10 Essential Items for Backpacking

Nina Harris·22 June 2016·5 min read
10 Essential Items for Backpacking

1.) Mosquito Repellent

You may think that a mini can of spray-on repellent will be enough, well, think again. Nothing kills the joy of backpacking more than endlessly scratching mosquito bites in places you didn’t realise mosquitoes could get to.

Mosquitos are particularly prevalent in backpacking regions such as South East Asia and India. Even though you can pick up extra repellent when you are out there, it is often difficult to decipher the strength of the sprays, and so it is worth stocking up on products such as ‘jungle formula’ before you travel. DEET based products at 50% strength are proven in studies to be the most effective mosquito repellent.

2.) Bum-Bag

Nothing says ‘cool’ like a marijuana leaf bum-bag

Although it’s hard to come to terms with the fact you are wearing a bum-bag at first, it will soon become your best friend. Bum-bags are perfect for keeping valuables safe, and because they are a ‘hands-free’ item it means you can take part in activities such as riding elephants and scooting about on mopeds without worrying about your personal belongings. These beauties are not to be mocked.

3.) Lots of Socks

Okay, maybe not that many

This sounds a bit bizarre, but you would be surprised how many pairs of socks you can get through while travelling. After days spent trekking or visiting waterfalls, your socks will slowly begin to disintegrate, so come prepared!

4.) Disposable Camera

Disposable cameras are perfect for traveling as it means you can take pictures in places where you wouldn’t feel comfortable using your phone, such as on walks and by the beach. Equally, locals are likely to think that you have no serious photographic intent which means you are able to capture more natural and charismatic moments. A quirky idea is to give your disposable camera to locals while you are traveling, ask them to capture their favourite places and give them a return address for you to collect and discover their images.

5.) Clothes That Are Not White

You don’t have to dress like Ray Mears, though

You may think that white t-shirts go perfectly with your summer wardrobe. You thought wrong. During your travels you will find that your white clothes become so grubby and sweaty they become unwearable. Save yourself the money and the hassle and buy clothes in appropriate colours!

6.) Long Baggy Trousers

On the subject of clothing, you can’t go wrong with some loose and long trousers to get you through your travels. No doubt you will have seen the classic ‘gap year’ trousers with elephant patterns splattered across them. While you may not want to fall into this category, sadly they are very handy for outdoor activities and traveling on busses and trains etc. Likewise, in countries with stricter clothing customs, long trousers and tops to cover up your body are useful for entering temples and museums.

7.) Lightweight Towel

Having a bulky bath towel in the bottom of your rucksack is the last thing you want on your journeys. Invest in a lightweight microfibre material towel as they are quick drying and very compact.

8.) Flip Flops

Having a pair of flip flops to throw on is really handy when you are abroad. If you are staying in hostels, they are convenient for hanging about and going to the shower facilities. Equally, they are usually pretty cheap so you don’t have to stress about losing them on the beach.

9.) A Lock


Backpacking is all fun and games until something gets stolen. Try and reduce the risk of theft by keeping your backpack locked at all times and using a combination lock means you don’t have to worry about losing your keys.

10.) Organised Plastic Wallets

Although it’s not desirable to be too organised on your travels, keeping track of your passports, boarding passes, medical records, and tickets etc. is vital. Buy rigid plastic wallets in a variation of sizes to keep track of your personal items. These will also come in handy when organising currencies from different countries as you can use them to separate your bits of change.

Enjoy your travels!