it’s because they’re a lot lighter than hiking shoes/boots. I’m completely biased towards Nike’s Free Run line when it comes to runners because of how sturdy and light they are.

  • Slippers — The number of times I’ve forgotten to bring a pair of slippers during my trips probably outnumbers the hairs on my face. Nothing worse than using public showers barefoot. Yuck.
  • Sandals — For days where you plan to walk a lot while also maybe going to the beach.

Gear

  • Backpack and cover — Depending on the length of your trip, you’ll either need a big pack or a small one. I prefer Osprey packs because they have a lifetime warranty on them which they call the “All Mighty Guarantee“. Even though there are tons of different brands that have lifetime warranties, I prefer Osprey’s packs because of their highly efficient (and attractive) designs. Ain’t never done me wrong.

  • Sleeping bag/pad
  • Tent — So you don’t get eaten by 3 million mosquitoes.

  • Footprint for your tent — Sleeping in a tent without a footprint underneath is like sleeping on a cold and wet patch of grass. Oh, don’t do it, oh my god.
  • Tarp — For particularly rainy seasons or when the sun’s always shining down and you just want some shade.
  • Wallet
  • Hiking poles — Aren’t a must for everyone but using them is a great way to help maneuver difficult terrain.
  • Card and cash holders — Great alternatives if you don’t wanna be bringing around a larger wallet.
  • Watch
  • Insect/animal repellant
  • Paracord bracelets are great little creations. — They double as jewellery and extra rope if you need.
  • Binoculars help you find your way.

Electronics

  • Power cords
  • Powerbanks

  • Cellphone
  • Offline Map Apps like MAPS.ME, Offline Maps & Navigation
  • Camera(s)
  • Laptop — Travel laptops are getting strong and lighter with every passing year. They’re no longer as heavy as tanks and can now be brought along on many backpacking trips.

  • Tablet

  • Earphones — I prefer Bluetooth earphones so I don’t have to worry about the cords getting tangled.

Personal effects

The printable version of this checklist is on this Google Doc.

What quirky things do you never leave for a backpacking trip without? I always carry around special rocks with sentimental value when I’m travelling. Let me know in the comment section below.

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