The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist 2018

Whether trekking through Europe or Asia for several weeks or hiking through the backcountry, the ultimate backpacking checklist is crucial. From packing enough dry socks to remembering to take your prescription medications, the ultimate backpacking checklist ensures you don’t overlook anything.

When you’re spending days or weeks outside, and carrying all of your possessions on your back, packing the right stuff is critical. Forgetting your battery bank or solar charged will put a real damper on your photography sessions. If you plan on embarking on a backpacking adventure of your own, do yourself a favor and have a look at the ultimate backpacking checklist before you go.


Backpacking is one of the most enjoyable pastimes for nature enthusiasts. Europe, Asia, and the United States are visited by millions of backpackers each year. Regardless of where your backpacking, there is a certain feeling of freedom that accompanies it. However enjoyable it may potentially be, poor packing can ruin an otherwise perfectly planned trip.

The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist 2018

The ultimate backpacking checklist is broken down into several important categories. It includes everything you could possibly need while backpacking in nature or abroad for more than just a couple of days.

Backpacking gear

The first section to the ultimate backpacking checklist is all about necessary hiking and camping gear. This gear list includes everything you’ll need while staying on the trail overnight.

Main bag

The main bag you’ll use for backpacking is perhaps the biggest consideration you have to make. Before you can begin planning what else to bring along, you need to know how much space your main bag will allow.

Day bag

A day bag is an essential item to bring backpacking as well. It will allow you to pack a small amount of gear and break away from your main bag for up to a couple of days.

Dry bags

For food storage and dirty clothes, there is nothing handier than dry bags. They are lightweight and take up practically no room until you fill them up.

Fanny pack

A fanny pack is an excellent item to keep your medicine, I.D., money, and snacks while backpacking. Using a fanny pack also allows for more space to pack things into your main bag.


The first item that comes to mind when you mention camping is the tent. Depending on the sort of backpacking you’ll be doing, there are numerous types of beneficial shelters to choose from.

Sleeping bag

One of the most vital items on the entire checklist is the sleeping bag. The sleeping bag determines how comfortable your slumber will be. It also dictates how warm and dry you’ll stay at night.


Packing a sleeping pad is a must if you want to ensure sound sleep without tree roots or rocks poking through your sleeping bag and into your legs and back. A smaller pad is also a great item to carry along for a dry seat.

Water container

A canteen or water bottle is one of the essential items to pack for any backpacking adventure. The lighter the better. Water may not seem substantial, in terms of weight, but with twenty or thirty pounds of gear on your back, the extra adds up.

Water filter and purification tablets

If you’re hiking off the grid, you’re going to need a water purification system. These come in various forms including filters, tablets, and LifeStraws.


A standard battery operated watch will help you to stay in touch with time. It may not seem like such a necessity, but unless you can read a sundial or the position of the stars to tell time, you may want to consider bringing one along.


A hiker’s best friend. A knife has so many uses while hiking it isn’t even funny. From cutting cord to trimming meat, and dislodging stones that are in the way of your tent, a knife is a must-have tool for backpackers.


Another absolute must-have item for backpacking is a firestarter. Whether waterproof matches, windproof lighter, or a spark rod, don’t embark on your voyage without one.


An old-fashioned compass is always a great tool to carry along when backpacking through nature. If you happen to lose your way, you’ll easily be able to center yourself and head in the right direction.

Map of area

One of the most frequently overlooked items to pack for your backpacking expedition is a physical map of where you’ll be hiking and spending your time. It is also wise to leave a copy with friends or family in case something happens.

Kitchen gear

In this section of the ultimate backpacking checklist, we cover all of the kitchen essentials. If you plan to cook while on the trail, then you’ll need the following items.

Stove with fuel

A stove with fuel is one of the bulkier pieces of gear to be concerned with. You will need a sturdy oven with plenty of fuel if you plan on cooking while on the trail.

Cooking pot

A pot to boil water and cook in is another essential piece of kitchen gear for backpacking. Make sure it is big enough for rice and beans but lightweight enough not to weigh you down.


An old-fashioned percolator is the best piece of equipment you can get your hands on for boiling water and making hot beverages while backpacking. Whether coffee, tea, or hot water for instant oatmeal, a percolator is priceless.

Eating utensils

Utensils for eating are another piece of kitchen gear you don’t want to forget about in your haste and excitement of packing for your adventure. Eating with your fingers gets old real quick.


Tin or plastic dishes are the best dishes you can pack along for backpacking. Preferably tin if you will be hiking in bear-country due to the amount of noise they make clanking around in your bag.

Food containers

After preparing oats, beans, rice, and other backpacker food, you’ll need something to pack it away in. Ziplock bags or containers with lids are preferable.

Oven mitt or heat resistant towel

An oven mitt or shop rags come in handy for handling hot pans and tin cups over the open flames of a campfire. Be sure to pack one or be prepared to sacrifice a shirt or bandana to the campfire fire god.


Dish detergent is another necessity if you plan on doing a lot of cooking. Sometimes water is just not enough to clean your pots and dishes. Do yourself a favor and pack along dish soap just in case.


