There is so much to consider when thinking about Backpacking essential items. The reason this task is so daunting is because we are used to having so many things! Backpacking is supposed to be practical but also safe and enjoyable. These are some of the simple and often over-looked backpacking essential items that will keep you safe, hydrated, recharged, and occupied, no matter where you go.
In This Post
- 1 1. A BACKPACK
- 2 2. A LIGHTWEIGHT FIRST AID KIT
- 3 2. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
- 4 3. LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING BOOTS
- 5 4. NECK PILLOW
- 6 5. SMALL CAMPING STOVE
- 7 6. EYE MASK AND EARPLUGS
- 8 7. COMPACT MICROFIBER TOWEL
- 9 8. CARDS OR A TRAVEL BOARD GAME
- 10 9. SATELLITE COMMUNICATION DEVICE
- 11 9. E-READER
- 12 10. TOILETRY BAG WITH A HOOK
- 13 11. BATTERY POWER BANK
- 14 12. RELIABLE TREKKING POLES
- 15 13. A LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKING TENT
- 16 14. WATER FILTER
- 17 15. SOLID SHAMPOO BAR
- 18 16. SLEEPING PAD
- 19 17. MENSTRUAL CUPS
1. A BACKPACK
Recommended by Sean Lau from LivingOutLau
If you are planning a backpacking trip (especially your first), one of the most overlooked essential items to bring with you is a backpack. We are not talking about any ordinary backpack; we are talking about a well-made backpack that fits your body so it almost feels like it is an extension of you. A backpack that molds your body so well that when you are carrying 20 pounds on your back, it feels like nothing.
Size is important
First-time backpackers usually make the mistake of going with any regular backpack. As long as it is big enough and there are enough compartments, it will suffice. Size isn’t everything when it comes to backpacks. Backpacking backpacks need to be the perfect length to complement the length of your back, allowing the backpack to rest effortlessly on your hips instead of your shoulders.
The essential Backpack
Contrary to what the name suggests, a good backpacking backpack is not meant to be carried with your back, but your hips and legs. That is why purchasing the right backpack will save you many headaches and backaches down the road. Our personal favorite is the Osprey Farpoint 55 L backpack. Its iconic feature is the 13 L detachable daypack, leaving the 42 L as the main pack and the perfect place to store all your clothes, toiletries, and other bulky items. On the other hand, the detachable day pack is perfect for carrying your water bottle, camera, and other small necessities for small excursions.
This convenient combo gave us the flexibility to explore many countries like Bali, Colombia, Peru without ever running into issues with space and portability. The perfect size needs to complemented with an adjustable hip strap, where you can distribute the weight towards the strongest parts of your body: your legs and hips.
2. A LIGHTWEIGHT FIRST AID KIT
Recommended by Luke from Wild About BC
One of the essential items that should always stay in your bag when backpacking, no matter what, is a lightweight first aid kit. Whether you are going out for a quick hike lasting for a few hours, or a multi-day epic adventure, you should always have this backpacking essential item, a first aid kit, stashed somewhere in your bag. It doesn’t need to have too many items but carrying some of the basics will always prove helpful. Whether it’s blisters from your hiking boots or small cuts and scrapes from a slip or fall, a first aid kit will allow you to patch yourself up on the go.
Safety: the first backpacking essential
It’s often something that gets overlooked when packing for a backpacking trip but is one of the things you never really want to get left without. There have been countless times over the years when we have been so glad to be able to grab a band aid, bandage or safety pin to quickly treat minor ailments and stop them from getting any worse.
One mistake we often see is that first aid kits often get stuffed down at the bottom of your bag and forgotten about. This is better than not having one at all but we highly recommend carrying it in a pocket that’s easily accessible. You may need it in an emergency, but most of the time you need it will be on random stops along the trail and you don’t want to have to unpack your entire bag to get to it.
