Travelling Essentials for Backpackers – My Top Picks

Are you about to go on your first backpacking trip and unsure of what to take? People often ask me which ‘Must Have’ travel accessories they should pack. Over the years, I have got my packing down to a fine art and have learnt which items I really need (and which I definitely don’t!). Obviously every destination is different but these travelling essentials are to get you started no matter where you end up going. All of the products recommended are in my opinion, good quality and good value for money – and do the job! I have used every one of these products so they are a personal recommendation. So here is my list of travelling essentials for backpackers….

NB. This page has affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products I have recommended, I may receive a small commission. This doesn’t affect the price you pay and helps keep my site running. For more information please see my affiliate disclosure 🙂

The Osprey Farpoint 55 Backpack

Since buying this bag, I can’t believe how I managed with anything else. I did a lot of research before buying this one and it has definitely exceeded my expectations! It has a detachable day bag, is lightweight, durable and really comfortable to carry with its fully adjustable straps and hip belt (that also can be stowed away). It does come in a bigger size (70l), but being petite, 55l is perfect for me and I would say you really don’t need a backpack any bigger than this unless you are having to take a lot of outdoor or camping equipment with you. And you’ll be so grateful for having a compact backpack! 

Travelling Essentials for Backpackers

 

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Amazon Basics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set

I can’t live without these – they are essential to my packing! They really are the best way to organise your packing as you can neatly roll everything, organise by type of clothing and see through the soft mesh what’s in each.  They are a great space saver and they also fit perfectly into the Osprey Farpoint 55 bag which is even better!

 

Travelling Essentials for Backpackers

 

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Microfibre Quick Dry Travel Towel by Dock & Bay

A lightweight, quick-drying, compact towel is exactly what you need when travelling. This particular one comes in an assortment of colours and comes with a pouch for easy packing.

 

Travelling Essentials for Backpackers

 

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Ecostar NexTorch Head Torch

My head torch gets used an awful lot when I’m travelling – whether I’m camping, rifling through my bag at night in a hostel, reading in the dark or walking back along an unlit track, I couldn’t do without it! There are a lot on the market but I own this particular one – it has a white, red and flashing light setting and is very lightweight and durable. It is comfortable and the angle of the light is adjustable.

 

Travelling Essentials for Backpackers

 

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Exped Fold Dry Bag – XS

Having a dry bag to put your valuables in is a must in wet weather or when out on the sea! I have the Exped XS one which fits my phone, camera, passport etc – however, they come in various sizes depending on your needs. I like this brand as they fold down from the top and then clip around securely and are made of very durable material.

Travelling Essentials for Backpackers

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Howard Leight Laser Lite Individually Wrapped Ear Plugs

A must for those nights in hostel dormitories and noisy campsites! I have tried quite a few different brands and shapes and I have found these to be by far the best for comfort and keeping the noise out.

Travelling Essentials for Backpackers

 

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Worldwide Plug Adaptor

If you’re going to be travelling to a few different countries or doing a round the world trip, an all-in-one plug adaptor with USB ports is a great choice. It takes up little space and you can charge two items at once.

 

Travelling Essentials for Backpackers

 

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Lifeventure Fabric Wash Leaves

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These are a brilliant idea – they come in a neat and tidy packet and are easy to use – just add to a bowl of water and wash your clothes, then rinse. You can get soap, shampoo and shaving leaves in this brand too. So handy!

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Pegless Washing Line by Go Travel

The perfect complement to the fabric wash leaves above, this pegless washing line comes with hooks and suction cups for easy hanging pretty much anywhere. It makes it very easy to do washing in hotel rooms, hostels or campsites – a must-have!

 

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Silk Eye Mask

An eye mask is absolutely essential for those bright sunrises when camping, keeping out the light through thin curtains or just to give you a bit more peace on your flight. I have the Jasmine Silk eye mask (in the UK link) and it is so comfortable with a really lightweight feeling. This brand is not available in the US but The Alaska Bear mask (pictured) has exactly the same specifications. Both are 100% silk (so keep cool and give maximum comfort) with fully adjustable straps.

