After years of enduring dull hotel-based vacations, you are likely bursting with excitement to complete your first backpacking trek. Whether you are going it alone on the Pacific Crest Trail or you are part of a large group scaling Machu Picchu, you are sure to have an awesome, unforgettable time ― as long as you have everything you need.
Trekking is exhilarating largely because you must carry the bulk of your belongings on your back, but that fact also makes packing extremely important. No matter how many blogs you read, you will probably forget at least one item you will want on the trail. Still, this list might remind you to pack some often-ignored necessities for your backpacking adventure.
1. Camp Shoes
You might have spent a couple hours trying on different hiking boots to ensure you found the right fit, but not once have you considered what you will wear when you aren’t on the trail. Every night when you make camp, you will definitely want another footwear option to give your barking dogs a break. You should pack a lightweight pair of breathable shoes, like cheap flip flops or Crocs, to feel comfortable when you aren’t slogging down the trail.
2. A Flashlight
It gets dark on the trail, but usually, after the sun sets, you still need some light to settle down by. Scrabbling into your sleeping bag or groping for any nighttime necessity is not only inefficient, but it can be dangerous. A small handheld flashlight ― or better yet, a bright headlamp ― will illuminate your way while you stumble to the bathroom and back before dawn.
Whether you are hiking the hilltops of the Himalayas or diving into the depths of the Amazon, you can never have enough sun protection. A hat and long-sleeves will only do so much; it is best to have a reliable bottle of SPF 30 within reach at all times, or else your face will be forever red and blistered in the photos of your trek.
It may sound counter-intuitive to bring unhealthy tobacco products on your trek, but if you smoke in your regular life, you should definitely bring nicotine along on your adventure. Treks can be stressful, and there is no reason to add to your anxiety by depriving yourself of your smokes. However, you may consider bringing along rechargeable e-cigarettes instead of traditional tobacco, since they leave no trace on the wilderness.
5. A Towel
Washing your hands and face is an excellent pick-me-up throughout the day, but walking around with wet appendages is no fun. Outdoor recreation retailers sell lightweight, fast-drying towels that fold neatly into tiny spaces, so you can feel comfortably clean no matter how dirty the trail is.
6. Toilet Paper
Apparently, toilet paper doesn’t grow on trees. On treks, sanitary wipes are exceedingly precious resources, so you definitely want to pack at least one full roll for yourself. You must never leave your toilet paper in a bathroom or on the trail, or it will be gone forever.
7. Hand Sanitizer
There is a reason modern civilization expends so much effort on hygiene. Sickness and disease is common on the trail, since most people neglect basic washing and forget simple tools like towels and toilet paper. To mitigate the possibility of contracting a trek-ending illness, you should slather your hands in sanitizer whenever you eat.
You have all sorts of food dehydrated and packed neatly in your bag ― or your trekking group provides warm and filling meals every day ― but believe it or not, breakfast, lunch, and dinner won’t be enough to keep you full while you trek. Moving all-day-every-day takes a surprising amount of energy, and you will find yourself getting hungry just an hour or so after breakfast. It’s best to have small snacks to munch on while you walk, like trail mix, protein bars, or granola.
9. Spare Batteries
When you are at home, you rely on the grid every moment of the day, but you still need quite a bit of electricity when you are on the trail. To ensure your GPS, camera, flashlight, phone, e-cig, and more have enough power for the duration, you should pack a few extra batteries. For your rechargeable tech, you can bring along a portable solar charger, which produces no waste.