Top 10 Backpacking Necessities for a Wanderer
Backpacking is not always easy. It is always an adventure, but every adventure comes with price. There are no guarantees you will always (or even often) have a place to sleep, a place to clean up, or even food to eat. With all my experiences and a lot of guidance from others, I have compiled a list of the 10 highest priority backpacking necessities you will need while wandering.
1. High quality 50-70 L pack
The most important thing that you NEED to invest some money in is your pack. It is what will be containing all the belongings you bring with you, all your survival equipment, and is basically going to be your home while you are away. Anyone that thinks they can get by with their old high school backpack is insane.
A good pack like the one I use (60L Cabela’s XPG) will cost anywhere from $150 – $400, and can be purchased at most sporting goods stores such as Cabela’s or Wholesale Sports. I recommend between a 50L pack and a 70L pack because anything else is too small or too big. If you go with a smaller pack, you will find that it will be cramped for space and will be a constant battle to get anything in or out. If you go with a bigger pack, you will find it becomes way too heavy to be hauling around all day and TRUST ME, when you are hauling it around all day, your back will be in pain the next day.
Remember also to choose a pack that has a lot of outer pockets so you can access your often used stuffs, and a large central area for your larger stuffs such as clothing, blankets, tent, etc.
Weatherproof bags are also great, but come with extra price. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making a weatherproof shell for your pack out of industrial garbage bags or 6mil poly either as long as you do it properly.
2. One Man Tent
Whether urban traveling, trekking, or hitchhiking, you always want to find a nice warm place to sleep at night. Friends houses, hostels, and strangers couches are always great, but there are times when you actually have no option but to suck it up and pitch a tent. When it comes to this… and trust me, it will, you want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.
I highly recommend a one man, waterproof, windproof microtent. They are tiny, and just big enough for you and your pack. That being said, what else do you really need? Its covered, keeps the rain off, is low enough to the ground that wind isnt a big factor, and can be pitched almost anywhere. The best part is that a tent like this weighs next to nothing and is easy to store inside your pack. You can find a tent like this at a good sporting goods store. If you can’t find one there, I would highly recommend ordering one online as they are truly lifesavers in the field.
3. -30°C Rated Micro Sleeping Bag
Yes, they do exist. They are tiny too (about the size of your head). It’s the third most important thing you need with you. If you are in cold climate, it could even save your life. If you are in warm climate, it seals you up, keeps bugs and rodents off, and is really pretty cozy. It packs nice and small inside your pack and is easy to fold up and tie down. Again, most sporting goods stores will carry these.
4. Waterproof/Airproof Sacks
These things are great. These things save you so much on the road. They are made for canoers and kayakers to seal their stuff up in. I personally only use it for clothing. If you plan on backpacking with more than ine set of clothes, you need these bags. They come in different sizes so pick carefully what you think all your clothes would fit into. When you use these, fold your clothes as flat as you can and stack them inside the sack. After that, kneel down on the sack and push all the air out until your clothes are sealed in tight like a vacuum. From there you can roll up the excess of the bag and you have all your clothes compacted down as tightly as possible.
5. 5″ Solid Blade With Leg Sheath
This one is a bit more of a personal preference, but regardless, when backpacking you do need some form of personal protection. I always keep a 5″ SOG strapped to my leg. It gives you a sense of safety and also makes itself very useful in certain situations. Many people prefer Swiss army knives or folding blades, but to me, nothing says “survival” like a nice long boot knife.
6. Survival Kit
You better to be prepared for the worst possible scenario than it is to find yourself in trouble unprepared. Along with your backpacking necessities should be a good survival kit should include the following inside a sealed container:
-strike anywhere matches
There is a lot more that could be mentioned on that list, but thats going to give you the best start and is exactly what I keep in my survival kit.
7. Food and Water
I highly recommend keeping 3-5 high protein bars with you all the time as well as at least 1 litre of water. It is a good idea to bring water purifying tabs with you, just in case you get stranded and need to use them. Also, beef jerky among your travel necessities never hurt anyone either 😉
8. Clothing for the Occasion
Make sure to dress and pack properly for the climate and conditions you are going to be in. Board shorts are not good for hiking in the mountains and designer jeans are no good for strolling along the beach. Pack for the occasion and do your research. Make sure you stay warm in the cold and cool in the heat. Durable clothing that breaths well is best for hiking. Check out some different clothing lines and pick what works best for you.
If you are going backpacking, you are going to want to share your adventures. Depending on how much space you have saved in your pack can be a big determining factor on what kind of camera you can bring. You have 3 or 4 different options, being these:
Digital SLR – For professional photography and photography hobbyists. They are all great and take stunning photos but are bulkier and can have a lot of accessories like other lenses, flash kits, and tripods.
Point and shoot digital cameras – Great for taking quick high quality pictures. They pack flat and are simple to use
Disposable film cameras – No. Just don’t. Quality is low, lighting is always an issue, and you need to get film developed. Only bonus of these is the size and the nostalgia.
Smartphone phone camera – Every day cellular devices are upgrading the cameras in their phones. You can take beautiful pictures today and even edit and send them around the world from one tiny device. For a backpacker, as long as you have a good way to charge your phone, I would highly recommend this as a good, flatpacking option.
You are going to want to remember every detail of your backpacking experiences. What better way to do that than by keeping a personal diary or journal filled with stories and feelings and doodles of all the places you’ve gone.
That is all the best information I can give you for the top ten backpacking necessities you need. Hope it helps you out. Keep learning and studying and most importantly “never settle down”.
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