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Collapsible and Reuseable Water Bottle

A collapsible water bottle will come in so handy – you can fold it down to fit easily in your day bag and it saves having to buy expensive bottled water when you can fill from the tap. In areas where you cannot drink the tap water, you can buy a bigger bottle and fill up as you go. This one comes with a carabiner clip which is handy for clipping onto your bag.

 

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Eurohike Silk Mummy Sleeping bag Liner

A sleeping bag liner is great for prolonging the life of your sleeping bag (or using in a sleeping bag that isn’t your own) when camping, or in hostels. Make sure you buy a silk version – although more expensive than the cotton versions, it will regulate your body temperature, dry quickly and stay fresher for longer. The silk liners also roll up a lot smaller. I have this Eurohike version which I have found to be perfect for all my trips. The US version is a different brand but the specs are virtually identical.

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TSA Sturdy Combination Padlock

A combination padlock is an essential for locking your backpack and also for locking your backpack in a locker at your hostel.

 

Travelling Essentials for Backpackers

 

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I hope you have found my list of travelling essentials for backpackers to be useful. Please let me know of any essentials you can’t live without in the comments below 🙂 Happy Travels!

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52 Replies to “Travelling Essentials for Backpackers – My Top Picks”

  1. great products and great recommendations. actually, you just reminded me not to forget my head torch for my next week hiking.

    one of the products you were talking about was the Worldwide Plug Adaptor and my question to you is if it will be fine for use in countries such as Israel?

    1. Excellent question! As far as I know you can use the 2-pin round plugs (the European ones) in Israel as well as the flat types. I’d double check before you go though 🙂

  2. I am a newbie when it comes to preparing for a hike/backpacking. With that being said I do have 3 boys ages 2,4,& 9. With that being said I do need some other things to pack because of them. The Osprey 55 backpack, will it carry all the other essential items that you mentioned? It seems as though that backpack can carry a lot of things. If it can’t hold anymore I guess I can always get a larger Osprey backpack. I will be using the list that you provided for my next backpacking trip with the kiddos and also be adding the things I need for them. thanks for the tips!

    1. Hi Robert,

      I would say if you pack carefully you can definitely fit everything you need in. I did a 4-month trip with that bag and I know I was only packing for me, but I would say you could still manage to pack for you and your boys. The bag fits 6 of the rectangular packing cubes (plus there is still room for other things like shoes/wash stuff etc at the end/on top) so if you had the equivalent of one and a half for each of you that should be fine.

      The thing I like about it is that it’s so easy to carry and comfortable on your bag. Enjoy your trip!

      Louise

  3. Hi Louise,
    I liked the flow of this page. You did an excellent job identifying the various things one should consider packing when hiking. I liked the way you identified when the products were unavailable in a particular country.

    One area in which you could improve the article, however, is to explain in greater details why these products are “essential” rather than being merely convenient. For example, why is “Exped Fold Dry Bag – XS” an essential… what if a traveler used a zip lock bag of even a supermarket plastic shopping bag to protect travel documents or mobile phone from getting wet? If you could describe the next best alternative for each item and demonstrate that the alternatives are way inferior,,, then you would have established that the items are essential rather than convenient.

    1. Thanks for your comments Kevin – you make some good points. This post was more for a long backpacking trip (I was thinking 3+ months) rather than just hiking, so I agree with you that some of these items are definitely not ‘essential’ for a hiking trip.

      You could use a ziplock bag for light rain showers but I recommended the dry bag as you can actually fully immerse it (ie. if it got wet on a kayaking trip for example). If you’re not going to be doing those sort of activities then yes, a ziplock bag would be enough. 

  4. These are some really important things I never considered (or knew existed) to bring along on my backpacking journey’s!

    I’m planning a trip to Thailand next month… and I had completely forgot that I was interested in those cubes! My sister used them and I’ve seen how much easier and compatible they make packing a bag 🙂

    The other thing I never knew about was the collapsible water bottle! What an AWESOME thing to have – I will definitely be getting one, or two of those!

