Courtesy of Mat Honan, Flickr Commons

Courtesy of Mat Honan, Flickr Commons

If you’ve never gone on a backpacking trip before, you may be wondering what you should fill that brand new backpack up with before you head off.

The key to backpack travel is to keep it light and pack strategically.

You tend to spend more time with a backpack attached to you than you would on a trip where you take a suitcase, so it’s important that you don’t carry around a lot of stuff that you simply don’t need. It’ll also allow some space to bring back souvenirs you decide you can’t live without!


Strategic start

Start off by piling everything that you’d like to take on the bed, and then edit it – taking away anything you’re unlikely to actually use or anything that’s too heavy, a duplicate or is difficult to keep clean or wash. For example, if you’re going to go backpacking in Cyprus and you’re planning a walking and hiking holiday, will you really need heels and dresses for the evening?

Pick clothes that you can wear both in the daytime and in the evening then add a couple of simple accessories. A belt or scarf are lightweight and can change out an outfit quickly. Many outdoor gear shops now stock items that are highly practical yet fashionable too. You don’t have to look like you’ve joined the boy scouts when you wear outdoors gear. Choose lightweight layers that you can add to or take off as the weather changes.

Shoe strategy

Shoes are a big temptation. First to keep in mind is comfort and weight. There are more light, comfortable and stylish shoes available than ever. If you bring a dress shoe, it should do double duty – now’s not the time for high heels. Your feet and calves will thank you. Too many trips have been impacted by blisters and bandaids.

Stacking packing tips

An important thing to remember when packing a backpack is that things get scrunched up and crushed in a way that doesn’t happen in a suitcase. Think about how gravity is going to affect your items. Roll up clothes that won’t wrinkle and put more sensitive items on top. You can’t always guarantee that there will be an iron where you’re staying, so unless you don’t mind the crumpled look, choose items that will drop creases when you’ve freed them from your pack.

The fewer items you take with you, the lighter your load will be, so take clothes that can be quickly washed and dried – in the shower if necessary. You can also buy trousers that zip off to shorts and a waterproof jacket with a detachable fleece, so that you don’t need to pack a bulky coat.

The best packing tips I can offer is to let experience guide you. Each of us has different travel styles and needs. The more trips you take with a backpack, the better you’ll get at refining the packing list!