The Ultimate Backpacking Pack List

Your Backpack

Finding the right backpack should be at the top of your pack list as you're going to be living out of it for several days or weeks or even months.

Invest in a good quality backpack that will last.  Look for one that is in the 50-70L range, is front loading and has design features that make it more comfortable to lug around.

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If you search online for what fabric t-shirts for traveling should be made of, you'll be bombarded by all sorts of answers that contradict each other.

Stop worrying about it and and just bring 4 or 5 solid color t-shirts with you on your trip.  If you end up somewhere hot and find out your

You should also pack a couple of non-wrinkle long sleeve shirts that mix and match well with your t-shirts so you have some fashion combinations while you travel.  The shirts don't need to be fancy and should be versatile enough to wear to a museum during the day and out to a club at night.

Pants and Shorts

There's no need to get extra fancy "travel" pants that cost over $100.  Just bring 2 or 3 pairs of casual pants with you on your trip.  Get wrinkle-free pants made out of lighter materials and stay away from jeans as they take forever to dry.

If you're going somewhere warmer, obviously you'll want to pack some shorts and a swimsuit.  Don't overdo it though - 2 or 3 pairs of shorts and one swimsuit is enough.

Socks and Underwear

You should spend a little extra money to get some high quality socks and underwear for your travels.

Pack 4 or 5 pairs of socks and underwear that are both odor eliminating and quick drying.  This way you can wear them multiple days and not have to pack as many for your trip.

Backpackers the world over recommend ExOfficio travel underwear.  The underwear is comfortable, chafe free and odor free so you can wear them for a few days in a row.


You only need one jacket for your trip and unless you're going somewhere cold where you'll need a winter jacket, one good fleece jacket is all you need.  Remember, if it does get cold, you can always bundle up with layers.

Aside for a jacket, don't forget to bring a beanie, scarf, gloves and maybe a sweater if you're traveling during the winter months.  If you're going to be soaking up the sun instead, you might want to bring a sunhat and sunglasses.
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Most people only bring one pair of shoes for their trip.  That way, when you go from city to city you don't have to pack them because you'll be wearing them on your feet.

The shoes you buy should be sturdy enough to handle walking all day but also fashionable enough to take out for a night on the town.  Get a nice pair of leather sneakers in a color that can mix and match with your wardrobe.

You might also want to bring one pair of lightweight indoor shoes like slippers or flip flops to rest your feet in at the hostel.


If you go to an outdoor or travel store you'll be inundated with all sorts of "must have" travel accessories.  Truth be told, you don't need many of them.  Here's a list of some things you should definitely take with you on your trip:

1) Travel wallet

Pick up a good travel wallet which is more compact and travels better and leave your bulky leather wallet or purse at home.

2) Money belt

Another option to a wallet is to have a money belt that attaches to your body underneath your clothes.

3) TSA locks

Bring three locks and always make sure your bags are locked all the time.  TSA locks allow airport security to check your bag without having to destroy your lock.

4) Sleep mask

Good for when you want to sleep on a bus or train.  Also comes in handy if you had a late night and want to sleep during the day.

5) Rain cover

Comes in handy when you encounter the inevitable rainy travel day.  A rain cover will keep everything inside your pack nice and dry.

6) Ear plugs

A little protection from all the snorers you'll encounter along the way.

Helpful Items

There are lots of "helpful" travel items out there, but there's also alot of things out there you don't need.  Don't waste your money on things like sink stoppers, silk sleep liners, and sewing kits.  Instead get these items for your backpack.

1) Scissors

One of those things you'll be glad you have when you actually need them.

2) Flashlight

For when you're trying not to wake everyone up looking for something in the middle of the night.

3) Ziploc bags

Bring a few bags to store anything from extra food to small souvenirs.  You never know when they'll come in handy

4) Travel pillow

Get a good quality compressible travel pillow to help you sleep when you're traveling.

5) Insect repellent

Good for keeping the mosquitoes away but be aware that some airport security won't allow you to have the spray cans in your bag so you might be better off buying it when you get there.

6) Playing cards

A great way to meet your fellow backpacker is by breaking out your deck of cards.


Most hostel bathrooms have limited shelf space so get yourself a toiletry bag that you can hang up.

As you're loading up your bag, you'll quickly figure out you're going to have to limit what you bring with you.  Only take the essentials and remember you're going backpacking not to the ball.

Hair brush
Face cloth
Shaving kit
Wet Wipes


When you travel, you should be out exploring the world and meeting new people.  Don't be one of those people with their head down in front of a dimly lit screen.  Having said that, here's a few things you should definitely have on your trip:

1) Digital Camera

Unless you're a professional photographer and want to lug around a big camera, a point and shoot digital camera is all you need.  Don't rely on your smartphone either as while it's great for selfies back home, it just doesn't cut it for photo quality when you're traveling.  Oh, and bring along an extra battery and an extra memory card.

2) Smartphone

With a multitude of apps, a smartphone is a great gadget to have with you on your travels.  You'll have a map, a watch, an alarm clock and a music player with you all the time.  There are also alot of great phone apps for traveling that you can download.

3) Extension cord

Power outlets are a hot commodity in most hostels.  Sometimes there might only be a couple in a room for eight people.  A simple extension cord will automatically triple the outlets available to you.

4) If you're blogging...

You'll want to bring a laptop with you as well.  Bring something small and lightweight like a Netbook or Chromebook that you can easily pack into your day bag or backpack.

Travel Tip
Wall outlets overseas are not the same as the ones you're used to seeing back home.  If you want to plug in while you're traveling you have to use a universal travel adapter.  Get one with multiple settings so you can use it in any country worldwide.

Important Documents

You're going to be traveling with important documents including your passport and travel insurance papers.  Keep your important stuff together in a little folder or envelope tucked away in your backpack.

Debit card
Credit card
Flight confirmations
Immunization certificate
Document copies
US currency
Travel insurance
Drivers license
Extra passport photos
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Where To Next?


More Trip Planning

Backpacking Europe: Everything You Need To Know
How To Plan Your First Euro Trip
Travel Insurance 101
Great Phone Apps For Traveling
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