Essential Backpacking Gear No Traveller Should Be Without

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When you are planning a long backpacking trip there is sure to come a time when you wonder how on Earth you are going to fit everything into your backpack.

Even if you buy one of those massive backpacks that are bigger than you, you can’t expect to fit in everything you want. So what are the essential pieces of gear you absolutely need to pack?

Comfortable Walking Shoes

If there is one thing you are certain to do while you are away it is walk. A lot. Even if you aren’t planning to scale Kilimanjaro or head to Machu Picchu you are still going to give your old feet a good workout. The most interesting things about most places in the world can be discovered just by walking about a lot. Some days when I am travelling I just literally walk all day long, like some sort of demented clockwork toy someone has wound up and then released. There is no greater feeling in the world than that of discovering a new city by just strolling round it. This means that comfortable walking shoes are a must if you don’t want to end up with feet like battered old cabbages after a day or two. One of the few genuine pro tips I can pass on is to buy your travelling shoes and wear them in your home town before setting out. This might give you the added advantage of encouraging you to explore your own city on foot too.

Flexible Clothing

It is clear that you can’t fit all of your clothes into that backpack. So what are you going to do? The answer is that you need to be as flexible as possible. The ideal situation is to take away a small selection of clothes that work well together. This means wearing neutral coloured clothes that all combine together. Zip off trousers might not look cool but they have the great advantage of – hey – zipping off. This means that you get trousers and shorts in one garment. You can also wear the zipped off parts as ear warmers if you get really desperate. Good grief, here’s another pro tip coming up; if you are going to a hot and humid place sports gear like football or baseball tops are excellent because they dry so quickly. Washing and drying your clothes is going to be one of your biggest problems wherever you go, so try to avoid heavy clothes that are going to be a nightmare to wash. Don’t forget that when travelling, pockets are your friends. You might not like the look of trousers and jacket with tons of pockets but you will be grateful for them at some point.

A Travel Guide

I have to confess that I went to South America without a travel guide and bitterly regretted it. If you don’t have a guide book then you could be just round the corner from an ancient emperor’s tomb or the world’s biggest cheese market and not know a thing about it. Sure, you could use the internet to find out stuff but there is something reassuring about having a classic travel guide in your backpack.

Swimming / Sports Gear

Even if you aren’t planning on swimming or taking part in any sports you don’t know when a once in a lifetime chance might arrive. For example, I once ended up playing football barefoot on a concrete pitch in Brazil because I didn’t want to miss out on the chance. Yes, my feet did end up like battered old cabbages. Swimming and sports gear don’t take up much room and you can always use them for sleeping in or under your clothes if you don’t use them for the intended purpose.

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