How to Pack When Backpacking

Backpacker, Dunheger Travel Blog


We’ve all been there: over packing for a simple weekend trip or bringing too many bags when we will be gone for more than a week. Whether you will be traveling for weeks or months, the amount that you pack shouldn’t change depending on the length of time that you will be away. You would be surprised the little amount of clothing and supplies that you actually need when backpacking across the world and we’re here to help you slim down the load. By following a few simple tips you will be traveling in no time and the clothes on your back will be your only concern. That, and getting to your next destination.

Remember when starting to figure out your wardrobe for the trip that you will be doing laundry on a regular basis, so when you pack do so as if you were only going to be gone for a week. A good rule is to lay out everything that you think you are taking with you from the start and cut that load in half, weeding out the things that aren’t of dire importance. By ensuring that just a couple pairs of pants and a few of your favorite shirts in dark, neutral colors will match regardless of the order in which you wear them, you will be able to have multiple outfits and only a small amount of clothing. The dark colors are better when traveling because any dirt or stains that you might get in to will be better hidden until your next opportunity to do laundry.

Backpackers on trail, Flickr © Paul

One of the most important things to remember when packing to backpack is that, since you will be on your feet and moving around a lot, high quality socks and underwear will be your best friends and a lifesaver when traveling. Experienced backpackers already know this, but if it’s your first time, protecting your feet and precious parts can mean the difference between walking down the beautiful streets of Prague or sitting at the hostel all day nursing blisters. If you are going to over pack any items, make  sure that you bring enough pairs of socks and underwear to be changed daily between laundry times and to cover any unforeseen misfortunes like rainy days. And speaking of protecting your feet, it may be a wise purchase to bring along a cheap pair of sandals or flip flops to wear in the shower at hostels and smaller hotels.

A real space saver is to roll anything that can be rolled. Shirts, pants and socks can all be laid flat, folded narrowly and longways, and rolled up to fit neatly in the bottom of your pack. Try to layer your clothing when placing it into your bag by order of weight, coats and jackets on the bottom, then pants followed by shirts, underwear and socks. Unless you are expecting it to be 100 degrees where you are traveling, remember that many places in Europe and across the world such as churches and various tourist attractions will not admit you if you are wearing shorts, so leave them at home.

How to Pack When Backpacing, Dunheger Travel Blog
How to pack when backpacing, Flickr © Mat Honan

When packing your toiletries it might be best to leave the aftershave and hair straigtener at home. The weight and space taken up by bringing everything but the bathroom sink will really weigh you down and prove completely unnecessary once you get into the swing of traveling with just the clothes on your back, so to speak. Place all of your items in a plastic, resealable bag to keep them from busting all over your bag, clothes or electoronics. Depending on how long you are going, small travel sized toiletry items can be replaced or even refilled and will save a lot of space when backpacking.

Always remember to leave space for souveniers and random items that you will pick up along the way. Undoubtedly you will return home with more than you left with so keep in mind that you might want to leave some of the less essential items and purchase them later if you absolutely can’t live without. If you find yourself with too many items when returning or even throughout the course of your trip, you can always ships some items home and have them waiting there for you when you get back without the heavy burden of carrying them with you. By following these few simple tips, you will backpacking without the wieght of the world, or your pack, on your shoulders.