Updated: Sep 26, 2019
The things you pack in your backpack will be different depending on your destination.
When you stay in a hotel during your vacation, you can take quite a lot of stuff with you. It might be useful, though, to bring an extra day-pack for short hikes or an occasional stroll around the city.
However, if you are hiking somewhere in the wild and you will be carrying all your stuff on your shoulders for days, you will need to pack light in order to make the hike as comfortable as possible. Stating the obvious: packing your stuff for a 4 day camping trip in the summer will be different from a winter expedition in the mountains.
The first time I ever filled my backpack, I was surprised by how fast you reach a higher weight. I jumped on the scale and saw that I carried 24kg on my shoulders. I wouldn't have lasted long in the mountains if carrying this on my back all the time. I started to buy new materials with a clear focus on the weight. Sadly, the cost of all items increases as the weight is lowered. After a gear refreshment, I managed to reduce my backpack to 18kg, which included my clothes, sleeping bag, tent, food and water.
Below this post you can find a link to an excel overview that can be handy to help you pack and estimate the weight of the items you will be carrying on your back (click on the picture). The sheet is already filled in with my personal pack overview. Use the item list as a guide and adjust it so it fits your way of traveling. You will need to carefully weigh all your items with a kitchen scale.
This blog post gives a clear overview of the essential items that you need to take with you in order to be prepared for all kinds of situations. Remember that weather is not always as predictable as you think.
Jacket, fleece, pants, gloves, hat.
These gear elements depend strongly on the weather conditions. Nevertheless, always take a rainproof jacket with you, as getting your clothes soaking wet is a bad idea, even in a warm environment.
Water bottle with wide opening and water purification.
Water is the most important item that you will be carrying, you can't live without it!
Purification of collected water can be done by tablets, droplets or UV light. I usually rely on my UV light treatment but I carry a few tablets as a back-up. Boiling water is the last option, but you usually don't have the time during the day to start a fire, and this also consumes a lot of the fuel supply for your stove.
Map and compass.
A smartphone might be able to help out. I once needed to use my phone's GPS function in order to find the correct direction when walking through dense mist on a snowfield in the mountains.
Headlamp and extra batteries (choose one of the smaller lamps).
Always keep this easily accessible in the top of your backpack.
Pack this in a waterproof bag. If the fire stone gets wet, it will not work.
Dry food and snacks.
Re-fuel the muscles with some power foods. I always go for freeze-dried food because it's not so heavy. Just add boiling water and you are good to go.
Tent, tarp and a reflective emergency blanket in case you're in trouble.
Lightweight or comfort, the choice between a tent and a tarp depends on your personal preference. Never skip the emergency blanket, though, as it saves lots of lives every year during emergency situations in the outdoors.
First aid kit.
You can get a basic first aid kid in many outdoor stores. Never leave on a trip without it!
Swiss knife and duct tape.
Take a swiss knife which includes a scissor and tweezers. And get creative with the duct tape, from waterproofing items, patching up a tent or sleeping pad to fixing a buckle on your backpack.
Sunglasses, cap, sunscreen and lip balm.
If you are hiking for a few hours in the blistering sun, you easily can get sunburnt. Always were a cap and cover your shoulders. Carrying a backpack with burnt shoulders isn't going to make your camping trip any easier (been there, done that!).
Click on the picture bellow to download the free excel template with my personal gear list I always use.
Also check the other posts on this website to find out more on how to pack your backpack like a pro. (Link)