Essential Backpacking Gear

16 October 2018

Ainsley Hunter

Most holidays and journeys do require some amounts of deliberation on things to carry. It’s incredible how many times people forget to pack the most important things while going on a trip. The same can be said of people going backpacking. Backpacking has always been a fun thing to do, but your trip can get destroyed very fast if you forget the essentials.

We’ve always wondered what the essentials are and how we can differentiate between them. So, we set about making a list of all the things we take with us on a backpacking trip and then segregated the list by must-haves, should-haves, and luxuries.

The list below is not an exhaustive one, and you should adapt your carry-ons according to your trip taking into consideration the climate, days traveling, and any halts you plan to make. We have tried to cover the essentials and have added a few items from our luxury list too. After all, we do live in a modern world, and the wild can be an unforgiving place!

Camping Tarp:

Camping tarps are absolutely a must-have item for hiking and camping trips that extend more than one day. These tarps are divided into two categories – heavy duty (durable and more substantial), and lightweight (lighter, requires more set-up). Ideally, you should invest in a multipurpose heavy-duty tarp that can be used as a tent, on the ground, at the back of a truck, as waterproofing for firewood, to cover up a boat, or any other sort of all-weather task.

Choose a tarp that is easy to dry, made of polyurethane and silicone and can protect you against the foulest of weather conditions. Tarps can also be used as windshields or shelters against rain and sun so that you can enjoy the great outdoors without getting soggy or sweaty in the everchanging weather.


Non-cotton clothing is essential during hot and humid weather. Non-cottons, like nylons and other synthetics, are easier to dry in lesser time. Cotton can also cause chafing and blistering of the skin. Cloth does not dry away moisture quickly, nor does it insulate against the wetness from rains, streams, and running water. Excess exposure to wet or dry climate can lead to skin irritation or hypothermia if not careful.

In the summers, synthetic blends are great for keeping the sweat on you and drying up quickly. During winters, wool base layers of clothing are great to trap the body heat and keep your body heat well regulated. Thermal layers or warmer layers can be added as active layers instead of cotton to help preserve and protect the body from the elements.

Ear Plugs:

Possibly the most forgotten item, earplugs are crucial to your health while camping or hiking. While Mother Nature is supposed to be peaceful and relaxing, in the night, it can get pretty noisy. Rivers, streams, brooks, wild animals, insects, owls, bats, night crawlers, cicadas, bullfrogs, armadillos, and so on tend to make a lot of noise in the nights.

While you might be trying to get some much-deserved sleep, the nocturnal animals and the natural environment around you might just be waking up. It’s best to carry a pair of snug-fit ear plugs to help drown the sounds out. In case you’re worried about bears and deer, avoid the 100% noise cancellation ones and opt for noise reduction ones that can help you sleep well.


Apart from your clothing, toiletries are critical. Emergencies can hit anytime and anywhere. It is imperative that you have a well-stocked toiletries bag with you. Your toiletries could also include some medical supplies. In your purse or pouch, add lightweight bottles of shampoo, conditioner, acne face wash, body wash, lip balm, and hand sanitizer. These essential items plus a lightweight, non-oily body lotion is needed in your toiletries bag at all times. You could also add a bottle of tanning lotion if you are out in the summer and want to work on your tan.

In your medical kit, keep disinfectant, bandages, muscle relaxant spray and pills, and antacids to help with your food conditions. Having an anti-allergy medicine at hand can help out during dire circumstances.


Adventure Items:

Essentials like kindle readers, universal adapters, power banks, cameras, GoPros, and tablets are crucial to record your adventure. These pieces of technology help create a memorable experience as you take in Mother Nature to the best of her advantage.

Apart from the list above, you should also consider carrying a mosquito net, hammock, head torch, carabiners, sewing kits, portable stoves with pots and pans, reusable water bottle and filter pen, lightweight towel, and sleeping bags.