The Ultimate Backpacking Guide

If you’re planning on backpacking anytime in the near future, whether in your own backyard from the house to the tree with dog urine all over it or across the globe three times until you go insane, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind and supplies you need to get to stay prepared. From backpacking backpacks to ample food supplies, there are many different types of things you’ll require before you set off on that journey to the center of the Earth, which I don’t recommend doing because it’s really hot down there and you’ll likely die before you even get through the Earth’s crust, but I digress.

In this ultimate guide to backpacking, you’ll learn about all of the different things you’ll depend on before going on your journey, along with all of the knowledge that will help you survive like a cockroach that’s been specifically targeted and bombed by Kim Jong-Un.

Backpacking Supply Checklist: Everything You Need for a Successful Trip

backpacker with backpack overlooking mountains

Planning on a successful backpacking trip? Even if you wish to fail miserably, you’ll do well to bring everything you need to fail spectacularly. Here’s a brief checklist of things you’ll want to bring along for your next backpacking trip, about which I’ll go over all of the little details along with the nooks, crannies, and cockroaches.

Make sure to consider the following on your backpacking, camping, or hiking trek:

  • Navigation equipment
  • Sun protection
  • Insulation
  • Illumination supplies
  • First-aid kit
  • Fire-starting supplies
  • Repair tools
  • Food
  • Water
  • Emergency shelter

Some of the other supplies you need that we’ll go over also include:

  • Backpacks
  • Pack covers
  • Sleeping bags
  • Ice axes
  • Cooking supplies
  • Nylon cords
  • Water filters
  • Lanterns
  • Footwear
  • Field guide
  • Guidebooks
  • Journal
  • Insect repellant
  • Bear spray
  • Sandals
  • Binoculars
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush and toiletry kit
  • Cell phone
  • Locator beacon
  • Pen that turns into a guard dog
  • Unhappy rocks that turn into happy logs for firewood
  • A wizard stored in a bottle of gin
  • Lava-proof diapers for any encountered volcano babies/pygmies
  • Medication to prevent your head from turning into a sunflower (very important in India)
  • Booze and booze-soaked socks (I’ll explain the latter)
  • A platypus loofa

I know this is a lot to keep in mind, particularly if, like I stated earlier, you’re only going to be walking about 20 feet from the house to that decrepit old tree in the backyard. However, this stuff can all help keep you alive and relatively comfortable, unless you don’t want either of those things, in which case I suggest you seek therapy and put your trip off for now.

Regardless of whether or not you need to see a mental health professional, here is a breakdown of all of the previously bulleted items that you’ll need for backpacking, in this Ultimate Backpacking Supply Checklist.

Navigation Equipment for Backpacking

old fashioned compass used for travel

First up, it’s navigation equipment that gets the Backpackers Anonymous overview.

If you’re going on those long backpacking journeys or worried about getting lost in your own backyard due to Alzheimer’s or general amnesia when a tree branch falls on your head, you’ll want to know how to figure out where you are. The best way to do this is to bring along navigation gear.

Compasses

I know that if you’re like me, as a kid you learned from your father about how putting two sticks up your nose and chanting “Bimbo” would cause a cloud in the sky to point in the right direction, but trust me when I say that having a compass is a lot more convenient these days, particularly since compasses are no longer built with enough radiation in them to kill an adult elephant.

Maps

It also pays to know where you are. While your phone may have a map in the shape of a beautiful woman who has all of the directions on her body, you may not always be in a place with telephone reception. If you’re without a signal, you should have a paper map, or perhaps even one made out of pure camel soap. Regardless of what it’s made of, you should also have a protective case for your map, such as the reliable and affordable SealLine map case or Rothco map and document case, both available on Amazon.

GPS

Most phones have GPS systems that can teleport you to where you want to go, but if you’re without a signal you should consider a good GPS system that can dig you out of a pickle of any shape or size, such as this Garmin Nuvi 57 5-inch GPS navigator, which is also on Amazon, along with all products I mention from this point onward.

Altimeter

Want to see how high up you are and determine your nautical distance from heaven and pretend to pull God’s finger? Get an altimeter such as this Sun altimeter and barometer on Amazon, which also includes a weather trend indicator and battery-free analog design.

Sun Protection for Backpacking

angry-sun-inkedpage

Angry Sun by DeviantArt dude InkedPage

The sun is a powerful monster full of misery, which it transfers in beams that are likely to turn your skin red with rage and make you agonize over your existence in the form of a physical suit of allover burning. However, you don’t have to suffer and let it win. You can deny the sun monster its power by keeping yourself protected with certain apparel that’s been blessed by the “Stay Cool” deity that survives within all of our souls near our left ears.

