Packing Guide for Backpackers

One of the most important things that you need to think about when you go backpacking somewhere, no matter how long for, is what to pack. When you backpack, everything that you take, you have to carry around with you no matter where you go and often it will mean a lot of repacking your bag as you move between destinations. This means that it becomes very important that you only take what you need. So read on for my top tips in this packing guide for backpackers about what you should be taking with you.


It is important that you take a bag that you are comfortable with. I am a big fan of Osprey bags as they are incredibly durable and come in a variety of different sizes. One of the key questions is what size of bag is the right size? Of course, it depends on how long your trips are, but I think that unless you are doing something that requires a lot of specific gear to go with you, then you don’t need a bag bigger than 55L.

However, one of the biggest tips that I have is to make sure that you have a day bag as well as a big rucksack. I found a bag that has the two combined so that the day bag can zip on and off the main rucksack and I think that is a very good way of doing it. Really though you just don’t want to be taking your big rucksack with you places more than you need to.

Packing Cubes

One of the best things that I have found when packing is packing cubes. These allow you to separate your items so that you don’t have to go looking through all of your stuff every time you need something. I had separate ones for underwear, cold weather clothes and hot weather clothes and this seemed to work very well.


It obviously depends on where you are planning on going as to what clothing you take with you. However, when I backpacked around South America, there was a lot of difference in the weather, so I had to cover all eventualities.

Really it depends how much you are willing to wash when you travel. I took about 5 different t-shirts and 2 long sleeve tops which served me well. I also had some zip off trousers which could be converted into shorts, something that was very useful in changing conditions.

In terms of coats, I had one very good jumper and one waterproof for the days when it rained. I also took one hoodie for the long bus rides which could get cold, especially at night.

Really, the key point is that you definitely don’t need to take a lot of stuff. You aren’t going to be wearing multiple outfits a day most of the time, so take clothes that can be worn in a variety of different circumstances.


Again, it does depend a little bit as to what you will be doing when you go on your trip as to what footwear to take, but I have managed to go everywhere with just 3 pairs of shoes.

The first is a sturdy pair of walking shoes. These are good for walking around cities and most hiking that you will be doing. Next, a pair of trainers. I take these as often if I am going on a night out, I don’t really want to be wearing my walking shoes, so these are the alternative. Finally, a pair of flip flops/ sliders. These are massively important when in hostels but are just as useful if you are travelling anywhere with a beach.

Miscellaneous Items

There are a few items that I found it really useful to have on my trips that you might not necessarily think of straight away.

The first is to take some bin liners. These come in amazingly handy if you ever get any of your clothes wet and don’t have time to dry them. Instead of getting the rest of your stuff wet, put it in a bin liner until you are able to stop and dry it.

A money belt. When travelling around South America I was never too keen on having things in my pockets. To overcome this, I made sure that I had a money belt that could discreetly fit under my clothes to carry around valuables such as my wallet or phone.

The next is a bike lock. This might seem very weird but if you are travelling on overnight transport and you are planning on sleeping, then this is a very useful item. It is great for attaching your bag to seats and stopping people from stealing it as you sleep.

This is just a basic packing guide for backpackers as to what you should be thinking about when you pack for you trip and of course it makes a difference as to where you are travelling to on your trip. However, these tips have served me well on my trips and should work well under most circumstances no matter your plans.