Clothes to bring for backpacking

Are you planning a packing list for your next adventure? Basic backpacking gear isn’t all about tents, sleeping bags and first aid kits. Suitable clothing is part of the package too. Here we offer some tips and advice to help you choose which clothes to bring and which clothes to leave behind.

What to bring

The code for backpacking attire is to keep it moisture-free and light. Moisture-wicking fabrics help keep the sweat off your body on a very hot day, allowing it to evaporate faster than cotton. Eliminating moisture in the cold, however, will save you from hypothermia.

Don’t know what other kinds of clothes to bring on your backpacking adventure? Here's an easy list to follow.

  • Minimise everything to three. Shirts, socks, underwear, footwear and thermal wear (attire for cold weather) should come in threes. Don't lug around three pairs of boots, though. Have a pair of trainers and slippers to back up your hiking shoes. A thick outer jacket, fleece sweater, or a simple long-sleeved shirt should serve to fight the cold. Jeans, cargoes, and jogging pants are among the three things you should also pack.
  • Bring swimwear. You never know when you're going to have to hit the water in a tropical country, so be ready.
  • Avoid heavy cotton and choose dark colours. Keep in mind that if you're travelling with only three sets of clothing, whatever is white now will not remain white for long. Choose colours that will not scream “dirty” when you haven't had time to wash them. Cotton absorbs moisture, but it keeps it there, so you might want to re-think packing your cotton briefs or cotton panties. Bring clothes that will dry quickly, since your selection of attire is at a minimum.

What to leave behind

When backpacking, you normally re-wash and rotate clothes. Therefore be ruthless: leave behind all those "just in case" clothes. One nice outfit is recommended (for nights out or a meal in a good restaurant), but leave behind anything that is expensive or bulky. If you can't be parted with your jeans, bring only one pair - cargo pants are much lighter and travel better.

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