The ideal ‘patch me up’ kit
Your lightweight first aid kit doesn’t need to have a lot in it. It really should be a small, lightweight package with just the essential items to ensure a safe backpacking trip. You’ll want something with band-aids, bandages, dressings, antiseptic wipes, after bite sting relief, safety pins, some tape, and blister relief. All of this can fit into a surprisingly small package that you won’t even notice in your bag but you’ll be delighted that you have it when the time comes. We also recommend getting something that has a waterproof seal so that even when you get caught out in the elements all your first aid gear will still be usable.
2. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Recommended by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go!
A reusable water bottle is a backpacking-essential piece of gear on any backpacking trip. Whether you are spending the weekend hiking in a national park or 6 months backpacking through Southeast Asia, a good quality water bottle that you can refill is an easy zero waste travel swap you can make.
Reusable water bottles come in many different types from silicone foldable bottles, which are incredibly lightweight and save space in your backpack, to insulated flask style bottles that take up more space and are heavier but have the advantage of keeping your water colder for longer periods. You can also get hydration bladders that can be incorporated into a backpack, this eliminates the need to carry an additional bottle. Hydration bladders such as a Camelbak usually have a long straw that you have over your shoulder to drink from, and they are also good for keeping water cooler in hot weather.
Fill up at every water-stop
Having a reusable water bottle with you means you won’t need to buy lots of bottled water wherever you are traveling so you will also save money. Also, a bonus tip: if you get a reusable water bottle with a filter like a LifeStraw bottle or a water to go filter bottle then you can refill your bottle directly from the tap in countries where the tap water wouldn’t usually be safe to drink or at any fresh water source such as rivers, lakes, or streams if you are on a hiking trip.
That means you don’t have to worry about where you will be able to get a drink from on your trip as you will almost always be close to a water source. Also, you won’t need to carry or store lots of water with you or take additional water purifying tablets on your trip. This will save space in your bag and save your shoulders and back from extra weight.
3. LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING BOOTS
Recommended by Athul from Our Backpack Tales
Good quality hiking boots are a must for those who enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, and nature trail walks. It is also one of the most important backpacking essential items that people usually ignore until they end up with sore feet. One of the main reasons for this is that most good quality hiking boots are costly. This is not entirely true as there are many amazing brands that offer budget-friendly boots. Picking out boots that are best suited for your need is also important. This depends on the location and the kind of activity you are taking part in.
Boots and all
The main features of a good hiking boot are that it should be lightweight, have good padding, should be waterproof, have a good grip. If your hiking boots are lightweight, they will help you climb easily and they are easier to carry when not in use. Ankle and internal padding of a boot are very important as this will reduce possible injuries from slips during the hike/trek.
A good ankle padding will act as a support while venturing into rocky terrains like the Skandagiri Hills which are harder to climb. Always go for boots that are a good fit as hiking could be strenuous on your feet and a wrong-sized boot will tire you out sooner. A good quality sturdy pair of boots is usually enough for most hikes and treks. But it is always best to invest in a pair of waterproof hiking boots on wet/snowy terrains to avoid uncomfortable soggy feet through-out your backpacking journey.
4. NECK PILLOW
Recommended by Aisha Preece from WomenWanderingBeyond
I have backpacked to over 33 countries and I never embark on my travels without my trusty red neck pillow. I think my mum bought it for me as a present from Japan. The insert is a soft foam which is quite flexible and light. I have brought this neck pillow with me EVERYWHERE. Even hiking up to Everest Base Camp and hitchhiking through Borneo with my brother.
There are a number of reasons why you should take a neck pillow on a backpacking trip:
You will always get a good night’s sleep
Having your own neck pillow means you get a night’s sleep even if the hostel pillows are hard and uncomfortable. You can place it on top of any pillow and snooze away while your hostel bunkmates punch their pillows to try (and probably fail) to make theirs as soft as your neck pillow 🙂
You can sleep on the go with less wrinkles
There will be times on your backpacking trip when you may need to take various forms of transportation. Buses, vans, sleeper buses, you name it! It’s part and parcel of an epic backpacking trip. Having a good neck pillow will ensure you can catch up on much-needed rest, even on the road. That way, when you arrive at your new location, you have plenty of energy to explore and adventure.
