Backpackers travel light. But unless you are a survival expert that can get along with just some basic tools and what he finds in nature, you should always carry certain backpacking essentials with you. Your needs of equipment depend on the kind of backpacking trip you plan and the area you travel, but certain things should always be part of your baggage.
Some people sleep under the stars, but it’s always better to have some form of tent or shelter. Your tent should be as light as possible, and must be suitable for the area you travel and all weather conditions you might face. Don’t go without a rain fly if you might encounter rain, and make sure your tent is sturdy and can be secured additionally if you might see days of heavy winds.
Your normal clothes certainly won’t be suitable for backpacking. If you are serious about backpacking and won’t to do it more than once, invest in some special outdoor gear. These clothes are lightweight, take up little space and dry quickly. Make sure you have an appropriate set of gear for the trip you plan (consider area and weather conditions).
These should be lightweight and space saving, too. But make certain they are suitable for the temperatures in which you travel. Rather take a bigger and heavier sleeping bag than freeze to death when backpacking in winter.
There are no restaurants and take-aways out there. You will need to make your own food. Get some basic equipment like a set of cutlery and cookware and a little stove. Outdoor stores carry special items that meet backpackers needs. You should also take some basic means along to defend yourself, like a knife or pepper spray.
If you don’t want to live on the food and water resources of the area you travel, or if you won’t find enough there, make sure you carry enough food and especially water with you. Keep your meals simple so that your food won’t weigh much.
You don’t want to get lost. Make sure you got a means to find your way, like a map, compass or GPS. Be sure to test your navigation system upfront to know that it works and how it works. Also make sure it will work in the area you travel to.
This is crucial and can save your life, especially when traveling alone. So much can happen. Let’s say you fall and break your leg, or you fall ill. Make sure you have a cell phone or other means of communication that works where you travel (a cell phone won’t help if there’s no reception), so that you can call for help if you need it.
Get a travel first aid kit at your outdoor store. Since you often get dirty, plasters are a must to take care of small wounds and prevent infection. You should also have some basic medicines to deal with issues like fever, pain or diarrhea. And if something big happens, like fractures or injuries of major vessels, a first aid kit can save your life until help arrives.
The golden rule for backpacking essentials is: Don’t take more than you need, but don’t take less than you need either. All backpacking equipment should be light, take up little space, and be suitable for your specific trip.