The Ultimate (Backpacker) Packing List

Liz and I starting the Inca Trail, 2004, 

(You think we got enough stuff?)


The Long Awaited, Much Tested, Totally Amazing, Ultimate Backpacker Packing List! 

This was started with my friend Liz while in Peru / Bolivia in 2004. We had thought we'd packed really light and fast and easy. That was until we got there and our porters on the Inca Trail were struggling under the weight of our bags. Before we were rushing to a bus with a huge backpack each, and carrying a big duffel bag between us. Before we couldn't put everything onto the 12 seater plane heading into the Amazon and had to leave a LOT of stuff at the hotel. 

So it began in South America, and the next year when I went to Southeast Asia I said "I'm going to follow this to the T, and see how it all works out." 


It's been slightly modified for different trips, but really just barely. (When we started it we didn't have iPods:). 

So here it is, in it's most recent incantation. Obviously you might need to modify it for your particular needs, but don't be fooled into thinking you need a ton more than this. It's much easier and more fun to travel when you aren't trying to carry your house with you on your back. And besides there is no need, the point of the trip is to get away from home. 

You might also notice that there is no Cell-Phone, Blackberry, iPhone on here. You don't need it. I have never taken one with me. At first because it would have cost a fortune, but after one trip I realized how wonderful it was to get away from those things. To be free. It's a little scary, and totally awesome. 

There is also no Laptop. Most backpacking countries, and developing or developed nations have Internet Cafe's. (That's where I type these updates afterall). And having to worry about a laptop, which is very expensive, and worth more than a month's (or even a year's) income to people in some nations, isn't worth the stress. 

The point of this is to give you a good starting point to add or subtract what you need. But stay light and you'll be free to go where you want when you want. I obviously haven't been everywhere, or even close to it, but it's worked for me for where I have been. 



By Craig Ouellette and Liz Cornejo (July 2004) (current version 10/2011)

* Indicates the item can be split/shared by partners rather than each carrying their own.

Packing Items (The Basics):

-1 adjustable Internal or External Frame backpack with multiple pockets (approx 3000-4000 cu. Inch)

-Small DAY BAG (collapsible is preferred)

-Long Pad Lock/Pad locks for bags (TSA acceptable) (To lock to dorm beds etc)

-4 bungee cords

-Mini Sleeping Bag OR sheet (depends on climate)

-zip lock bags (3 Gallon, 5 quart)

-*Power Converter

-*Sewing Kit

-2 Lara bars per day (okay, snacks of some sort!)

-Money Belt


-ATM card

-Student ID (if applicable)

-Travelers Cheques

-Immunization Records

-Cash : $200-$500 (depends on length of trip, but large US bills are best)


-1 Wide brimmed hat with String (or some other head protection)

-2 pair zip offs cargo pants/shorts – dark color – polyester

-3 t-shirts 

-1 “nice” shirt (something collared)

-Hiking boots OR dark trail shoes 

-Flip flops OR aqua sox OR sandals (only 1 type)

-3 pair underwear

-2 bras (1 nice, 1 sport) (this includes you Jared!)

-3 pair hiking sox (quick dry)

-1 set of sleep clothes

-1 fleece with hood (note, not in hot weather locals)

-1 compressible/portable rain shell

-1 swimsuit

-1 warm stocking cap (if you’re bald like me )

-Portable toiletries

-hair stuff (clips/braids)

-1/2 size toothbrush

-travel toothpaste

-travel deodorant

-travel floss

-razor/electric razor

-*nail clippers

-*small shampoo/conditioner

-*small liquid soap

- 1 Sarong (or portable travel towel)

-*First Aid Kit


-Anti Diarrhea

-Cold Medicine

-Pepto Bismol Tablets

-Antacid Tablets



-Any prescription pills / inhalers you have.

Protection / Cleanliness


-1 lip balm

-Hand sanitizer (small)

-*bug spray (small)

-*sunscreen (medium and small for daybag)

-fabreeze spray (small)

-*Water Purifying tablets

-toilet paper wad

 -small travel umbrella

Travel Items

--waterproof Headlamp

-*language phrase book (unless fluent)

-*Travel Book (Lonely Planet, Rough Guides etc etc)

-travel pillow

-eye cover


-*mini alarm clock

-2 extra batteries

-watch (with alarm if possible)

-Swiss army knife


-1 paperback book

-Ipod/MP3player (favorites/sing-along/dance selection)


-*small Game OR cards

-*Frisbee OR small ball to play with

Recording Memories:

-Small Digital Camera (Waterproof preferred) (If you’re a photographer, you can 

 expand on the camera department. But remember, you have to carry it)

-Extra battery


-Memory cards


-Journal and Pens

-*scotch tape

-*mini scissors


COLD TEMP (add these to list)

-gloves (mid size)

-extra layer (flannel shirt OR sweater)

-fleece pants OR slick sweat pants (wind resistant is better)

-1 warm hat

-1 pair warm socks

-1 scarf

FRIDGED TEMP (add these in addition to Cold Temp items)

-Long Underwear (top and bottom)

-Thick Coat

-Tick Gloves

-Heavier Sleeping bag



-Fleece with hood

-portable sleeping bag

Bring Instead:

-flannel OR light outer layer

-Silk sheet liner OR sheet