What to Pack in Your Everyday Backpack

Things To Think About When Buying A Backpack For Travel

The first thing to think about when deciding on a travel backpack is how long your trip is going to be, this is a good starting point for the size of the bag. It’s important to shop around and try a few on. I’d recommend going to a specialist store and ask for assistance, especially if this is the first backpacking bag you are looking for. The staff generally have training and so can help you choose the right bag for your size, shape and trip.

Before Going Travelling There’s A Lot To Pla

Before Going Travelling There’s A Lot To Plan, Such As Getting A Backpack

Don’t let the staff bully you into buying though, if something doesn’t feel right, leave. It’s important to get the right backpack for you, or you will regret it. So if the staff seem to be too pushy and not listening, try somewhere else.

The reason I recommend going into a store is so you can try the backpack on. That way you can get a proper feel for the bag. When trying it on, ask yourself: is the backpack comfortable on? Can you move easily? Does it feel heavy? You may need to spend a bit of money for a decent backpack. Generally, you do get what you pay for, so be prepared and know your budget.

However, some of the higher-end rucksacks can be a little overpriced and have features that you’ll never need. But you definitely shouldn’t just go for the cheapest you find. Try on a few within your budget, but be prepared to change your budget if nothing feels right.


46. CAP

To keep your head and face protected from the sun. Caps aren’t too expensive, and they’re definitely worth having. Plus, most of them can be attached to the outside of your backpack if you’re struggling for room inside.

Food for hiking

Hiking all day is a full-body workout, and your body is going to expend a huge amount of energy to keep you going.

This means you’re going to need to eat a massive amount of calories just to meet the energy needs that hiking demands, as well as maintaining the proper balance of nutrients that your body requires.

You’re also going to want to have foods that you can eat on the go, as stopping to prepare meals not only requires heavy cooking equipment, it’s a waste of valuable light and time.

Dehydrated fruits and vegetables and prepackaged and freeze-dried foods are the way to go.

Businesses such as Greenbelly have created food specifically with backpackers in mind, meaning you can eat calorie-dense food without sacrificing on nutrients or stopping to cook food.


Shampoo and conditioner bottles can be bulky to carry and they take up a lot of room in a backpack. Instead, you can fill up smaller-sized bottles with your hair liquids to save space. You can buy these small reusable bottles from Boots or Superdrug. Better yet, invest in some sustainable shampoo or conditioner bars for your hair and support the zero waste movement. These eco-friendly soap bars are plastic free and create zero waste because you end up using the whole product (and the bar lasts ages)!

Front Zipper Pocket

Spare Mont Blanc Rollerball Pen Spare Mont Blanc Rollerball Refill Airline Coupons and Pre-Paid Vouchers Spare Red Pens and Sharpies Sleeping Eyemask and Earplugs First Aid Kit

More Tips What To Carry In My Backpack

20% Of Body Weight

You might consider limiting the total weight to no more than 20% of your body weight. Though less is even better! If you’re a 200 pound man, that’s 40 pounds. It’s just a rule of thumb. Of course one’s state of physical fitness plays a big role too!

Test Hike

After you have decided what to pack, go ahead and fill it, and put it on. Wear it. Walk with it. A test hike. How does it feel?

Multiple use items

Try to find items that do multiple jobs. For example a poncho that can also be a rain fly, etc.

Light Weight Alternatives

Ultra light products for camping/backpacking. There are specialty products in this realm. And you can also find substitutes for some given tasks – items which are smaller or weigh less.

Ultralight Camping Gear on amzn

Wearing Your Backpack Safely

When you first purchase your backpack you probably don’t give much thought to wearing it correctly as the design of them seems simple enough. While it’s true that you just slip both hands through the straps and wear it on your back, there are some things you can do to ensure that it’s being worn safely.

Water Container and Purifier

Now we move to water, the basic survival element without which you won’t last more than three days. You will need to have the right amount of water to drink, in order to constantly stay hydrated. So pack the following two types of items:

  1. Water container
  2. Water filter/purifier

You will probably find a natural source of water in the wild, or maybe a well or a pipe. But you mustn’t drink this water directly! It can be chockfull with pollutants, parasites and harmful bacteria. You will need to treat it with purification tablets or a water filter.

After that, you can take this drinkable water with you in a container, such as a hydration bladder or a stainless bottle. Therefore, you now have two more items to add to your survival backpack.

Month-long Expedition

For expeditions up to a month where accommodation, cooking facilities and food are provided or available to purchase regularly at sites or en route, a carry-on or smaller capacity multi-day rucksack should suffice.

The reason for not needing a larger backpack is that without sleeping and cooking equipment you are unlikely to have too many bulky items with you, with the majority of your pack being taken up by clothing which can usually be well compressed.

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This is everything you need to know to get you started. The book provides practical and comprehensive information about every possible aspect of off-the-grid living.

Hiking Socks

Designed to keep your feet dry and warm when it starts to get wet, and cool when things heat up, hiking socks are almost as important as boots when it comes to taking care of your feet.

They should be able to dry quickly and be durable in the long run.

If you can get your hands on them, Merino Wool socks definitely check both boxes in this regard.