Lack of sleep is the single biggest contributor to wrinkles. Getting enough shut-eye on the road and wherever you end up sleeping, ensures you look fresh and perky for those travel IG photos! #gottalookgoodforthegram’
Can alleviate homesickness
Traveling to foreign lands far away from home can make you feel homesick. You can customize your neck pillow by spraying your mum’s perfume on it or sticking some lavender in the insert (that’s what I do because it reminds me of my mum’s little garden). You can drift to sleep with the sweet scents of home and alleviate feelings of homesickness.
Overall, a good neck pillow is an essential item for your backpacking trip which you should ALWAYS pack.
5. SMALL CAMPING STOVE
Recommended by Steve from Maps Over Coffee
The ultralight purist would argue that a stove is not necessary for backpacking. And of course there are things that need to be eliminated to save weight. But a stove is definitely low on the list of things to cut out.
A hot meal when you really need it
In fact, I hold that having a stove in the backcountry is an essential item. When you consider the weight savings compared to the benefits, there are better ways to hike farther. A stove is actually the one tool that can make up for any energy expended carrying. The extra calories from a hot meal more than compensate for the few extra ounces of pack weight.
It’s more than just the calories provided. While you can live on gorp and granola bars, there is nothing more comforting than a hot meal at the end of a long hike. The idea alone is enough motivation to scale the steepest trails urging you to settle into camp with a warm meal.
And is there anything better in this world than to wake up to a hot cup of coffee? The heat warming up your hands, the steam rising with the morning fog. It’s more than just simple comfort. It enhances the beauty that brought you out to the wilderness in the first place.
Of course, you could do the same thing with a small fire. However, campfires can be difficult in wet weather, dangerous in dry conditions and impossible in the desert.
With a backpacking stove, you can be eating instant potatoes or ramen noodles in 5 minutes. You won’t gain any Michelin stars, but you will get some soul food for your tired soles.
Finally a stove is essential for water purification. Obviously your first choice would be a filtration system of some kind. But SteriPens are battery hogs and manual filters can fail. With a stove, you can boil water anywhere. Or melt snow to stave off hypothermia.
So sacrifice the toothbrush and the extra underwear. But don’t even think of leaving behind the creature comforts that can only come from your best friend in the backcountry. Your camp stove.
6. EYE MASK AND EARPLUGS
Recommended by Rachel from Average Lives
Although they are not high-tech items, an eye mask and earplugs are essential items for a backpacking trip. Whether you are in a car catching up on sleep, in a tent, on a flight or at a hostel, they help ensure that you get the rest you need. They will help maximise your rest, so you can keep your energy levels high for exploring. We all know that backpacking can be unpredictable, and you need to prepare for the worst, but everyone needs sleep. Therefore, an eye mask and earplugs are necessary items for every traveler.
What’s great about these items is that they are inexpensive so they won’t take any money away from your precious travel fund. Also, as they are small and light, they won’t take up space in your backpack. You can fit these both into your pocket because you can roll the mask up and use the strap to keep it together. They are very compact and useful.
Get your beauty-sleep, wherever you are
Learning how to sleep outside of your bed is not an easy task, so you need to make sure that your eye mask fits you well and is a soft or silky material for maximum comfort. This will ensure that it won’t leave lines on your face or make your hair static. Also, make sure you bring one that it is preferably made from a dark material so that you can block out all of the light. Remember you might need to sleep anywhere on a backpacking trip. You could be outside camping or in a hostel with thin curtains with the sun directly hitting your face.
The earplugs are also essential because if you’re facing a sleepless night, in a party hostel or loud campsite, you will be appreciative when they block out the noise, and you will treasure them. Undeniably, these two items are two of a backpacker’s essential accessories and should never be left behind.
7. COMPACT MICROFIBER TOWEL
Recommended by Bailey from My Queenstown Diary
Every little bit of space matters when backpacking – I know this all too well as I’ve backpacked all over the world. This means that you have the hard decision of leaving some creature comforts at home and deciding on that list can be hard.
