How to Pack a Backpack When Traveling on a Survival Adventure

How to Pack a Backpack When Traveling on a Survival Adventure

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When getting ready for an adventure survival trip, it’s essential to know what to carry in your backpack with you. This is especially true if it’s a multi-day trip and you plan to be away from major settlements for a significant amount of time. In such cases, having the right items with you can be the difference between an enjoyable and unforgettable adventure and a mishap that will stay with you for the rest of your life. 

If this is your first time getting a backpack ready for this type of travel, you’re in the right place. Here are the tips you should keep in mind when packing your backpack for a survival adventure trip. 

survival tent trip

Choose the Right Backpack

Before you can start packing, you need to have the right backpack to put your things in. For one, it’ll have to be the right size – too big, and carrying it around can become difficult, but too small, and you won’t be able to fit everything you’ll need. 

Other considerations to keep in mind when choosing your backpack include:

  • Fastening: You’re going to be carrying your backpack on your shoulders, so it should fit your back properly. The weight should sit on your hips instead of your shoulders to make it easier for you to carry the backpack and prevent back strain. 
  • Pockets: It should have a bottle holder, as well as internal and external pockets where you can store smaller essentials for easy access. 
  • Fabric Quality: You want this to be ventilating and waterproof, and ideally, the brand should offer a lifetime guarantee
  • Other Improvements: Which additional improvements are right for you depend on your preferences. For example, some people want a backpack that can be adjusted by height, while others want their pack to have mat straps for carrying a sleeping bag/mat. However, whatever you’re looking for, make sure not to compromise on your needs – after all, this pack will ideally be with you for years to come. 

When choosing a backpack, consider looking for an option that can be returned. Once you’ve chosen which one you like best, you can then pack and use that backpack for a short hike. This will give you an idea of whether or not you really like the backpack “out in the field” rather than just in the store. 

Make a List

Before you start packing, make a list of everything you think you’ll need. This will ensure you have a written record of the essentials that you can refer to, reducing the likelihood of you forgetting something important at home. 

Your list should include everything you can think of that should go into your backpack. This will include your basic toiletries, essential equipment like rangefinders from the best rangefinder brands, and personal essentials such as headphones or portable chargers. Once you have this list ready, go over it once more to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything. 

Get Organized

Before you can actually start putting things into your backpack, you should first pull out everything that will be going in first. This will give you an idea of what you need to fit into your limited space. Additionally, having all the items visually in front of you will give you a chance to think again in case you’ve forgotten something essential. 

Once you’re sure you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to do some pruning. Just because you added it to the list and pulled it out from your shelves doesn’t mean you’ll actually need it. 

Remember, you’re going on a survival adventure. You should only be carrying the essentials, and the less you can carry (without compromising on your safety), the better the experience. 

First, make sure you’re not carrying too many clothes for your trip. Clothes are the most common item people overpack, so reducing your clothing pile will help reduce your packable items significantly. 

Next, turn your eyes to the rest of your things and ask yourself the same question you did with your clothes – do you have too much in front of you? Then, figure out what is extra and get rid of it. For example, you probably don’t need to carry more than a single book for a three-day trip, and you can also probably get rid of things like heavy-duty thermal socks if you’re heading out in the summer. 

Once you’ve pruned all your items, it’s time to actually get packing. 

Pack Smart

When trying to fit everything you need into a single backpack, it’s essential to pack strategically. Ideally, you should consider investing in some packing cubes to help make packing easier. Not only do they help keep your things easily accessible, but they also keep items separated, so you can, for example, keep your sleep clothes away from your day wear. 

Additionally, packing cubes help compress clothes tighter, giving you more space in your backpack for other items. You should also roll-fold your clothes to save more space. 

At the same time, when you’re packing, you need to take into account your center of gravity. Your gear needs to be packed in a way that doesn’t affect your balance, but it should also be easily accessible – you don’t want to have to empty out your entire backpack just to find some mosquito repellent. To do this, layer your backpack based on the frequency of use – at the bottom, you’ll place your sleeping bag, which you won’t need until you make camp. 

Keep high-use items like snacks and mosquito repellent in your backpack’s external pockets so you don’t have to open your pack every couple of hours. And, of course, use the water bottle pockets to ensure you have easy access to tons of water. 

Once you’re done packing, consider taking it out on a short hike to figure out how comfortable it is. Doing this allows you to change your packing style if need be while you're in the comfort of your own home rather than out in the wilderness. 

What Should You Pack?

While we’ve discussed how to pack, that doesn’t answer the question of what you should pack. 

The basics of hiking apply to survival adventures as well – you’ll need to, first and foremost, be well stocked with the essentials, including your toiletries, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, deodorant, hand cream, and lip balm, as well as a menstrual cup if you need one. 

Moreover, pay special attention to the sunglasses you select since they guarantee comfortable vision and protect your eyes even in action. Thus, opting for sunglasses with polarized lenses not only provides 100% protection from harmful UV rays but also increases visual clarity and makes images appear clearer.

You should also carry enough clothes for your trip (make sure not to overdo it), a swimsuit, socks, a quick-drying towel, and rain protection just in case. In terms of gear, you’ll need a first aid kit, power bank, a tent, a sleeping bag, and tent lighting. While it’s not strictly gear, you should also always carry identification just in case. 

Once this is done, you can start tailoring your backpack to you and the season you’re traveling in. 

For example, if you’re going on your adventure during the winter, you’ll need winter gear such as gloves, thermal socks, toe- and hand warmers, and more. However, if you’re off in the middle of summer, you’ll likely rather carry an additional pair of shorts instead. 

Finally, don’t forget about your food – energy bars are a great option, though you may want to diversify your options if you’ll be on your adventure for a long period of time. Additionally, check your hiking boots and sneakers to confirm they’re good to go (you’ll be wearing one and carrying the other with you, just in case), and make sure your water bottles are high-quality and in pristine condition. 

Other things you should carry on an adventure trip include:

  • Rope
  • Fire Starting kit or a lighter with enough fuel to work throughout the trip
  • Camping cutlery 
  • A portable kitchen meant for camping
  • A sheath knife, which is uniquely multi-purpose, can be used to prepare dinner or scare away predators. 
  • Flashlight 

Have an emergency food supply at hand as well. For an easy understanding of how much you should carry with you, a good rule of thumb is to consider what you think you’ll need to carry with you in terms of food and double it. With food and water, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Finally, pack location-specific items. For example, if you’re traveling to a place that has a large bear population, the bear spray would be a great inclusion in your backpack. That said, it wouldn’t be a good idea if you’re planning something in the state of New York. 

Packing a backpack for a survival adventure trip can be complicated, especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s always best to do a trial run before committing to anything, including the bag itself and the gear you carry with you. 

bushcraft in the wilderness

It’s best to try out everything by going for a short hike at least once before your planned trip. This gives you enough time to change things up if need be without affecting your holiday schedule. 

Once you feel you’re ready to move on, the only thing that’s left to do is travel to the place you’re setting out from and start your journey. If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you always have your passport and visa with you. After you’re sure you have them, the only other thing left for you to do is enjoy the adventure waiting for you!

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Baptiste is an adventurer with a passion for urban and wilderness exploration and adventure, and a lover of vintage objects with timeless charm. As a Founding member of the Eiken team, he tries to share his passion and expertise for travel and vintage fashion through his articles.

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