Sunscreen

The first of three items that you’ll need to deflect the sun monster (whose name is actually Derek) is sunscreen. Sunscreen comes in all shapes and sizes but is mostly just a cream that keeps Derek’s rays away, which shows how weak he really is. Putting this cream on your skin will make sure that you’re never burned beyond recognition because of Derek’s fury. You’ll make Derek furious if you put this creamy shield over your arms, legs and face while out backpacking, but he won’t be able to do anything if you’re sufficiently protected. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but Derek is a man, so there’s no reason to be concerned.

Lip Balm

Derek loves to burn lips, it’s not really a secret. If you want to keep your lips protected from Derek’s wrath, you should get some good lip balm to keep those mouth mud flaps safe from his rays. Simply get a stick of lip balm and put some of it on your oral ring, and you’ll be fine if Derek decides to target either half of it. If you don’t, you may find that your lips will soon be as crispy as a fritter that’s traveled through hell and back.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are about more than looking like your eyes are made of protruding black glass; they’re also about keeping Derek out of your eyes. See, Derek likes to sizzle eyes, particularly those that belong to backpackers. If you wear sunglasses, Derek’s rays won’t be able to break through your eyes and cause you to go insane, so it’s a good idea to wear these if you want to protect them eyeballs from a world of pain.

I’m a big fan of Ray-Ban Wayfarers, which you can find on—where else—Amazon. They make my head look like an extra-angular funnel.

These three pieces of gear worn together will grant you partial immunity to Derek’s harm, but keep in mind that you’re not invulnerable. Make sure you recharge your sunscreen and lip balm, and don’t even think about giving Derek eye contact even if you’re wearing sunglasses, as his eyes are known to cause permanent blindness.

Insulation Supplies for Backpacking

Like a house, you need insulation when it’s cold out. Also like a house, you can wear a jacket, vest, pants, gloves, or hats to keep your body completely warm even in the harshest weather. I prefer doing this rather than stuffing my skin with pink insulation that tastes funny, and I know my house does, too. I also managed to stop getting sick from asbestos.

Jackets

In short, you’ve got to wear a jacket if it’s cool out. With a jacket on, you can keep your body from exploding due to turbo-erective pressure caused by wind creatures named Mobusks, which like to go after backpackers on particularly cold and windy days. They are unable to penetrate jackets and travel through your soul, keeping you safe at all times. Jackets can also keep you protected from hypothermia if you happen to be out in the frigid tundras of Hoth.

Vests

Vests are only for if you think life vests look stylish, in which case go ahead. I happen to think that lifesavers are more visually appealing, and have a jacket that resembles a stack of them. I look like the Michelin Man when I wear it, and can hardly move like him, too. It’s great.

Pants

If you’re not wearing pants while backpacking, chances are you’re not wearing underwear, either, and are planning on joining a nudist colony if you’re not already part of one. Of course, you could also be like my cousin who once thought he was a leopard who belonged in the forests of Washington, stripping yourself free of clothes and tattooing spots all over your skin before dying it yellow. Otherwise, you should wear pants—normal in warmer months, snow pants in snowy or icy cool weather.

Gloves

Gloves are good. They keep your hands warm. They also have the power to keep your hands from turning into snakes if you happen to be in the pits of Moldova. I learned from personal experience that gloves are necessary there when my fingers began slithering and trying to bite each other with little mouths. I couldn’t hold anything for a month and my girlfriend broke up with me as a result, and it was only after visiting a Shaman in the basement of the village hall building in my hometown that I was able to convert my hand snakes back to normal fingers.

Hats

There are many types of hats: Wide brim hats, top hats, porkpie hats, fedoras, death hats, hell hats, depression hats, and poop hats, among others. Find a hat that keeps you warm and wear it. It could become your best friend, or even your lover, if you want. Hats don’t have hands or feet, meaning they can’t remove themselves from you, so feel free to enslave and torture your hat companion without being met with any resistance. I don’t think there will be a hat rebellion any time soon. My favorite hat is this pizza hat from Amazon, which has enabled me to spawn a piece of pizza in my mouth as soon as I’m hungry, except it’s not pizza, and I don’t know what I’m eating.

Illumination

Again like a house, you need lights. Sufficient illumination will give you the ability to light up the world while backpacking, giving you that perfect pathway of light to lead you out of the darkest sewers. I remember while backpacking in Australia I wound up in a sewer while chasing a frog I had witnessed transform into a solid green man, but the frog man had led me into an underground sewer castle that ran on raw sewage and smelled pretty sour. I would’ve likely had to live down there in the sewer castle with the frog man for the rest of my life if I didn’t have a light to get me out, but thankfully I did.

