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How To Pack a Backpack For Easy Access

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If you plan on going backpacking for the first time, you may feel overwhelmed by the preparation required to have everything, right?

The stress of possibly forgetting an essential item can sometimes be too much. Don’t worry; we have exactly what you need!

We’ll provide you with our helpful backpack packing list, so you’ll have the basics adapted for most outdoor trips, and you’ll learn how to pack a backpack with the essentials for a pleasant, stress-free experience.

Who said the outdoors had to be tough?

Backpack Packing List

items for backpack

Here are a few of the must-have items to pack into your backpack.


  • Ziploc bags for garbage disposal
  • Waterproof stuff sack


  • Tent
  • Rainfly
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow (or stuff sack)
  • Quick-dry towel

Camp Kitchen

  • Stove and fuel
  • Cookpot and lid
  • Lighter
  • Campfire kettle
  • Basic cutlery
  • Plate, bowl and cup
  • Topographic map
  • Waterproof map bag
  • Compass
  • Watch
  • Phone with GPS phone app and downloaded maps
  • Power bank + charging cords
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlights + spare batteries
  • Trek poles


  • Whistle
  • Bear spray (if applicable to your trip)
  • Bug spray
  • Duct tape
  • Glue
  • Stormproof matches or fire starter kit
  • Backup water treatment pills
  • First-Aid kit
  • Rope
  • Flare gun


  • Two to four water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Water treatment
  • Pre-packed meals (always pack at least an extra day’s worth of food)
  • Survival snacks
  • Food bag


  • Rain jacket
  • Down jacket
  • Warm gloves
  • Fleece hat
  • Hiking pants
  • Running shorts
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Underwear
  • Socks (pairs for hiking and warm wool pairs for camping)
  • Sunglasses
  • Trail running shoes or boots

Personal Care

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Toilet paper and wipes with a sealable bag
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Bug repellant
  • Meds and vitamins 

7 Tips on How to Pack a Backpack

Let’s take a look at some tips for packing your backpack so that you don’t end up going camping with 10 different bags.

1. Plan Ahead

walking on a backpacking trail

Planning every aspect of your journey is the most important part of backpacking.

You need to know where you’re going, which implies the area’s topology, weather, wildlife, known routes, and more, depending on the area you’re visiting. 

You’ll be in the wilderness, so you need to know everything you can in order to have the resources at hand.

These will include most of the items on our list, but you may have to add extra items if you go to a snowy area, for instance.

2. Pack Light

When you go backpacking, every ounce counts because you’ll have to carry it for the entirety of your trip. The bag itself should be functional but not too heavy, so you can carry it comfortably.

For added comfort, choose a backpack with lots of space, comfortable padded shoulder straps, and a waist strap. When you pack a backpack, you must really focus on the essential items you’ll need. 

Another critical aspect of preparing your backpack is folding and optimizing the space at your disposal, and there are numerous tutorials online on how to pack a backpack to optimize the space.

3. Choose Your Clothing Accordingly

appropriate clothes for backpacking

Your clothing can change drastically depending on the area you’re visiting.

If you decide to go to a mountain where the temperature can go down pretty fast, it’s best to pack clothes and equipment that will help you stay warm.

You must also pay close attention to the weather before going and planning your itinerary, and always take some rain gear if the weather turns unexpectedly.

4. Contact the Local Authorities

We want to remind you that although this type of trip should be enjoyable, it’s possible to become lost or sustain injuries.

That’s why you should make sure to never go on this kind of trip alone (even experienced hikers can get into trouble quickly). Moreover, depending on where you live, you may need a backpacking permit. 

You’ll also need to contact the relevant ranger station to plan your trip on the authorized itinerary and learn more about the regulations that apply.

5. Conserving Food

conserving food during backpacking

When you pack your food, you need to plan everything you’re going to need for the number of days you’ll be camping.

You will need to count the calories you’re going to need each day, depending on your BMI.

Store your food in sealable bags to prevent spoilage. Always pack a day’s worth of extra food in case of emergencies.

6. Always Have a First-Aid Kit Ready

This is an essential thing to carry on any trip. You’ll need band-aids of various sizes, antibiotics, gauze pads, latex gloves, sanitizer, tweezers, antidiarrheal, and antihistamines.

There are other items you can add to your first-aid kit depending on your specific needs, and you can also find kits ready to use to make things easier.

7. Learn All You Can About the Area

learning backpacking route

The worst thing to do is to go head first in the wilderness without knowing what to expect (look how it turned out for Christopher McCandless).

That’s why we mentioned calling the ranger station earlier, as they can give you precious information on the terrain and the wildlife you may encounter. They will also inform you about the trails you can safely explore and those you should avoid.

Learning a few survival techniques specific to this area can be quite beneficial, and we also recommend familiarizing yourself with the local flora, as there are certain plants to steer clear of and others that can prove beneficial in an emergency.


With that, we’ve shared all the essentials you’ll need for any camping or hiking trip.

Make sure to check that you have everything and that you have notified and checked in with the local authorities while planning your trip and when taking it.

Nature, while beautiful, can be dangerous, so make sure to plan your trip in advance to avoid any surprises.