A Guide to Packing a Backpack

Packing for a trip has its challenges. Preparing items for a backpacking trip is even more challenging. The number one rule for backpackers is to always pack light. With such a limited packing space, how do you decide what is essential and what can be discarded? Here are our top tips for packing your backpack;

 

1. Pick the right backpack

2. Choose clothes for different climates

3. Stock up on toiletries and first-aid necessities

4. Identify your camping essentials

5. Include a mesh bag for dirty clothes

6. Stay dry with the right towels

7. Power up with tech

8. Have at least two padlocks

 

Chances are you have repeatedly packed and unpacked your stuff to ensure that you get everything in your bag. What you actually need is to come up with a packing list to ensure that you won't forget anything important before you leave.

 

Let us expand on our top tips to help ensure that your backpacking adventure will go without a hitch:

 

1. Pick the right backpack

 

Backpacks come in different styles and features that cater to various needs. What suits your needs may be determined by four factors:

  • The gear you plan to bring with you, such as your camera or a tent

  • The features of the backpack, including pack access, pockets and storage capacity

  • Your activities during the backpacking trip

  • Your hip size and torso length so that your bag sits comfortably on your back

Consider packing a second backpack, too, in the form of a foldable daypack. Use this when you go around the town to check the local scene and stock up on more essentials.

 

Whilst it is tempting to bring all the travel essentials you can think of, remember that carrying a backpack can put a serious strain on your body. Bags that are too heavy will also slow you down during a hike.


If you don’t have enough room in your home for your backpacking equipment, you can always rent out another’s storage space or garage for an affordable price.

 

2. Choose clothes for different climates

 

Whether you are going somewhere warm or cold, you will never go wrong with comfortable and modest clothing choices. Essentially, you will need to pack clothes that are easier to wash, clean and dry.

Here’s a quick checklist of what clothes to pack if you are going camping for a week. You can add or remove items from this list, depending on what fits your needs:

 

  • Undergarments

  • Tops: Include one presentable long-sleeved top just in case you have to visit a temple or a nice local restaurant

  • Bottoms: Pack pants or shorts to use alternately.

  • Sweater or fleece pullover: Wear this for those chilly nights and bus rides.

  • Raincoat: This will be handy in case you are camping out and it is raining.

  • Sleep clothes: Bring some comfy sleepwear if you’re staying the night in a shared dorm room with other backpackers.

  • Socks: Wash your used socks every night. Always have a clean and dry pair inside your bag.

  • Swimwear

 

Make sure to read up on where you are travelling, as there may be clothes that are socially unacceptable in certain regions. Check for shopping options during your trip because clothes could be cheaper in these areas. This way, you have an option to buy instead of packing a shirt when you need more. But don’t forget that you will need to carry what you purchase for the remainder of your trip.

 

3. Stock up on toiletries and first-aid necessities

 

Personal and grooming items can take a lot of space in your bag. The best toiletries to pack are those that serve many purposes such as soap, shampoo, laundry and dishwashing detergent rolled into one. Transfer your toiletries into smaller containers and make sure to keep them tight and sealed to avoid spills inside your bag. Use zip locks to store these items. Meanwhile, you can opt not to bring some toiletries if these are easily available at local stores you will visit. For instance, toothbrushes will usually be on stock at service stations and convenience stores. Some basics on the other hand, could be more expensive on the road, so it’s better to pack than purchase items such as sunscreens and sanitary items.

 

Here is a checklist of what you should have for personal care whilst backpacking:

  • Comb

  • Deodorant

  • Toothbrush

  • Soap

  • Shampoo and conditioner in one

  • Sunscreen with SPF 30

  • Insect repellent with 50 percent DEET

  • Cream for deep burns

  • Nail clippers

  • Sanitary items

  • Bandages and plasters

  • Baby wipes

  • Medicines such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, antacid, anti-diarrheal and anti-histamines

 

4. Bring camping essentials, too

 

Backpacking and camping go hand in hand with one another but nature’s outdoor accommodations are not always the most comfortable. Some campgrounds might lack facilities too, so it is best to be prepared for the unexpected.

 

This camping list below includes some recommended items to pack but you can modify this based on your specific needs:

 

  • Tents, tarps, poles and stakes for your accommodation

  • Sleeping bag

  • Repair kit for tents, tarps and pads in case of punctures

  • Flashlights with extra batteries, lanterns or a headlamp

  • Matches for starting a campfire

  • Ropes for making a clothesline or to use for emergency situations

  • Pocket knife or Swiss Army knife for cutting food

  • Duct tape and zip-locks for quick fixes and storage solutions

  • Markers for labelling your items.

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5. Include a mesh bag for dirty clothes

 

Separate your dirty clothes from the clean ones by putting them in a mesh bag to help lessen the smell instead of using plastic bags that keep the air out.

 

6. Stay dry with the right towels

 

A towel is always a necessity for a backpacking trip. Ditch those regular towels you use at home as they are not lightweight and take up too much space inside the bag. Instead, stock up on microfibre towels that will help keep you dry while taking up a quarter the room of a regular towel.

 

7. Power up with tech

 

Today's backpackers have the convenience of taking portable gadgets wherever they are. Whilst some can make do with just smartphones, others pack laptops, tablets and a digital camera to keep in touch, document their adventure, listen to music or catch up on reading as they relax on the campsite.

 

These devices can be really heavy and some require plug adapters, extra battery packs and external hard drives. So carefully consider what you can carry for your trip or come up with a better plan to get in touch online with just one or two gadgets. Remember, packing light will allow you extra space to bring home souvenirs.  

 

8. Have at least two padlocks

 

If you are moving around and carrying valuable devices with you, have a couple of padlocks to keep your stuff safe and secure from theft. Usually, accommodation for backpackers provide lockers but not many come with padlocks. You can also lock your bag by connecting and sealing the zippers with the padlock.

 

If you needstorage space whilst you’re backpacking around Australia, Spacer has thousands of options you can choose from. Check what’s available today!

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