Flashlights are always ideal, but you can also use other illumination such as this LE LED headlamp on Amazon that fastens to your head and makes you look like a poorly designed alien.

Don’t forget extra batteries, which you can either use in the event of an emergency or feed them to the Mugwumps of Charlie Swamp in Nairobi, as they need these to self-sustain every thousand years. They’ll appreciate it, trust me, and may grant you with their immortality, only requiring you to consume batteries like them once every millennium. They didn’t do me that favor, though; I received a mere pat on the head by one of their slimy, elongated orange hands, which only led to a disappointing shower.

First-aid Supplies for Backpacking

first aid kit band

First Aid Kit: The Swedish band version. Take them with you on your trip.

Backpacking can be a dangerous endeavor, potentially leading to mild or even serious injuries if you’re not careful. Even if you are careful, you might wind up like me and step through a time rip that randomly appears in a tree trunk, only to have it close when you’re only halfway through, causing you to split cleanly down the middle in two different timelines, until you find another time rip that allows you to rejoin your second half and you have to reorient yourself now that you’re in one piece on the same timeline again. While a first-aid kit didn’t necessarily help with that, more conventional injuries may require one.

You should invest in a good first-aid kit for your trips, which will include basic care items such as:

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Adhesive bandages of various sizes
  • Gauze pads
  • Nonstick sterile pads (important for burns)
  • Blister treatment
  • Medical tape
  • Ibuprofen and other pain relief meds
  • Insect sting relief care
  • Antihistamines to prevent severe allergic reactions
  • Splinter tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • First-aid manual

Splints, Wraps and Wound Coverings

In addition to basic care, you should also carry wraps, splints, and wound covering materials for more severe injuries while backpacking. These could include:

  • Elastic wrap
  • Finger splints
  • SAM splints
  • Cravat bandages
  • Rolled gauze
  • Hydrogel-based pads
  • Cleansing pads with anesthetic
  • Blood-stopping gauze
  • Liquid bandages
  • Oval eye pads

Treatments and Medications

You might find yourself relying on treatments and medications in certain situations. One time I was backpacking in Madagascar and I came across a Giant Ice Leech, which is an ironically frozen-blooded leech the exact size and shape of an Audi TT. It uses its wide basketball-sized mouth to spit gobs of frozen sludge balls like huge snowballs, which makes little sense for a creature to do on a tropical island, but there you go. Needless to say, those sludge balls really hurt and caused a sensation similar to a hefty bee sting, as the sludge balls also contain and release venomous barbs that cause irritation. Luckily I had not only a flamethrower to destroy the beast before it could do more damage, but I also had sting relief treatment.

So, here are some medications and treatment you might need in addition to that to stay prepared for anything that comes your way:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Throat lozenges, so you can climb a mountain and shout “Ricola!” before a justifiably annoyed hunter shoots you down
  • Aspirin
  • Antacid tablets
  • Lubricating eyedrops to clear up that “I just smoked a ton of weed, bro” look
  • Poison ivy and oak treatment
  • Glucose or other type of sugar for treating hypoglycemia and turning you into a sugar monster (the only way to beat the Mongolian salt monster)
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Foot powder
  • Antibiotics or other prescription medications
  • Injectable epinephrine for treating allergies and digesting demon frogs

Medical Tools and Miscellaneous Supplies

Along with basic care and treatment supplies, you may find that you’re in an even more serious pickle that requires the use of medical tools and other supplies to help break you out of that pickle, particularly if it’s a large juicy dill that’s bent on digesting you whole and you need to break free of its vinegary pickle guts before the stomach acid comes pouring in.

Tools and supplies you might need include:

  • Knife (particularly helpful for busting free from pickle guts)
  • Paramedic sheers (also known by scientists as blunt-tip scissors)
  • Safety razor blade or a scalpel
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Oral thermometer
  • Low-reading (hypothermia) thermometer
  • Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter
  • Magnifying glass
  • CPR mask
  • Steel sewing needle with heavy-duty thread
  • Medical and surgical gloves
  • Small mirror
  • Duct tape
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Wire cutter
  • Medical waste bag
  • Waterproof container
  • Whistle
  • Satellite messenger

If you want a complete first-aid kit that comes with the essentials, I recommend the Be Smart Get Prepared 250-piece first-aid kit. Where is it? Oh, right. Amazon. Not the river, so don’t go backpacking there thinking you’ll find a first-aid kit with your name on it floating in the middle of a swarm of piranha in the Amazon basin—which would probably make the kit necessary to use right then and there and therefore a wasted effort, especially if you die.

