What Should Your Backpack Contain for any Outdoor Adventure

Are You Ready for Your Next Trip?

Backpacks have been the adventurer’s best friend. Any outdoor sport from camping and climbing to hiking, all these activities require you to leave your house together with a backpack, otherwise, you feel incomplete without it, due to the fact that it contains your most needed gear, gadgets and survival essentials.

So, What Should Your Backpack Contain for any Outdoor Adventure?

A backpack can either carry lots of gear or if done incorrectly, you might just be able to get 2-3 pieces in it. Backpacking is an art and although there is no one right way to pack for your next trip, organizing your pack before you leave will help you immensely during your trip.

A good backpack is one that keeps you comfortable and does not tire you out, allowing you to channel your focus on your trip and enjoy the journey.

But why should you pack light and with only the necessary essentials anyway?

  • According to The American Physical Therapy Association, backpacks should never weigh more than 20% of the person’s body weight, in order to prevent back and neck pain.
  • Although the back pain caused by backpacks is generally short-term (e.g. muscle strain) and can be reduced with rest along the way, it can severely impact your ability to enjoy the trip and feel restlessness.

One way of reducing stress on the shoulders and back is to loosen the straps so that the tension is evenly distributed on both shoulders and the back. A well-fitting backpack is one that distributes weight evenly and bears load in the proper areas and avoids pressure on the neck and the back.

Settle Outdoor - What Should Your Backpack Contain for any Outdoor Adventure - Overpacked HikerYou don’t want to be this guy after reading the above study, do you?

Having that covered, and before you head out on your next trip and adventure to explore the unchartered trails or travel the unexplored terrains, we at Settle Outdoor have put together a list of our recommended essential items that we believe that every outdoor explorer should carry whether you are heading out on a hike or camping for the night, in to be prepared for their adventure or journey and this will give a decent idea of what essentials ranging from gear/equipment to food, are in your backpack.

An easy way of deciding what makes the list to and earns a spot in your backpack is to lay out all your items that you intend to pack on your clean bed and what is going to be the purpose of the item during the trip and whether the trip can go one without and you wouldn’t entirely be needing it during the duration of the trip. (be sure to clean that bed once you finish the exercise!)

Segmenting your Backpack

A Backpack can be segmented into the following :

  • Bottom Zone: Items not needed immediately and that will only be needed upon reaching the site
  • Top Zone: Good for items that need to be accessed immediately or every now and then (example jacket, towel or raincoat in case the weather changes).
  • Exterior/Interior Accessory Pockets: Good for gadgets and gear that you need to look up or reference every now and then.

Bottom Zone :

Packing heavy items towards the end of the base help create a stable center of gravity and direct the load downward away from the torso and spine and direct it towards the lower half of the body and the hip, helping in weight distribution. Be sure to start with the soft, squishy stuff rather than hard and pointy stuff such as boots at that will cause discomfort when wearing the backpack on your spine and back.

Items that you don’t need immediately until reaching the campsite include:

  • Sleeping bag (this may be put inside the bag or in an exterior compartment available on many bags)
  • Camp shoes (Many bags have an exterior compartment for it)
  • Cooking Kit (Including Stove + Fire Lighter)

Top Zone:

This requires items that may need to accessed immediately if a situation were to change or in case of  an emergency and this might include:

  • Jacket – In case the weather changes and you start to feel cold during climbing a summit or following a trail
  • Blanket – Once you have reached your destination, are tired and just want to fall asleep, having a blanket towards the top will save you from removing all contents of a bag and emptying them on the tent floor. (Not to mention being in a grumpy mood, finding the blanket, where you packed it and packing it back once you wake up)

Accessory Pockets:

Organization of the gear depends purely on one’s preference but here is our guide :
  • Map – Exterior; as a need to reference may arise over the course of your journey until the site is reached and would be needed during the course of your trip and trekking journey.
  • Compass – Exterior; as a need to reference many arise over the course of your journey until the site is reached and would be needed during the course of your trip and trekking journey.
  • Water bottles – Exterior; Good to have a sip every now and then to prevent dehydration
  • ID / Keys – Interior; No need for them until on your way back home and is good to attach them to a lanyard, so they are still accessible along with all the bulky gear in the backpack.
  • Sunscreen – Interior; Although Sunscreen is important in order to protect one from UVA and UVB, you may need to apply it only once per day and can be stored inside after it.
  • Fire Starter  – Internal; as it would only have its minimal use either once or twice per day.

