Packing everything you will need on your backpacking trip can be tricky. You have only a finite amount of space, yet there is so much you think you are going to need. There is no way everything can possibly fit in your single backpack. If you want to have everything you need while still traveling light, you need to know the best things to pack for your backpacking holiday.
Perhaps the emphasis here should not be on packing light, but on packing smart. It is more important that you pack things you need rather than things that have been designed to be less cumbersome or less heavy than others but might not do the job as well.
You want to be prepared for every kind of weather you might experience, so essential all-weather kit should include a waterproof jacket that will keep off the worst kind of rain but can also be folded to take up very little room in your backpack. Instead of packing another jacket for the cold, pack clothes that work as layers, such as a fleece or a sweater that can be pulled on if the weather turns cold. Try to keep shoes to a minimum by packing a pair that will work for multiple occasions. You should also have good socks. Look for ones that are thick and padded enough to cushion your feet and prevent blisters, along with some wicking underwear that will keep you dry.
Backpacking vacations mean that you are outdoors pretty much all the time, so you need to include items in your backpack that will protect you against the elements. Sunscreen to prevent sunburn is indispensable, but do not forget that your lips and eyes need protection too, so pack lip balm and sunglasses. Continuing the theme of safety, a basic first aid kit is an absolute necessity and this should contain bandages, antiseptic wipes, blister packs, sterile pads, insect repellent treatment, antibacterial ointment, and painkillers such as aspirin and/or ibuprofen.
As means of sustenance, you should also pack bottles of water or a water canteen, along with a water filter or treatment system to keep you hydrated. Also, be sure to pack at least a day’s worth of food that does not need to be cooked. Look for items that can be eaten out of the wrapper and have a high calorific value, such as cheese and chocolate. A reflective blanket should also be packed to keep you warm should you have to spend longer outdoors than anticipated, and a flashlight of some kind, whether handheld or headband-mounted, will be necessary for nights. Just remember to pack extra batteries to keep the flashlight working.
You will also want to bring along items that make your life easier and ensure you do not get lost on your travels. If you are planning to go very far off the beaten track, a compass is an essential, as is a map of your area that is protected from rain and other elements. Optional extras to help you with navigation are GPS and an altimeter. A personal locator beacon is another good gadget to have on your person, while a satellite communicator, 2-way radio or cell phone if coverage is adequate will ensure that you are never too far from help should you need it.
Gadgets come into their own when it comes to backpack packing. Gadgets that fulfill several different functions are great space-savers. For example, a multi-tool that has scissors, a knife and a can opener, such as that found at the former As Seen On TV website, could prove invaluable and replaces three separate tools. If you have digital tools with you, you may find that a solar charger is an extremely useful item to pack.
What about sanitation and keeping yourself clean? Let us not forget that we all have basic needs, and if you do not want to be caught short in the back of beyond, toilet paper should not be forgotten. You’ll also need hand sanitizer gel and something to clean up after you. Be sure to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste, a compact toiletry kit containing soap and deodorant, and a quick-dry towel.
There are many things you will need on your backpacking holiday, but not all of them will be essential. To keep your backpack light and filled with only what you need, you can’t go wrong by prioritizing your health, comfort and safety.