Fire-starting Supplies for Backpacking

Whether you’re a pyromaniac looking to start a budding career as a freelance forest fire-starter or a mere backpacker looking for a way to stay warm, cook, or generate light in the evenings, you’ll want good fire-starting supplies.

Matches or Lighters

Bring either a few matchbooks or a large lighter. Even a windproof Zippo might do you a lot of good. You may also want to consider a torch, which can really get a fire going.

Waterproof Containers

The #1 enemy of fire is water, and it will do anything to get to a fire, even murder an entire family of humans if it has to do so. This is why—for your family’s and your fire-starters’ sake—you should make sure you have some waterproof containers for your stuff, which will discourage water from even attempting to get to your fire-causing materials.

Fire Starters for Emergency Fires

If you really need to start a fire when backpacking for whatever reason, you’ll benefit from having a handy fire starter that can do the job right, something like the SurvivalSPARK Magnesium Survival fire starter on Amazon, which also includes a compass and whistle, killing three birds with one stone.

Repair Kit and Tools for Backpacking

Things can easily get damaged when backpacking, making it necessary to have what you need to make quick or even extensive repairs, whether it’s to fix stoves, mattresses, duct tape strips, or your broken soul after seeing a pack of wolves ruthlessly butcher and devour a mongoose that’s begging for its mother while backpacking in Eurasia.

For a good field repair kit for mattresses, consider the Therm-A-Rest Instant Field Repair Kit, which is available on… wait… for… it… yep, Amazon.

Food for Backpacking Trips

Food is what we eat to allow us to walk and breathe and live. Same with water. That’s why you can’t simply stop eating or drinking when on a backpacking trip. Otherwise you’ll likely look like a skeleton wearing a man suit when you return, or be unable to return entirely on an eternal basis.

While you may be ready to hunt bears and aliens and all kinds of water demons whose flesh tastes like the best steak you’ve never had, it’s ideal to bring along some emergency food supplies in case you need some sustenance that can keep you alive. I recommend either the Millennium Foods 36-pack of energy bars that includes an emergency guide, which is conveniently available over at Amazon. Also on Amazon is the Grizzly Gear 3-Day Emergency Food Rations Supply Pack, which is great for shorter trips where you may need emergency food supplies, and includes 9 bars that have less sugar and more nutrients than other leading brands. If you’re really at risk of needing emergency food supplies at any point, you may be better off getting the Valley Food Storage 1-Month Emergency Food Supply of Healthy Freeze Dried Survival Food, which is worth the $144.95 price tag for the amount you get.

Water Bottles and Hydration Reservoirs for Backpacking

It’s a known fact that without sufficient hydration on a backpacking trip you’re likely to encounter the Jerker, which is a monster in the shape of a deformed fleshy sock that loves to eat dehydrated humans because they have the consistency of beef jerky, hence the name. It lives in the forests of the Sahara, which you’re not likely to find, so you’re probably safe, but there’s an even better reason to stay hydrated: to keep you alive.

This is why you’ll want to carry plenty of water bottles or a hydration reservoir such as this Platypus Hoser Hydration Reservoir available on Amazon.

Water filters for backpacking are also a good idea, but we’ll get to those.

Backpacking Emergency Shelter

bear in tent

Consider this possible worst-case scenario, among many others: You’re backpacking in Tibet, when all of a sudden you’re on a patch of mountainside that has become telekinetically detached by a maniac Buddhist monk who happens to have telekinesis. He lifts you up into the air about 200 feet and keeps you there on this broken-off piece of land and demands telepathically that you need to stay there for exactly 109 days before he’ll let you down, all so you understand what it means to surrender the self.

Not only will that emergency food and water supply come in handy, but so will an emergency shelter in case you encounter any harsh weather conditions, Derek rays, or Tibetan sky leopards that enjoy sucking people’s faces off with their lamprey-like mouth faces while appearing otherwise like normal leopards with wings. Keep in mind that these things also roam the mountains of Montana.

Tents for Camping

Let’s start with camping tents. Tents were invented by James Tent in 1904 when he realized he needed shelter in the middle of the Siberian rainforest. He decided to take a nap beneath the sun (you know, Derek), but when he awoke he saw that his skin had turned the color of embarrassment and his clothes had been stolen by Siberian lice. He realized that the solution for this would be to use some kind of shelter. So, James Tent skinned himself and constructed the first tent using his bloody flap of flesh. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that it’s a bad idea to skin yourself and that you can’t live for long afterward, and he died as soon as he decided to take another nap beneath his skin tent. Scouters found his body the next day while chasing a skunk that had run off with one of their children.