And if you’re looking for gifts to give a fellow traveler, backpacker, and hiker, then hiking socks should be number one on the list as they’re something that can always be put to use.

Charging Unit

Tums EX Toothpick Tube of Tylenol Extra Strength Cherry Chapstick Ceramic Paper Cutter Fingernail Clippers – A.G. Russell Fingernail File Twezzers – L.A. Cross USB Charger Cable for Kindle USB Charger Cable for Mini USB USB Charger Cable for iPhone USB 4-port Hub – APC USB AC Charger – Lennar USB Charging Battery – Lennar USB Male to Mini USB Cable – Zio Shorty USB AC Charger – Apple CarryAll – NiteIze Mobile Accessories

What You Carry in Your Backpack Is a Personal Choice

I hope this list has helped you decide what to carry in your backpack for college. Maybe you even found a few suggestions you hadn’t considered before.

Ultimately, however, what you put in your backpack is up to you. The key is to put some thought into the items instead of just throwing a bunch of junk into your bag and hoping for the best.

Image Credits: woman walking with backpack

The Anatomy Of A Backpack

Backpacks can be quite simple in their design or come with many extra parts, so for the purpose of looking at the detailed anatomy we’re going to discuss a hiking backpack.

The Students Urban Survival Kit


"To give you a rough idea on why I have these items: I'm a student who's cycling to and from uni in rainy England. After uni I often go and explore the city so I get dirty from time to time. It is a beginning for an USK (Urban Survival Kit)."

All in a 55L Karrimor rucksack:

  • Keys
  • Cash
  • Nokia E71 Mobile Phone
  • Food (fruits, sandwiches, snacks, etc.)
  • Water bottle
  • Chewing gum
  • Tissues
  • Cycle Helmet
  • Beanie (because when you cycle in Winter time the wind stings your ears quite badly)
  • Reflector strip wrapping around the ankle
  • Bike pump (sometimes)
  • Super special key
  • Red tail light (3 modes)
  • Petzl head torch (4 modes)
  • Bike repair kit
  • Student and Society IDs
  • Sewing kit (in a plastic box to keep it dry)
  • Carabiner
  • Rain jacket
  • Gloves
  • Knife with holster
  • Whistle
  • Cord
  • Plastic bags
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters, and erasers
  • Study notes
  • MP3 player and headphones
  • 2GB PQI flash drive
  • 120GB hard drive wrapped in kids' socks for protection
  • Dental floss
  • Vaseline
  • Hand cream
  • Toothbrush
  • Artificial teardrops
  • Earplugs

The Commuters Essentials

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"I have a long-ish train commute to work, so my backpack is a combination of work, play, travel and commuter accessories."

  • Icarus laptop bag from NokHoo – A lot more stylish than my older backpacks and still has space for all my stuff.
  • 15" MacBook Pro (or my work laptop IBM T60p)
  • iPad – Primarily for use with Evernote and the iPad Kindle App, plus a cloth case from Etsy.
  • iPhone To, you know, make and receive phone calls.
  • Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000 primarily for Webex sessions with remote colleagues.
  • Sony retractable headset Great for walking to and from the train and feeding my mild obsession with podcasts. The retractable cable keeps it from getting tangled up in the backpack. Plus, these are the "over the ear" type of headphones. I have a miserable time keeping the ear buds in my ears.
  • Reusable coffee cup because I like coffee and hate styrofoam.
  • Kingston 4 GB DataTraveller USB Thumb Drive – A little small by modern standards, but plenty big enough for copying small files to un-networked computers.
  • Small CD caddy – Handy for keeping around a couple of movies, back up disks. Bought this somewhere in Singapore, but don't think I could find it again if my life depended on it.
  • Retractable network cable – Handy for hotels that don't have WiFi.
  • LiveScribe Pen and Notebook – Really good for drawing off-line. It lets you import it later as a vector drawing from the pen by a USB cable.
  • Comfortable Headset and Microphone – Primarily for use with Dragon Naturally Speaking. Helps avoid wrist/hand pain. Plus there's something kinda cool about putting your arms behind your head, leaning back in your chair and talking to your computer.
  • Umbrella – learned this one the hard way :). I usually keep a nice compact one that fits in the side pocket of the bag.
  • Power brick for laptop and USB cable for iPhone/iPad
  • Hat – For covering my eyes when sleeping on the train.
  • Swiss Army Knife – Classic and still mind-bogglingly useful (not shown).
  • A few plastic shopping bags – These always come in handy for something, usually when I have something wet and/or dirty that I'm not comfortable stuffing in the bag with all my other stuff.
  • Pens – Actually don't use old school pens that often anymore, but they still come in handy once in a while.


A Real Adventure

All-purpose adventures over 2 months can depend, but in most cases will require a larger multi-day rucksack.

The main reason for this is that you will most likely be experiencing a number of different climates and terrains and may need more equipment than if you were simply traveling through the same sorts of environments as is typical of shorter trips.

This table provides some guidelines on specific backpack capacity based on trip duration and season

General capacity guidelines depending on duration
General capacity guidelines depending on duration & season from Sierra Trading Post.