You always need a towel
However, going without a towel is not a smart idea. Instead, be sure to get yourself a compact microfiber towel for your trip. These compact towels weigh next to nothing and fold up into a tiny bag you can easily carry with you. Seriously, these things fit into the palm of your hand!
Of course, just getting a small towel isn’t enough. While backpacking it’s likely you won’t have time to air your towel out all day. To make this the perfect backpacking companion, look for the fast dry microfiber towel. These can dry in less than an hour in the shade and will save you from having a small towel in your bag. The best part is you don’t need to spend a fortune and can pick these towels up rather cheap.
One of my top hiking tips is to find backpacking gear that can be quickly packed away and easy to access. With a microfiber towel, you’ll not only have the comfort of being able to dry yourself on your trip, but you won’t have to sacrifice space in your bag. Let’s face it, a normal towel is just too heavy and takes up too much space.
8. CARDS OR A TRAVEL BOARD GAME
Recommended by Tom & Zi from Craving Adventure
When backpacking, waiting becomes part of the lifestyle. You’ll be waiting for the train, for the bus connection, for your buddy to wake up, for the hangover to pass… Now the good news is, there will be other backpackers waiting with you and what better way to start a new friendship and pass the time than with a game of cards?
An Ace up your sleeve
A pack of cards is light, doesn’t take much space and there are endless games you can play with it. Or you could step it up with a travel edition of your favourite board game! Monopoly and Ludo come in tiny portable versions that are light and only cost a fraction of the price of the full board game. Or you can take it to the next level with the Settlers of Catan. By taking the playing pieces out of the box and storing them in a bag or pouch you’ll be able to considerably size it down.
Having a pack of cards or a game ready for those long bus rides or when waiting at the station is a great way to kill time while being social and making new friends.
9. SATELLITE COMMUNICATION DEVICE
Recommended by Mikaela of Voyageur Tripper
If there’s any chance you’ll be hiking or backpacking in an area that doesn’t have cell service, a satellite communication device is an important backpacking essential to bring with you. If something happens to you, like getting lost or injured, you can easily communicate where you are and what help you need. This saves lives.
A satellite phone
There are a few different types of devices, depending on what your needs are. For example, satellite phones function similarly to regular cell phones, except that they use satellites rather than a cell network. Functionality is limited to calls, and sometimes, texting
A more popular option would be a satellite messenger that has GPS built into it. For example, the Garmin inReach shows your positioning on a map (helpful for navigation) and you can send your GPS coordinates to friends, family, and emergency rescuers. When I go backpacking, we bring a Garmin inReach and send out a text-blast to our family with our coordinates and a “we’re safe and on track” message.
Another, less expensive, option is a PLB – personal locator beacon. These devices typically don’t have call, text, or map capabilities, but they do have an SOS button that will send your GPS coordinates to emergency authorities if you need help.
Money well spent
Prices typically range from $150 to $600, but that is a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind. If you’re traveling in a place without cell service, a satellite communication device is essential.
In addition to just bringing the device, I also encourage people to take a wilderness first aid course if they will regularly be traveling in the wilderness. One of the modules in these courses is using satellite communication devices to contact emergency rescuers and get help.
Recommended by Zi from Goals’n’Plans
Don’t know about you, but I love reading. It’s the perfect way to pass time on those long bus rides, when waiting for your train connection and when chilling on the beach. But books are heavy, and they are bulky which is exactly what you don’t want when backpacking. We all know that backpacks have limited capacity and every gram counts when you’re carrying the weight on your shoulders. Luckily there’s a better solution!
An e-reader your essential backpacking companion! While regular paper books definitely have their charm and many prefer to turn the physical pages rather than swiping to the next one, e-readers are a much smaller and a lot lighter solution. You can fit hundreds of books in a device just a little bit bigger than your smartphone!