Thankfully we don’t need to skin ourselves to build a tent for camping. There are plenty of great options named after the man made of nonhuman materials. I recommend the Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent, or the Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent. Families or groups that backpack together have options too, such as the AmazonBasics 8-Person Family Tent. Individual backpackers can use a smaller tent that can fit in a single backpack, something like the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent.

Backpacking Tarps for Camping

An even lighter option compared to a tent is a backpacking tarp, which can provide convenient shelter from the rain and Derek. Tarps were invented in 1989 when a group of idiots needed a way to keep their knees clean when kneeling to worship Derek in one of their backyards as part of an idiot ritual. One of the idiots had a large sheet of vinyl and laid it down. When the other idiots asked him what it was, he replied, “Tarp,” the only nonsense word he used for everything. Thus, it became known as a tarp. It’s stupid, I know, but it’s actually gotten smarter since then.

If you’re looking for a good tarp, I recommend another Amazon favorite, the YuEdge Portable Lightweight Waterproof rain tarp, which is perfect for shelter and sunshade.

Bivys for Backpacking and Harsh Camping Trips

Since I’ve detailed the history of other shelters for some reason, I suppose I’ll do that with the bivy as well, which according to spellcheck isn’t a real word regardless of whether I spell it with one or two “v”s. The bivy was invented in 1857 by a highly intelligent frog named Mr. Spiggins who despised rainfall, unlike his other amphibian brethren. The frog created a makeshift bivy using carefully placed leaves and twigs, which formed a nice little frog shelter from the rain and allowed Mr. Spiggins to sleep on land without that pesky rain demon Todd from getting him wet.

Mr. Spiggins was never given proper credit for building the first bivy, though, as a man stumbled upon the bivy, stole it, and decided to call it a “bivy” because that was the only word he could say, much like the inadvertent inventor of the tarp. Sad.

Eventually, the bivy was developed into something a bit more intended for survival purposes, with many waterproof and thermal models available. Older models like the one Mr. Spiggins came up with are now referred to as sleeping bags, which are generally used for average camping trips.

If you want an affordable way to make sure you’re safe during those harsh conditions on a long backpacking trip, I suggest you purchase this S.O.L. Survive Outdoors Longer bivy, which is a great option for emergency shelter when you need it most.

Other Backpacking Supplies

We’re not through yet, as there is still a lot of stuff to cover if you want to make your backpacking trip an unprecedented success. Here we’ll go over many of the other supplies that you’ll benefit from bringing with you on your trips.

Backpacks for Backpacking and Hiking

Guess where the term “backpacking” comes from? No, it doesn’t derive from packing items into the skin of your back so you look like a hunchback full of bloody goods, but it instead originates from backpacks. Therefore, the most essential item you’ll need to bring with you on your backpacking trip is a backpack for hiking.

I’ve recommended many backpacking backpacks, so I won’t give any other recommendations here, but I will state that this is how you’ll carry your necessities. Ideally, you should pick a backpack that packs a lot of packed packing stuff. I’m talking about roomy backpacks that can store all of your emergency food supplies, survival equipment, first-aid kits, and more, with multiple compartments that allow you to keep everything organized. One of the best ways to survive the harsh wildernesses from the Earth to heaven itself is to equip yourself with the Seventy2 Survival System, which can cover all of your bases.

Pack Covers

Keeping your backpack protected from Todd’s raindrops and other conditions is important, which is why I also suggest you get a backpacking pack rain cover such as this Joy Walker waterproof backpack rain cover.

Sleeping Bags for Backpacking & Camping

In addition to the aforementioned backpacking bivy, you might want to consider a typical sleeping bag for those nights outdoors when the bears are searching for people to skin. My recommendation is this Abco Tech lightweight portable sleeping bag conveniently located on Amazon like every other damn product on this page.

Ice Axes

If you find yourself in a cave trapped by ice, or you’re climbing a mountain and a wall of ice attempts to kidnap you and your family, you’ll benefit from having an ice axe for defense such as this packable Black Diamond Raven ice axe. I once had to use an ice axe when I came across an ice troll in the tundras of Nairobi. He challenged me to a battle which entailed him throwing ice buckets at my head, until I axed him in the face and he ran away releasing a screech that sounded like a thousand ice crystals shattering. So, this could be a necessity.

Backpacking Cooking Supplies

You know what’s hard to do when you’re out in the gritty wilderness? Cook. That is if you don’t bring your cooking stuff with you, of course. However, you can go out into the wild woody woods and the forests of Whateverland and still cook your favorite cuisine, whether it’s fresh water buffalo or a plate of piping hot peyote buttons. Simply get all of the kitchen utensils you need in a pack such as this Avery Barn 6pc All-In-One camping utensils set. Then you’ll want cooking supplies like this Bisgear 12/16pc cookware set.

