Backpacking Checklist: travel essentials must-haves


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So, you’ve decided to go on a backpacking trip and need to decide what backpacking essentials to bring with you. But how can you pack such a small bag with everything you need?

We’re here to help you solve this problem. You don’t really need all the stuff you think you need. Those fancy shoes you want to pack? You’re probably not going to wear them anywhere. And do you really need fifteen t-shirts? Probably not.

In this article we will help you pack smarter to allow you to have the best backpacking trip you could have.

First of all, you need a backpack. There are many different types of backpacks, so we made a list of the best travel backpacks for 2021. Take a look and choose the one that fits your needs.

We usually prefer backpacks with pockets because they allow us to better organize our items. Inner pockets can help you keep your most valuable items, like passport and wallet, secure and easily accessible. You won’t need to move everything inside your bag to find your passport.

Then, prepare a backpacking checklist or use our backpacking essentials list to keep in mind what you need to pack. Our list includes travel essentials, but you might want to add items you need for your specific travel.

Before listing our backpacking essentials, let’s see some tips on how to pack a backpack:

Tips for packing a travel backpack

If you have a travel backpack that has pockets and separate compartments, you’re already ahead of the game. The pockets allow you to organize better and to know where everything inside your bag is.

A laptop compartment is useful if you travel with your laptop. Outer pockets are useful to keep your water bottle within reach. And inner pockets help you organize your items.

To pack your clothes, you can use the rolling method to take up less space. Or you could use packing cubes to keep everything organized. We used to roll our clothes, but now bring our packing cubes whenever we travel.

Don’t pack too much stuff. You’ll regret very quickly all the “what if” items you decided to pack, especially if you need to walk a lot. You’ll carry your backpack on your shoulders so to avoid any injuries, only take essential items with you.

Keep your toiletries and any items that may leak in plastic bags to protect other items. And remember to put any items you might need during your travel at the top of your bag or in the pockets. This way, you won’t need to dig into your backpack to find things.

Now, let’s move to our backpacking checklist:

Backpacking checklist

Your backpacking checklist can vary depending on the time of the year, the length of the trip, and the weather. So, think carefully about all these aspects, and prepare an essentials checklist for your next travel.

Here are our backpacking essentials:



Bring any documents you’ll need, like a passport, driving license, or medical insurance with you. The most important document is of course your ID/passport. But if you plan to travel by car or to rent a car at your destination, remember your driver’s license.

Check the expiration dates on any documents you might need and request new ones before your travel if they’re about to expire.



The clothes you need to pack vary a lot depending on your trip’s length and the season you’re traveling. Whether you’re traveling during summer or winter, there are some essential items you always need to pack.

Your underwear, socks, and pajamas should always be on your travel checklist. Then add other items, depending on the season.

You could wear some items multiple times during your trip to avoid bringing too many outfits. And if there is a laundry at your hotel, you could wash your clothes and wear them all over again.



What kind of shoes you should pack? Well, as with clothes, it depends on the weather and the activities you’re planning. If you plan to go hiking, a good pair of hiking boots are probably needed.

But if you’re visiting a city, sneakers are probably the best choice. Bring a pair of extra shoes only if you really need them. Like a fancier pair of shoes for a night out.

Otherwise, a pair of shoes should be enough. The only exception would be slippers or flip-flops to wear in your hotel room.



Pack any toiletries you need for your trip. We usually try to be very minimalistic and only bring the essentials. But, of course, you need to consider your needs and bring the products you use.

Toothpaste and toothbrush are obviously essential. We suggest a good bamboo toothbrush if you want an eco-friendly option. If you want to bring shampoo, check out solid shampoo bars. You’ll save space and have a product that will last you longer.

Remember to also pack a hair brush and any hair products you might need.

Microfiber Towel 

A thin microfiber towel is easy to pack and can come in handy if your hotel won’t provide towels. Check out Rainleaf’s microfiber towels.

They are available in ten colors and six sizes. It is super absorbent, fast drying and ultra compact.

Tech items

woman typing on laptop

Pack any tech items you’ll use during your travel. Bring your camera, laptop, or tablet, and remember to pack the chargers too. We usually pack a portable charger power bank too, in case we don’t have where to charge our devices.

If you take a camera with you, pack an extra memory card. You’ll be able to take all the pictures you want and never run out of space.

Water bottle

reusable water bottle

A reusable water bottle is another travel essential that we never leave at home. We prefer stainless steel bottles, but you can also buy glass or reusable plastic bottles.

Check out our article on the best stainless steel water bottles if you need inspiration for your new reusable bottle.

Sun protection

woman by the sea

You need to protect your skin from the sun whether you’re traveling during winter or summer. Pack a good sunscreen, a hat, and some sunglasses.

And if you’re traveling during summer, you’ll appreciate a lot your hat during long walks or hikes in the sun.

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