    Thank you so much for the recommendations!

  5. Wow! I didn’t know there were so many amazing products that you can use for backpacking. I have the very basics, but it looks like I need to update my backpacking goods! I never thought of doing laundry while out backpacking, but I will now after seeing the convenient laundry pod and clothesline! How cool! And it makes backpacking more convenient for sure!

  6. I went on a backpacking trip when I was younger. It was a trip of a lifetime. I wish I would have had a lot of these items with me. These Microfibre Quick Dry Travel Towels would be fantastic to take to the beach as well.

  7. These are some really great suggestions for a lot of adventures! I don’t normally backpack, but some of these would be useful for other things we do in our area. Personally, I never go anywhere without ear plugs hehe 😛

  8. Wow some of these are really great traveling items. One of the most innovative ones is the pegless washing lline that is really creative to have.

  9. This is the perfect list for backpackers. I swear by packing cubes, as they are so handy and help in keeping the essentials organized as well. I had no idea about pegless washing line, although that seems to be a good bet. Cheers!!

  10. This is so amazing and useful! I’m going to go on my first backpacking trip with my friends at the end of august but I don’n know which ‘Must Have’ traveling accessories I should pack. However, your blog is help me a lot. Everything are very fit for a backpacking trip and utilities. I like the Lifeventure Fabric Wash Leaves the most because I’m a person who love the clean, so soap, shampoo… are very important. Summary, thanks you for your blog, I love it.

  11. I would have never thought of the Lifeventure Fabric Wash Leaves or ear plugs. This is a great list. Thank you

  12. I stay in lots of hostels when I travel. The ear plugs thing is so true! I hate snorers. Also I have my own lock cuz you never know if one is provided or not.

  13. I never knew there could be so many essentials for a backpacking trip, and what you have recommended has fully broadened my horizons on traveling. Really, really, your blog is amazing.
    And I also never knew a lock could be brought with me in any circumstances, you’re amazing!
    My uncle would have his first backpacking trip in a week, and I bet he’s desperate for help right now. I surely recommend him and others, as well, your blog, since I know you deserve that.
    I’m really grateful.

  14. Hey Louise!

    Loved the list! Sam suggested that I come and check out your site for our upcoming trip to Japan (very excited BTW!). Going to have a proper browse through your articles for extra tips!

    We’ve already bought the packing cubes and towel (which we got through your links 😉 ) – but if there’s anything else we need, I’ll be back!

    1. Hi James!

      Thanks, I’m so glad you found it useful! You will find the packing cubes so useful, I can’t travel without them now!

      I’m very jealous of your trip to Japan – it’s still on my list, I’d absolutely love to go. I can’t wait to see your photos!

      Louise

  15. These are all great traveling essentials for the backpackers. I love this backpack and will have to check it out You always want something durable and lightweight when hiking. Thanks for sharing this awesome list of items.

  16. These are some great picks. I’m actually in the need of a new backpack and I love the idea of an osprey, they are a bit pricey though but toally worth it. Thanks for sharing

  17. These are terrific packing tips! The wash leaves sound brilliant! I can’t believe I haven’t used these before. Definitely going on the “to pack” list now. I’m already a big fan of the quick dry towels — so useful. I’m also digging the Osprey backpack with the detachable day pack. That’s so convenient!

  18. This is an excellent packing list. When I went backpacking I ended up getting rid of my washing stuff as I became very accustomed to having my laundry done for cheap. Everything else on this list I wholeheartedly agree with though!

  19. i am a newcomer in the hiking world. last month i went on a trail with my friends here in Kenya at Mt. Kenya and well, the weather was harsh. with this post i can hike gracefully.

  20. If only I came across this post when I was planning my trip to Mt.Kenya. sometimes you only wish you had a list of essentials. Bookmarking this page! Thanks for this post.

  21. Earplugs Earplugs Earplugs! My absolute number 1 essential. Great idea to have individually wrapped ones, then you can come to someone’s rescue and hand over a pair in the face of a chronic hostile snorer.

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