10 Backpacking Essentials You Don't Want to Leave Behind

Updated July 15, 2021

A Good Backpacking Experience Starts With What's in the Bag


If you are headed out on the trails for a backpacking adventure, pay particular attention to what is in your bag. Setting out into the wilderness with essential items is as important as choosing the right hiking path and backpacking in prime weather conditions. While you will want to pack lightly during an excursion, you will not want to leave these ten essential items home.

Plenty of Backpack-Friendly Snacks


Taking to the trails will leave a hiker starving, so be sure to bring along snacks to satisfy hunger. When putting food in your backpack, be sure to use resealable bags and avoid clunky and cumbersome containers. Choose items like nuts, jerky, trail mix, and some fresh fruit items like apples and oranges. Peanut or almond butter packs and protein bars are also quality snack choices for a day relishing in the outdoors.

A Current Trail Map


Thanks to technology, it is downright challenging to get lost in the wilderness, so long as you have quality reception. When your signal goes out and you lose your way, you will be ever grateful that you brought a trail map of the land you are traversing along with you. Make sure that your map is current and up to speed.

A Backpack That Wont Let You Down


You need somewhere to house all of these backpacking essentials, which is why avid backpackers need to pay particular attention to what they carry on their backs. Choose a backpack that offers plenty of secure storage and is lightweight and waterproof. Pay close attention to the size of your backpack, not in relation to your height but rather in relation to your torso.

Firestarter That Won't Make Your Trip Go up in Flames


When the sun goes down around you and temperatures begin to drop steadily, you will be so happy that you packed something you can easily use to start a fire. Firestarters that come along for the backpacking trip need to function in all sorts of weather. They should also be lightweight and easy to use. Some models are even designed only to require one hand so backpackers can keep their other hand on the tinder.

A Quality Knife


You don't want to be way out in the wilderness without a knife for several reasons. Before heading into the natural world, be sure to have a trusty knife on hand. Consider purchasing one that has more functions than cutting. Some backpack knives on the market have other useful tools attached to them.

All the Sprays and Lotions


When backpacking, you will undoubtedly be exposed to some weather elements as well as pesky crawly critters. Pack sunscreen, lip balm, and heavy-duty mosquito spray for your backpacking trick. Being covered in bug bites and severe sunburn is an easy way to make a fun backpacking trip go sour.

First Aid Kit


A tumble down a rocky path, a heavy scratch left by a wayward branch, or a searing scorch from the campfire can all leave nasty booboos on backpackers. Bring along a first aid kit that has bandages, burn cream, and antibacterial ointment, as well as a wrap, should any ankles or wrists get twisted along the way.

Water Storage and Purification Tablets


You won't get very far in your backpacking journey without clean water to drink. Pack H2O in an easy-to-carry water bottle. Bring along water filtration tablets so that you can purify your own water during your travels.

Sleeping Bag


A lightweight, warm sleeping bag is something you never want to leave home without when planning on heading into the wilderness. When looking at sleeping bags, be sure to choose a backpacking sleeping bag and not a camping sleeping bag. Backpacking sleeping bags tend to be lighter weight, and they pack down more tightly for easy travel and transport. They're also more efficient, providing more warmth for the weight.

Reliable Footwear


Count on doing quite a bit of walking on your backpacking excursion. Taking to the trails in sturdy footwear is going to make the trip less painful. Putting in serious mileage in poor footwear will leave your feet sore and blistered. Make sure you bring along top-notch boots and your feet will thank you for all your days.

Never Hit the Trails Unprepared


A fun backpacking adventure starts with careful planning. Spend some time making sure that all you truly need finds its way into your backpack and onto your person. Know what you can leave behind and what constitutes a backpacking "must-have."

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10 Backpacking Essentials You Don't Want to Leave Behind