Nylon Cords

Whether you need to climb to the top of a large rock or ascend to the heavens beyond the ceiling of space itself, the only way to achieve either is with a handy nylon cord for backpacking. I recommend the Paracord Planet mil-spec commercial grade Type III cord.

Water Filters for Hiking Trips

Unless you bring along enough bottled water to drown 500 ant colonies, I suggest you bring along a water filter to make sure your water is clean wherever you find it. It’s cheaper to purchase a water filter for backpacking than stocking up on tons of water if you’re going for a long trip, and you’ll also save some space for additional backpacking gear. Here are some popular water filter options to consider for your backpacking journey. Remember, if you don’t stay hydrated, the Jerker will probably find and devour you, but remember that the creature is only encountered in the Saharan forests, which are hard to find as it is.

Lanterns

If you need a light machine that’s better than a light stick such as a candle or a caveman torch, it’s a solid idea to carry along a selection of lanterns to avoid falling into the astral Escopolis. Sorry, you don’t probably know what the Escopolis is, but as long as you have a lantern with you, you won’t ever need to know. The lantern I brought with me on my last backpacking trip to the frozen wasteland of Nairobi were the Etekcity 2-pack portable LED lanterns, which are a great bargain.

Footwear for Backpacking

From shoes with spikes for traction to the Backpacking Boots of Eternal Slumber, you need to make sure you bring the right footwear with you on your backpacking journey. Your feet should never be naked and vulnerable because they might retaliate later, unless they’re exhibitionists who enjoy public exposure. Make sure that if it’s cold outside, you have warm snow boots capable of keeping your feet snug, and if it’s warm, you’ll want to get shoes that let your feet breathe. I don’t suggest crocs for the latter, as they’re notoriously grumpy and are likely to bite your feet off if provoked.

Sandals

Sandals are ideal for not only warmer weather and less dangerous areas where rattlesnakes and chupacabras don’t reside, but they are also ideal for fording rivers. In many cases, you may need to make it across a river, and having sandals on can significantly decrease the chance of getting your feet snagged if it gets trapped in a rock. You may lose a sandal, but at least you’ll be alive to be disappointed about it. Comfortable sandals can also help you avoid blistering.

Field Guide & Guidebooks

Have you ever seen Into the Wild or read the story of Christopher McCandless? Well, if you haven’t—spoiler alert—he dies from ingesting poisonous seeds that make you starve to death. While he had a field guide to help identify the right plants, one of the many speculations around his death (and the one in the film) is that he read the wrong page and confused one seed for another toxic one while camping in Alaska. Little mishaps like these are why it’s a great idea to have a field guide with you at all times, along with guidebooks that help you identify local geography and other things like animals and stuffs.

Journal for Backpacking Trips

I also suggest you bring a journal with you, so you can write about all of the things you see and experience, from dead birds floating in zero gravity a thousand miles up to a crocodile reciting Shakespeare to an unimpressed frog. If you can’t write, you can store everything in your brain container, I suppose.

Insect Repellant

Some bugs are pleasant company, and some aren’t. For the ones that aren’t, bug spray is a golden monkey of a thing. Mosquitoes and goblin flies are the worst, but the right insect repellant for backpacking can make sure you’re always shielded.

Bear Spray

There is at least one thing that bears and human predators have in common: Most of both can be stopped by a pungent spray. While mace works on weak muggers and other human prowlers of the night, you need something a bit more powerful to stop a bear attack in its tracks. Bear spray such as the Frontiersman bear spray can spray as far as 35 feet, keeping you safe from black, brown and polar bears, along with Yugighi Yetis that live in the Reverse Time Universe that sometimes intersects with ours if we venture too close to the Prime Meridian and walk along it for 10 miles or farther. So, stay safe!

Binoculars for Backpacking

man holding huge binoculars

Seeing things from far away is something that typically only perverts and bird watchers want to do with binoculars, but you can bring these along on your backpacking trip, too. Just remember to take the caps off before looking through them, or else you may find yourself looking back at the recesses of your own brain, which won’t be as fun as you think.

Toilet Paper

Don’t resort to using leafs to cleanse your nether regions of excrement. Instead, bring along some good old fashioned human-made toilet paper for backpacking trips. This will really help prevent the whole ordeal of feeling like your lower half is about to fall off after unintentionally (or masochistically?) using poison ivy or nettles to get rid of those stubborn dingleberries.

Hand Sanitizer

Gotta keep them hands clean, right? Who knows when you’ll need to wash your hands after going to the bathroom and missing the TP a bit, or after accidentally rubbing your hands on a Groban Lizard, a lizard that looks and sings like Josh Groban and is coated by a thin viscous layer of highly bacterial yellow slime. Having hand sanitizer on hand (pun intended) is a great idea.

