Backpacking Packing List
How to Pack

"Backpacking Packing List How to Pack" was last updated on May 25, 2013

How you pack your bag is as important as what you pack, in my opinion!

How you pack determines the weight and the practical way of grabbing your things. You don't want to dig into a load of clothes to get the toiletries, which you use every day.

And how you pack will also determine how your travel experience is going to be.

It's a pain and unnecessary to carry heavy luggage on the backpacking road!

So, I've gathered all the useful tips and information I could come up with in this article. Many of which can be just as useful when returning home.

Before the actual packing:

  • Lay out on your bed everything you're planning to take with you, then halve the amount.
  • Show no mercy. Think it through at least three times about what you're going to bring. Keep in mind that you'll be carrying these clothes for a long time. Ask someone for second opinion.
  • Don't worry, you're not stuck with the clothing you have in front of you. Keep in mind that you can shop additional clothing/toiletries locally.

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When you've decided
what to pack:

Quick tip:

It is recommended to not carry more than 1/3 of your body weight 

  • Write a list of every item you've decided to bring with you. This way, you can check the list when you're going to return home, in case you're missing something vital.
  • Write your name inside and outside your backpack.
  • Pack in a military way! 

Every clothing (big or small), squeeze the air out by rolling it tight.

Personal tip: I use Eagle Creek compression set to pack my undies, tops and t-shirts.With these bags, you can squeeze out the air and they will save you a lot of space and weight in your backpack - giving you more room for your shopping spree, souvenirs and gifts for your family and friends. They're a life-saver and you won't regret that you bought them!

  • When packing trainers or hiking shoes, put socks, boxers, undies inside the shoes. You'll save room by doing this.
  • Put the heavy and big stuff nearest the bottom and closest to your back. Use every crack, and fill it with undies, boxer shorts, bikinis and alike.
  • To reduce wrinkles, wrap every roll of clothes with tissue paper as this will prevent the garments from rubbing against one another, causing the fabric to wrinkle.
  • Pack some undies and toiletries in your hand luggage, in case your backpack gets lost during your flight! If you have forgotten to do this, there's always cheap shopping in Asia. Bangkok is a great place to shop!
  • ALL sharp items (scissors, Swiss Army knife and alike) must be packed in the backpack, not in your hand-luggage.You don't want to risk being pulled over by customs officials, and forced to throw it away (items are money). This way, you will save time as well.
  • Fragile items should be in your hand-luggage.
  • Every liquid bottle should be taped around its top, so the content won't burst in your backpack.
Eagle Creek compression bag

After you have done this, put it in transparent plastic bags for even better protection.

This will also help you find the content you need right away.

You can also use transparent bags in different colors to distinguish them.

  • I need to remind you that items like money and documents must be in your hand-luggage. This also applies for items for daily use like: travel guide book, pen, pad, wet wipes, scarf, sun glasses etc.
  • Prepare your clothes for the flight
  • If you're traveling with someone, and you know that you will not split up during your trip (hard one though) - avoid bringing the same travel guide, or both carrying a bunch of spare candles.

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After you've packed:

  • Pick the backpack up and carry it around your home for a while. It will take some time for the real weight to appear. This way, you will know what you'll be carrying for months or years, and you might even consider crossing more items off your packing list.
  • If you're interested in saving time at the airport, you should try to mark your backpack so you can recognize it and avoid taking another backpacker's bag by mistake. You're not the only one carrying... say, Lowe Alpine or Osprey ;-)

Here are some of your options for marking your backpack:

  • Tie a ribbon/colourful string around one or both shoulder straps
  • Sew a patch

Buy one of those neon coloured plastic padlocks at your nearest travel shop and attach it to one of the shoulder straps. I used this once and was fine a couple of times, but it eventually broke (you should see how the crew at the airport throw luggage...)

  • Write your initials with a water-proof tip-pen on a padlock

Need more backpacking tips? Check out these eBooks! :-)

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