So you now have mastered the basics and anatomy of a backpack.

Now the question arises, what should your backpack contain? Although this is not the definitive answer, it sure is a reference guide along with the above pointers before heading out for your next trip.

Settle Outdoor - What Should Your Backpack Contain for any Outdoor Adventure - Segmenting you Backpack


First Aid Kit.

As they say “Prevention is Better than Cure” and there is a reason this mantra stands true for any outdoor activity. Injuries can happen to anyone, whether it is your first time out in the wilderness or are an experienced adventurer, it is always a good idea to have something ready just in case of the worst.

A Basic First Aid Kit should contain the following :

  • Plasters – For Any Injuries
  • Safety Pins – For Any Injuries
  • Alcohol Pads – For Any Injuries
  • Antiseptic Cream – In case of any fire burns or attacks by animals (Just Kidding – For Mosquito or Wasp Bites)
  • Pain Killers – For Easing Body Pain
  • Antiseptic Wipes

These are the bare minimum that should be in your first aid kit or you can buy a compact one here or go head to head with nature with this full-fledged kit below both of which include an emergency blanket and a whistle as well. You may include any other essentials based on your skin profile and allergies.

Packaway Jacket.

Nature is unpredictable and it is always best to head out prepared. As you are head out under the open sky, temperatures may drop well below city limits, this is an important factor to consider in case it starts to rain or becomes windy.
We recommend The North Face Thermoball Jacket which has a PrimaLoft technology with synthetic insulation that retains loft and warmth even during chilly nights and the best part, it is lightweight during the summer months and is waterproof to a certain extent and dries up quickly. This should be the first item in your backpack just to be prepared in case of the weather changes abruptly.

Map and Compass.

With technology changing rapidly day by day, these gadgets can become obsolete, but so far there are no phones known to man that can survive for 10-15 days on a single charge, so it is a good idea to carry something simple like this Coleman Compass that we are sure won’t run off battery and will get you out of any difficult situation. Be sure to also get a copy of the trail map before venturing if heading out alone.

Spare Clothes.

If you are planning to stay more than one night, it is preferable to carry one or two pairs of clothes, but do not overpack at the same time. Also, If your shoes are waterproof, you wouldn’t have to bother in case it rains, but it is also advisable to carry a pair of extra socks, just in case the old ones start to smell or you need a new fresh pair for the night.

Water bottle.

 Being hydrated throughout the course of the journey is very important, as it allows you to go on further, take that next step, or climb that next summit – being hydrated gives you an extra boost when you need it!  You can do your part for the environment by using BPA-Free bottles while simultaneously reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals.  

In the case of long trips, where water might not be accessible, or importantly clean drinkable water is not available, consider getting a mini-hydration system, that can filter water on the go. Be sure to check our guide on Essentials of Outdoor Adventure that details on a specifics of a mini-hydration system and other essentials that might be required during your next trip.


If you are going to be around the campsite, once the sun sets, it is a recommended that you carry some kind of a torch, flashlight or lantern that can help you identify your surroundings and find things quickly during a pitch dark night.



Be sure to check our article on Essentials of Outdoor Adventure as it details what essentials might be needed for your next adventure and should be read in conjunction with this article.


We hope you’ve enjoyed reading What Should your Backpack Contain for Any Outdoor Adventure and this article should give you some great tips on how to get you to get organized for your next trip, and how to shed off some weight of your back and let us know your thoughts on how you pack your backpack and share tips or comments below.


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