Packing Essentials For Backpacking : Everything You Need, Nothing You Don’t

Backpacking means carrying everything on your back – so the goal is ultimately to keep your bag light and all your belongings to a minimum. I usually take three or more practice packs before I feel comfortable with the weight and the clothes I have packed – you’ve gotta get creative! Below I outline the packing essentials for backpacking with a few optionals for you to decide yourself, do you need it? 

The Basics

So the bare minimum is one piece of everything : tee, pants or jeans, shorts, underwear and socks. But it can be difficult to wash your clothes everyday. As a general rule of thumb, I like to have at least a clean top and fresh underwear for five days.

The Basics
5x tee shirts
1x pair of shorts
1x pair of jeans
5x pairs of underwear
3x pairs of socks


Hiking Optionals
Technical shirt
Technical pants/shorts
Compression liner socks
Hiking socks

Winter Optionals
Thermal shirt
Thermal leggings

Summer Optionals
Swimming trunks or board shorts

The Accessories

Apart from the basic things to keep you clothed and warm, you may want to bring a few luxuries. A hat, sunglasses, watch, wallet, and smartphone are great additions to your backpacking arsenal.

I call them accessories, because they don’t necessarily need to be packed away in your backpack.

The Accessories
1x hat
1x wallet
1x watch
1x smartphone
1x pair of sunglasses

Money belt (NOT traveller’s pouch, gross!)

The Footwear

I wear flip flops nearly every single day, sometimes I even wear them on long walks. But you’ve gotta be smart with your footwear.

Choose walking shoes that can be worn with any outfit (pants, shorts, colors, etc). If possible, carry a pair of shoes that doubles as your daytime walking shoes and can be worn out at night to dinner, nightclubs etc.

Hiking boots are not necessary, unless you are actually going to do a lot of hiking. The only benefit may be the ankle support when carrying your backpack – but they can be bulky, heavy and will certainly mark you as a traveller.

The Footwear
1x pair of casual shoes
1x pair of flip flops


Hiking Optionals
Hiking boots

The Outerwear

You need to learn all about layering – its so important when your aim is to pack light, especially when crossing different seasons and climates.

The Outerwear
1x softshell waterproof windcheater
1x lambswool sweater

Winter Optionals
Fleece jacket
Hardshell waterproof jacket

The Toiletries

I wrote a post about How to Avoid being That Smelly Backpacker – all the essentials you need to pack, nothing you don’t.

The First Aid Kit

My mom is a nurse, so she helped me to put together the Ultimate DIY First Aid Kit – all the essentials you need to pack, nothing you don’t.

Travel Hacks

See here for 10 Travel Hacks for Backpackers.

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