I am currently on an airplane from Germany to Hong Kong to begin a six months backpacking adventure all the way through New Zealand. While preparing for the trip I had to figure out the perfect balance between packing as little as possible and having everything I might need at the same time. If you are preparing for an outdoor adventure and are not all that sure yet, what to bring, maybe I can give you some inspiration. I didn’t make a packing list at all but I separated my luggage into different categories to make sure I won’t forget anything important.
There are a couple things that I take everywhere I travel, no matter if its a gigantic city or a hut in the middle of nowhere. A knife/multitool can save your ass in a variety of situations. You can fix a broken car, you can hunt in a survival scenario and even if no extreme situation happens, you can still open a nice bottle of red wine.
You should definitely bring a good flashlight as well, even if you don’t plan to go out in the dark. Who knows, you might take a wrong turn and end up searching for your way home all night long.
I don’t know how much you are into remembering the ”good old times“ but when I go on an adventure, I like to have a notebook on me. Even if you don’t turn it into a diary, you can at least take notes about the general route or places you want to visit again. Last but not least, its always good to know what time it is and you probably won’t come far without your passport.
A backpacking adventure stands and falls with the right shoes (quite literally in this case). Even if you’ll touch nothing but asphalt, having 20kg of gear on your back will require a solid pair of shoes. Also, you don’t want your feet to be sweaty or cold. When buying your shoes, you have to keep three aspects in mind: the ground you’ll be walking on, the weight you’ll be carrying and the temperatures you can expect in the region you’re heading in. If you’re doing it for the first time, I recommend visiting a well equipped outdoor store for this.
What would backpacking be without a backpack? Honestly, right after shoes, this would be the last thing I would try to save money with. You will have it on your back for hours so a decent padding and carrying system is a must. Choose a capacity that suits the length of your trip. You don’t want to leave most things at home because it simply doesn’t fit anymore but you also don’t want to have a big and heavy bag without anything in it. I went for a 70 liter bag called ”Sukha“ by f-stop gear. For me, combining durability with the feature of safely carrying camera gear was a key point and thats exactly what they offer.
After having collected everything you need to survive, its now time for the fun gear. Depending on your trip, this can change a lot. I personally take my camera gear, simply because I love taking photographs and making short movies about my trip. If you plan to summit some gigantic glacier, you might want to use that space for an ice axe and snow shoes instead. Let it be climbing gear or a life vest, paddle and a kayak, make sure you are geared up for the activities you plan on doing.
Of course, if you’re going on a two weeks trip, it is not a big problem if you forget a couple things, however when you are gone for six months, you basically have to compress you entire life down to a 70 liter backpack.
P.S.: Maybe clothes wouldn’t be a bad idea either.