An easy read
Why not use your phone or tablet for reading, you ask? Well, there are several reasons. Battery life, for starters. E-readers have limited functionality which results in much much longer battery life. We all know that our phones tend to die when we need them most, but an e-reader can go for weeks on one charge. And secondly, e-readers use e-paper rather than LED screens which is much much better for your eyesight. The letters are sharper and the contrast is higher, also there is no glare which makes it possible to read in the sun while enjoying your mango juice by the pool.
10. TOILETRY BAG WITH A HOOK
Recommended by Antoine & Marielle from Offbeatescapades
Having backpacked as digital nomads in the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and many other Asian and European countries, we recommend one essential backpacking item to bring – a compact toiletry bag.
This toiletry bag should ideally have a hook so that it can be conveniently hung during travels. This is very useful when staying in accommodations with communal bathrooms such as hostels or campsites, because you can easily place your belongings in the shower rod, especially when you don’t have counter space, to begin with.
Another important thing that the toiletry bag should include is a set of travel-sized bottles. These bottles can go through carry-on security so you never have to check-in any bag, just because you have liquids. You can then refill these bottles with shampoo or soap in between your travels or in the different accommodations you stay at.
An All-in-one Toiletry bag
Additionally, having a compact and quality toiletry bag will ensure that all your toiletries are kept in one place within your backpack. There will be no dreaded experience when you realize your shampoo, lotion, or bath soap spilled in your bag, damaging your clothing and other important travel gear such as your electronics.
The most important features to consider when choosing a toiletry bag are durability, waterproof abilities, and structure. Although the toiletry bag seems quite obvious as a backpacking essential item, the importance of it should not be underestimated. This bag will hold all your valuable hygienic items and you will be thankful that you have one when you’re constantly traveling on the go.
11. BATTERY POWER BANK
Recommended by Jessie Moore from Pocket Wandering
Your phone can be a bit of a life-saver when backpacking. Firstly, it’s your means of communication and your emergency lifeline, should you need it. Help is only a phone call away and your phone provides a connection to the world outside of your backpacking adventures. A functioning phone is particularly important when travelling solo, as it acts as a reassuring safety net.
Now, more than ever, your phone isn’t just a method of communication. It’s an invaluable means of navigation for getting around. Whether it’s finding your accommodation, planning a day of activities, or getting a taxi from A to B. Many people would be lost – quite literally – without their phones.
Power on the go
The one big issue with being so reliant on a mobile device is limited battery life. This is especially true if you’re using it for navigation, social media, and picture editing. With these battery-draining activities, it’s all too easy to end up with a dead phone. Add to this the fact that some of the more remote backpacking destinations may have limited access to electricity or charging points; for example, if you’re hiking up a mountain or exploring the depths of a National Park.
This is why a good battery power bank is a backpacking essential item. Make sure it is fully charged at every opportunity and you’ll be able to use it to charge your phone whenever you need to. Many modern battery power banks are capable of holding an impressive amount of power and are wonderfully compact so they won’t take up too much space.
Plus, it’s not just your phone you can charge. Keep all your gadgets topped up with a battery, whether it’s an iPad or a camera. Many power banks can also charge more than one device at a time. It’s an item that no backpacker should be without.
12. RELIABLE TREKKING POLES
Recommended by Ellie from ElliesTravelTips
While trekking poles may seem unnecessary at first glance, a good set of reliable trekking poles will make your next hike or backpacking trip ten times better.
An extra pair of legs
Whether you are heading out on a quick weekend hike or thru-hiking one of the top treks in the world, trekking poles will make all the difference. First, they will support and help reduce the impact on your knees. Further, reliable trekking poles provide stability in all types of terrain.
Many backpackers, once trying out trekking poles, instantly fall in love with their versatility. Whether crossing challenging terrain, navigating over rivers, or even pitching your tent, trekking poles will be your best friend.
Comfort and durability
The most important characteristics of reliable trekking poles to watch out for are weight and comfort. You will want to do some research and determine what brand will work best for you. Many trekking pole sets offer simple twist-locks to make sure they remain sturdy. Others offer flick-lock lever systems that allow for compact transport, collapsing the trekking poles down to two feet.