Toothbrush and Toiletry Kit

Without a toothbrush, your teeth will begin to resemble candy corn, which you probably don’t want because nobody except monsters likes candy corn. You should also bring along a toiletry kit, such as this Convenience Kits Women’s Garnier Fructis Deluxe 9-Piece Travel Kit or a Convenience Kits Man On the Go Premium 12-Piece Travel Kit from Amazon.

Cell Phone

While you may be tempted to get rid of cell phones and get in touch with nature and all of its nasty glory, a cell phone is one of the keys to your survival out in the wilderness. Trust moi.

Even if you’re in an area without cell service, you never know when you might come across it and be able to make a call if you’re in a jam. And if you’re lost, you can always download a map of the area before going on your excursion and using offline GPS and a compass, if you don’t have a paper map and a physical compass. One of the best ways to keep your phone running is to use a solar-powered charger such as this BERNET Solar Charger Portable Power Bank, which includes multiple USB ports.

Locator Beacon

A locator beacon isn’t exactly cheap in most cases, but having one of these puppy doodle dadas will help make sure you’re always able to reach out and disclose your location if you’re stuck somewhere. Without a map or any sense of direction, this can come in handy and alert someone nearby to your location. There are many products available, but I recommend the ACR ResQlink+ PLB. This one is programmed for the US, but you can still use it all around the world.

Pen That Turns into a Guard Dog

huge guard dog and owl hybrid

This one’s a real lifesaver. On my backpacking trip to Russia I encountered a ferocious zebrox, which is a hybrid of a zebra and a fox, with the size and body of a zebra but the head and predatory instincts of a fox in a house full of stuffed meat balls. Right when the zebrox neighed and was about to bite my head off, its leathery tongue dangling and dripping onto the ground, I whipped out my trusty pen, tossed it in front of the zebrox, and the pen exploded into a giant Rottweiler the size of an RV. The dog then bit the zebrox on the neck until its head came off, and proceeded to eat the rest of the carcass right there. Then I made it turn back into my conveniently sized pen.

Unfortunately the only way to get one of these nifty things is to visit a warlock that lives in the hollow middle of Mount Everest, and I can’t tell you the password to his hidden gate or exactly where it is, sorry.

Unhappy Rocks That Turn into Happy Logs for Firewood

One thing you’re likely to encounter on your backpacking trip is a ton of sad rocks. It’s impossible to find a happy rock, but if you come across one that appears to be in the middle of an existential crisis as a useless piece of lost sediment, you can brighten its day by picking it up and giving it some physical contact that doesn’t involve skipping it on a body of water, and rub it three times to turn it into a happy log for use as firewood. I can guarantee that rock will be ever grateful for serving a purpose other than a simple ground decoration that nobody cares about.

A Wizard Stored in a Bottle of Gin

A little store in Transylvania called Bob’s Trinkets sells bottles of Tanqueray with wizards inside. These wizards will come out every time you drink a third of the bottle, and will grant you two and a half wishes. These wishes could include anything from emergency supplies to teleportation to a civilized area for lodging, food, and more.

However, the half wish will only meet your wish halfway, so, for instance, if you wish for a first aid kit, you’ll only receive half a first aid kit. And if you wish to appear back in your hometown safe and intact, you’ll only wind up somewhere halfway there, which could make you even more lost. So, be careful with those wishes. My advice for the half wish is a two-gallon tub of fish, which will arrive in a one-gallon bucket for you to enjoy.

Lava-Proof Diapers for Any Encountered Volcano Babies/Pygmies

It’s widely known that the lava pygmies of Europe and their babies have notoriously bad tempers and won’t hesitate to kill any backpackers and other travelers on sight. However, you can appease them by bringing along some solid lava-proof diapers that allow them to avoid putting holes in the earth every time they go to the bathroom. Being made entirely out of lava also makes it difficult to make anything without burning all of the materials up, so it’s really appreciated if you provide them with lava-proof diapers and other useful lava-proof items to keep them happy. This way they won’t burn your face off immediately upon meeting you.

Medication to Prevent Your Head from Turning into a Giant Sunflower (NECESSARY IN INDIA!)

Believe me, this one is entirely necessary when backpacking in India. There is a zone in south India where certain human-infecting pollen particles in the air will turn your head into a giant sunflower, which isn’t as fun as it sounds. Imagine your head is now the shape and size of a satellite dish and that your entire face now opens up into a fuzzy brown mat with your only source of food being Dereklight. Doesn’t sound like a great time, does it?

To avoid this, you’ll need to bring along a medication called Disterpatine, which will make sure your head remains human throughout your trip.

