self reliant backpacking list

An Essential List of Backpacking Gear That’ll Help You Be Self-Reliant

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Going on a backpacking adventure is the dream of many - however, it can be a scary experience for beginners. If you are planning on taking part in this activity, you must be prepared as this is the only way you can enjoy yourself, as you will know that you are capable of dealing with anything. These are certain tools that you may have to bring with you to help you with this. 

close up photography of woman carrying gray backpack

This article will provide you with an essential list of backpacking gear that’ll help you be self-reliant so that you take advantage and enjoy this experience. 

A Spacious Backpack

This may seem like an obvious tip - if you are backpacking it should be evident that you will need a backpack! However, you would be surprised at the number of people that fail to get an appropriate one that suits their needs. Once you start looking for a bag, you may find that there are so many different ones, you may start to feel overwhelmed. Just think about what you need and ensure that you have enough space to fit everything. 

Navigation Devices 

When backpacking, it is very likely that you will need some sort of navigation aid to help you get to your destination. You may think that your smartphone is enough for this task but technological devices are not always reliable as they need to be charged constantly and you will need a good signal, which you may not get if you are backpacking in nature. Always aim to go old school on this one and have a compass and even an up-to-date map (and make sure you know how to use these tools!). This way you always have something to rely on should you get lost. 

Appropriate Hiking Shoes 

If you are going outdoors for your backpacking adventure, you will surely require an appropriate pair of hiking shoes. Although an amazing experience, it can be exhausting to participate in this activity, as you are not only traveling and walking, you are carrying a backpack with your essentials on your back. If your feet are comfortable you will be more likely to have a successful trip. 

The Necessary Tools 

The tools that you require with you will depend on the type of adventure you plan on having. There may be a few things that you should put on your backpack that you have not considered. Having a pocket knife, scissors, pliers, and even a bottle opener. This is essentially what you need to be prepared for anything. 

Sleeping Accessories 

Yes, at some point you will need to rest. It will be difficult to do this if you do not have the appropriate sleeping tools. Always make sure that you have a sleeping back and a tent in your backpack. If you have never done this before, you may think that it is difficult to have these items in a backpack but there are ones that have compartments specifically designed for sleeping items such as these. You will need to find a backpack with these features.  

Kitchen Supplies

If you are on an adventure, it will be difficult to find a restaurant where you can just stop and eat. Evidently, this means that you will need to be prepared and bring your own kitchen supplies. There are portable tools that allow you to cook on the go, however, you will need to be careful as you do not want to carry so many things with you at once. This is why it is important to consider what your needs are and what can fit in the backpack to ensure that you still have a good time during your travels. 

Illumination Tools 

It may get dark at some point, which is why you should not neglect the fact that you will need appropriate illumination tools. A flashlight is the most obvious one; however, although this is easy to carry, it does not provide great visibility. It is best if you keep your hands free, and if you agree with this, it may be worth investing in a headlamp. This way you can continue your travels with appropriate visibility whilst still having your hands free. 

First Aid Kit 

You never know if an emergency will arise where you will need minor medical care. This is why you must be prepared for this appropriately and have a first aid kit with you. This does not have to be a comprehensive kit but good enough to deal with potential injuries, from a headache to blisters and minor cuts. Evidently, if anything major happens you should find the closest hospital and seek medical help, but for anything minor, you can and should be prepared so that you deal with this yourself without disrupting your plans. 

Appropriate Clothing 

Evidently, backpacking is a very physical activity and you need to have appropriate clothing. It can be tricky to decide what to wear for these activities and there are a few factors that you will need to consider. Firstly, think about the location - you may need to protect your legs. Temperature is also crucial to think about - you may see that the temperatures drop considerably in the mountains, or in the middle of nature, so if this is where you plan on going on your adventure, you will certainly require appropriate clothing. 

You should bring more than the clothes you have on your body in case you need to change. Always check the forecast beforehand and bring additional items you can change into so that you are always prepared. 

Water Supplies

Backpacking will certainly cause you to be dehydrated - you need to keep your water levels up if you want to have appropriate energy. Bringing the necessary amount of water is crucial for your well-being. It is recommended that you research what the water sources in your area are as this will dictate how much water you will need to bring. 

There is no point in trying to save your own water by not drinking as much as you should, as this will have a negative impact on you and you may not be able to perform as well as you would want. If you know there will be places to get water from, have enough to get you there, and plan where you plan to stop accordingly. You can easily become dehydrated and this will affect all of your senses. 

Food Supplies

As mentioned before, you may need to bring kitchen supplies with you to cook your food during your journey. Evidently, you will also need to bring the food. The amount of food you require will depend on how long you are going backpacking for but also on the location; Some spots may have places where you can get food, whilst others are so secluded that you will be completely on your own and will need to bring as many resources as possible. 

As you know, food is the main source of energy, which is something you will definitely need when backpacking. For this reason, you should always bring snacks that are healthy and high in protein as well as easy to carry. Some good examples include nuts, protein bars, and hard cheeses. This will give you enough energy to keep you going for as long as possible. 


Being outdoors is amazing but it comes with certain risks - UV exposure is one of them. You may think that this is not important, especially if the weather is not sunny and warm, but nevertheless, you need to apply sunscreen if your skin is exposed. Sun exposure has severe harmful effects, causing sunburn and even cancer, so always protect your skin. The sunscreen will need to come with you on your adventure so that you can reapply it throughout the day. You should also wear a hat as this will give you some added protection to your head as well as your facial skin. 


Yes, you will want to enjoy the outdoors and the journey as much as possible and for this to happen you may not want to spend extended periods of time looking at a screen or using devices. However, taking photos and videos of your adventure is a great way to keep these memories forever, that you can always rewatch and you can also show your loved ones how your journey went. 

If you record your full journey, a camera may always help you to not get lost as you may be able to check what places you have already been or find your way back. There are portable cameras that are small and easy to carry and will fit right in your backpack without taking up a lot of space or weighing a ton. 

Portable Charger

As mentioned previously, having your smartphone may be ideal as this tool can help replace many others - not only it will allow you to contact others in case of an emergency, you can use it as a navigation system so that you do not get lost. However, the downside of these gadgets is that the battery may not last as long as you would wish. If you are in the middle of nature, it will be difficult to find a source of power to charge your devices. If you bring a wireless charger with you, you never have to worry about losing your battery.  

back of woman standing on pathway carrying backpack

Make sure that you are fully prepared if you are going backpacking. The information discussed above should give you an idea of what items you will need to bring with you, but you may think that there are others that you will need as well. There are many things that you need but make sure you organize everything effectively and everything will fit perfectly in your backpack.  

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