The third section of the ultimate backpacking checklist is all about food. Eating healthy and staying hydrated while backpacking is a priority, this part of the list will ensure you don’t go hungry or thirsty during your adventure.

  • Water
  • Rice and beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts and dried fruits
  • Canned meat or jerky
  • Seasonings
  • Power bars and fruit bars


In this section of the ultimate backpacking checklist, we cover proper sorts of clothing to pack for backpacking. Failing to equip yourself with decent clothing for hiking is sure to result in constant misery.

  • Boots
  • Pants
  • Socks and underwear
  • Long sleeve shirt and T-shirt
  • Hat, bandana, and hair ties


The fifth section to the ultimate backpacking checklist is about the essential toiletry accessories you’ll need to pack. It’s an important aspect to plan for.

  • Hand shovel
  • Toilet paper
  • Bags
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Shaving cream and razor
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hygiene pads or tampons

Tech stuff

Depending on what sort of backpacking you’re doing, and what your motivation is, tech gear is something you may or may not need. If your backpacking through various countries as a digital nomad, bringing along the right tech gear is a real game changer.

Laptop or tablet

If you are a digital nomad who relies on tech to do work and get paid, a laptop or tablet is a must. I would suggest investing in a hard case to carry your device inside your main bag.


Just about everyone carries a cell phone today. However, if you are one of the few who don’t, you will want to consider investing in a cheap phone to carry with you. In the United States, you can purchase a TracFone for around $10 at Walmart.


Many backpackers adore photography. Consider choosing a camera with a long-lasting battery. If your camera is not battery friendly, pack a couple of extra batteries. Don’t forget to pack the battery charger for the camera either.

Charger and battery bank

A portable charger or pre-charged battery bank is an excellent addition to pack if you are carrying an assortment of electronics. A solar charger that attaches to the back of your backpack works excellent. That way, you can charge your phone while you hike.

Extra batteries

You will need to bring along extra batteries for your flashlight and other electronics, especially in the case that your cameras use batteries. The good thing is they don’t weigh much so you won’t even notice the extra weight.

Memory cards or flash drives

When you pack a phone, camera, laptop, or tablet, it only makes sense to bring along some extra memory cards to document the adventure. Memory cards and flash drives are cheap, and you can find them just about anywhere.


This section of the ultimate backpacking checklist covers the sort of medical supplies you’ll need to bring along for the safest adventure possible. From dental floss to prescription medicines, medical gear is not an area to overlook while planning what to pack.

  • First aid kit with bandages and gauze
  • Prescription medicine
  • Pain reliever
  • Antihistamine
  • Neosporin and hydrocortisone creams
  • Cough drops
  • Back brace


Another important aspect of backpacking gear is the financial stuff you may need to pay your way with. Regardless if your planning to go backcountry camping or hike around Eastern Europe, money, or access to it, is of the utmost importance.

Cash currency

The first thing you need to pack when it comes to finances is some cash. Make sure you take into account all of the countries you’ll be passing through. Even if you don’t plan on spending much, it is better to have a decent amount of cash on hand in case of emergencies.

Credit card

A credit card is also excellent to bring along backpacking. Whether on the road or in the forest, if some unforeseen expense pops up, you’ll be able to afford it without depleting your supply of cash.

Debit card

For worst case scenarios, a debit card comes in handy while backpacking. For example — you twist your ankle and need to purchase an airline ticket to get home.


Aside from emergency money and medicines, self-identification and proof of insurance are some critical pieces of documentation to bring along. The last thing you want is to get stranded somewhere with no way to receive medical treatment if an accident occurs.

Official I.D.

A state or federal I.D. is required to carry no matter where you go in many countries. In the case of backpacking, it is necessary as well.


If you are backpacking abroad, your passport is one thing you can’t leave home without. You will need to pack it in an accessible area so that you can quickly get to it at all border crossings.

Travelers insurance with medical coverage

One item that most people overlook entirely is travelers insurance. Travelers insurance is great to have in case something unexpected happens. From drinking tainted water to a car accident.

Extra stuff

The last section of the ultimate backpacking checklist addresses the extra things which make adventures more enjoyable. Whether its GPS, a book of poems, or your diary, sometimes extra gear is worth its weight in gold.

  • GPS
  • Machete or hatchet
  • Hiking pole
  • Emergency radio
  • Two-way radio
  • Mirror
  • MP3 player
  • Drone with camera
  • Slingshot, blowgun, or pellet gun

The above items are far from necessary for backpacking. However, if you find some extra space in your backpack, why not pack along one of these items that become luxuries along the trail.

A Final Word About Backpacking

Depending on the type of backpacking you plan on partaking in, and the amount of time you intend on spending while doing it, your checklist may be considerably smaller than what is found here on our ultimate backpacking checklist. The primary purpose of a list is to ensure you don’t forget anything vital to the success of your backpacking adventure.

Creating a personalized checklist for your backpacking journey is the best way to go. First consider where you’ll be hiking or traveling, what time of year it will be, and how long you’ll be backpacking. Triple check your backpacking checklist during your planning and packing.

Do you know an item that’s missing from our list, or have a backpacking checklist secret? Let us know all about it in the comments section below.


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