Comfort is incredibly personal, but most prefer cork or foam handles that are moisture resistant. Cork grips tend to be more comfortable and offer a little more cushion, but they can eventually crack if not properly cared for. Foam grips are slightly more durable but can be less comfortable as they may absorb some moisture. It is best to avoid rubber grips as they tend to be cheaply-made and can cause blisters.
Durability is another critical aspect of reliable trekking poles. You will want a set that will last you through your entire backpacking adventure and many more to come. Watch for reliable trekking poles constructed out of carbon fiber and aluminum for the perfect combination boasting a lightweight design and solid durability.
At the end of the day, while trekking poles are not technically necessary for a backpacking adventure, they add a level of stability and versatility to your experience for you to hike further and enjoy the natural scenery in comfort.
13. A LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKING TENT
Recommended by Jessica from UnearthtTheVoyage
One of the most important backpacking essential items to have when going on a backpacking trip is a lightweight backpacking tent. When you have a bunch of gear to carry for your backpacking trip, the last thing you’re going to want to do is add a really heavy tent to your backpack. Since a tent is an essential item for your trip, it’s important to make sure your tent is as light as possible so you don’t have to worry about hurting your back while hiking.
If you’re only going to be sleeping with one other person in the tent, it is recommended to choose one of the best 4 person tents on the market for backpacking. A four-person tent like the Big Anges Copper Spur Backpacking Tent only weighs 5lbs and 3oz making it super lightweight and easy to carry. The Big Anges is also designed with higher walls giving you more room to move around inside the tent. Another great feature of this tent is the dual vestibules.
Shelter from the storm
The vestibules give you a place to store your gear while you’re sleeping so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet in case it rains! It also has waterproof, solvent-free tape at every seam of the tent as well as having a 1200mm waterproof rating making it extra waterproof so there is no need to worry about rain ruining your trip. Besides all the awesome extras, the Big Anges also has 8 mesh storage pockets, ceiling storage, and 4 media pockets.
When you’re packing for your backpacking trip, make sure that you put some thought into what kind of tent you want to bring. Of course, the most important thing is how heavy the tent is, but you are also going to want to consider how well the tent is made and if it’s going to protect you in case there is bad weather. The Big Anges does all of that and more, so it really couldn’t be a better lightweight backpacking tent for your trip!
14. WATER FILTER
Recommended by Val from VoyageswithVal
There are many mistakes that beginning backpackers can make, ranging from mild to more severe. However, having the right gear can help reduce the chances of making a serious blunder in the outdoors. One piece of gear that should never be forgotten is a reliable water purification system. Water filters are essential to ensure your safety on backpacking trips. There are several methods to purify water, but the most common method is a portable water filter from a brand such as Sawyer.
Water filters can come in a few sizes and brands, but all should allow you to take water from any fresh, running source and filter out harmful bacteria. This can be used as drinking water or to cook a hot, fulfilling freeze-dried meal on the trail. On longer trips, this greatly reduces the amount of water you need to pack. However, for short treks, it is still a good idea to carry a purification system. In an emergency situation, the ability to filter water can be life-saving.
One of the most common water filters backpackers prefer is detachable and portable. This allows you to fill up a bottle or bag and squeeze the water through the filter into a bottle dedicated to freshwater. If you are really lucky, you can fill up at a fresh spring and have water that tastes even better than what you can get at home!
When purchasing your filter, make sure to research how to use and properly maintain it, as well as understand when it will need to be replaced. It is important to fully understand how to take care of your filtration device to make sure it does not get damaged.
15. SOLID SHAMPOO BAR
Recommended by Nadine from ZeroWasteMemoirs
When backpacking, it is important to cut down on any unnecessary weight and volume in your bag – after all, you’re going to be lugging that thing on long distances! But you’ll normally want to take some creature comforts away with you too (backpacking doesn’t have to mean bad hair days)! That’s where solid shampoo bars come to the rescue. Not only do shampoo bars clean your hair well, and make it smell divine, they also weigh a lot less than conventional shampoo bottles and take up a lot less space to boot (plus, they’ll never leave any messy spills in your bag)!