Booze and Booze-Soaked Socks

Get booze to drink, and booze-soaked socks to get your feet drunk.

A Platypus Loofa

This is self-explanatory.

Enjoy Your Trip with All of the Backpacking Supplies You’ll Need

Once you have adequately prepared for your journey with plenty of reliable backpacking supplies, you’ll be able to make the most of your trip while remaining safer and comfortable. Following this guide should help you find everything you need when preparing to go on those short or long travels, either alone or with people you’ll likely find unbearable by the time you return.

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15 thoughts on “The Ultimate Backpacking Guide

  1. Wow, this was a lot of information! Thanks for this! Now I know exactly what to check off when planning my next backpacking trip. Still kind of unclear about the platypus loofa, though, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad this was helpful, Josh! The secret to the platypus loofa is the mantra “I am one with the noodle.” That should help clear things up for ya!

      Like

  2. I’ve been looking for a definitive backpacking checklist everywhere! Many cover a lot, but this covered the gamut!

    Side note: I once went backpacking in Montana and came across a sky leopard, so you may want to add that they live in Montana, not just Tibet. Those things are terrifying. The only reason I lived through the encounter was because I had some beef jerky with me—apparently they love that stuff.

    Thanks for the guide, dude!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fixed, and I’m glad you found this backpacking guide useful! Glad you made it out of Montana alive, man! Stay tuned for more backpacking guides and supply suggestions for camping or hiking.

      Like

  3. I’ve been in need of a solid backpacking guide for months. Planning a trip to Amsterdam and I’ll be backpacking a lot. Really appreciate this. There aren’t any lava pygmies there, are there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad I could be of service!

      And yes, as I stated, lava pygmies are found throughout Europe, and Amsterdam is no exception. I was backpacking in Switzerland when I had my first and (so far) only frightening encounter with them in a chocolate shop. Luckily I thought to bring some lava-proof diapers as an offering, which they accepted. You may not encounter them, as I haven’t personally met anyone else who has, but it’s better to be prepared than wind up melted and screaming in unadulterated pain as you wither away into a puddle of hot human soup.

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  4. Nice post, man. Really is a comprehensive checklist for backpacking supplies, should be helpful in the future. I didn’t know the Sun God shared the same name as me. That’s pretty cool. Then again there are a lot of people named Jesus, too, which is an even cooler name.

    One question: If I’m backpacking and a bear gets into my tent like the one in that pic, what should I do if I’m inside it? I think at that point I might just play dead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Derek! Hopefully you’re not in cahoots with Derek the sun monster. And yes, he’s a monster, not a God of any kind. The one and only Sun God is Ra, and he’d feel insulted if he knew someone was going around thinking it was Derek.

      Anyway, the best way to deflect a bear attack is to play dead. I’ll go over this in a future post, with some advice from experts and those who’ve experienced this kind of thing first-hand. Bear spray may be useful in some cases, but it’s ideally reserved as a last resort. It’s not quite like macing a mugger, and the bear is likely more afraid of you than you are of it, like most animals.

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  5. Appreciate the advice for all the camping and hiking gear. I’m not much into backpacking, but I do camp and hike a lot when I get the chance. This list gave me more than enough suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I only eat banana sandwiches. How many banana sandwiches would I be able to fit in a backpack about 10 feet high by 10 feet wide? I’m planning on a backpacking trip to Botswana tomorrow. Just kind of curious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that’s a big backpack! Are you sure you can even move with that? And you’re gonna need a lot more than banana sandwiches, trust me. Especially in Botswana. Still, even if that were all you were bringing, my guess would be a good couple hundred sandwiches.

      Good luck!

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      • Nope. I’m only bringing banana sandwiches. It’s been my dream to eat hundreds of banana sandwiches in Botswana since I was 2.

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  7. Hi. I like this backpacking guide. It has been of much help to my endeavors across the land of the Earth, giving me the will to continue existing as a multicellular organism capable of the illusion of free will as I wander from land to land searching meaninglessly for meaning in the simple things in what we call “life.”

    Thanks again!

    Like

  8. Sweet backpacking checklist. I sure am hankering for an edible tent right about now, actually. I brought a few of those with me on my last backpacking tent. It was really efficient and good to have. Not sure if you’re familiar. They’re like extremely durable and good fruit roll-ups. They’re all folded up, then you simply unfold them and set them up wherever you are, and when the time comes to move again, you can just eat your tent for breakfast. They’re made with real fruit, too, so they’re good for you. You just need to scrape the dirt and leaves or whatever else is on the thing, but I kind of prefer the added texture and savoriness you get from those things.

    Liked by 1 person

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