“A bar of shampoo, please”
Besides these savings, by packing a zero waste shampoo bar (as most solid shampoo bars are) you can be assured that you’re doing your bit for the environment too, by avoiding plastic bottles and the chemicals commonly found in traditional shampoos – all while saving money and space! One extra advantage of packing a solid shampoo bar over liquid shampoo when you’re flying is that you can safely put it in your carry-on luggage without having to worry about liquid restrictions – perfect for those who fly budget airlines, or who travel light. Solid shampoo bars are easy to find in your local supermarket, pharmacy, or online.
I recommend trying a few out before your travels so you know what’s going to suit your hair type first, and so you can get used to using them (it can be a little learning curve if you’ve only ever used liquid shampoo). New Zealand brand Ethique sells a sampler set (available worldwide) so you don’t have to commit to buying whole bars before you know which one suits you best. But once you know what to look for, go one better, and try to support small local shops as you travel by picking them up on your adventures!
READ MORE | BACKPACKING IN MOROCCO GUIDE
16. SLEEPING PAD
Recommended by Samantha Shea from Intentional Detours
One item that you can’t leave off your backpacking gear checklist is a sleeping pad. Sleeping pads are absolutely essential for getting a good night’s sleep while camping, and can even come in handy in cheap hostels. Sleeping pads come in a variety of forms. Some basic ones may look like nothing more than a thick version of a yoga mat, while the best ones are inflatable. Sleeping pads act as a barrier between you and the ground, and high-quality ones will even provide support to side sleepers. Aside from providing support, sleeping pads also help keep campers warm by preventing the loss of body heat.
Comfort is essential
But as with many backpacking items, the higher the cost, the higher the quality. Thru-hikers and long-term adventurers will also want to take weight into account before making a purchase; trust me when I say that you don’t want your sleeping pad to take up too much room or weigh you down on the road.
Personally, I can’t sleep on the road without one due to a previous neck issue. As I’m a big fan of immersive travel, I love the fact that a sleeping pad gives me the ability to be comfortable no matter where I end up. Though sleeping pads are definitely made with tent use in mind, they can also be extremely useful if you find yourself in a hostel or guesthouse that utilizes wooden planks as “mattresses.”
Be sure to read reviews thoroughly before choosing one, and make sure you buy one that’s best suited for the kind of sleeper you are. There are sleeping pads made with side and stomach sleepers in mind! Nevertheless, whether you’re heading out on a weekend backpacking trip or an indefinitely long journey around the world, don’t leave home without a quality sleeping pad. It will be well worth the cost in the end!
17. MENSTRUAL CUPS
Recommended by Corritta from My Eco Flow
One of the handiest backpacking essential items that are oftentimes an afterthought is menstrual cups. Menstrual cups are a women traveler’s best friend. They are the zero-waste period option that has many other benefits.
If you menstruate, there is no arguing that you need something for that time of the month. Purchasing a bulk of tampons and pads isn’t always an option when you are traveling in different countries. Menstrual cups are the perfect alternative because they can last very long. In fact, menstrual cups can last up to 10 years, but oftentimes need to be replaced every five to seven years.
Menstrual cups are more cost-efficient, pain-free, more environmentally friendly, and overall improve your period. Many cup wearers rave about how menstrual cups have shortened their menstrual cycle and even eliminated their cramps.
Always be prepared
The best part is yet to come, you don’t feel a thing. When your menstrual cup is inserted correctly, you don’t feel it. Oftentimes, you forget you are on your period. Plus, it can be worn for up to 12 hours, so no stopping to change a pad or tampon every couple of hours.
Of course, everyone is different, so there is a learning curve to find the best menstrual cup for your body. There is an upfront investment but think of the time and money you save over the long run. Plus, you’ll never dread or be caught off-guard by your period.
As a traveler, you want to pack light, and carrying around a huge box of tampons isn’t ideal. No need to rush to 7-11 to look for tampons or pads, all you need is a menstrual cup. You can hike, run, travel, and enjoy your travels without being worried about your period ruining your good time.